The tendency to see the hurdles instead of the opportunities is not unique to healthcare and dental office. "Things are just fine the way they are" or "I have always done it this way" is no longer acceptable in the rapidly-changing, fast-paced world we now live in. Patients today are looking for more visibility and options in their health and dental care. For existing patients, scheduling them for an appointment six months in advance is great for your office, but it may not fit their schedule when the time comes. Then they must call your office and reschedule once they receive the reminder for their upcoming appointment.
New patients have more information available to them today than ever before. Not only can they be proactive about searching for information, but patients looking for a new dentist will be targeted through both online and offline methods to solicit their business. This gives the patient choices and in order to differentiate yourself you have to not only show your credentials and reviews, but you also have to make it convenient for the patient to schedule their appointment. Patients don’t always search for a provider during the work hours of the week when you are open and they aren’t likely to carry around your number with them until you can answer the phone. They will find the most convenient practice for them to schedule with.
Does dental office online scheduling mean that you have to convert all your scheduling to online only and fire your staff? Does it mean that you cannot have personal contact with your patients? The answer is no.
What it means is that you can now offer a way for your patients to find and schedule an appointment that works for both your office and the patient. They can do this even when your staff is not available to answer the phone. It complements your existing scheduling practices, offering a cutting-edge solution, and shows you are working to provide the convenient services that your patients want and are used to in almost every other facet of life.
Locating and taking advantage of opportunities to help your patients will give you the edge needed to stay ahead of your competition. Giving your patients the ability to schedule online with your practice will give your patients one more reason to keep choosing your practice for their dental care.
Want to learn more about using online scheduling to grow your practice?
Book for the appropriate length of time
If you’ve completed a time study, then you should have a good idea about how long it takes to perform specific types of procedures. Most of the docs need 40 minutes to complete two occlusal fillings and a few others need one hour, then block out the appropriate length of time for each practitioner. Failing to understand the unique time needs of the dentists or hygienists will set your schedule up for backlog later in the day, which keeps everyone late or runs into your lunch break or departure time.
Stagger treatments for the dentist
If a patient must be anesthetized, it may take at least 15 minutes between the patient’s check-in time and the time the dentist actually starts the procedure. That’s a quarter of an hour of downtime where no production is being earned. If two patients are booked side-by-side, this equates to 30 minutes of downtime. To still be productive and make time work for you, stagger patient appointments so that one patient can be numbed and prepped while the other is being treated. Once the latter is completed and in post-op with the assistant or front desk, the other patient will be ready to begin the procedure.
Prevent broken appointments and empty chairs
Staring at an empty chair for two hours is the ultimate scheduling nightmare. Cancellations, no-shows, and ineffective patient communication all have a way of slowly creeping into your schedule. It happens to every dental practice.
However, by looking ahead and creatively reacting to these problems, your practice can reduce broken appointments while building trust with your patients.
We all know you can reduce cancellations and no-shows by sending reminders. But this is your chance to turn the standard practice on its head to make your patients feel special and less likely to break an appointment. Send mailed reminders two weeks before the appointment date, and consider sending small samples of floss or a toothbrush with a personal reminder. Remember, there are two things everyone loves: feeling important and free goodies! As the appointment grows closer, text message reminders within 24 hours of the appointment add a nice, modern touch. These reminders are usually a hit with younger patients, with some practices even sending day-of reminder texts.
Make Dental Office Scheduling a Team Effort
It’s easy to measure the success of your patient schedule with numbers from production. However, day-to-day improvements can also be measured by the stress levels of you and your staff. Get your entire staff on board by having a quick glance at their dashboard every morning to know about the daily schedule. Dental assistants know better than anyone which patients are most likely to cancel, while also being able to predict potential scheduling conflicts. Make use of the scheduling software that can get everyone on board.
Crafting a perfect dental schedule requires a conscious, collective effort by the entire team. However, with the right attitude, you’ll soon notice the difference, both in team morale and with your bottom line.
The reality of the schedule can be daunting but a strong schedule with a positive approach and a can-do willingness to make it work will thrive, everybody, while the office reaps the rewards of a productive day. Sign up with Picktime online scheduling for a dental practice scheduling, absolutely free of cost.