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    Simple and effective tips to get your dental practice's schedule back on time

    Throughout my years as a consultant and speaker, a common team meeting topic is how to improve patient service. The lists created often sound like this: create a patient reception area refreshment station, get TVs for the reception area and the treatment rooms, buy iPads and put games on them, buy better, more current magazines, and so on.

    This brainstorming is great. An idea is an idea, without judgment. However, when I ask the question differently such as, “What can WE do to improve our patient service?” “What systems are the patients complaining about?” or “What did the last few patients or families that left the practice say as to why they left to go to another dental office?”, the discussion then centers on different ways to improve patient service.

    One of the leading complaints and reasons why patients leave a practice is that they are never seen on time. Patients want their time to be respected. They all lead busy lives and coming to the dentist has to fit into that life. When they drive through the crosstown traffic, give up their lunch hour, and arrive on time only to be seen late, will the refreshment station or the TV alleviate their anger, disappointment, or feelings of disrespect? Providing comfort, entertainment, and refreshment is icing the cake, but the first step is to create a perfect cake: Fix your scheduling system so that you can run on time.

    More from the author:

    4 frequent conversation blunders you make with your patients

    Time is money, time is precious, and time disrespected sends patients to other practices. Running late is a negative that can be easily fixed. This is a system called your scheduling system. Yes, I am a realist. I know that occasionally (and I really do mean occasionally), a system. Yes, I am a realist. I know that occasionally (and I really do mean occasionally), a schedule may run late. My experience shows me over and over again that a wellscheduled practice runs on time, sees their patients on time, does the dentistry they promised to do in the reserved time, and gets the patient on his or her way within the time frame they scheduled.

    Practitioners tell me, "Nothing stresses me out more than running behind schedule. I know everyone's waiting, and our stress level gets higher and higher. It gets harder and harder to explain to patients why we seem to always run late.”

    More from the author:

    Overcoming 5 common patient objections and going from "no" to "yes"

    The scheduling system defines the practices efficiency and effectiveness. It makes or breaks you in so many ways.

    Learn more from the author and see examples on the next page...

     

    Cindy Ishimoto
    Cindy Ishimoto has more than 30 years of experience in the dental industry, initially as an assistant and business auxiliary, then ...

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