Give patients the access they expect

With today’s consumer expecting the convenience of booking anything and everything online, the pressure is on dental practices to target these consumers and grow the patient base in an effective way, without adding to the administrative burden.

It’s clear that reliance on traditional dental practice booking channels have experienced consistent declines over the past few years, with existing patients not responding to recalls and often only seeking an appointment when they have a problem. The combined effects are noticed when short notice appointment gaps start to form in the diary. Filling these gaps with new patients is critical to boost practice revenue and, more importantly, profit. Think about how many £80 cups of coffee you’re drinking when there is a 30-minute gap in the diary.

When a new patient does want to book an appointment, it is often out of surgery hours and they will take the path of least resistance by searching the internet for a local dentist who can facilitate a booking within two or three days. Imagine if the booking could be made by the new patient in under 60 seconds via a dentist finder website like 

Worryingly, recent reports show that access to dentists is reducing as a growing number of patients are visiting A&E for emergency dental work; up from 3,505 visits in 2010-11 to 14,526 in 2012-13, however, the view is that many of these patients would have attended a local dentist if they were more accessible at their time of need.

Lateral thinking

So why are dentists not generally accessible? In truth, a patient has a lot of barriers to overcome (most reception desks are closed for more than 50% of the week) and would rather be doing something else than booking to see the dentist.

Think about the increase in revenue a business enjoys when it improves access, for example; introducing a credit card machine. It would be unimaginable to remove your practice credit card machine now because you would quickly see a drop in revenue. If you were more accessible online, logic would follow that your revenue will be boosted. Does this mean opening 24/seven? No, just ensure the free appointments you do have during your standard clinic hours are accessible to a large audience of prospective new patients in your area.

Invest wisely 

It’s clear that all practices would financially benefit from offering its free appointments online to new patients, however, it’s also important for practices to select a system that is easy for patients to find on all the major search engines, eg Google and online directories. Dr Sandeep Senghera, BDS, CEO of Toothpick, one of the largest dentist finder websites in the UK, comments, ‘We have invested significantly to link with all the major search engines and directories, this in turn gives our dentists access to more than 25 million patients who regularly use the internet to search for a dentist in their local area. This is an extremely powerful tool to boost practice revenues and dramatically improve free appointment utilisation.’

The march is on

In the restaurant industry, similar platforms such as Open Table, delivering more than 40 million diners to date, have become long-term partners of the restaurant by creating a sustainable source of customers and, just like the practice credit card machine, serve an integral part in building a sustainable revenue source.

More than 500 dentists a month are now getting this message and signing up to the UK dentist finder website,, which in turn has delivered and surpassed 150,000 secure live bookings and generated more than £17m of practice revenue in the past year.

It doesn’t matter if you run an NHS, mixed or a completely private practice, highly efficient systems like Toothpick, deliver new patients and revenue 24/seven in a very cost-effective way.

For more detailed information visit, call 020 77681851 or email

Facebook: ToothpickDental.

Twitter: @toothpick.

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