Consultants Corner

New Patient’s Comprehensive Exam Scheduling Tip

By Pamela Rolle

Principal and Senior Practice Management Consultant at Definitive Dental Solutions

“Dental practices need to understand the value of a new patient.”

Some practices will schedule new patients only in the hygiene department.  While this may solve the “I only want a cleaning” problem, it does little to promote the doctor/patient relationship with the new patient.  If you only have five to ten minutes allotted per exam in the hygiene room it will be a very rushed appointment.

A new patient should be scheduled first with the doctor and an assistant for 50 to 60 minutes, so that a very comprehensive exam can be completed and after seeing the doctor, the new patient should be scheduled in the hygiene room for 50 to 60 minutes.

At the time of greeting the new patient, do a tour of the facilities, introduce the team members, and show the patient where the restroom is located. This is a great time to talk about the sterilization area and explain that it is hospital grade, as well as, discuss the technology you have in the practice.

During an Initial Comprehensive Exam:

  1. Complete the fmx and pan
  2. Take 8+ series of intra oral photos
  3. Complete a verbal dental history
  4. Review the patients’ medical history
  5. Take the patients’ Blood Pressure
  6. Complete the charting of existing dentistry and chart basic treatment needs. (Approximately 20 minutes for this portion of the comprehensive exam.)
  7. Closing with the new patient on initial findings, discuss the preliminary hygiene diagnosis and discuss what will be completed today in hygiene.

If you have a software that allows you to visually schedule and define Doctor and Assistant time, you should do a time study of the flow of this portion of the first visit. It could look like 3A/2D/1A in two different provider colors. This will allow the administrative team to visually see and be able to dovetail a smaller appointment for the doctor in the other chair with the second dental assistant.

The retention of a comprehensive exam patient should be as high as 85+%. (Retention = Patients leaving with a pre-scheduling hygiene appointment.) This can be measured each month in EagleSoft’s Money Finder report and or using Dentrix letters feature.

I would recommend a template or place blocks in the doctor’s and hygiene schedules for the number of new patients you would like to see in a month.  Ideally, a new patient should be seen within one to two weeks of their initial phone call. Always keep your eye on how far out your new patients are pre-scheduled. Ask for a weekly report from the administrative team.

Dental practices need to understand the value of a new patient.  If the new patient stays in their practice for just five years and only accepts or needs simple restorative dentistry and is seen every 6 months for a hygiene appointment their value to the practice is approximately $5,000+. 


Pamela Rolle, Principal and Senior Practice Management Consultant at Definitive Dental Solutions, LLC

With over 20 years of Dental Consulting experience, Pamela has managed many cases and has covered many specific areas of concern for dentists and their dental practices.  She works with dentists to discover the hidden potential within their practices and directs them toward professional and financial improvement by implementing proven systems and strategies that greatly enhance a practice’s prosperity.

Whether a dentist is establishing a new facility, energizing an existing practice, or transitioning into retirement, she will guide you through the steps needed to realize your dreams.

“Consulting is my passion because it has given me the chance to see success in so many different forms; it has shown me the impact it has on real lives. Whether it is the doctor who now has time to see their children grow up because he or she has more time and less stress or who can now afford to pursue his or her long term dreams. It is especially rewarding when the team sees their vision and effort for their practice come to fruition.”

Tags: Dental Consulting, Dental Practice Management, Dentist, Financial Advisor for Dentists, New Patients, Pamela Rolle

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