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How do your patients like to be scheduled?

appointment reminderIt has always been a challenge for dentists to retain their patients (especially new ones). One simple way to cater to your patients’ needs would be to notify them of their appointments the way they like.

A 2015 survey conducted by Software Advice, a leading Information Technology Research and Advising Company based in Texas, highlighted the statistics on the ways dental patients like to be scheduled and reminded of their appointments. It categorizes preference by age as well. This survey was conducted on 1,715 patients belonging to age groups 18-55+yrs. (majority of them males).

Key findings:

Appointment Scheduling

  • General preference: 60% preferred scheduling their appointments in person at the dentist’s office, following a dental check up. The remaining 40% didn’t mind remote scheduling, of which 30% liked to be informed over the phone, 7% were comfortable making an appointment online through a patient’s portal, while 3% preferred receiving text messages on their phone.
  • Age preference: Majority of patients belonging to age groups 18-55+ yrs. preferred making their appointments in person. The second preferred method was just a phone reminder.

Appointment Reminders

  • The majority of patients (53%) liked to be reminded of their appointments 1-3 days prior to their appointment.
  • General preference: 30% preferred to be reminded of their appointments with a text message, 28% preferred emails, while 25% liked phone calls and the rest didn’t mind direct mails.
  • Age preference: Among age groups 18-34 yrs., the preferred method was a text message, while the middle-aged patients didn’t mind text message or an email and the geriatric patients liked an email notification.

This survey gives you a fair idea about patient preferences on scheduling. However, the sample pool was not completely random, as it represented patients of only those dentists who contacted Software Advice, introducing an inherent bias in the sample pool. Hence, the survey results may not be completely representative of the general population. A more randomly distributed sample of patients might give a better representation of the general trends.

Better yet…go ahead and ask your patient, “how would you like to be contacted?” This simple gesture may help you win their allegiance for life!

~Archana Menon, predental

Archana Menon

Archana is a foreign-trained dentist from India. Currently, the Associate Editor of India’s premier dental portal, BITEIN, a multifarious organization that aims to simplify the lives of dentists and patients by disseminating information related to healthcare, practice management and scientific conventions worldwide. Archana plans to continue her dental education in USA and enjoys rendering dental care to children. She is a prolific writer and an ardent believer of the saying, ‘Knowledge is power’.

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3 Comments

  1. S G Menon says:

    Worth reading. Gives a good overview on how the patients like to fix / be reminded of their appointment

  2. Shobhana Menon says:

    Well written piece…Gives an insight about the preferences of dental patients’ scheduling and reminding of appointments.

  3. Ray says:

    Very insightful article. Explains that catering to the little details can go a long way in establishing a customer base.

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