Cancellations cost your practice a lot of money. With every lost appointment there’s a corresponding loss of revenue, but you still have to pay your staff and keep the lights on. If patients give notice, it’s easier to fill the slot with another person. But last-minute cancellations typically result in a chiropractor with an unscheduled — and unpaid — break. Think about these options to prevent cancellations. With a little forethought, you can set some rules while still accommodating the needs of patients who ultimately pay the bills.
Establish Grace Periods
It’s typical to give a reasonable notice period for patients to reschedule their appointments. After all, life happens and you don’t want to demonstrate bad faith by refusing to allow changes. Patients may show up if they are forced to, but they might not come back if they are annoyed at what they perceive to be an unfair scheduling policy. Instituting a 24-hour notice of cancellation policy is a reasonable compromise between making people commit and letting those with other obligations off the hook.
Adhere by Late Fees
Set a fee for no-shows or for canceling after the grace period has ended. It’s an effective deterrent for people who know they can’t make their time but just don’t bother to let your office know. The fee can be half the cost of the original appointment, or even the entire fee, depending on the culture of your practice, your patients, and what’s accepted within the chiropractic industry in your area.
Implement Appointment Reminders
Your patients have busy schedules. Despite knowing the value of regular visits to the chiropractor, it’s not uncommon for patients to simply forget they have a scheduled time to come in, especially if sessions are weeks or months apart. To prevent this, set up a system to remind patients of their upcoming appointments. Studies have proven that appointment reminders help retain patients.
Remember, sometimes all it takes to prevent late cancellations is to clearly articulate office policies to your patients. Post a sign in the waiting room that warns about grace periods and late fees so your practice is protected. Set up a system to send out appointment reminders. Once the policies are in place, enforce them, but take other steps to ensure patients are always welcome to rebook. Politeness and professionalism go a long way to bridge the gap between patient care and the administrative needs of your practice.