Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The New Patient Experience . . . scheduling the appointment

An Imperfect Moment
You say (in your best first-contact-friendly voice):  “Okay Susie! Let’s find you an appointment.” 
Susie says:  “Well, I am already overdue, I know I should have called earlier, but I have been so busy. Do you have anything this week?”
You think to yourself: “She’s joking right? Does she not know we are booked out 6 weeks in advance?” 
Of course you have the right to your moment of griping, and, yes, the world would be a better place if all your patients magically understood exactly how your systems and processes work…
But what if you could spare yourself your moment of angst because you actually did have an appointment available this week to accommodate her?  You would make Susie’s day and at her next ‘girls day out luncheon’ she would be bragging about how awesome your office is.
Perfect Day Scheduling
 It takes a little discipline, but you and your front office team can do it with the help of the Dentrix feature Perfect Day Scheduling.

First, what is your daily goal for new patients?  Next, pre-block out the new patient spots using the Provider Setup on the Appointment Book. 
A WORD TO THE WISE:  I’d suggest you set these new patient time blocks in prime time.  If your goal is two new patients per day I would put one block at the end of the day since this is usually after work for most people and one either in the early morning or mid morning.  Later, if you find that your new patient spots are filling up weeks in advance, you might want to consider increasing the number of blocks you have per week.  If patients have to wait for their first visit, they may not schedule at all; you risk them calling the next dentist on the list to see if they can get in sooner.

The D Word
Once these time blocks are set in the schedule they stay open for new patients.  This is where the dreaded Discipline comes into play; you need to keep these spots available for new patients until 48 hours prior to the appointment.  Inevitably, you will have continuing care patients who want the spots, but don’t give them up!  Simply put your continuing patient on a call list and let them know that if you get an opening they will be the first person you call.  
Don’t Get Frustrated, Get Helpful!
New patients are the lifeblood of the practice and should be treated with extra special care.  People by nature are procrastinators and when they are ready to buy something - in this case your dentistry - they don’t want to have to wait.  That’s just how we imperfect humans operate.  Using Perfect Day Scheduling builds this insight right into your daily process, and ensures that each new patient experience gets started on the right foot. 
Of course, getting the new patient into the schedule is only the first step.  Next, it is up to the front office team to hand off to the clinical team so they can continue this first visit with the same care that was given with the initial phone call.  In my next post I’ll talk more about this critical handoff between the front and the back and share strategies for how to sustain a consistent level of quality care during the clinical exam. 

Dayna Johnson, Certified Dentrix Trainer
Dayna loves her work. She has over 25 years of experience in the dental industry, and she’s passionate about building efficient, consistent, and secure practice management systems. Dayna knows that your entire day revolves around your practice management software—the better you learn to use it, the more productive and stress-free your office will be. In 2016, Dayna founded Novonee ™, The Premier Dentrix Community, to help cultivate Dentrix super-users all over the country. Learn more from Dayna at and contact Dayna at


  1. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

    Patient Appointment Scheduling

  2. Great thoughts you got there, believe I may possibly try just some of it throughout my daily life.

    Health Information Exchange