Ideal schedules and pre-blocks that optimize production look great on paper, but the inevitable question is how do you get dental patients to schedule at the “right time.”
Consider your own experiences with a healthcare provider when you needed to schedule treatment. How often did the practice let you select the time? When I had Lasik surgery five years ago, I was told by the clinical team that the surgeries were scheduled in the morning. Guess when I scheduled.
We have all been patients in need of exams or surgeries or other treatment and typically the team lets us know when we can schedule. Why is dentistry different?
If you want dental patients to schedule bigger procedures in the morning, for example, do not just put the responsibility on your dental team to put patients in a headlock until they agree. Patients follow the direction of the dentist. When you diagnose treatment, just add the following phrase, “I like to schedule that type of treatment in the morning, so let us find a morning that works well for you.” When the dentist guides the patient to schedule at a certain time, guess when the patient will schedule?
It is important for the clinical team to prompt the dentist whenever he/she forgets to guide the patient to the appropriate time of day. I also recommend you consider being firm in principal and flexible in application. If a patient cannot schedule bigger treatment in the morning, for example, find one early afternoon each week where you can accommodate the exceptions.
If you want patients to schedule at the “right time,” take an extra thirty seconds during your exam and guide them appropriately. Then your ideal schedule will look as good in reality as it does on paper.
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