Apple Tree's schedulers have the job of arranging full-day schedules for clinical staff at community sites and outpatient clinics. Schedulers develop daily lists of patients to be seen at each facility. They use a central software system and electronic dental record to store treatment plans for patients by facility and track the number of patients that are new, undergoing treatment, due for a recall exam, and/or who have urgent dental concerns. Patient and appointment related communications are documented and paper forms are scanned into the electronic dental record. This information is combined to make a daily schedule for each provider. Each dentist and hygienist serves a consistent set of long-term care facilities to assure continuity of care and to establish stable dentist/patient relationships. Visits are scheduled with sufficient frequency to keep patient care up-to-date while effectively utilizing the time of dental personnel.
The demand for dental services drives the frequency of scheduling a facility. There must be a minimum number of patients available to be seen at a location before a visit is scheduled. The number will vary by provider, but is in the range of twelve to fifteen patients. Large facilities may need weekly visits, while small ones may need a combination of on-site visits and off-site referrals to assure that resources are used cost-effectively. A typical schedule at a long-term care facility will start at 9 am with a break for lunch while the residents eat, and finish at approximately 4 pm. Some days may end earlier so the assistants and coordinators can return to the central office at a reasonable hour.