How to Prevent Same-Day Cancellations


While working with private practice owners, the following statement comes up quite often in our consultations:


“If I could just take control of my cancellations…”  


As an owner, it can be extremely frustrating when same-day cancellations are high. High cancellations can really affect the bottom line. They can make it hard to know when to hire someone new and prevent you from growth. At times, they can make us crazy because we feel like we are bleeding patient visits and if we have high same-day cancellations. And guess what...we are!


Same-day cancellations frustrate me most when I cannot get someone else in for care. And that is usually the case because, as I tell my clients, today is THE hardest day to fill! People already have their plans for the day so getting them to change plans and make an appointment same-day can be very tough. 


We run a very busy clinic so open time slots are valuable. Losing a spot to someone cancelling same day limits who we can call on short-notice and it keeps another patient from getting the care they need. Essentially 2 people did not get the care they need when a patient cancels same-day. That bothers me most. This is where having a good systems comes in place.


Preventing missed visit opportunities became my mission in early 2012.


I studied why patients cancel and developed a program in our clinic focused on prevention of missed visits.


Let’s talk about why patients same-day cancel; it basically comes down to one thing: They don’t understand what you need from them.


We live in a very different society than we did 20 years ago (or even 10 years ago). People are moving at a faster pace, are more distracted by technology, and they are just “so busy” they don’t always make the time to take care of themselves the way they should.


One way or another, a patient who misses their appointment doesn’t understand how important it is that they show up. Either they didn’t hear what we said or we didn’t make it clear. In order to prevent same-day cancellations and no-shows, we have to make it clear to our patients that they’re not acceptable. Period.


There are specific actions you can take to prevent same-day cancellations and no-shows:


  • Confront it. You can fix it if you don’t know if it is broken so track and measure the stat daily.

  • Have a cancellation policy that you can work with that prevents same-day cancellations and no-shows.

  • Make the policy known to staff and clients. No education, no results.

  • Have specific procedures staff should follow. If you don’t set the standard, they won’t have anything to follow.

  • Training is key. All front office staff should be trained and drilled on prevention and also on proper patient handling.


Front Office GURU offers cancellation training as part of our Patient Care Coordinator course. Our mission is to ensure that your staff have training and systems available to prevent no-shows and same-day cancellations.


Don’t let missed visits slow your practice growth. Coaching and training front office staff is like planting a seed. Don't wait for that rainy day. Start now.


Wishing you the best, today and always, Dee


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Front Office GURU has all new training that will be accessible for practices of all shapes and sizes! Our new program, Fix Your Front Desk will offer online training videos, scripts, audio files with demos of the most important scripts, frequent webinars for your front office team, and so much more!

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