Why Should You Have a Cancellation Policy?

It’s good to have a policy in place to protect you financially from last-minute scheduling holes.

Being responsible for keeping the schedule full can sometimes be a very stressful task. One of the top concerns offices have is dealing with holes in the schedule. Those pesky cancellations and “no-shows” impact a practice’s production and can end up costing you thousands of dollars each month. It is because of these holes in the schedule that you need to have a cancellation policy.

In addition to a cancellation policy, there are a few things you can do to help manage the number of cancellations you have.

  1. Value your patient’s time. We find that an office that runs on-time have far fewer cancellations than an office that is always running behind, or constantly canceling or moving the patient’s scheduled appointment.
  2. Be aware of the daily schedule ahead of time and what patient treatments are coming that day in case they call in to cancel.
  3. Have scripts memorized (or ready to reference) so you are prepared if a patient does call to cancel. With any script, make sure to put it in your own words so it does not sound like you are reading a script.

Here are two script examples that I have been using for several years. I have recommended them to many of the offices I have coached to address a patient attempting to cancel with less than 48 hours’ notice:

Example 1

I know Dr. Jones was very concerned about the teeth he will be treating. During our meeting, he mentioned he was happy you were scheduled because of the importance of that procedure. It needs to be completed as soon as possible. Is it possible for you to somehow rearrange your schedule in order to keep this appointment? We do not have any openings for at least six weeks, and as a reminder, your account will be charged a $75 cancellation fee per our cancellation policy.”

Example 2

Susie, Dr. Jones had two hours reserved at the time of your appointment, prepared to focus on your individual needs. We do not have any openings for at least six weeks, and as a reminder, your account will be charged a $75 cancellation fee per our cancellation policy. What can we do to help make this appointment possible for you to keep?

Sometimes the cancellation still happens, so make sure to have a solid ASAP list as your backup plan.


Learn More

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