Appointment scheduling. Follow the plan and eliminate tardiness 

June 13, 2018

Scheduling techniques involve not only the scheduling process on itself but also tools that help dental professionals excel at time management. Making the most out of data you acquire every day will not only help understand patients better but also plan each day with high precision. The patients set time aside and even take off work to make an appointment, they are losing money while you are earning it. Doctors should be punctual and keep the appointments that are set as well as try to maintain appointment times. Here are some tips on how to make sure it happens every time.

1. Create more flexible appointment time slots

There is a reason why data is becoming so important in today’s economy. Based on observed data, you can create more flexible time slots for different types of appointments. Instead of having fixed 15 or 30-minute slots, you can adjust to real-time data from your own experience. If certain kinds of appointments take, let's say, 40 minutes on average, you will gain an advantage by creating another slot specifically for this type of appointment. Thus, it is easier to schedule more appointments every day with more precision in time estimation for each of them.

2. Prepare information needed before the appointment starts.

Anything that does not involve diagnosis or treatment should be done in advance. Doctor’s time is your most scarce resource. Ask your patient to explain their clinical problem to the nurse. If she writes it down and prepares all the information for the dental professional, the appointment time can be significantly reduced.

3. Starting on time means starting before

If the first appointment begins 10 minutes later than planned, the second one will do so as well. Then, for the entire day, you follow this ripple effect of constantly starting late and thus, finishing later than you schedule predicted. When starting your day’s appointments, it is essential to recognize that each patient needs to have a pre-visit time buffer to ensure that all the procedures which do not involve the dentist are done before the actual time of the appointment comes. Therefore, having appointment time set to 8:00 will mean that patient arrival time has to be set to 7:45. So, by 8 o’clock, the patient is ready for their billable encounter with the doctor. No time wasted.

4. Group Similar Patients

Some doctors appreciate seeing patients with similar conditions one after the other, on the same day. It keeps focused mindset enabling the doctor to finish appointments even quicker. In addition to that, medical staff also maintains a regular rhythm throughout the appointments.

5. Be open all day

Be the one clinic that is open when people actually have free time. Use the rule that ‘If you aren’t open someone else will be.’ Ensure that your secretary, or any team member for that matter, is available during lunch hours. That’s the time when people can take off work to call you and book their appointments. Also, it is essential to provide the appointment time slots when people are available. Therefore, being open early in the morning or later in the evening creates a huge competitive advantage if your patient cannot take time off work for their appointment. A few extra hours a week can make a noticeable difference in the relationship with your patients and keep them coming back to your dental clinic.

Appointment scheduling may appear very basic, and these guidelines may seem simple, but that does not make any of them easy. As soon as you gain a reputation for efficient scheduling and exceptional punctuality, more people will want to come to your clinic. Thus, as the volume of patient flow increases, scheduling becomes even harder. It is essential to maintain fundamental techniques at times like this to ensure that clinic’s reputation will stand firm in the eyes of the public.



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