Scheduling tips from experts
Beginning in 2012, Dentistry IQ has periodically offered its readers the chance to explore tips from practice management experts that cover all areas of the dental practice, from patient relationships to the staff to financial concerns to front office matters to marketing strategies.
Whatever your role in the dental practice — whether you're a dentist, hygienist, front office worker, or even a consultant — there's sure to be something in this collection of tips that will help you as you continually commit to your job and practice.
The two previous incarnations of the 100 Tips articles have been big hits on the Dentistry IQ website — the original version still ranks as one of the top-read articles on our website. This fall, the Dentistry IQ editors decided to gather another round of tips. Due to a slight decrease in the number of tips we received this time around, and to increase clickability, we've decided to post each category of tips as a separate article. The separate articles will make it easier for readers to read only the tips that benefit them, although we urge you to read as many as you can!
Here are the top three scheduling tips from practice management experts:
No need to have any “empty chairs” in your practice. At the morning huddle, have team members review patient records, including ALL patients with incomplete dentistry and any unscheduled family members.
Fill openings in the hygiene schedule by sourcing a patient who is seeing the doctor on that day and is due/overdue for his or her hygiene appointment. A comfortable, positive communication includes:
“In preparing for your visit today, Dr. Smith noted that it has been __ since your last preventive dental hygiene appointment. Due to a change in the schedule, we will be able to save you a trip back and accomplish this for you today.”
Annette Ashley Linder, RDH, B.S.
The most expensive thing in a dental office is an empty chair. To prevent broken appointments as much as possible, verbalize your broken appointment rule as a benefit statement when handing patients their appointment card. Say something like this: “We understand patients have changes in their schedule. In order to avoid a broken appointment fee, we kindly request 48 hours notice.” Rehearse this. I suggest making this statement as the appointment card is being given to the patient. Make this part of your routine: say it as your elbow flexes to give the patient his or her appointment card.
Once a patient leaves undecided about the recommended procedure, many times the follow-up with that patient becomes inconsistent. Make sure that you have a consistent process in place to follow-up with patients who have been diagnosed but not scheduled. When that process is in place and you begin contacting the patients, have a strong verbal script and all necessary information in hand. Keep in mind that the longer we let the patient delay, the less likely he or she will schedule. If a patient does not schedule within the first 90 days of diagnosis, most likely he or she will not.
Vice President of Coaching, Jameson Management