Efficient scheduling of dental care is a key to an oral health program that is beneficial for patients and productive for the dental team. Visits to facilities should be dictated by the level of patient needs and the effective utilization of the dental care providers (e.g., weekly, biweekly, or monthly intervals). Those involved with scheduling should consider new patient enrollment, the number and spacing of appointments needed to expediently complete ongoing dental treatment care plans, as well as the timely scheduling of dental emergencies and recall examinations. Appointments should also be spaced to allow adequate time for dental laboratory procedures to be completed between visits. Trying to schedule a number of individual homebound patients in one day can be difficult and severely limits productivity because of the travel time and set-up/breakdown time. Home visits are best accomplished at the beginning or end of a day after seeing multiple patients at a central site or by clustering appointments in the same geographic area. Try to accomplish as many services as possible that are also realistic for the patient during the visit. This situation can be alleviated somewhat by trying to schedule a number of denture reline patients or fluoride varnish applications during a half-day in one geographic location so that minimal equipment and supplies are needed.
Clinical service delivery with portable equipment is most productive in a facility (e.g., a school, Head Start center, group home, homeless shelter, adult activity center, congregate meal site, worksite or nursing home) where set-up and breakdown occurs only once and where the work stations can be left intact until all service has been completed. This is particularly useful for sealant programs in school settings if the program is conducted over multiple days. If there are facility restrictions on leaving equipment onsite, and there is adequate space, you might increase the number of teams providing services for the day.
Careful planning and communication with facility liaisons prior to delivering services can help in staggering appointments and staff breaks when classes are at recess or lunch so that down time is minimized. Always determine when you can set-up and break down equipment before/after students are in session to maximize clinical contact time.View an example of a half-day schedule in a long-term care facility for frail elders.