Do you wonder why some of your days flow better than other days? It could have been because all of your “nice” patients were in and the delivery of care was easy. It could have been that you slept well the night before and you were in a good mood. Although more likely, it was because your day flowed in a manner that was most comfortable for you which made you feel more productive.
Very often dentists are feeling that administrators are putting patients in places to fill the day without thinking of the flow of the day or the space needed each month for certain procedures. I suggest that many offices use scheduling blocks that will proactively fill the schedule in a manner which will allow for your patients to be seen in a way that is most comfortable for you and your team. Scheduling proactively will make your days less stressful.
Firstly, you will want to calculate the average number of times that you have performed a procedure over the last six months. Use the report on your software that will show you by procedure how many times it has been completed. You will then want to pre- block a space named for the procedure that number of times for the upcoming month.
An example of this may be crown preps, if you completed 60 crowns over the last six months then your monthly average would be 10 crowns. Ten crowns completed over 20 working days is a crown prep every other day.
The next step is determining if you have a preferred time of day for certain procedures so that you can customize your pre-blocking even further. If you find that you are always running overtime in certain appointments, you may want to schedule these closer to lunchtime or end of day in case you run into a problem. This way you won’t have patients getting backed up because you ran late, your team may not be happy but it is better if they realize your reasoning with this scheduling. Also take into account certain procedures, where you may have some specialty instruments and you need to leave time for re-processing between patients.
Some of the types of appointments that you may want to pre-block time for:
- Emergency appointments – you will want to ensure that your emergency appointments are saved for same day, next day emergencies to avoid double or even triple booking patients because a patient wakes up with an abscess. Ensure that these blocks are entered at times of your preference whether you see patients out of a few chairs or prefer these at the end of the day.
- New patient blocks are crucial to patient expectation currently, there used to be status related to a dentist who couldn’t see a new patient for four weeks, patients aren’t always quite as willing to wait for an appointment.
- Endo pre- block appointments are important, asking a patient to wait for their treatment is very difficult if they feel that they may end up in pain again without treatment sooner than later.
- Preps of any kind can pre-blocked with the appropriate time units.
- Surgery time whether it is for implants, extractions or perio surgery are other procedures that are good for pre-blocking.
Your team will need to use a bit of discretion when scheduling in these pre-blocks. You don’t want to turn a patient away because they can’t come at your preferred time, your team can help direct them by saying “ Dr. ___________ completes these procedures at 330pm, will next Wednesday at 330pm work for you?” If the patient replies that a 330pm doesn’t ever work for them then the administer needs to be able to move that appointment to another part of the day by swapping other pre-blocked appointments. This may sound complicated, but it is actually easier for the team to be looking at what they need to fill the day then having a fully empty day and just sticking any treatment in a haphazard way to fill the schedule for the day.
By making the choice to insert pre-blocks into your schedule you are effectively creating your perfect day every day. Wouldn’t that be a pleasure?