Greater adherence to recommended care, better clinical care, and health care quality outcomes are associated with positive patient care experiences. It applies to all forms of health care including dental. A patient should have access to dental care when it is most needed. In that way, the patient scheduling process gains importance as it contributes to patient experience and overall satisfaction. Patients will stick on to a dental practice only when they get prompt appointments and needn't have to wait for long periods. Otherwise, it will lead to negative responses and reduced revenue.
The handling of patient scheduling has a direct impact on the overall performance of a practice. A hassle-free patient appointment process boosts the reputation and helps the practice gain more patients through the reference. Technology tools can be used to make scheduling an easy and smooth process for the patients.
- Online scheduling: Patients should be provided with the facility to book their dental appointments online. It helps them choose the most convenient time for consultation. Online booking can be either through your patient portal or through a mobile app. As all the patients won't be using an online booking facility, the practice staff has to make sure that online appointments are synchronized with appointments booked offline, i.e, through phone or in person.
- Digital intake form: Online booking can be accompanied by a pre-check-in facility to fill in details like patient health history, allergies, medications, insurance, and method of payment, etc. A digital intake form for the patient to key in all these details is a must in a comprehensive care system. This will considerably reduce the waiting time while the in-office visit happens.
- Appointment reminders: Patients need to be reminded of their scheduled appointments from time to time. For this pre-scheduled auto-reminder systems can be used to send out appointment reminders to patients via text or email. This system ensures the presence of the patient for consultation as per schedule eliminating no-shows. These no-shows have several adverse implications on a dental practice including poorer health outcomes for patients and disruption in your organizational workflow. Auto-reminder systems save precious time your staff otherwise have spent manually notifying patients through text or call.
- Automated recalling: All patients who require periodic appointments may not reschedule. For patients who require recurring or regular appointments, automated recalling systems are great. This can also be used to make the best out of healthcare-focused national observances by reaching out to patients to get their various screenings done, with some waivers and offers. This is done by sending automated emails and text to your patient base.
A practice needs to develop a scheduling policy that contains all the details like what happens with a missed appointment, canceling less than 24 hours prior, no-show fees if any, etc. The policy should be communicated to the patients in advance. The staff at the dental office need to be given advanced training to use and manage the technology used. The staff should also be thorough about the policies implemented so that they can explain it to the patients easily.
Recent studies have found that 44% of patients prefer online scheduling and paperless onboarding. This has encouraged dental practices to go for technological innovations that will boost their patient experience. The CS Enterprise from CareStack is one such example, purpose-built for dental enterprises to maximize efficiency through centralization, automation, and analytics. It is an enterprise-grade cloud-based practice management software with capabilities for centralization that will help to achieve the full potential inherent in scale. Its usage among practices results in lower no-show rates, increased capacity to see patients, better patient adherence, and above all higher revenue.