Burden for Both Patients and Dentists: Long Waiting Lists and How to Reduce Them?

Published on 16/10/2023

Long waiting times for dentists in Belgium

There has been a lot of buzz in recent months about long waiting lists for dental care. Those waiting times are frustrating for both patients and dentists. There is no magic solution, but some things definitely help. For example, managing appointments more efficiently and reducing the number of patient no-shows. Through our platform, we help dentists with that.

In Belgium, a growing number of people are visiting their dentists regularly. A lot has to do with the increasing focus on preventive oral care. That is of course a positive trend. At the same time, it confronts dentists with a big challenge: how to deal with the workload? 

One way to manage is by working more. But there is a limit to that. It’s not without reason that an estimated one-third of dental practices in Belgium have implemented a patient stop: they can’t accept new patients anymore. Especially during this period, this becomes noticeable. Why? Because many patients want to schedule their annual preventive check-up before the end of the year.

The solution to the increasing workload is, as is often the case, complex. It involves the supply of dentists and related professions (e.g., dental hygienists), organisation of the workforce, financing mechanisms, citizens’ / patients’ behaviour, etc.

Many of those factors are beyond the control of you as an individual dentist. But fortunately, there are actions you can take on your own in your practice. Below, we list some of the most important ones. 

make sure your practice can be found online

Good (Online) Information Can Prevent Many Questions

People of all ages seek information on the internet about their (dental) health. By sharing answers to frequently asked questions and other relevant information online, you can already address many patient inquiries and save a significant amount of time.

The good news: we can help you create your own user-friendly and modern website, which doesn’t have to be expensive at all. A well thought-out practice website can help you build a good online presence as well as create better transparency and thus attract more new patients.

We help healthcare professionals create a customised practice website tailored to your needs and preferences. For this purpose, a special Digital coach is available to guide you through the entire creation process.

It’s important to always provide good information, although it can sometimes lead to more questions. So, don’t assume that a website will make all patient questions disappear, but it will make your services more transparent and help them find you more easily. Once again: there is no magic solution.

Alternatively, you can collaborate with a reliable medical online booking platform where your patients can find you, filtered by specialty, language and location.

With Doctena, we have developed an intuitive patient portal where patients can book appointments online and access reliable medical information. By registering on www.doctena.be, you can have your own practitioner profile with relevant information about your practice and the services you offer.

Additionally, we are enhancing the overall online booking experience. With the Doctena App patients can manage their appointment bookings more efficiently and view their appointment records in one place.

Make your online medical agenda your best buddy

Turn Your Medical Online Agenda into an (Additional) Assistant

For many healthcare professionals, their medical agenda is their ultimate working tool. Therefore, it should be smart, fast, flexible, and reliable. And preferably visually appealing as well.

The agenda system you use is also very important for your patients. Nowadays, many patients expect to be able to easily book and manage their appointment online and receive an automatic reminder a few days before their consultation.

Finally, an efficient agenda system is crucial to minimise waiting times. It fills in last-minute gaps in your schedule, reminds patients to arrive on time, finds a new slot if a patient can’t make it, etc. Without you having to do anything (besides helping patients of course).

With Doctena, we have 10 years of experience in agenda systems for dentists and other healthcare providers.

Today, we support more than 4,000 healthcare professionals in Belgium with our fully customisable medical online booking system.

Help Your Patients to Avoid No-Shows

No-shows are a problem many dentists and other primary caretakers are confronted with. They result in wasted time slots, disrupted scheduling that contributes to waiting times for other patients, potential revenue loss, frustration for you and your team…

To reduce the number of no-shows, practices sometimes warn patients they will have to pay a penalty in case of a no-show. That may help a little, but enforcing such a fine requires effort and is also not something you prefer to deal with too often as a healthcare provider. Luckily, there are other ways.

Many patients don’t intentionally choose not to show up. They forget their appointment, have last-minute agenda conflicts, or don’t know how to easily communicate their unavailability, etc. And that’s exactly where (part of) the solution to the problem lies.

By anticipating each of the scenarios above, you can significantly reduce the number of no-shows. For example, by reminding patients of their appointment a few days in advance, making it as easy as possible for them to cancel and reschedule appointments, etc. An efficient agenda online medical booking system does all that for you.

With Doctena, we have made reducing no-shows a priority. Through a combination of appointment reminders via email and SMS, we have reduced the number of no-shows by up to 70%.

In our reminders, we also offer patients the opportunity to cancel or reschedule their appointment. You determine how much time before the appointment this is still possible.

Do your patients miss appointments regularly? Read our Blog article about how to reduce no-shows by up to 70%!

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About us

We strive to improve patient care by simplifying and securing communication between practitioners and patients. With Doctena, patients can book appointments easily and healthcare professionals can send them automated reminders securely.

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