Maximizing Each Appointment
Even with a full schedule each day, your practice could be losing money. Here are a few ways to make sure your effort is as productive as possible:
Get the Patient Seated Right Away
One of the easiest ways to lose production is to delay getting the patient into the chair. This means making plans ahead of time - like getting forms filled out online or mailed to the patient, so that they can complete them at home. Make every second that the patient is in the office a productive one. Waiting time is “dead” time that doesn’t work toward production.
If Possible, Complete The Procedure on the Same Day
If there’s something that can be delegated to another staff member, or quickly worked in - such as an impression for a whitening tray or applying a few sealants, don’t reschedule the patient to have them come back. If they’re motivated to have something done, you risk them not rescheduling later. Get it done right away, even if it means shuffling the schedule around a little bit or borrowing an assistant from the other room.
Watch Your Time
If you’re not using a block schedule or haven’t completed a time study, you should. Doing so will help you to create a schedule that actually works for you, rather than you bending to simply fill holes or stay on time. If you know that Mrs. Smith only has 2 teeth, don’t schedule her for a 60 minute prophy at her recall appointment - book her for 20 minutes and put a note in so that no one will change it.
Keep Your Patients Comfortable
When people feel relaxed, they’re more likely to be willing to sit there for a lengthier procedure. Offering sedation options is vital - and not just nitrous oxide. Oral sedation can help patients overcome their fear of scheduling large treatment cases and enable you to complete the entire treatment plan in one sitting.
Work on Your “Hand Offs”
Patients are handed off several times at every appointment - such as when the hygienist has the doctor come in for an exam, and when the patient is escorted to the front desk to discuss financing a treatment plan.
A faulty “hand off” can destroy everything the dentist has done when it comes to getting a patient to accept a care plan. If the front desk does not stress the importance of scheduling a particular procedure (“Mrs. Smith, if we don’t address that cavity soon, it could cause the tooth to abscess and need a root canal,”) then the patient won’t feel it’s important either. Every person that your patient comes into contact with should know what treatment that patient needs, and encourage them to have it scheduled in a timely manner.
Show Your Patients What You See
Intraoral cameras are worth their weight in gold! When a patient can see what you see, they are able to “co-plan” their own treatment. If they’re not sure, print the photo and send it home with them so that they can discuss it with their family. Should they not come back for 6 months, show them side-by-side pictures of how their condition has worsened.
Schedule the Patient With the Right Person
A dentist shouldn’t be doing a hygienist’s job, and vice versa. If your assistant or hygienist is trained in specific types of services, delegate the patients with them while the dentist works on something more productive. Otherwise it will eat into the production goals each day.
Carefully monitoring your time, schedule, and taking advantage of every opportunity is what will make your practice the successful business you had in mind from the very beginning.