Now that the haze of the new year has worn off and the new growth of spring is on the horizon, it’s time to ensure that your practice is doing all it can to have a full schedule. In this post, we’ll go through the tools you can use in Open Dental to help fill open appointment slots and maximize production.
First, we have Appointment Lists. There are several in Open Dental, but there are four we’re going to focus on: Recall, Planned Tracker, Unscheduled, and ASAP.
The Recall List is a list of patients due for recall who have not yet been scheduled. Set a date range to find patients who are due in the future to get them on the schedule, or find patients who are past due, and get them scheduled as soon as possible. From the Recall List, you can see patients’ contact information, generate postcards, and send emails. When a patient is ready to schedule, use the Sched Patient (or Sched Family) button to schedule their appointment.
TECH TIP: You can automate your recall process by using Web Sched Recall. As a patient’s due date approaches, they will receive a notice with a link to schedule their own recall appointment.
Use the Planned Tracker to get non-hygiene openings filled. If your office isn’t already using Planned Appointments, check out our previous blog post, Fill Openings in Your Schedule with Planned Appointments, to learn more about this feature. The Planned Tracker lists all Planned Appointments that have not yet been scheduled. Reach out to these patients so they don’t slip through the cracks and your schedule stays full. You can even filter the Planned Appointments List by code range if you’re looking to fill an appointment slot for only a certain kind of appointment (e.g., restorative).
If a patient cancels an appointment but isn’t ready to reschedule at the time, you have the option to send them to the Unscheduled List. If you’re looking to fill appointment slots, you can work this list to get patients who already had appointments rescheduled.
Lastly, is the ASAP List. When you’ve created an appointment, you can check the ASAP box if the patient would like to be notified if an earlier opening becomes available. Patients on the Recall List can also be marked as ASAP if their recall has not yet been scheduled. When you have short-notice cancellations, use the ASAP List to reach out to patients to claim that opening. If your practice is signed up for Web Sched ASAP, you can even send patients a link so they can easily claim the available slot.
To limit no-shows, use the Confirmations List to which of your patients has already confirmed, and reach out to patients who may need to be reminded of their upcoming appointments.
If your practice is signed up for eServices, make sure you’re using them to the best of your advantage to get patients in your chair.
If you’re signed up for the eServices bundle, all automated messaging options are included. If you’re not signed up for the bundle, your practice can sign up for one or more of these options to meet your specific needs.
- Web Sched Recall: Send automated text messages (if you’re also signed up for Integrated Texting) and emails to patients who are on the Recall List with a link for them to schedule their appointment online.
- Web Sched New Patient: Patients can easily schedule their own appointments online. Your office will have a link that they can provide to patients via email or your IT/webmaster can help you embed it on your website.
- Web Sched Existing Patient: Current patients can schedule predetermined Appointment Types (e.g., emergency, cosmetic whitening) on their own using a link you’ve made available.
Using these Web Sched services, you can automate scheduling processes and allow patients to schedule appointments more easily, thus filling your appointment book.
Automated Messaging won’t necessarily fill open slots in your schedule, but it’s a great way to remind patients of their upcoming appointments and have them confirm ahead of time to limit no-shows (just like the Confirmations List we mentioned previously)
- eReminders: Your office doesn’t need to enroll in a separate eService to send these out. You do need to be signed up for Integrated Texting if you want to send eReminders via text, but otherwise, these can be sent via email as long as your office is on support.
- eConfirmations: If your office is signed up for eConfirmations, use this service to automatically send texts or emails to remind patients of their upcoming appointments that they can respond to, to confirm. Once a response is received, the appointment status is automatically updated in Open Dental.
Last, but not least, if your office wants to just reach out to patients, or even the community at large, use the Advertising – Postcards feature. Select from templates and create a mailing list of patients or purchase mailing lists for a target audience. Once you’ve selected your recipients and design, all the mailing is handled for you!
With these tools, you can plant seeds to help your practice bloom, and Open Dental Support is here if you have questions.