The Benefits of Pre-Scheduling Appointments

By pre-booking future appointments while patients are still in the office, you can have more control of your schedule and make strategic scheduling decisions to meet production goals.

Scheduling the patient’s next appointment while they’re still in your office—whether it be for their next continuing care appointment or for future treatment—is beneficial for two reasons. First, you’re scheduling the appointment while it’s still fresh in the patient’s mind and is a priority to them. Second, by scheduling in advance, it allows you to maintain more control of your schedule in the Appointment Book.

When patients don’t schedule their next continuing care appointment before leaving your office, it can be more difficult to get them back for those appointments. They may procrastinate scheduling the appointment, causing them to become overdue for re-care. Some may not ever schedule a return appointment at all, affecting your patient retention. Additionally, if a patient doesn’t preschedule their next continuing care appointment, your office has to send reminders or make phone calls to schedule those patients.

When it comes to scheduling appointments for future treatment, it’s best to schedule those appointments while the patient is still in the office because the diagnosis and reasons why they need the treatment have just been explained by the doctor and are fresh in the patient’s mind. Once patients leave the office, there are other things in their lives that will become important, and their dental treatment may not continue to be a priority. Typically, the patient will have some out-of-pocket expense for necessary treatment. While the dental treatment may seem valuable when they’re at the office, inevitably, once they’ve left and some time has passed, something else will come up that requires their financial attention.

If the patient does not schedule future treatment while they’re in your office, at some time in the future someone on your team will need to use the Dentrix Treatment Manager to search for and contact those patients with outstanding treatment to try to get them back on the schedule. This can be a time-consuming but necessary process because if that treatment is not scheduled, it will result in lost production for the practice.

Another benefit to scheduling appointments for future continuing care and outstanding treatment plans while patients are in the office is that you have more control of your schedule. When scheduling future continuing care, you’re typically scheduling months in advance, therefore allowing you to schedule strategically. By not scheduling those appointments in advance, you may have multiple patients calling you, wanting to come in as soon as possible because they’re past due for their appointment. That means scheduling them wherever there is an available appointment without the opportunity for careful planning. Some offices complain they have so many past due recall appointments, they don’t have any available appointments for new patients, which more strategic scheduling may help.

Similarly, by scheduling treatment appointments before the patient leaves your office, you have more control over your scheduled production. For example, if you are scheduling a crown, you could view the production calendar in the Dentrix Appointment Book to see which day of the month needs additional production in order to achieve your daily production goal, and try to schedule the patient that day. Using the Perfect Day Scheduling tool in the Appointment Book helps you strategically schedule future appointments.

Making sure you are booking the next continuing care appointment and outstanding treatment appointments before patients leave your office is beneficial for your practice. You’re scheduling the appointment while it is on the patient’s mind and before they forget or procrastinate it. By scheduling appointments in advance, you have more control of your schedule and can build a schedule strategically to meet your production goals.

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By Charlotte Skaggs
Certified Dentrix Trainer and The Dentrix Office Manager columnist

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for over 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at