Carestream Dental’s Nina Cartwright asks, “Where have all the dental patients gone?” And explains how CS R4+ Engage can help
We still need to ask why people don’t get to the dentist as often as they should. The question is relevant whether your schedules are full, or if you have been seeing the numbers dwindle every year.
Cost will be a factor for patients who pay for treatment. Perceived need ties in with this – a patient may bring their children for a check-up every six months because it is free, but only book an appointment for themselves when they have a problem. Anxiety will also be another reason people avoid going to the dentist. Travel issues and access can also be a cause of poor or lapsed attendance, as can struggling to book a suitable appointment time.
Small changes can make a big difference. Are your charges clear? Do you have protocols in place to deal with dental anxiety and do you advertise these? How well do you spread the prevention message?
Is your booking system convenient and fully patient-focused? The answer for many practices has been to implement online booking. This can be done anywhere, on a computer, smartphone or tablet, and it speaks loudly to the busy commuter, or the on-the-go mother, neither of who have any desire to be held in a telephone queue. Online booking can also allow a patient to switch their appointment easily, without having to just cancel.
Online booking will benefit your practice too. You need only upload slots you wish to fill, retaining full control of what is available to book. The reception team will get more time to deal with people physically in the practice and those who still prefer to make a telephone call.
Investing in online booking means looking for a system that improves both attendance and patient satisfaction. CS R4+ Engage from Carestream Dental is a brand-new tool designed to do just that and more. Combining the power of cloud-based online booking with SMS text messaging while encouraging satisfied customers to provide reviews, it utilises the latest technology and marries it with good, ‘old-fashioned’ values like convenience and high standards of customer service.
In the 24-month period up to the end of June 2017, 22.2 million adults were seen by a NHS dentist in the England; that’s just over half the adult population . Even if we factor in private patients , that’s a lot of people missing. This mountain to climb needs more than one solution, but making it easier to book an appointment that suits will help.
For more information, contact Carestream Dental on 0800 169 9692 or visit www.carestreamdental.co.uk
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 NHS Dental Statistics for England – 2016-17. NHS Digital, 31 August 2017.
 GP Patient Survey Dental Statistics – January to March 2017, England. NHS England, 6 July 2017.