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What is a patient-centric schedule?

Focused on being respectful and responsive to patient preferences, values and needs, a patient-centered practice is one where the patient’s perspective guides all clinical decisions. It’s an approach that requires a shift in mindset and work culture for both the dentist and their team. In this post, we’ll talk about building a patient-centric schedule and what that means for a practice.

The patient is number one

Patient-centric offices view the patient’s needs as their highest priority. When it comes to scheduling, this means making appointments at times when it’s best for patients and not necessarily when it’s best for the dental team.

Expanded opening hours

The simplest example of patient-centric scheduling is making appointments available in the evenings or on the weekend, so that patients don’t have to take time off work. Early morning appointments may also be popular with some patients. At larger practices, with multiple dentists, hygienists, and support staff members, arranging longer opening hours is easier.

Appointment flexibility

Another form of patient-centric scheduling is giving patients more control over how and when they can cancel or reschedule appointments.

Challenges with patient-centric schedules

Along with the obvious challenges of staffing the practice on evenings and weekends, you may find that there are fewer patients interested in after hours or weekend appointments than you think.

Going hybrid

For some practices, the right solution is to find a happy medium. Maybe it’s evening appointments one day per week and opening on the first Saturday of every month. A hybrid solution allows you to serve patients with unique scheduling needs without risking an empty chair.

Adapt and reassess

A good approach can be to try different scheduling arrangements and adapt accordingly depending on what works and what doesn’t.