“How did it get so late so soon?” The importance of creating an ‘on time’ culture in your office.

One of the positive things that may have come out of the pandemic is that some offices are getting better at running on time than they were in the past. Running late is stressful for everyone in the office; the dentist, the team and more importantly the patients. 

The consequences of continuously being behind can run from patients not returning to the office because they feel that their time is not valued to losing team members because the environment is too stressful. In today’s environment, most offices can’t afford to lose either patients or team members.

The infrequent “true” emergency or unusual procedure should be just that, an exception and not the rule in any office. Without realizing it, many offices almost plan to run behind. If you look objectively at your practice you may be able to make some changes that will relieve the stress for all.

Everyone is always looking at their bottom line for production, so being efficient is the ultimate goal. Being time efficient does not mean you should be overbooking to increase production.  When requesting time units for a procedure (or your team assigning the time units to the treatment you have diagnosed) be sure that you are booking for the time you actually need. If you are unsure it may be a worthwhile exercise to keep track for two days exactly how long each procedure takes. One option is to extend appointments in the scheduler so that you can see how many patients ran over their scheduled time. Another option is to have your assistant keep a log for two days of the time each patient was seated when their LA was administered when you started working and when you finished. This may help you make better decisions for your time requests in the future. Conversely, this may also show you that you are booking too much time for some procedures as well and you could decrease that time as an option in this scenario.

With all the changes in IPAC prior to the pandemic and now with pandemic procedures in place there is more time needed for setting up and takedown of a treatment room. You may want to ensure that you have decreased fallow time in your rooms with air filters and that you have enough team to ensure that this is done efficiently. Many offices have benefitted from the addition of a stereocenter assistant to help with this flow. This will allow your assistant to be chairside in a more efficient manner.

Without realizing it we can often start our morning or afternoon late and then this will cascade through the day and force late departures from the office as well. Rolling into the office five minutes before the first patient, answering emails, responding to texts and playing games on your computer can all contribute to upsetting the time balance in your practice. The team and dentist should all be expected to be prepared to start on time at the beginning of the day and after any break periods.

Another solution to this can be pre-blocking appointments in your software. This would include emergency spots, endo appointments, and major restorative blocks. By having time set aside for these procedures, you can feel more confident that you will have the proper timing to complete them. This way you won’t be feeling that you are squishing them into your schedule and possibly not giving yourself the time you need to complete them.

Make everybody’s day easier by instituting some of these suggestions in your practice. After that, make sure you keep them in place – everyone will be happier for it.

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