The following is a guest post by Debbie Seidel-Bittke. If you are interested in guest posting for Dental Heroes, please sign up here .
A full schedule translates into revenues and production only if the patients come in. If a practice loses 1 to 2 appointments/day, either on the hygienist’s schedule or on the dentist’s schedule, the lost production from this could be anywhere from $100 (minimally) to $900 per day, depending upon the procedure. These are dollar figures for clients and dental offices during the year 2009. Let’s assume you have 200 working days during the year, the annual lost production works out to $20,000 at the low end to $180,000 at the high end. Take into account that you lose even $20,000.00 over the next 5 years. This is $100,000.00 which can be used in many areas for a successful and profitable dental practice. Think about your salary being reduced by this much. This can really hurt a dental practice!
These figures are for a solo practitioner, with one full-time hygienist. The figures multiply for a multi-doctor office, or for a solo practitioner with more than one hygienist. Improving practice performance in this one area alone could significantly improve the financial status of many dental practices.
Practice success depends on the strength of a strategically planned schedule. It is important to have a systematic method for scheduling patients. On a daily basis, the entire dental team probably spends much of their day discussing and dealing with the topic of appointments: cancellations, broken appointments, and no-shows. This is a big source of endless frustration. No-shows and cancellations are the biggest single source of lost revenue.
It is helpful to be proactive, have a strategic approach and design a systematic schedule. Having a system in place will decrease the level of stress and increase revenue in your dental practice.
Stephen Covey, author of many professional management and family management planning books has said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”
Your first thought may be that is seems impossible to create the ideal dental practice schedule. Every dentist and most auxiliaries practice on different days, each professional may have different hours, they will provide treatment at different speeds and they will offer different services. All successful dental practices will take account for all these scheduling variables. Having a scheduling system is what creates success in all areas of the dental practice.
When you have an effective scheduling system the doctor and team are now in charge of managing the patient flow. The patient flow should not manage the team.
Think of the schedule as the center of all dental practice systems. This is one system that will significantly decrease stress. When the team manages the schedule it will become efficient and predictable. This is where productivity will create increased revenues quickly.
1. Use 10-minute units
2. Create a template for each operatory
3. Schedule by production
3. Be proactive. First things, First
When you have a strong scheduling system in place you have increased productivity and profitability. When you create a schedule with production as a priority you create harmony, less stress and help the practice meet all the daily goals; production and otherwise.
4. What is a “Perfect Day”?
5. Your “Perfect Day” Schedule
The doctor and assistant do not always need to be in the room together. This follows true especially when using an assisted hygiene model.
It may take a few weeks and a process of time but it will significantly increase the total office productivity, decrease stress, improve patient flow and increase the annual revenue.
6. Communication is the Key to Reduced Cancellations
When the front office is speaking with patients they need to request patients give 72 hours notice if they need to change an appointment. If patients need to change their appointment on Monday it doesn’t do the office any good to cancel an appointment on Saturday. This is why you need to ask for at least 72 hours cancellation.
Take time to retrain your patients about this policy if you don’t have this in place currently. Let patients know there will be a fee for a missed appointment. The fee needs to be dependent upon the type of procedure and should be written in all policies you publish to your patients. These policies are included in the new patient package. Appointment cards need to mention there is an appropriate fee charge for cancellations outside of the 72 hours.
You will create a more efficient and effective system for scheduling patients when you create your “Perfect Day” schedule. The bottom line is harmony in the office, value to the patients, improved productivity, increased revenues and reduced stress. It is a “win-win” that creates success!
Do you need guidance setting this up? Do you know how many days and hours you actually need on the schedule? Please contact us for a free assessment. Find the answers to these questions, lower your overhead and increase your revenue.