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An Appointment from Start to Finish
An Appointment from Start to Finish

An overview of a patient's appointment from start to finish - booking, confirming, reminders, arrived & failed to attend. Patient journey

Shelley Withington avatar
Written by Shelley Withington
Updated over a week ago

The video above goes through the life of a typical appointment in Dentally, from booking to the patient leaving the practice.

Typically an appointment in the Calendar would follow a few simple steps from start to finish:

  • Booking the Appointment

  • Confirming

  • Reminder

  • Patient is in the practice

How to book an appointment?

Here are the main steps to follow when booking an appointment:

  1. Once you are on the calendar, Navigate to the date and time the patient requires.

  2. Click on the time the patient requires in or click and drag over the length of time required.

  3. Enter the patient’s name in the box labelled ‘No patient’. Choose the patient from the drop down list which will appear as you start typing. You can also use the Use last patient or add new patient button on the right if needed.

  4. Check the date and time are correct for the appointment.

  5. Set the appointment Reason and Length.

  6. Check the practitioner is correct.

  7. Add any notes needed.

  8. Click ‘Save’ to finalise the appointment.

Let's delve a little deeper into each step...

Booking the Appointment

To book an appointment in the calendar: Navigate to the date and time the patient requires. Click the time the of day the patient requires or click and drag over the length of time required. Once this is done, a drop down menu will appear where you can add the appointment details.

To double book an appointment at the same time as another that is already in the book, click in the blank area just to the right of the current appointment in the book. Once saved the two will sit side by side in the same area.

Select the patient:

At this point you have several choices of how to select the patient.

Enter the name - Enter the patient’s name in the box labelled ‘No patient’. An automatic shortlist will appear as you start typing allowing you to select the correct patient. Searching by surname tends to find the patient quicker. If there are multiple patients with the same surname, typing a space and then the first name will usually find them very quickly. A box will appear that has any unbooked appointments associated with the patient. You can select an unbooked appointment if necessary.

Use Last Patient - The circular arrow icon by the patient’s name box brings in the last patient you used in Dentally and is helpful when making multiple appointments for the same patient.

New Patient - If the patient is new to the practice you can add them at the same time as booking their appointment by clicking the icon beside patient name box. This will navigate to a menu where you can enter just enough new patient details to enter them onto Dentally. The remaining details should then be added when the patient then visits the practice.

Date & Time

These boxes allow you to confirm the date and time selected from the Calendar and make any changes if required.


This is the type of dental appointment that the patient is coming in for. Clicking this box will give you a drop down menu of options to choose from:

  • Exam

  • Scale & Polish

  • Exam + Scale & Polish

  • Continuing Treatment

  • Emergency

  • Review

  • Other

It is important that the appointment is booked using the correct reason. For example, when a patient has an Exam appointment which is successfully attended and marked as complete, that triggers a recall for that patient and they will be reminded to make their next Exam appointment in line with the recall period allocated to them.

If the patient has unbooked appointments scheduled in a treatment plan, they will show under their name. Selecting the appointment from here will complete the Reason and Duration for you.


Clicking this box will give you a drop down menu of options to choose from. Typically a newly booked appointment would be marked as Pending, but on occasions it may be helpful to add it with one of the following statuses:

  • Pending

  • Confirmed

  • Arrived

  • In Surgery

  • Completed

  • Cancelled

  • Did Not Attend


You can edit the length of the appointment in minutes. This will lengthen or shorten the appointment in the calendar.


Typically this will have been already successfully entered by clicking on the appropriate Calendar. You can also choose the available practitioner from the drop down menu.


Here you can add any notes that are required for the appointment. For example, giving any further information about the treatment that the patient is to receive, or to remind staff on the day of any special requirements for the appointment.

Click ‘Save’ to book the appointment in the calendar.

Confirming the Appointment

An appointment will go through several statuses from being booked to completed. The current status of the appointment is shown in the top right hand corner of its entry in the calendar and next its entry wherever you view the appointment history for a patient. The user can cycle through these statuses by clicking on the current status, although they can also be set automatically in some instances They work as follows:

Pending: The appointment has been booked, but the patient has not confirmed they will be attending yet.

Confirmed: The patient has confirmed they will be attending this appointment. This can be done manually by the user, or if the practice uses SMS confirmations, the patient can respond to their SMS confirmation with ‘YES’ and it will be confirmed automatically.

Arrived: Once the patient arrives in the practice, they should be marked as such by cycling the appointment status to the next stage. This will notify the appropriate practitioner that the patient has arrived and start a timer to keep track of when the patient arrived and now long they have waited.

In Surgery: This can either be selected manually or it will be automatically marked when the Practitioner opens the patient details in surgery.

Completed: This appointment has been completed and the patient left the practice. This can either by marked manually by the user, or if the patient has been marked as being in surgery, Dentally will automatically complete the appointment at the end of the day if the patient was marked as having arrived in surgery, but it is good practice to do this from the desk as the patient leaves.

Reminding Patients About Appointments


Patients can be reminded of their upcoming appointments automatically by either SMS or Email. Because the reminder can be sent and received potentially within a few seconds, this is a very successful method of reducing the numbers of Did Not Attend appointments. You can set how many days before the appointment patients will be reminded in the Settings Menu, under Patient Communications and then Appointments. Patients will need to have a valid mobile phone number and email address and have their preferences set to receive those communications in their patient record.

You can find out how to set up Automatic Appointment Reminders  on our helpful web page. 


To manually remind a patient of their appointment by SMS, right click on the appointment in the Calendar and choose the Send SMS option. This will show a confirmation screen and then send the SMS immediately. Alternatively double click on the appointment and choose the symbol. This will show the confirmation screen and then send the SMS.

The Patient arrives in practice

The patient can be marked as arrived by clicking on the appointment status marked and changing it to the icon of a clock. This signifies that the patient is in the practice and notifies the relevant practitioner.

Marking a Patient’s Appointment as ‘Did Not Attend’

You DO NOT have to update the appointment to DNA manually. If the patient was never marked as having arrived in the practice, Dentally will automatically mark the appointment as ‘Did Not Attend’ at the end of the day, BST Time.

If you wish to update this manually, appointments can be marked as ‘Did Not Attend’ by right-clicking on the appointment and choosing ‘Did Not Attend’ from the drop-down menu.

Alternatively, if you wish to mark the appointment as Did Not Attend and also need to make some notes to explain this, you can use the Edit Appointment screen by either double-clicking on the appointment in the calendar, or you can find the appointment from the patient’s record screen using the Appointments tab. Here, you can click on the button to the left of the required appointment and change its status to ‘Did not Attend’ while making any required notes in the box. This may help when reviewing the patient’s DNA history in the future.

Marking a Patient’s Appointment as ‘Was Not Brought’

Manually mark the patient as ‘Did Not Attend’ by right-clicking on the appointment and choosing ‘Did Not Attend’ from the drop-down menu.

Here, you can have a cancellation reason of "Was Not Brought". To create this cancellation reason, use our help guide here to set this up.

Once the patient has left the practice, change the status of the appointment one last time by changing it to a Tick. This marks the patient as leaving the practice and the appointment as complete!

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