Employ these dental scheduling tips for more efficient chair turnover rates
Is your front office understaffed, like most dental practices? In many dental offices, administrative operations may be run by one person, and scheduling the dentists and hygienists is only one of her tasks. Her other responsibilities include processing claims, billing patients, and managing the staff, among many other duties. So how do we make her job easier to preform so that she can have less stress and higher productivity?
There are three easy ways to increase the productivity in a dental office: you can charge your patients higher fees per visit, have your staff work longer hours, or everyone can work more efficiently with a carefully curated schedule.
We think scheduling is the easiest way to increase productivity, and you can do that with these dental scheduling tips.
1. Avoid roller coaster days
It’s your office manager’s responsibility to keep your days evenly paced. When you look at your practice’s schedule every week, there shouldn’t be a few days with unfilled slots, while others are overbooked. One of the best dental scheduling tips we can share is to plan for success by booking appointments as evenly as possible every single day.
2. Consider your employee vacation and sick days
The amount of time you’re paying staff to be out of the office, yet losing productivity for cancelled patients, affects your bottom line. There’s nothing wrong with giving your employees vacation time, in fact, they deserve it. Just be sure to supplement your schedule on other days in the month for the amount of treatments missed when your employee will be out.
3. Time management
When was the last time you analyzed your staff’s productivity? You’ll occasionally want to time your hygienists to see how long different procedures take each member of your staff to complete. Don’t forget to include the amount of time that needs to be allotted for cleaning and setting up in between each patient.
4. Communicate with staff
Communication between the clinical team and the front office staff is one of the best ways to stay on schedule. It’s the dentist’s and hygienist’s responsibility to write specific notes for each future appointment. Otherwise, the front end staff won’t know how to do their jobs. The clinical staff shouldn’t simply write “restoration” on the follow-up notes if it’s actually a three-surface filling, which would require a longer appointment.
At the same time, the scheduler needs to allocate appropriate time slots for all different treatments. If complex treatments are scheduled into a new-client time slot, there won’t be enough time to complete the procedure, putting every appointment that follows behind schedule as well.
5. Communicate with patients
One of the first dental scheduling tips you should put in practice is regular communication with your patients. Make sure all appointments are confirmed ahead of time. Also, reschedule any missed or cancelled appointments immediately.
6. Start your day off correctly
Mornings are when your dental staff are most productive. It’s when you’re not running behind, so take advantage of this time, and schedule the most productive procedures you can during it. Larger and more complex treatments should be booked in the morning. Minor procedures should be planned for end of day, as they have a higher cancellation rate.
7. Be flexible
Allow your patients to pick their own time for an appointment or reschedule at their will. By using Umbie DentalCare, your patients will be able to login and schedule (or reschedule) their treatments. If you give your clientele a chance to reschedule their appointments, your cancellation rates will decrease, and more money will come into the practice.
8. Start a wait list
If you don’t already have one, it’s time to embrace the wait list (and actually use it). Every time you have a cancellation, immediately reach out to patients waiting for treatment. Just be sure that you’re matching the time available to the treatments that have similar appointment times.
9. Stagger staff downtime
Lunches and breaks can negatively influence a productive dental schedule. If you don’t already have policies in place for staff downtime, now is the time to add this to your employee handbook. Does your office all eat lunch at the same time? Are breaks built in to the schedule? A staggered lunch might not be the most popular idea, but it will allow a better planned and productive day.
10. Be clear with policies
If your staff and your patients don’t understand your practice policies, they can’t follow them. One scheduling example is enforcing a policy about how lateness is handled. If the first appointment of the day is always scheduled for 9:00am, your employees day should begin at 8:30am, or even earlier. They should be there earlier to prepare for their first appointment, and overview their entire schedule for the day.
You also need to communicate your late policy with patients so they know what to expect. How long will you hold an appointment for a late client? If you cancel an appointment, and it’s the patient’s fault, what steps will you do to prioritize rescheduling?
Patient management doesn’t need to be painful. Use Umbie’s cloud-based dental practice management software to simplify your own operations while implementing these dental scheduling tips. Plus, you can offer benefits to your patients like a patient portal where you can both communicate about appointments, billing, and check-ups. Learn about the many time-saving features of Umbie and schedule a demo.