Do you know how many appointments go unfilled in your hygiene schedule each month? While it’s normal to have some openings due to sicknesses, it is more troubling when the openings were never filled in the first place or were the result of last minute cancellations. Knowing how many hygiene appointments go unfilled each month will help you troubleshoot potential issues within your dental practice.
First, having a lot of unfilled appointments may mean your recall program is not getting worked effectively. Remember, there are two parts to an effective recall program. The first part involves having your hygiene team schedule patients for recall before they ever leave the operatory. This is critical. The next part involves contacting past due patients every two or three months, not just when the schedule looks empty.
The second thing you may learn from reviewing unfilled appointments is you simply have too many hygiene days. Maybe you added an extra day of hygiene each week that had the unforeseen consequence of pulling patients from other days. If that is the situation, you may be more efficient with fewer hygiene days.
The final thing you may learn from reviewing openings in the hygiene schedule is your practice is struggling to grow. You may not average enough new patients each month to keep pace with the ones who leave due to moving or changes with insurance. Or, you may have a bigger problem with patient retention, and understanding that will help you fine tune the patient experience.
Monitoring the openings in your hygiene schedule will tell you a lot about the health of your practice. And then you and your dental team can proactively address how to make your hygiene schedule, and ultimately your practice, even stronger.