How to Keep Your Dental Practice Schedule Filled
Written By: Tracy Civick
Have you ever wondered how to keep your dental practice schedule filled? If so, you are in good company. Almost every front office team member has asked this question a time or two. Let’s talk about a few tactics you can use to ensure that patients are scheduled and the practice owner is happy. How are you currently scheduling your patients? Do you plug them in wherever an open time slot is available? Do you allow the patient to tell you when they would like to come in and then do your best to accommodate the request? Maybe you don’t have a specific protocol and wing it every time.
Whatever your methods are for scheduling, there are a few things to take into account. Schedule to the daily production goal. This is important because it will allow you to quickly see the appropriate day / time to book seat crowns, deliveries, and post-op appointments. Since these appointment types don’t produce dollars, they should be put on days where the daily production goal is met. This will avoid having a full schedule and no place to schedule a production appointment at the end of the month when you are so close to hitting the target! Scheduling to goal will also tell all the team members if there is an urgency to work in same-day treatment in an effort to hit the mark.
Don’t know your daily production goal? It’s simple. Just multiply the monthly goal by the number of production days in the month. This will calculate the daily goal. Confirm patient appointments 2 weeks and 48 hours in advance. Most front office teams are so busy with the many tasks they are asked to do on a daily basis that phone confirmations get put as low priority and are usually done between 4pm-5pm the day prior to the appointment. STOP! Your patient communication tool such as Solution Reach or Revenue Well should be set up to automatically send out 2-week appointment confirmations.
This confirmation message should always mention the cancellation policy, “To avoid our $75 cancellation fee, we ask for a minimum of a 48-hour notice if this appointment time needs to change.” Each day prior to noon, a team member should confirm every patient on the schedule 2 days ahead of time. If they have already confirmed “YES” to the message sent 2 weeks ago, you call and say, “Hi Mrs. Jones. Rebecca is looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday at 11:00. She asked me to call you to answer any questions you may have regarding your appointment.” To read more about patient confirmations and cancellations, check out last week’s article: How to stop a new patient from cancelling their appointment.
Clean up your ASAP or Quick Fill list each month. These lists represent patients who have asked you to call them if a last-minute available appointment comes up before their scheduled time. ASAP is Dentrix’s list. Quick Fill is Eaglesoft’s list. Whatever you call it in your office, make sure that it is an accurate reflection of which patients are able to come in at the last minute. Most offices keep a running list but never clean it up. After some time passes, the list grows to 100-200 patients. When it comes time to use it, the list is no longer efficient because it is so time consuming to weed through all the people to find one that fits the time slot you are wanting to fill. So keep it clean and use it! These lists are a great resource to use when trying to fill a cancellation.
To learn more about training your dental front office team, contact me today at FrontOfficeCoach@gmail.com or 214-755-0955. For more information about our practice management training solutions, visit www.FrontOfficeCoach.com.
About the Author…
Tracy Civick is a nationally recognized speaker, coach, and author who focuses on motivating dental front office teams to grow practice revenue and get a better handle on the daily dental practice front office tasks. Her memberships include The Academy of Dental Management Consultants and AADOM, Academy of Dental Office Managers.