Dental Office Scheduling

Scheduling: The heartbeat of every dental practice

Dec. 12, 2014
If the schedule goes bad, the whole day in the dental practice can go bad. Here are a few easy tips from Jameson Management that will help get the practice on track and the days running smoothly.

Scheduling is the heartbeat of the dental practice. A well-scheduled day can lead to productivity, profitability, and less stress — all of which support providing outstanding care to your patients. The flip side of this statement is also true – a day that is not well scheduled can reduce your productivity, profitability, and lead to uncontrolled stress. Stress can compromiseyour ability to listen and provide focused care, and can drain your energy.

The enormous system of scheduling has many subsystems, and many things are impacted by the schedule. These include: 1. The ability to present treatment recommendations with enough time to help patients see the benefits and say “yes.” All behaviors and buying decisions are based on people seeing the value of their decision. It will take quality education and time to answer questions and clear the way for treatment acceptance. 2. The ability to discuss financial issues and concerns so that these can be overcome. Even if a patient wants the treatment, if you cannot reach a financial agreement, you cannot schedule the appointment. 3. If patients are not truly sold on the benefits of treatment, they may schedule but then cancel at a later time. 4. If patients appear interested only in how much their insurance will cover, you and your team members have missed one of the above three critical aspects of a person’s buying strategies: People must see the following – need, value, and urgency. And they must have trust in you as their provider, and in your ability to obtain excellent results that will benefit them.

If your schedule does not support that kind of quality interaction, your relationships with your patients will be at risk. A poorly engineered schedule can get in the way of smooth, stress-controlled, productive, profitable days.

At The Jameson Group, we believe that there are eight essentials of scheduling:
1) Schedule toward a pre-determined goal – yearly, monthly, and daily.
2) Schedule a variety of procedures into every day – primary, secondary, and tertiary.
3) Pre-block for approximately half of your daily goal in primary procedures.
4) Implement appropriate delegation (according to the laws of your state) when and where possible so that the doctor is doing the things that only a doctor can do.
5) Do a time-in-motion study to truly know how long a procedure takes so that you schedule plenty of time, but not too much. Wasted time is lost revenue and energy. Schedule both doctor time and assistant time.
6) Provide hygiene evaluations at a natural break in the doctor’s schedule rather than at the end of a hygiene appointment.
7) Make financial arrangements prior to the scheduling of an appointment. Always.
8) Schedule fewer patients in a day, doing more dentistry when and where appropriate, and see patients for fewer visits. Patients will appreciate you, and your daily productivity will increase, and it’s a profitable and much less stressful way to practice.

Remember, the key to productivity is not how many patients you see in a day, but rather how much dentistry you do in a day. No matter how well you may think you’re scheduling, do yourself a favor and look for places where you can improve upon each of these eight areas. In addition, make sure that your systems of patient education and customer service are so outstanding that more people are saying yes to your treatment, which will make it possible for you to schedule succinctly.

Cathy Jameson is the founder of Jameson Management, an international dental management, marketing, and hygiene coaching firm. The Jameson Method of Management, developed by Cathy, offers proven management and marketing systems for helping organizations improve their workflow and efficiency in a positive, forward thinking culture. She is the author of several books, including her latest title published by Quintessence, “Success Strategies for the Aesthetic Dental Practice,” co-authored with Dr. Linda Greenwall. Cathy has been a featured speaker at major dental events worldwide, having lectured in 28 countries, offering educational and entertaining presentations for dental professionals. For more information on Jameson’s services, visit or call 877-369-5558.