When it comes to your daily tasks in the front office, what systems are you using to log, track, and follow up on the status of those tasks? We've found that a lot of dental practices do not incorporate an automated or structured task management system into their practice. It can feel intimidating to learn a new software and a new process for doing things...which is why a lot of practices don't. However, creating a process for task management is important no matter what solution you use to implement it. Let's explore what current solutions (good or bad) that dental offices use today and what is available to help simplify and streamline your tasks.
Current Task Management Solutions
Have you ever walked into a dental office, maybe your own, and see behind the front desk counter? What do you notice? There are tons of Post-It notes plastered all over the computers, desk area, and anywhere else where there may be room. This is because Post-It notes are an easy way for people to write down ideas, things they need to remember, tasks to get done, etc. People generally think that if it's written down, it won't be forgotten. However, those Post-It notes do lose their stickiness and fall on the ground, get lost, or thrown away. Then what? There's no record of that task or information you had on the little square piece of paper! And because you wrote it down, you've probably let it leave your brain of what was supposed to happen. This is not only inefficient, but could cost you time, money, and potentially scheduled appointments with patients.
Practice Management Systems
Most, if not all, dental practices use some sort of practice management system like Dentrix, Eaglesoft, Open Dental, or others. While there is a lot of stored patient data on these systems, they aren't exactly built for easy reporting or task management. A practice management system's main purpose is to manage data of patients, appointments, notes, treatment plans, etc. You can absolutely run reports on these systems, but the amount of work and steps it takes doesn't exactly help you stay current on what needs to be done on a daily basis...much less on an hourly basis in your practice.
Task Management Systems for Small Businesses
There are plenty of task management systems out there. Monday.com, Asana, Teamwork Projects, just to name a few. These all help with streamlining and managing tasks. However, you still have to manually create the system and put in the information. It doesn't pull directly from your practice management system and populate tasks needed to reschedule patients, work on your recall list, schedule treatment plans for patients, or send out appointment reminders.
Any of these project management platforms can help you to get started in organizing your tasks and daily expectations from your team, however. You just need to be very strategic in how you use them so that it becomes a tool and not another frustration. It will take time up front to create the processes, but it will pay off in the long run for how much time you save. You can create a project for each patient and keep track of their treatment plan, re-care opportunities, appointment reminders, etc.
Automated Task Management Software for Dentists
Why Automation Matters
As we previously mentioned, creating a process for tasks related to patient follow up, scheduling, recall opportunities, etc...can take time. Implementing the process requires buy-in from the team, oversight, and accountability. If these processes were all automated, you could receive a report of what was done each day and what still needs to be done. The tasks would already be there, based on your data in your practice management system, and assigned to the right person.
Automation simplifies and streamlines what you need to get done each day and provides current and accurate information for the person managing the front office as well as the dentist. The amount of time you would save is worth automating your daily tasks alone!
KPI's with Task Management
Key performance indicators tell you how your practice is performing. You get great information for where you are, where you've been, and hopefully you are able to create goals for where you're going. However, just having information isn't enough. Have you ever looked at a KPI Dashboard and thought, "Great! Now what?" So did we!
You need actionable information based off of your KPIs to help improve, grow, and implement accountability to improve your numbers. Knowing what's going on in your practice is the first step, and now you need to do something about it. In our updated platform you get information down to the patient level including a list of patients to follow up with.
If you'd like to check it out, just schedule a demo!
How Task Management Can Improve Patient Care
You may be thinking, how does an internal process of task management improve patient care? Great question!
1. It instills confidence in the dentist.
As a dentist, you are also a business owner. You need a system to help keep your team accountable so that you don't have to check in and micro-manage everything. Having an automated task management system takes stress away and clears your mind up to focus on your patients. You can easily view a report at the end of the day of everything that got done.
2. It makes the team more relaxed and confident.
When the front office team feels empowered to do their jobs without someone micro-managing them, their stress level also decreases. They feel believed in and trusted to do their jobs. This is huge! They also don't have to search for what needs to be done because it's already populated for them each day of who to follow up with, and what tasks to do for recall patients and appointment reminders. This helps them focus on welcoming patients in the door, feeling confident on the phone when calling a patient, and puts the focus back on the patient's overall health.
3. Patients feed off of the feeling of your office staff.
When a patient walks into your practice, what do they feel? If the office staff feels relaxed and confident in their roles, each patient will feel that. Going to a dentist causes anxiety for a lot of people, so they don't need to feel added office anxiety from your staff. The less stressed out each office team member is, the better atmosphere you create in your practice. Also, the more organized your staff is, the more confident each patient will feel that you are providing and suggesting the best care for them.
4. Follow up is about the patient's overall health.
When your team understands that these tasks are not just about the bottom line, they are about helping improve the lives of your patients, there's a different tone and message being sent to them. Each task becomes an opportunity to help a patient become healthier. You've now empowered not only your staff but each patient to seek the highest level of health they can through dentistry by the way your staff communicates with them. A recall task is now about making sure the patient gets their hygiene appointment because it'll improve their health. A treatment plan moves from a sales pitch to a conversation about improving the patient's life. The more organized and confident your staff is, the more they can focus on creating a message that instills buy-in and confidence into your patients.
However you manage the tasks in your office, you need to make sure of a few things:
- It's trackable
- It's assigned to someone
- There's accountability
- It improves patient care
- It leads to growth of the practice
Using an automated software that integrates with your practice management system can fulfill all of these requirements. Don't leave your dental practice growth to chance. The more organized your practice is, the more confident you and your team will feel....which will impact your patients. Each patient will begin to feel well taken care of and their confidence in you and your staff will grow. Improve the overall patient care in this way, and it will improve the numbers in your practice!