Good Schedules Don’t Just Happen

“Good” schedules don’t just happen, they are the result of all the practice management systems running well in your practice. You can’t blame a bad schedule on a particular administrator. Your schedule’s success depends on your new patient flow, treatment acceptance, in-office patient communication, recall program, confirmation protocols, team communication, scheduler rules and team training.

By reviewing each of these components you will see how puzzling a schedule together takes the whole team:

  • New patient flow is important in every office schedule. You will always have patients who come in only for emergencies or who may not be compliant in their hygiene intervals. You will also have patients who will move away or who may choose another office. Very often you won’t be cognizant of some of these patients making these changes so you will want to have new patients to keep your numbers active. Also, as a practice matures, you may have completed a fair bit of restorative work for patients and if you have educated them well there will be decreasing amounts of treatment to be delivered in the office so new patient flow will help counterbalance this.
  • Most dentists are very good at diagnosing treatment, the bigger problem is usually treatment acceptance. Ensuring that you have delegated responsibility and accountability into treatment presentation and follow up will help with this. As we are finding that disposable incomes are dwindling for many patients right now due to soaring costs for everyday basic living, the systems around treatment coordination need to be very tight.
  • In office patient communication methods need to be on point in every aspect of a patient visit. This refers to communication between clinical and administrative team members to ensure that nothing is missed. The whole team needs to be able to describe treatment in the same way so that the patient is hearing consistent descriptions of treatment options. The flow needs to be smooth to gain patient’s trust and buy in for treatment.
  • Your recall program needs to be efficient and effective. You can easily measure this by seeing if 80% of your patients are active in your hygiene program, you have 10% or less open hygiene chair time and 40% of your patients are in designated perio intervals of 3 months or 4 months when following your office Standard of Care Protocol.
  • When confirming patients ensure that you are reaching them in a way that works for them, likely through automatic texting for most patients at this point. Ensure that you are confirming at intervals that work for the patient and not just your office, this may mean reminding the patient same day as well as a week before and a day before which may be labor intensive but if it helps the patient get to the appointment then it is worthwhile.
  • Team communication, scheduler rules and team training are all specific to each and every office. To accomplish these last few protocols you will want to possibly pre-block your schedule for specific procedures, have productive huddles to discuss the flow of the day and review your office protocols on a regular basis to ensure that they don’t slip back into old styles. You will also want to have protocols in place if there is a same day schedule fail to ensure that everyone is aware of ways to work together to fill an unexpected opening.

The entire team is needed to ensure that you have a great schedule, proper and thorough training is required as well as communication between the entire team and the patients is the key to success. There are a lot of pieces to puzzle together on this one, get some help to ensure that your office is efficient in creating a good schedule.

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