Private Practice Owners:

Take these 5 steps to reduce 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 cancelations, we are!

Same-day cancellations frustrate me most when I cannot get someone else in for care. 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.

Preventing cancellations became my mission 4 years ago. I studied why patients cancel and developed a program in our clinic focused on prevention of cancellations.

Let’s talk about why patients cancel; it 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, the patients who cancel same-day don’t understand. Either they didn’t hear what we said or we didn’t make it clear.  In order to prevent same-day cancellations we have to make it clear to our patients that we don’t accept same-day cancellations. Period.

There are specific actions you can take to prevent same-day cancellations:

  1. Measure it. You can fix it if you don’t know if it is broken. We measure # of cancellations per day AND our arrival rate. We expect a daily and weekly arrival rate of 95% in our clinic.
  2. Have a cancellation policy that you can work with.
  3. Make the policy known to staff and clients.
  4. Have specific procedures staff should follow.
  5. Have a highly-trained front office staff who know what to do.


At Private Practice Administrative Consulting, we offer front office training to ensure that your staff have training and systems available to prevent cancellations. Email me today for a free front office consultation to learn how we can help you establish solid front office systems that improve arrival rate (and thus decrease cancellations), increase front office efficiency and organization, and improve your patient visits. Our basic training program starts again on April 9th, 2017.  Don’t wait. You can reach me at: deebills.ppac@gmail.com