Have you ever started a three hour road trip running late for your meeting? I'll tell you right now, that is a formula for a loooong ride! Have you ever started behind at work and tried to catch up the entire day? Stress, inefficient processes, lost production, and terrible patient experiences are the result of not running your practice on time. Here are just a few tips on time management for your dental practice.
1. Patient Communication
The day starts the evening before and it starts with last minute appointment confirmations. How ever your practice engages with patients, there should be a system that confirms which patients will be in the practice. This is especially important for habitual 'no-show' patients. This will allow your practice to fill in last minute appointment slots, as well as communicate any special requests.
2. Patient Preparedness
During the confirmation process, this is the time to ensure that all information is ready for that patient's visit. Once you have that patient on the phone, that is a great time to remind them of any documentation they need to bring in, request if there is any specific medical information such as allergies, or to remind them to take any necessary prescriptions in preparation for their appointment. After the schedule is confirmed and all necessary information has been transferred, we are now prepared for the next step, your Dental Practice Preparation.
3. Dental Practice Preparedness
In order to be fully prepared for what is to come, you should check one week in advance for the upcoming appointments. To ensure everything is set, your team should constantly ask:
- Do we have everything you need from lab cases for appointments scheduled?
- Do we have the supplies necessary for the procedures scheduled?
- Do we need to review any referral/doctor notes?
- Are the supplies/equipment maintained and set in place for the upcoming treatment?
- Do we need to practice 4-handed dentistry for any new or relevant procedures?
- This should be practiced by the assistant and dentist.
- Are financial arrangements in place and are treatment plans reviewed?
4. Plan Your Day
After the schedule has been confirmed, the patient is prepared, the practice is prepared, you can now start the day running! Meet with your team (most dental practices prefer it in the morning) to review any special questions or circumstances. The morning huddle should never morph into a 'complain session'; keep the meeting brief and on point. This is a good time to review goals and the commitments from each team member on how they will reach those goals. The good folks over at Franklin Covey state,
"Our research has shown that only 15 percent of employees actually know their organization’s most important goals—either there are no goals or they have too many goals."
5. Front Office Organization
Once the patient is in the office, there should be a designated greeter. Generally, the 'receptionist' is the designated Engineer of First Impressions. However, if the receptionist is busy, there should be a hierarchical system set in place where that patient is always greeted and directed to the next step of the appointment (no one likes to be left in the dark). Processes that should be in place are:
- Patient check-in policy
- Hand off strategy
- Who is responsible escorting the patient to the operatory?
- Who is responsible escorting the patient back to the front desk after the appointment is complete?
- Who is responsible for making sure that the patient is reappointed once the appointment is done?
Remember, you don't want to start a three hour trip running late; start the day off right and keep it right using these few pointers!
Use this free morning checklist to ensure you stay productive and efficient throughout your day. This interactive pdf allows you to fill out your goals for the day and re-use it each morning.