Does this ever happen in your office? The new year is quickly approaching and there aren’t many more working days left in 2020. All of a sudden, the patients that had treatment diagnosed throughout the year realize their insurance maximum is about to start over and they will lose any unused benefits. They want an appointment, and they want it this month!

This can put a strain on your office as you try to squeeze these patients into your already busy schedule. Ideal scheduling is a puzzle during a normal month, and the month of December can be even trickier. My recommendation is to prioritize patients when scheduling.

Here’s how to prioritize patients to decide which ones to schedule in the last few appointment times you have available:

Prioritize by Procedure

For example, I would consider a patient who has four crowns treatment planned, as a high priority patient. Not only will their treatment plan exceed one year’s insurance benefit maximum, but it will also benefit the patient financially to spread their treatment out over two years. Scheduling these treatment-planned procedures also benefits your practice too, because crowns are higher production procedures. 

An example of a patient I would consider to be a lower priority to get in before the end of the year would be a one surface filling. 

Similarly, you can prioritize hygiene patients. Patients treatment planned for scaling and root planing can be scheduled this year, as this is a procedure that will utilize a lot of their insurance maximum. This will leave 2021 insurance benefits to be available for other restorative procedures.

Prioritize by Insurance Benefits

Patients whose insurance covers two prophys per calendar year should also be scheduled before the end of this year so they don’t lose their second prophy benefits. And patients whose insurance covers prophys once every six months can be scheduled next year since their benefits are not based on the calendar year. When verifying insurance benefits, make notes regarding frequencies and limitations as insurance plan notes in Easy Dental for a quick reference.

Prioritize by Patient

The appointments you have available between now and the end of the year are precious. Do not schedule patients that typically cancel or no show for these openings.  With few working days left in 2020, it’s important to prioritize which treatment and which patients you put on the schedule. Have a daily conversation with the schedule coordinators in your office to make sure they are scheduling the procedures and patients that work best for your practice during this last month of the year. You can also use Easy Day Planning in the Easy Dental Schedule to create time blocks for procedures to help with scheduling.

By Charlotte Skaggs

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.