One of the most difficult issues for a practice to approach is how to deal with no-shows and cancellations. It is very important to address this issue with the scheduling coordinator and come up with a way to address this issue with patients who have missed or canceled an appointment.
We understand there are emergencies and sometimes it is hard for patients to call back and say they are missing an appointment or can’t make it, however, there are some cases where this happens repeatedly and it should be addressed.
There is a way to talk to these patients and first of all, find out what made them miss the appointment, have them reschedule. This topic should be brought up to patients with care and sensitivity to not make the situation worse by having poor communication.
There are a few steps you can follow after a patient has missed or cancel an appointment:
- First of all, the staff in charge of scheduling should get some background information on the patient before making the call, this way, they are aware on why the patient was scheduled in the first place.
- When talking to patients make sure you engage with conversation with them, ask them about their day, their family members, you should know this by looking at the charts if they are also patients.
- Remember that the tone of this call has to be calm as you want to solve a situation and not make it worse – so saying something like “Hello, this is (name), calling from (practice) the doctor was concerned that you have missed your appointment/did not reschedule for (treatment) and asked that I give you a call – Is there a day that works best for you to schedule you in?”
- Listen to the patient – you want to get as much information on why the appointment was either canceled or the patient didn’t show up. So listen to what they have to say.
Some practices opt for having cancellations fees if they seem appropriate, maybe if this is an ongoing problem – however, it is not advisable as it might come off as off-putting for new and existing patients. Instead, training your staff to deal with this calls is the best way to avoid and deal with this situations. Be empathetic and try to understand, you don’t want to make the situation worse but instead, try to help the patient.