Emergency appointments are not typically viewed as practice building opportunities by most dentists and teams. Instead, emergencies often cause the practice to run behind and pull attention away from scheduled patients. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can turn many of your dental emergencies into practice building opportunities.
First, you need to reserve time for emergencies to minimize disruptions to your schedule. Consider how many emergencies you average each week, identify which days have the greatest number of emergencies, and plan accordingly by blocking time for those visits. For example, it typically works best to block time just before or after lunch, and/or at the end of the day to see emergencies. The number of blocks you use each day depends on how many emergencies you typically schedule.
Next, do not just focus on the acute issue of your dental patient. Know ahead of time if the patient is past due for a cleaning and exam, identify outstanding treatment, and also look at other family members who are past due. Discuss the need for preventative care during the emergency visit. Really emphasize the importance instead of just mentioning it as you leave the room.
Finally, make it a team effort to schedule emergency patients and their family members for past due preventative care and treatment. When patients hear a consistent theme from the dentist, clinical team, and front office, they are far more likely to schedule for their recommended next steps. When practices make this a priority, they convert many emergency patients into regular recall patients who slowly start scheduling treatment, and they also reactivate past due family members.
When you prepare for emergencies, you put yourself in a position to help patients do what’s best for their dental health. This preparation and teamwork can help you turn emergencies into opportunities.