Users Guide to… Reactivating Cancelled Appointments (Part 1)

It is likely that all the work that you need is sitting un-booked in your patient files and in the mouths of the patients that do not have an appointment to return to your practice. Having an effective re-activation strategy will also help increase your patient loyalty as they will realise that your practice cares that they haven’t come back!

The best tactic to re-activate the patients that have cancelled appointments and have yet to rebook them is to have your reception team telephone these patients. However, this tactic has to be implemented very carefully.


  1. Let patients leave saying they will call the practice to make an appointment. If they insist on this, have your reception team arrange a time to call them later the same day!
  2. Write letters, they don’t work!
  3. Leave messages with a third party.
  4. Leave messages on the patient’s voicemail.
  5. Let your junior receptionists ring a list of patients at two in the afternoon and leave voicemail messages for most of them asking them to contact the practice. They won’t.


  1. Have someone on your reception team, who is trained and effective in making sales calls, contact these lost patients.
  2. Call at a time when patients are likely to be in. Good times are: 1730-2000 weekdays, 0900-1100 Saturdays.
  3. Keep an up to date active patient list. Choose a cut off time; for example, include patients on this list who the practice has seen within the last 15 months. Have your team keep it accurate and up to date.
  4. Keep an active patient list per dentist. This will enable your team to allocate new patients to the dentist who needs them most!
  5. Keep the rest of the patient data in a dormant patient file for reactivation.



For more advice on reeling patients back in, call the Breathe Team on 0845 299 7209 or


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