How to Handle Patients with Unscheduled Treatment

Don’t let those treatment-planned dollars slip through the cracks!

Updated 7/8/20

Let’s talk about the importance of tracking unscheduled treatment. This includes those patients with treatment-planned procedures who have yet to return to the practice for that work to be completed. This could be because of quarantine, COVID-19 safety concerns, or simply because no one from your office has followed up with them to get them scheduled. Many offices I have worked in and consulted with have experienced thousands of treatment-plan dollars slip through the cracks.

Why are patients reluctant to schedule their treatment and what can you do to increase case acceptance?

I quickly realized, when I moved from the back office as an assistant to the front as an office manager, that a breakdown in communication was to blame. Either the patients hear what they want to hear, or they don’t hear a clear message. The back office assumed the front was emphasizing to the patient the importance of scheduling their procedure. Similarly, the front office assumed that the doctor had.

Every point of contact we have with our patients is an opportunity to build trust. Trust is essential to having patients follow through with your recommended dental treatment.

The doctor should stress the importance of what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and the importance of getting a treatment done in a timely manner. Any staff who interacts with the patient from that point should reinforce what the doctor went over to make sure the patient fully understands the need.

There are people who are only interested in patchwork dentistry. If you’re a comprehensive care dentist, those patients might not fit well into your practice. Be willing to let them go. There are also people who, for their own reasons, will delay or forgo the treatment you recommend. Be gentle with them. Explain what they need and what the benefits will be for them, but realize that it is their decision.

Using features like the Treatment Manager or Unscheduled Treatment Plan Report within your software will help you find unscheduled treatment. From there you can discuss, as a team, how to make sure current patients understand treatment plans and how to approach patients with unscheduled treatment plans.


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For related information, read the following:

If you found these ideas helpful, you may be interested in learning more about the Dentrix Profitability Coaching Program, where these, and many other great concepts, strategies and ideas are taught to you and your team by one of our highly skilled and experienced profitability coaches. To find out more about Dentrix Profitability Coaching, click here.


By Kim Thornton, Henry Schein One Practice Consultant