Where do I put this patient???
Written by Tami Grigg
This is a common question that the clinical staff hears on a regular basis from the front office staff in most dental practices. Although it is great that your office is so busy, it can be a deciding factor for new patients that aren’t able to get in in a reasonable amount of time and cause them to go elsewhere to get the treatment they are needing. If you are finding this is happening in your practice, I would recommend you take a look at your emergency codes and comprehensive exams that have been billed out within the last year and divide that number by 12 to get an estimated amount of new patients/emergencies you are seeing each month. After determining that amount, you then you can decide where to create openings or block out areas on your schedule for such emergencies on a weekly basis. When doing this, you create an excellent opportunity to build rapport with those patients so they become long-term patients to the practice. With patients scheduling their recall appointments six months in advance, this will allow you to still schedule them and also leave areas open for those emergency patients that would like to have same day treatment if necessary.
Some members of your staff may not like that they have an open area in their schedule if they get paid off of production, so in that situation, you would need to rotate which hygienist or doctor has the opening each week. These open time slots can be adjusted based on busy times versus the slow times of the year and when you see patterns in emergencies.
If you are unable to fill these spots with emergencies the week of, it allows great time for any staff to catch up on maintenance within the office or to work recalls for patients that haven’t been in the office over the last 6 months to get them back for necessary cleanings and exams or to call patients that need to schedule treatment with the doctor.
After all, our goal as clinicians is to serve our community to the best of our ability and ensure we provide the needed treatment within a timely manner.