Leave Room for New Patients in your Schedule

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Attracting new patients to your practice who will accept treatment can be a challenge—especially if you don’t leave room for them in your schedule.

When potential new patients call in to make an appointment, they don’t want to see you in a month or two. They likely want to get in as soon as possible. They also want to feel valued and cared for, and that isn’t exactly the message these potential patients get if they’re told the doctor can’t make time for them for another six weeks. The same is true for current patients who are ready to schedule bigger cases. If the wait is too long, they just might find another dentist to take their case.

This all comes down to a problem with your scheduling system. You simply must make room for new patients and for current patients who want to schedule treatment. How? Let’s talk about new patients first. Sit down with your Scheduling Coordinator and figure out, on average, how many new patients you see each month and then block out enough time in the schedule.

I recommend looking at new patient activity over the last six months. If you saw 60 new patients over that period, for example, that works out to 10 per month and 2.5 per week. Reserve at least that much time in your schedule to handle immediate demand. If demand increases, make the necessary adjustments.

To make more room for both new and current patients, I also suggest you stop relying on pre-appointing. I know many practices have done this for years, but the problem is it gives the illusion your schedule is full when it really isn’t. There’s a good chance many of the patients you schedule so far out won’t show up for the appointment or will need to cancel at the last minute. This not only leaves you with holes to fill, it keeps other patients from taking those slots. To avoid this, I suggest developing a hybrid scheduling system.

Making adjustments to your schedule will give you more room to take on new patients and larger cases, improving practice productivity and your bottom line.

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