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Features / March 20, 2023

Effective diary management

by Lindi Barber

Lindi Barber outlines methods to help with diary management.

Lindi Barber outlines methods to help with diary management.

Diary management is an essential part of running a successful dental practice. It ensures a smooth experience for staff and patients and allows us to make the most of our clinical capacity. Lindi Barber, head of operations at Dental Care Ireland, has outlined methods to help manage your diary.


Zoning your diary is valuable, as it allows you to make space for new patients, pre-booked recalls, emergency appointments and complex treatments.

Some benefits of zoning include better control of your practice, the ability to design your ‘perfect working day’ (for example, complex treatment in the morning, emergencies after lunch, and examinations in the afternoon), and provides a steadier and more predictable stream of revenue each week.

Waiting list 

Efficient waiting lists are a brilliant way of managing your diary. This allows you to fill gaps in your zoned diary if it isn’t already full close to the day. Waiting lists are also very beneficial if a patient wishes to be seen by a particular clinician, if there is a backlog of patients for a specific treatment, or if a patient requires treatment but is unavailable for some time.


After a difficult extraction or long appointment, it is important to follow up with your patients. This helps your patients feel looked after, and gives you an opportunity to book in follow-up treatments such as implants after extractions or crowns after root canals.

Managing FTAs (fail to attends)

We all understand that sometimes life can get in the way and patients can miss an appointment. It happens! However, this can have a massive effect on your practice diary and daily revenue. From our practices, we have observed that a fail to attend (FTA) rate above 5% is too high, between 2-3% is good, and less than 1% is the gold standard.   

Confirmation process

Confirming a patient’s appointment, especially those that have been booked well in advance, is extremely important to avoid FTAs. You can do this by email, text or call.

It’s also important to verbalise any FTA policies your practice has to the patient to ensure they’re aware of the procedure. Following a confirmation process will both keep your diary full and help build a relationship with your patients.

Implementing these tools when managing your practice diary should help improve the working day for your team and also allow for a smoother experience for your patients. It also allows you to make the most of your capacity, thus improving revenue and work satisfaction for the clinicians.