Q: With our schedule changing following COVID-19 reopenings, how do we adjust the schedule or the provider hours or create custom hours?
A: Whether altering hours starting today, for a date in the future, or for a permanent or a temporary change, adjusting the schedule often results in angst for many team members. With hours and chairs within Eaglesoft associated with providers, changes in the schedule are tied to the individual provider and column or chair.
Ann-Marie DePalma, CDA, RDH, MEd.
Before beginning the process to alter the schedule, several items are needed. These include the following:
- Start date of change
- Provider's name
- Provider's starting hours, lunch hours, and ending hours
- Provider goals, if practice is scheduling to goal
Prior to adjusting the provider's hours, it is important to have the correct information established in the Lists/OnSchedule/Office Chairs. Each chair represents a column on the actual schedule. It is advised that team members have individual chairs rather than providers "sharing" a column. Remember the chairs within Eaglesoft do not represent actual operatories, but rather providers.
For ease of scheduling in larger practices, there can be an unlimited number of chairs for both hygienists and doctors. To see a larger number of chairs on the screen and printout, in OnSchedule/Set Up, adjust the number of chairs seen on screen and printout to the appropriate number of chairs. This will allow for more columns to be viewed after right-clicking on the name of the column and showing the chair. The chair columns can also be moved into various positions using the right-click option. Some offices also create views or do more scrolling to view all the columns. In fact, there have been practices with more than 20 chairs!
Additionally, it is advisable not to name chairs by providers' names since a provider (a hygienist or dentist) may eventually leave the practice and the team will not know how to "rename" the chair. Generic names (e.g., op 2, doctor 1, hygiene 1, and hygiene 2) are good alternatives.
Once the chairs have been established, choose a provider under Lists/Providers-Staff, and on the edit provider window, Hours. Next, choose the default hours the provider will work. These are hours that the provider will be in the practice seeing patients, such as Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., with 1 to 2 p.m. as the lunch hour. Assign a chair to the provider from the list created within office chairs. With the assignment step, the provider hours must match the chair hours. If the practice is scheduling to goal, when on the provider's chair, a column representing the goal for the day for that chair will display. Enter the desired goal.
A custom hour can also be created. A custom hour is a schedule change, either for the provider who is adding hours other than his or her regular hours or closing the schedule when the provider is normally scheduled.
On the provider hour window, select Custom hours - new:
- Name the description for the custom hour.
- Choose the length (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or one or more days).
- Decide the hours if adding additional days/times or if the provider is out of the office.
- Choose when custom hours will end.
- Choose the chairs and/or providers.
A calendar will appear when selecting multiple days to schedule and clicking the schedule. The days the provider will be available (e.g., every other Saturday) can be chosen.
When, despite following all the correct steps, the schedule, chairs, hours, and providers do not appear as the practice would like, this indicates that a provider is "blocking" the new schedule changes.
The first step would be to check that all active providers are linked to their appropriate chairs, default hours match the chair hours, and there are no custom hours attached. If that review does not rectify the problem, the practice may have to look at all inactive providers to ensure that all the chairs, hours, and custom hours are not blocking the new schedule. The Customized Hours Report will display any customized hours that have been created. When displayed in the Report Preview window, the report lists all custom hours and can be sorted by providers or other criteria. Right-clicking on the report can export it into Excel for further sorting.
If all else fails to correctly change the schedule, a call to or chat with the Patterson Technology Center may be helpful. For specific information about changing hours, you can go to FAQ 27451. You can also contact your local Patterson software technology adviser.
Ann-Marie DePalma, CDA, RDH, MEd, is a fellow and certified educator of the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries (ADIA) and a fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene (AADH). She spent more than 25 years in clinical hygiene and is currently employed as a technology adviser/trainer for Patterson Dental. She can be reached by email.
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