Saving an Appointment


Patient calls and says ” I need to cancel my appointment for tomorrow afternoon.”

Desired Result:

Patient keeps appointment, reducing time needed to refill schedule.

How to:

The five keys to saving an appointment are:

  1. Show concern in your tone of voice and avoid being too accommodating.  Most people want to help the patient and try to be understanding, that backfires in this situation.
  2. Tell the patient that Dr. is concerned about the “reason for return” to “save” the appointment.
  3. Explain your broken appointment policy and waive the fee for the first offense.  Before implementing this make sure your “own house” is in order (don’t run late, abuse patients time or frequently change appointments).
  4. If you are unable to “save” the appointment, create some urgency in rescheduling while maintaining control of the appointment book.
  5. Document frequent changes and cancellations in the chart in red ink or in the ledger so they are easily seen by all team members.

Lisa the patient calls to say she has to cancel her appointment tomorrow:

“Oh Lisa, I’m sorry to hear that.  Is there a problem?”

“I see.  May I put you on hold so I can get your chart / look up your chart?”

“Lisa, I see from Laura’s notes that she is going to evaluate your response to the fluoride treatments.  She also noted that late afternoon appointments work best for you.  I’m afraid we don’t have another late afternoon appointment for 9 weeks!  Would you reconsider and keep the appointment for tomorrow?”

“Terrific Lisa, I’m glad you can make other arrangements!  I’d hate to see you wait 9 weeks to see Laura.  We’ll all look forward to seeing you tomorrow.”

If the patient maintains they must change their appointment:

Lisa, at your New Patient visit we spoke about the broken appointment fee of $50 which we assess should an appointment be canceled less than 48 hours before the appointment.  Of course, we will waive that fee this time as it is the first time it has happened. However, next time we would have to charge you.  Let’s find a time that will work for you so that does not happen.

  • Document in the chart or ledger that the broken appointment policy was explained and the charge was waived for the first time.