Block Scheduling for Your Private Practice
Running behind is something that people expect when they visit a doctor’s office, but there’s little leeway when they come in for their dental procedure. Instead of scheduling to fill holes, adopting a rigid block-scheduling template can make it easier for everyone in the office to run on time.
Book Difficult Procedures in the Morning
When you’re tired, it takes you longer to focus on more complex procedures that call for attention to detail. Book visits like root canals, SCRPs, or implants first thing in the morning - but not in the afternoon. Your lunch break will give you time to reset and come back refreshed to tackle the “small jobs” that are left for the rest of the day.
Allow Enough Time for Your Entire Team
You wouldn’t want someone to cut 10 minutes off of your composite appointment without getting your opinion on how to shave time down - it’s the same way when it comes to your hygiene department. If your hygienists need 90 minutes for an SCRP or new patient visit, don’t shave it down to 70 minutes.
When your entire team is able to provide a clear-cut outline as to the amount of time needed for procedures, a block schedule will force them to stick with it - because you’ve agreed on it together.
To find out how much time you need, you may want to consider doing a time study on different procedures and practitioners throughout the office.
Staggering the Visits
Included in your block schedule should be things like “emergency slots” and “new patient appointments.” As blocks of time are staggered, this leaves you with time that you know you ought to be able to jump up and float from one room to another (leaving some of the details up to your assistant or other staff.) Block out even the smallest of appointments, when you know time is needed in a particular room - such as “whitening tray delivery.”
You might need to play around with the layout a few times before you nail down what you want it to look like. Give yourself a set timeframe to figure out what works and what doesn’t - and then stick with it.
Create a Scheduling Policy
If there are still openings in your schedule the day before, give yourself a certain window of time before your front desk can begin filling areas that are blocked for other procedures. And when they do, never go over the set window of time.
It is vital that you use a color-coded block-scheduling template in your practice management software. This prevents staff from placing patients in the wrong parts of the day or even the wrong room. Plus, it helps newer staff or people floating in the office to know where a patient can be placed, even if they aren’t usually the person who schedules visits.
Part of building a block schedule is knowing how much time it takes to perform various types of procedures. A time study can be very beneficial to knowing where to start. Plus, it helps you and your staff know just what else is needed to hit your production numbers each day.