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How to Solve Dental Appointment Scheduling Challenges

May 31, 2022

Last-minute cancellations, no-shows, accidental patient overlaps, and forgetting to write appointments in scheduling software can drive you crazy. No matter how far ahead you work, something unexpected always surprises you.

All of this costs 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.

Dental appointment scheduling software can resolve these issues and help you improve efficiency and profitability.

Common Challenges in Dental Appointment Scheduling

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

Manual Errors

When scheduling is done manually, there is always the risk of human error. Forgetting to enter information into the dental scheduling software or accidentally writing down the wrong day or time can create chaos in your schedule.

Missed Calls

Missed calls are missed opportunities. When someone calls and gets a busy signal, the call goes to voice mail, or they wait on hold for a long time, they may just hang up and never call back.

Busy Schedules

People’s lives are busy. It is easy to forget about an appointment they 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 rescheduling (which takes time) or could result in a no-show (which hurts your daily production goals).

Difficulties Rescheduling

Rescheduling does not always go smoothly either. You can play phone tag with patients or spend time going back and forth to find a date and time that works for the patient 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. Since nobody is there to answer it, 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 have time to think about their healthcare needs. Becker’s Hospital Review says that as many as 43% of patients look for doctors and dentists after business hours. If you are not available when a patient calls, it can result in a lost opportunity.

Solving 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 satisfaction highest said communication with the dentist and their practice was easy.

Because new patient acquisition often comes through hygiene, bringing new or existing patients in for hygiene is great way to keep the practice top of mind when they have other dental services/needs. Tuning your appointment scheduling software to make hygiene appointments easy and available is key to the success of your practice.

Solving scheduling challenges means making it easier for patients to book and reschedule appointments and get answers to basic questions. The right dental appointment scheduling software helps you do all these things. TrueLark makes patient communication simple by automating scheduling and responding to patient queries no matter the time.

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. 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 24/7 at no extra cost.

Reduce No Shows

Automating scheduling 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 far fewer no-shows and cancellations among those who scheduled their own appointments.

Free Up Staff Time

The average dental office spends as much as three hours every day booking appointments. By shifting much of the scheduling online and providing patients with self-service tools, you can reduce the burden on your front office team and improve the scheduling experience for patients.

Do you want to schedule appointments more efficiently and reduce the burden on your front office staff? Book a demo to learn how dental appointment scheduling software can help.

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