August 28, 2023
#scheduling #appointments #patients #followup #recare #hygiene
Did you know that the average dentist needs to schedule 24-50 new patients per month to grow consistently? When it comes to scheduling patients at your practice–and keeping them scheduled–it can feel stressful and difficult. The good news is that there are several simple strategies that you can implement today to help your practice schedule patients and keep them coming in. Try these 7 techniques to help your dental practice thrive and grow.
1. Schedule enough time with each patient
When you are scheduling new patients and keeping them scheduled, the first step is to implement effective SOPs or guidelines. Guidelines for each procedure ensure there is ample time allocated for each appointment. This will help to avoid rushed visits and long waiting times that make it inconvenient for your patients and harder for you to get the work done. It also gives you time to talk with them and get them rescheduled. Consider scheduling extra time for those new patients coming in the door. This way they feel welcomed and not rushed to get in and get out. You can get them set up with all the necessary questionnaires getting to know them better and giving them that personalized care.
2. Creating Appointment Reminders
Many of us are busy, and that includes our patients. Sending short and sweet appointment reminders can help ensure that patients come to their appointments. Consider using a variety of automated and traditional methods. This includes reminding and confirming patient appointments via text message, email, and phone call. Today there are many different software programs and helpful tools to do this effectively. Working with a coach at Next Level Consultants can help you get set up with the best front office systems. Also asking patients what their preferred line of communication is will give them a more personalized experience and allow you to stay in touch with them regularly.
3. Open Dialogue with Patients
Communication is so important for a more streamlined experience for your patients. By helping patients understand the procedures and scheduled appointment times, you can talk to them about valuing the doctor’s time. Your patients will want to help you and the office succeed. Give them the opportunity to help you succeed by partnering with them. For example, you can explain clearly the challenges that come with changing appointment times. Let them know if there are some days with more open availability, this might make it easier for them in the long run.
4. Educating Your Patients About Routine Oral Care
Seems basic enough right? But education goes a long way when building trust with your patients. Take the time to schedule a short time to talk. Emphasize the importance of routine visits and the impact oral health has on their overall health. Be sure to clearly display educational materials in the waiting area or on your practice website. As always, encourage questions and provide thoughtful answers. Keep in mind by asking your patients in a very kind and friendly tone “do you think you can do that for me” reinforces that you really do care and it gets them to commit to taking action subconsciously.
5. Offer Convenient Ways to Schedule
When it comes to scheduling dental appointments, convenience is key. Scheduling right after the cleaning or procedure while they are right there in the chair is ideal. Offer a range of appointment times, including early mornings, evenings, and weekends, to accommodate patients’ diverse schedules. If patients have family members who also need appointments, make sure you offer the option of scheduling appointments for multiple family members on the same day to save time.
Maintain a list of patients who are open to last-minute appointments in case there are cancellations or reschedules. Implement a rewards program that offers discounts or other incentives to patients who consistently attend their scheduled appointments. Lastly, offer an online portal where patients can easily view available appointments and choose times to reschedule if need be. This allows patients to schedule appointments at their convenience, even during non-business hours.
6. Allow for Patient Feedback
At your dental practice, it’s important to encourage patient feedback–both good and bad. Encourage patients to provide feedback about their experience with scheduling and appointment management. The open dialog allows patients to express their concerns with you directly rather than on Google Reviews in a negative way.
Meanwhile, listen to their concerns and suggestions and use the feedback to improve any potential issues that may be affecting patients from keeping their appointments.
7. Recare Systems
Do you have a follow-up or recare system in place for your patients? These systems are your saving grace for reminding patients to schedule their next appointment. It allows you to be proactive all with the benefits of automation. You can quickly implement these follow-up systems with approaches such as email, text, and phone call. An average goal in a fairly stable community is 70% to 80% of active patients returning regularly for recare. Quickly be able to identify patients that habitually miss appointments, periodontal maintenance patients, and other red flags will allow you to better care for and communicate with your patients.
Need Help With Scheduling and Keeping Appointments? Contact us at Next Level Consulting
When you are struggling to keep your appointment books full, consider contacting us for a complimentary practice consultation. If you need help getting your practice on the right track, our team of consultants are ready to collaborate. Click here to get started.