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No shows? No problem. 5 Tips for Setting Your Practice up for Success

It’s a busy Tuesday afternoon when your phone rings – your 2 o’clock can’t make it. The same thing happens next month, only this time, they forget to call ahead.

Late cancellations and no-shows are frustrating but common. They can disrupt the flow of the workday, negatively impact patient progress, and cause a drop in revenue.

How can you handle this situation in a simple and efficient way? Check out our 5 tips for reducing appointment no-shows and keeping your practice running smoothly.

1. Communicate your cancellation policy

Having a clear and reasonable cancellation policy helps ensure everyone is treated fairly, and your time is being respected.

It’s important to communicate your cancellation policy to your patients verbally, in print, on your website, and on their intake form. That way, they’re acknowledging and consenting to the policy before they start treatment.

2. Adopt a payment protocol for online booking

Including a form of payment for bookings made online helps ensure your patients are committed to their time with you.

What does that look like? You could request a credit card to complete the booking, ask for a partial deposit, or require your patient to pre-pay for their treatment. Depending on your clinic, this protocol could be applied to all appointments booked online, or only first-time appointments booked online.

3. Help your patients with a gentle reminder

With an EMR, you can automatically notify patients of their upcoming appointments a day or two ahead of time, saving you from playing phone tag and the possibility of missing a reminder. Email reminders make it easy for patients to save the appointment to their calendar, while text reminders might work better for folks who don’t check their inbox often.

We recommend sending reminders before your late cancellation window closes so patients have an opportunity to cancel or reschedule without penalty. It helps to also send a reminder on the day of the appointment.

Make sure to give your patients the choice to opt-in (and out) of these reminders – but in our experience, people generally appreciate them.

4. Turn cancellations into opportunities

Patients sometimes cancel at the last minute because they found a better time at another clinic. That’s why keeping a waitlist comes in handy! Reduce your administrative workload by automating notifications to eligible wait-listed patients — that way, they can easily scoop up appointments as they become available.

In the event of a cancellation, you’re more likely to fill that time slot.

5. Talk to your patients

If you’re noticing frequent no-shows or cancellations from the same patient, it might be time to have a discussion.

Perhaps their treatment isn’t a priority right now and they’d prefer to pause. Maybe the location is too far and they’d appreciate a referral to someone closer to them.

Take the time to understand and come to a compassionate solution that works for both of you.

Want to learn more about effectively managing your practice? Visit

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