Solving Patient Scheduling Conundrums

By Laura Jamison

One of the most obvious signs of a successful dental practice is a full schedule of patient appointments. But the more appointments you have, the harder it can be to juggle them, particularly if your practice seems to have more than its fair share of tardy patients. How can you keep things organized so that late arrivals don’t create a domino effect of tardiness in your schedule? How can you ensure patients show up for their appointments or don’t cancel at the last minute?

The most expensive thing in a dental office is an empty chair. To prevent broken appointments as much as possible, verbalize your broken appointment rule as a benefit statement when handing the patients their appointment card. It would sound like this:  “We understand patients have changes in their schedule. In order to avoid a broken appointment fee, we kindly request 48 hours notice.”

Rehearse this. I suggest making this statement as the appointment card is being given to the patient. Make this part of your routine as the elbow flexes to give the patient their appointment card.

Organizing Late And Early Patients

Every dentist will have patients who show up late for their appointments, but there are a few things you can do to keep them happy without throwing off your whole schedule. If you know who your habitually late patients are, you can try to schedule their appointments later in the day.

Likewise, you can try to schedule habitually early patients earlier in the day. This will make it easier to make it through all of your daily appointments while keeping the crowd in the waiting room at a manageable level.



Laura Jamison’s presentations are focused on dynamic team building and solid business management principles that maximize growth potential. Laura’s unique range of experiences combined with a passion for helping dental teams succeed make her an exceptional choice for your next meeting.

View Laura’s full bio

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