Dos and don'ts for scheduling: Procedural time studies and hygiene production

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Most offices allot a single, predetermined length of time for hygiene appointments. In reality, many patients do not need as long as the standard appointment, and a few patients will occasionally need more. By having the hygienist perform procedural time studies, you will end up with a far more efficient hygiene schedule.

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Determine procedure times. Have the hygienist perform time studies for each procedure, such as basic hygiene, scaling and root planing, and ancillary services. Too often, assumptions are made about how long these procedures take that may not be accurate.

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Don't use 15-minute time increments for hygiene appointments. Using 10-minute increments for hygienists increases productivity in much the same way as it does for doctors. Some hygiene appointments may only need 40 minutes, not 45. Five minutes may not seem like much, but if this occurs several times throughout the course of the day, substantial unused time can build up in the hygiene schedule.

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