Reduce No Shows and Cancellations

Reduce No Shows & Cancellations

If you have a real problem with no shows and cancellations in your office, then the first thing to do is to re-evaluate your philosophy on how to handle these patients. If you work out of a sense of desperation, then you most likely immediately reschedule everyone that cancels. You may also follow a philosophy of never billing patients for missed appointments for fear of upsetting them. If this sounds familiar, then you may have trained your patients that there is no consequence to cancelling appointments with you – and so, they cancel and no show frequently!

Another way to handle no shows and cancels is to establish a philosophy that your time is valuable and that patients who disrespect their appointments must be retrained. You can determine the guidelines for your office to follow that are fair to the patients who show up on time for their scheduled appointments as well as appropriate for the patients who simply cannot make their appointment.


I recommend a philosophy that reflects:

  • No fee for first time offenders – we want to maintain a friendly relationship with our clients and feel that charging them for their first missed appointment would cause bad publicity
  • Consequences exist for missing an appointment –  This is as simple as not rescheduling patients at the time they cancel/no show.
  • Chronic offenders must be handled differently – For patients that repeatedly abuse our schedule, different rules must apply. We believe that if these patients leave the practice because they don’t like our rules, that is okay.


To put this philosophy into practice – If a client cancels:
With more than 24 hrs. notice – reschedule their appt immediately, no problem
With less than 24 hrs. notice – use your best judgment to decide:
#1 – Is this a legitimate excuse?  Such as illness, funeral, car accident – if so, acknowledge and go ahead and reschedule the appointment.
#2 – Is this a poor excuse?  They have a cold, forgot, changed their schedule – if so, follow the Cancel/No Show reschedule system.

Set up your system 

To establish your no show/ cancellation system:

  1. Decide upon your script for what you will say to patients who call to cancel their appointments short notice.
  2. Set the fee you will charge for missed appointment time.
  3. Decide how you will document this no show or cancellation. Keep in mind that the dentist and clinical team often want to know, “What happened to my patient?”
  4. What list will you use to follow up on these patients?
  5. What is your system for contacting these patients to reschedule?
  6. If you choose to document the missed appointment in the ledger, what code will you use?
  7. How will you handle chronic offenders?
  8. Write the letters you will use to let patients know that they missed an appointment and why they are being billed.
  9. Clarify the responsibilities of the administrative staff in working with this system
  10. Clarify the responsibilities of the clinical staff in working with this system.

By establishing a comprehensive approach to handling no shows and cancellations, you can dramatically reduce your last minute holes in schedules. The key is setting strong guidelines and then communicating effectively with your patients. This takes time, but this effort pays off with fewer missed appointments. Your patients will understand the value of your dentist and hygienist time and they will be given options for working successfully with you.

If you would like a done-for-you no show / cancellation system that provides all these answers as well as step by step instructions to implement this new approach, click link below and you will be automatically taken to a page where you can learn more and purchase if you are interested.

Reduce No Shows System