There are many tasks at the front desk for your administrators to be responsible for, it may seem like a simple task, yet the administrators are usually wearing or sharing multiple hats to accomplish what they do every day.
The first question is, do you have enough team members at the front desk? There should be one administrator for every three operatories that are working that day. This number is only to cover the phones, greet patients, dismiss patients, and take payments. This does not include all the other tasks that happen every day at the front of the office. To ensure that there is a proper flow you need to have some accountability to ensure that the “big” picture is always considered as well.
The point isn’t that every office needs five administrators, it means that there needs to be enough team members to deliver the service level you want in the office and have some accountability for the outcomes.
There are many factors to consider when determining accountability at the front desk in your office. You will want to look at your team members natural abilities as to who is best suited for each outcome. For example, having an introverted individual be accountable for treatment coordination or hygiene scheduling may not be the best choice. Having areas of accountability doesn’t mean that just one person completes that task. Each team member should be cross trained to complete each task, but the ultimate responsibility of accountability should be assigned.
The first area of accountability is that of Treatment Coordination. Treatment Coordination is the responsibility of keeping the dentists schedule booked with an open time rate of 5% for owners and 8% for associates. This covers both major restorative and basic restorative being booked in the manner that is determined by the dentist’s preferences. There should be a method put in place for measuring open time for the dentists so that there is accountability in this area.
The second area of accountability is Hygiene Coordination. Hygiene Coordination is the responsibility to keep the hygiene schedule booked by pre-appointing low risk patients, using the software provided to create lists for patients who are due and not yet booked and using the software to create a list of patients who would like to come in sooner than their already booked appointments. Again, there should be a method in place for measuring the accountability for 10% opening in the hygiene schedule.
For both tasks listed above there should be a rule in the office that if a schedule falls apart for the same day or next day it is “all hands-on deck” to work together to fill the schedule. It is the entire team’s responsibility (clinical and admin) to work together to keep the schedule full.
The next area of accountability is that of Accounts Receivable. Even in offices where it is only fee for services there still needs to be accountability in this area. There are always some payment plans, ortho plans or patients who “forgot” their wallets. Whether an office is fee for service or assignment there needs to be accountability for 98% collection of production, less than 15% of overall receivables in the 90+ day category and balancing of daily receipts. Measuring this accountability is done through regular reports from your software.
Overseeing all accountability is an Operations/Office Manager who will wear many hats in the office including this one. In some offices the owners do this oversight as well. There is no point in accountability in an office if there isn’t a reporting method and a discussion about change in any area that is being measured.
If your office just seems to amble through each day and you never know who is responsible for what and you can’t go to a specific person to talk about results and change then you should likely add in accountability to your office.