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How to Solve Dental Appointment Scheduling Challenges

February 7, 2023


Cancellations, no-shows, double-booking, and failing to register patients in online dental appointment scheduling software can drive you crazy. No matter how far ahead you plan, something unexpected always surprises you.

Scheduling issues cost time and money. No-shows lead to idle time when you are working but not billing. And having to schedule and reschedule appointments eats up front desk time that could be used more productively.

Streamline Dental Appointments with Dental Office Scheduling Software

The best dental appointment scheduling software can resolve these issues and help you improve efficiency and profitability. Continue reading to gain deeper insights into the benefits of online dental scheduling software with conversational AI.

Here is a question for you: Can I directly schedule an appointment on your website without the need to engage in email correspondence, complete a contact form, or make a phone call? Essentially, has your dental practice incorporated an online appointment scheduling system or dental booking software?

Common Challenges in Dental Appointment Scheduling

First, let’s talk about some common challenges most dental practices face in efficiently handling dental booking.

Manual Errors

When scheduling is done manually, there is always the risk of human error. Forgetting to enter appointment times into the online scheduling software or accidentally writing down the wrong appointment type can create chaos.

Missed Calls

Missed calls are missed opportunities. When a patient or prospective patient calls and gets either of the following they may hang up and never call back.

  • A busy signal
  • Voice mail, or
  • Put on hold for a long time

Busy Schedules

People are busy. It is easy to forget about an appointment made months ago. In other cases, the booking time was fine when they made the appointment, but now they find they have a schedule conflict. This leads to broken appointments that need rescheduling (which takes time) or could result in a no-show (which hurts your daily production goals).

Difficulty Rescheduling

Rescheduling does not always go smoothly either. You can play phone tag with patients or spend time going back and forth to find time slots that work for patients and the dental practice. When patients call after hours to cancel an appointment, they often require follow-up calls to rebook.

After-Hour Contacts

It is not just emergency calls that come in after hours. Many people only have time to call when your office is closed. So they may send an email inquiry or leave a voice mail message to book appointments or ask a question. Since nobody is there to answer, it can get lost. And the longer the response time, the less likely you are to book an appointment.

When you are at home with your family at the end of the day, patients are also getting home from work. This is when many of them think about their healthcare needs. Becker’s Hospital Review says that as many as 43% of patients look for doctors and dentists after office hours. If you are not available when patients or prospective patients call, it can result in lost opportunities.

Solve Scheduling Challenges with Dental Scheduling Software

A study published in the National Library of Medicine reported that quality, professionalism, and referrals were factors patients consider when choosing a dental practice. At the top of the list was the ease of communicating. More than 93% of patients who rated their patient satisfaction highest said communication with the dentist at their practice was easy.

Because new patient acquisition often comes through hygiene, bringing new or existing patients in for cleanings is great way to keep the practice top of mind when they need other types of appointments. Tuning your appointment scheduling software to make hygiene appointments easy and available is key to the success of your practice. In other words, you need to allow patients to book during and after practice hours.

Solving scheduling challenges means making it easier for patients to book a appointments, reschedule appointments and get answers to basic questions. The right dental booking software helps you do all these things. TrueLark makes patient communication simple by automating scheduling and responding to patient queries and appointment requests any time of day or night.

What types of questions can our conversational AI answer? There is really no limit because you can customize the software for your practice. Our clients use our AI to answer questions about the dental office location, practice hours, dental care, dental procedures, and insurance providers.

Automated and Self-Service Scheduling

TrueLark operates 24/7 to facilitate self-service patient scheduling. No matter what time someone visits your website or calls your office, they can schedule an appointment. If they reach your office during the day and no one can take the call, TrueLark handles the appointment scheduling and rescheduling for you. This includes appointment confirmations. If they call after hours, they automatically receive an SMS message and can engage with an AI assistant to book and reschedule appointments and get answers to common questions. It is like having an assistant who works for you at no extra cost allowing patients to book appointments.

Texting a Booking Link is Not the Same as SMS Booking

When you are comparing the features of dental appointment scheduling software or dental practice management software, it’s important not to confuse booking through text with the practice of sending a booking link through SMS. With an online booking process, the software sends the client a link in a text (or web chat) which requires them to leave the thread to access the online appointment scheduling system in a client app or browser window.

Once the guest leaves the familiar texting interface, you risk losing them before they book. This is especially true if they are using a mobile device (like the overwhelming majority of people). They have to create an account or remember their login info, strain to see the booking calendar, and hope they are clicking the correct boxes. In our experience, 95% of customers (or patients) opt into dental office SMS scheduling but only 5% click a link to an online booking system because of the way online appointment booking works on mobile devices. 

Reduce No Shows

Let’s discuss one of the most important dental scheduling tips: self-serve automated scheduling. Automating scheduling for dentist appointments reduces no-shows and last-minute cancellations and turns them into future appointments. Instead of leaving a voice mail message that says they cannot make their appointment, patients can easily find another time and rebook. 

When patients pick the days and times from the options you present, they tend to keep the appointment. As part of a year-long study, Mayo Clinic researchers tracked patients that scheduled their appointments online and those who scheduled appointments with the front office staff. The results showed fewer no-shows and appointment cancellations among those who scheduled their own upcoming appointments. Automated appointment reminders is also one of the best practices for dental appointment scheduling.

Free Up Staff Time

Effective dental appointment management requires well-designed workflows and capable online dental appointment scheduling software. The average dental office spends as much as three hours every day booking dentist appointments. When we advise our dental clients on how to schedule efficiently, we discuss both SMS booking and online booking. By shifting much of the scheduling online and providing patients with a self-service dental scheduler, you can reduce the burden on your front office team and improve the appointment scheduling experience for patients. 

Register for dental appointment software here.

Summary: The Benefits of TrueLark Patient Communications Software

To recap, here are the benefits of an AI-guided patient messaging and booking system for dental professionals:

  1. Stop losing potential patients who call outside of business hours
  2. Increase your practice’s average production goal by overcoming the common challenges of appointment scheduling
  3. Streamline patient intake by letting patients book appointments and having the AI capture contact details via SMS
  4. Simplify your dental schedule process for your front desk or call center team
  5. SMS appointment scheduling tools integrate with practice management software to simplify workflows and reduce human error in patient management

Still Using a Manual Dental Scheduling System?

Are you still using a paper appointment book or a standalone online appointment booking process? Do you want to schedule appointments more efficiently and reduce the burden on your front office staff? Book demo for the most capable and affordable dental appointment scheduling system in the industry. During your demo, we can discuss how TrueLark stacks up to:

  • EagleSoft appointment scheduling
  • OpenDental appointment schedule
  • Carestream dental appointment scheduling
  • EasyDental appointment scheduling
  • Curve dental appointment scheduling
  • Dentrix appointment scheduling

To sign up for dental appointment scheduling software, visit TrueLark.

Originally published May 31, 2022. Updated February 9, 2024.

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