Growing Your Practice

5 Great Tools to Streamline Appointment Scheduling in Open Dental

Appointment Scheduling


Appointment scheduling is a process that’s (hopefully) done over and over again in your practice. 

In this post, we’ll explore 5 great tools available to you in Open Dental to make the appointment scheduling process more streamlined, efficient, and in some cases, completely automated!

  • Appointment Types
  • Appointment Procs Quick Add
  • Planned Appointments
  • Make Recall
  • Web Sched (Web Sched New Patient, Web Sched Recall, and Web Sched ASAP)

1. Appointment Types

Go to Setup > Appointments > Appointment Types.

Appointment Types are a powerful tool that make manual appointment scheduling a breeze!
Using Appointment Types, the appointment can:

  • Have a custom appointment length (when an appointment length is specified, it overrides the usual appointment time calculation based on procedures attached to an appointment).
  • Have one or more procedures attached to the appointment (it will chart the procedures and attach them to the new appointment automatically). In some cases, this may replace your Appt Procs Quick Adds.
  • Color code a specific type of appointment for an easy visual reference.

See more on using Appointment Types here.

TECH TIP: When you set up Appointment Types, be sure to check “New appointments prompt for appointment type.” This will prompt the person making the appointment to select an appointment type from the list you’ve created.

2. Appointment Procs Quick Add

Go to Setup > Definitions > Appt Procs Quick Add

Appointment Procs Quick Adds are single procedures, or a set of procedures, you often attach to an appointment. This list shows up when you create a new appointment. Frequently performed procedures can be charted, treatment planned, and attached to that appointment with a single click. If you have common appointment groupings that differ by adult or child, simply create one Quick Add for the set of adult procedures, and another for the set of child procedures. Name each Quick Add accordingly.

See more on Appointment Procs Quick Adds here.

TECH TIP: Once you’ve added Quick Adds, you can reorder them using the arrows. For unused quick adds, select them and click the “Hide” button.

3. Planned Appointments

Go to the Chart module > Planned Appointments tab

If you’re not already using Planned Appointments, you’re missing out on one of the most efficient ways to plan for and schedule treatment planned care. Click here to learn how Planned Appointments improve appointment scheduling efficiency, and ensure patients get scheduled for the care they need.
Starting in version 18.1, there will be a prompt (when certain conditions are met) to create a Planned Appointment for the highest priority care.

4. Make Recall / Fam Recall

Make sure your provider schedules are in place, then use the Make Recall or Fam Recall buttons in the appointment view to quickly schedule the selected patient/patient and family members for their recall. The provider’s scheduled availability will be displayed in yellow below the pinboard, Quickly enter any scheduling restrictions, then select the day to jump to it in the calendar. Once you’re there, simply click/drag the patient/family appointments from the pinboard onto the schedule.

TECH TIP: Customize recall appointment lengths and procedures in Setup, Appointments, Recall Types. See this page for details.

5. Web Sched

Web Sched is an optional eService in Open Dental that, when used together with Integrated Texting, is the most effective way to get your patients to respond to scheduling requests and notifications. Web Sched allows patients to easily schedule online with a link sent via text or email. Your appointment schedule updates automatically, and patients get the care they need to stay healthy.

Sign up for these Web Sched tools to improve patient experience, streamline your appointment-making process, and boost profitability. (Ask us about bundle pricing to save even more!)

Web Sched New Patient – Put the Web Sched New Patient link on your web site, or on your Google Business page. New patients fill out basic information and choose from available times to get their first appointment scheduled online. Their new patient account is automatically created in Open Dental, and their appointment appears in your Appointment schedule immediately.

Web Sched Recall – Automate your recall with Web Sched Recall. Recall reminders go out automatically, and patients can click on the provided link to schedule their recall appointment.

Web Sched ASAP – Use the Web Sched ASAP eService along with Integrated Texting to quickly and easily text your patients about schedule openings right from the ASAP list. The text message includes a link so they can schedule their appointment online!

TECH TIP: Set up eServices alerts so users are notified when Web Sched appointments are created.

Use a combination of these tools for appointment scheduling and schedule management to streamline and automate your processes and boost efficiency, so you can focus on what’s really important: caring for your patients!


On a related note…

Once you’ve finished appointment scheduling, the challenge is preventing missed/broken appointments.
The Solution? 
eReminders and eConfirmations!

Making phone calls for appointment reminders and confirmations is time-consuming and costly, but so are missed or broken appointments. Patients prefer text communications, and are nearly 3 times more likely to respond to a text than an email, and they usually do it within an hour of getting the text.

The process of reminding and getting confirmations from your patients can be completely automated using eReminders and eConfirmations along with Integrated Texting.

*FREE* eReminders: Automated appointment eReminders sent by email or text.*
Send automated appointment eReminders to your patients by email or text (must be signed up for texting) based on intervals you specify. Starting in Version 17.4, you can set up an unlimited number of eReminders for an appointment.
* This eService is free, email reminders can be sent without additional cost. To maximize effectiveness, we recommend you sign up for Integrated Texting so text reminders are sent instead of emails.

eConfirmationsAutomated eConfirmations sent by email or text that allow patients to e-confirm.
Send automated appointment eConfirmations to your patients by email or text* to remind patients of their upcoming appointment. When patients e-confirm, their appointment status is automatically updated in the Appointment schedule.

Looking to fill openings in your schedule?

Read this post for greats tips to keep those chairs filled!

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