What Is Your Dental Hygiene No Show Policy?
Even if your dental practice doesn’t have a written dental hygiene no show policy, there is a policy in place. How you handle those hygiene patients who don’t show up for their scheduled appointments, is a policy. Most offices seem to have a fee or a charge for a missed appointment. And then include a clause that allows them to dismiss a patient who misses 3 appointments.
I have seen a number of policies used and often they have been used either inconsistently or with a very heavy hand. There is something to be said for middle ground, balance, and consistency. Personally, I have enjoyed working with patients and the schedule in a unique way. Anyone can go through a rough patch in their personal schedules. I’ve had great success in turning the worst offenders into consistent, solid patients.
If we are too lenient in our no show policies, patients may feel that it really isn’t that important to us. On the other hand, if we are too stern with our no show policies, we drive our dental patients away. How do we strike that balance and maintain productivity and morale?
Create A Dental Hygiene No Show Policy That Works For You!
First, please notice that I am speaking specifically about your dental hygiene schedule. Personally, I would never handle a hygiene no show the same as I would handle a no show in my doctor’s schedule. These are two very different challenges in my view.
Today, I am speaking specifically about your dental hygiene schedule no shows.
Secondly, I am not speaking about patients who have rescheduled short notice. Again, that is another subject entirely. I am talking about those patients who never called to reschedule their dental hygiene appointment, they just didn’t show!
Create & write out your own dental hygiene no show policy. This is a policy that will be shared with the entire team. Make sure everyone on the team fully understands the policy and that the office goal is to retain patients and to help patients keep their scheduled dental appointments.
Dental Hygiene No Show Policy
- Call a patient 5 minutes after their appointment time if they have not arrived at their scheduled time.
- If unable to reach patient,leave a message that says, “This is April at Dr. Brown’s dental office. I’m checking to see if you might be on your way. It is now 12:05, we have you scheduled at 12:00 today for your hygiene appointment with Jane. If we miss you today, please call the office at 888-8888. Thank you.”
- Everyone gets one free pass! Let’s reschedule!
- For our patients who have used their one free pass, a small fee is charged to their account of $25.00 and a statement mailed.
- This patient is also gladly rescheduled, and that $25.00 fee removed when they arrive to their scheduled appointment.
- If a second hygiene appointment is missed within 12 months, I would not pre-schedule this patient a third time.
Implement Your Dental Hygiene No Show Policy
I’m sure you noticed, that the no show policy example I have given you was written more for the dental office team than for the patient. It is the team that needs to know what to do in this situation. Let’s not have the tail wagging the dog! The reason to have a “no show” policy is to guide the team on how to best manage the patient and the situation.
I would definitely include some kind of wording in your Financial Policy that says something like “There may be a fee charge for missed dental hygiene or dental restorative appointments”.
I would keep it simple and not spend too much time writing about it or talking about it with your patients. However, take the time to discuss this with the dental office team. If there is conversation and focus on missed appointments, we focus on the negative. Rather, spend conversations on the positive side of things with your patients.
If you do have a patient who constantly no shows,( twice in 12 months) take a different turn. Don’t pre-schedule that patient at all! Instead, call your patient with same day openings! This is a great way to fill an open appointment. And it allows you to better manage the patient with a crazy schedule too.
Make it work for you! Keep it consistent!!