As practice managers will know all too well, most dental practices have some sort of out-of-office hours or emergency cover scheme in place. Sometimes this particular responsibility is transferred to the NHS but other times dental practice owners can decide to run some form of 24 hour care for their patients.

When a dental practice does decide to offer 24 hour care, it can often times takes the place of an internal rota system, whereby all practitioners rotate who is on standby during out-of-office hours or weekends. Managing this rota system can be fraught with difficulties as practice managers will need to make sure that a dentist and a nurse is available. This is one area where your dental software should be able to help you, not just scheduling this rota system but in other areas too.

When operating an out-of-hours scheme for your practice there are a number of considerations to make:

  1. Scheduling
  2. Security
  3. Payment

Scheduling

Whether you are a one surgery start-up or an established ten surgery practice, scheduling the out of hours emergency times can be tricky. Organising timetables for every practitioner can be tough, but luckily your dental software should be able to help.

In the Dentally calendar, you can set your opening hours in order to include longer office hours and weekends. Once you have done that, you can let a practitioner know when they are scheduled within the calendar. Leaving a recurring appointment in each practitioners diary is just one way of letting them know their schedule but, of course, you may find that a different way of organising the calendar suits your practice a little better.

Most practices find that they don't receive a huge amount of emergency calls but when an emergency call is required, your practitioners can check who is on call in their diary. As Dentally is cloud based, they are able to do this from anywhere with an internet connection.

Security

With the new security features that Dentally has just implemented, you can now be assured that even out of hours that your data is safe. When it comes to accessing your practice data and the data entrusted to you by your patients, you can be assured that your data is safe.

In settings, you can check who of your staff members is accessing your data and when they are accessing your data. When it comes to emergency contact hours, you can set the users to only be allowed use it within those hours. This slight bit of admin work can allow you to keep full control over access to your data.

Payment

When it comes to an out-of-hours set up, there are a few things to think about when it comes to payment. There is the normal payment for the treatment required but you must also think about costs for the out-of-hour treatment along with a retainer fee for the on-call practitioners.

When a patient pays, they can just use the normal payment
method. If there is no receptionist during your emergency cover this might require a small amount of training for your practitioners in how to take payments, settling invoices etc. You might also create a new treatment in settings which is priced so that they can include the emergency fee on the patient's treatment.

When it comes to paying the practitioner and nurse, you can use the reports section of Dentally to find out how much you must pay them. If you have an on-call retainer you can add this to their payment, as well as breaking down any of the emergency costs they took during their on-call period.