4 steps to more productive scheduling

By Dayna Johnson, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

July 30, 2019 -- I was recently presenting to a group of dental teams in the Denver area and I was on the topic of the appointment book. One audience member raised her hand and said, "You know nobody uses an appointment book anymore. Everyone uses the computer for scheduling."

I had to hold back the sarcasm that I wanted to throw back and instead answered her calmly with a smile.

Dayna Johnson
Dayna Johnson of Rae Dental Management.

"Yes, I know everyone is using the computer for scheduling. It's just terminology that everyone can relate to," I replied.

Now when I give that same presentation, I make it clear to the audience I understand no one is actually using a paper appointment book.

I was on the topic of the appointment book because we were talking about giving the team clear guidelines with scheduling as I am a firm believer that anyone on the team can schedule an appointment if he or she knows what the rules are. So often, I go into dental practices and everyone is so frustrated by the end of the day because it was complete chaos all day. Your entire day revolves around the appointment book, and how you feel at the end of the day is partly from how the schedule flowed throughout the day.

4 ways this feature helps

If your office is one of the many using Dentrix (Henry Schein One), one solution for limiting scheduling chaos is to use the feature called Perfect Day Scheduling. This gives your team clear guidelines on how to schedule certain procedures, where to put certain types of appointments in the schedule, and where to fit emergency cases. Creating a perfect day schedule will help with many goals beyond production in the office.

1. New patients

Be selective about where to block out time for new patients. Remember that new patients will want your most-coveted time slots, so make sure to reserve a few of your prime-time spots for them. Keeping space open for new patients will ensure you have room in your schedule, and you are not having to put them out farther than you want.

2. Scaling and root planing

With many U.S. adults having some form of periodontal disease, it is important to reserve time for new patient prophys and also new patient scaling. If you do not reserve time in your schedule for this disease management, then the patient will either need to be referred out or you will be forced to delay treatment.

3. Emergency time

My recommendation for blocking out emergency time is to create a kind of floating block that you can move into your schedule during the morning huddle. I am not a fan of reserving emergency time because we want to block out for the optimum day rather than the worst-case scenario.

4. Production blocks

When you create production blocks in your doctors schedule, remember to take into consideration what the specific daily production goal is and then create enough blocks to meet this goal. For example, if the daily goal is $5,000 a day, then you might see four large blocks at $900 to $1,200 each and then two-to-three medium blocks at $200 to $300 each.

When mapping out your schedule, it is important to take into consideration the lunch period and end-of-day protocol. For example, if you put a new patient right before lunch, your front desk might not get out on time because they might have to review a large treatment plan and go over office policies.

4 steps

Creating your perfect day takes a little creativity and works best when painting on a blank canvas. What I mean by this is you want to start with a completely blank appointment book. You can follow a hierarchy of steps so that your blocks will build in harmony with each other and you are not accidentally creating scheduling problems.

“Creating your perfect day takes a little creativity.”

The first step is to find out from your doctor what your new patient goal is and map out enough of these blocks to meet this goal. I recommend adding these new-patient blocks first so you can give them a couple of the prime-time spots throughout the week. This is also the step where you could put in blocks if your doctor performs treatment conference or consults.

Next, enter your scaling and root planing (SRP) and prophy blocks depending on how many new-patients blocks you have. For example, if you have five new patients per week, you will need about four SRP blocks (assuming you schedule two sessions) and three prophy blocks to satisfy your new patients.

Then add your doctor's production blocks to coordinate with your new patients while making sure these production blocks will satisfy the daily production goal. Have the doctor participate in this project so you know which procedures are preferred in the morning and which can wait until the afternoon.

Finally, add blocks for less productive procedures, such as single-tooth fillings and crown seats. During this step, create a floating block for emergency time that you can plug in anywhere, as mentioned earlier.

Dayna Johnson is the founder of Rae Dental Management and Novonee, a Dentrix Online community. She can be reached via email here.

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.

Copyright © 2019 DrBicuspid.com

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