If you’re trying to build production numbers (and I’m sure you are) you might want to consider switching to a new scheduling system. Many dentists still appoint patients six months out, and while this might make your schedule look full, it’s actually hurting your production numbers.
As the practice CEO, it’s up to you to change systems that aren’t working, and to explain to your team members why those changes are necessary. While you’ve likely pre-appointed your entire career, that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to manage your schedule.
Even though patients agree to a day and time for their appointment six months in advance, it doesn’t mean they’re going to show. There’s a good chance something will come up with work or their family, so they’ll cancel at the last minute or not show up at all—leaving with you a scheduling hole to fill and making it very difficult to meet that day’s production goals.
So what can you do about this? I suggest you only schedule reliable patients six months out. If patients are known for flaking on their appointments, let them know you’ll call them a few months before they’re due to get them on the schedule. This will help reduce the chance that something comes up that keeps them from their appointment.
Another problem with pre-appointing? It gives the illusion your schedule is full when it really isn’t, because patients often have a change of plans that keeps them from coming in. So when patients who are ready for treatment call to make an appointment, they’re told it will be a month before they can see the doctor. Many of these patients will schedule an appointment, then promptly call another practice to see if they can get in sooner.
As the practice CEO, you have to take a look at your systems and determine what works and what doesn’t. Chances are, pre-appointing is hurting your production and keeping you from meeting your full potential. Implementing a hybrid system instead will help reduce broken appointments, ultimately growing practice production and your bottom line.