News and Views

The false security of a full schedule

It is not uncommon to hear people talk about the health of their practices by confidently stating how far they are “booked out.” How long it takes for a patient to get an appointment is often a statement of practice wellness.

A filled appointment book requires that your patients are willing to wait until you are available to see them. This requires your returning patients to be both patient and loyal. But new patients are usually less loyal to your practice. Imagine what are their thoughts if they are late for over 60’ in their first appointment with you.
Today’s consumers are less willing to wait for what they want and are less loyal to your practice than ever before. A recent Consumer Health Study in US found that 61 percent of all American consumers would change their healthcare provider for a more convenient appointment, compared to 47 percent who would change for a better price.


  • Try keeping your schedule busy at around 80% of your working day. Full capacity usually causes stress and strain when an emergency occurs. Think about what happens to a balloon when it exceeds capacity. If you are booked at 100% and an emergency appointment occurs, it is difficult to perform at your best.
  • Reserve the remaining 20% of your available time for urgent appointments and new patients. This allows you to add patients who call and want to come in today or tomorrow without over-stressing the practice. The challenge comes when a loyal, long-time patient wants one of those final spots. Make sure that your team is properly trained to handle these situations according to your guidelines.

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