6 tips to fix scheduling stress

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Does this scenario sound familiar? You come to work each day never quite knowing what to expect. Sure, you have a schedule that you're supposed to follow, but more often than not broken appointments turn your day into total chaos or procedures take longer than expected, putting you way behind

Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.

Both scenarios are the result of a poorly managed schedule. A messy schedule costs you money and leads to extra stress for everyone on your team. Also, if the wait times to see you are long enough, it might prompt even your most loyal patients to start looking for a new dental home.

Streamlining your schedule will make your days less stressful and your practice more productive, while keeping both your team members and your patients happy. Sounds good, right? Follow these six tips to reduce your stress and fix your chaotic schedule for good.

1. Consider hiring a scheduling coordinator

Many dentists opt to task multiple team members with scheduling appointments. The problem? There's no consistency, and no one is making sure the practice meets daily production goals. I suggest you hire a scheduling coordinator and then empower the new employee to schedule all producers in the practice.

2. Give your scheduling coordinator direction

Just hiring a scheduling coordinator won't magically fix your scheduling woes. You, as the practice CEO, must give this new team member the appropriate guidance.

That means providing a detailed job description that makes your expectations clear and that outlines the job's tasks and responsibilities. It also means providing the proper training. Once the new coordinator knows how to properly schedule you, you'll find your days are much more streamlined.

“It's important that your scheduling coordinator understands it's not enough just to schedule you to stay busy.”

3. Determine your daily production goals

It's important that your scheduling coordinator understands it's not enough just to schedule you to stay busy -- your days need to be productive. Sit down with your team to set daily production goals, and then make sure your coordinator knows what those goals are and how to schedule you to meet them.

4. Confirm every appointment

Your patients are busy people and have a lot going on in their lives. Knowing this, is it really a surprise when they forget about an appointment they scheduled a few months back?

To help reduce the number of broken appointments you experience in your practice, have your coordinator confirm every patient appointment (either via text, email, or phone call, depending on what they prefer) two days in advance. If a patient can't make it after all, the coordinator still has time to fill the open slot.

5. Communicate

While many of my clients have taken the important step of hiring a scheduling coordinator, that alone does not ensure a reduction of scheduling stress. Your coordinator has no idea how long it takes to complete procedures, which means they have to guess how much time to allot in the schedule. Rather than have random 30-minute appointments scheduled here and 60-minute appointments scheduled there, educate your coordinator about how long procedures take.

If the right amount of time is allotted for each procedure, everyone's day will be much smoother.

6. Resist the urge to schedule dream days

While you like to do certain procedures more than others, telling your coordinator to reserve spots in the schedule for these procedures just because you enjoy them will only lead to trouble. Before you block out time for your favorite types of cases, it's important to make sure you actually have the patient demand for them. Otherwise, your coordinator will have to figure out how to fill open spots at the last minute -- leading to the stress and chaos you're trying to avoid.

So how can you determine how many slots you can block out? First, figure out how many cases you've completed in the last six months, then divide that by the number of days you worked. This will tell you how many spots you can reserve without turning what you thought would be a dream day into a nightmare. While this number might not be exact, it will get you much closer to patient demand than simply guessing.

Sally McKenzie is the CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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