Don’t leave the schedule to creative interpretation. Scheduling time should be communicated clearly to the Scheduling Coordinator. This basic yet commonly overlooked detail ensures the person in charge of making or breaking your day isn’t forced to guess how much time a procedure will require.
For example, the doctor examines a hygiene patient and determines she needs three fillings. The doctor tells the Hygienist exactly how much time is necessary. The Hygienist, in turn, communicates to the Scheduling Coordinator via computer or route slip specifically how much doctor time and assistant time to book. The doctor’s time should be scheduled in one color on the computer and the assistant’s in another. This simple strategy ensures that the doctor is not double-booked.
In addition, the doctor should never be scheduled out more than three weeks, so curb the urge to schedule all of the appointments for large treatment plans immediately. Scheduling the entire plan can overwhelm both the patient and the schedule. Worse yet, “bread and butter” patients are often forced to wait several weeks for routine procedures – not something that many of them will accept on a regular basis.
Keep communications flowing between the clinical staff and business employees throughout the day. Start by reviewing the schedule as a team first thing during the huddle. The clinical staff can advise the Scheduling Coordinator where to place any emergency patients. If there are cancellations, the team can discuss which hygiene patients may be able to receive immediate treatment and which restorative patients may be able to be worked into any openings in the oral hygiene schedule. The dental assistant also can review specifically what procedures are scheduled and set up the treatment rooms accordingly.
Avoid the tendency to engage in “wishful scheduling” in which more time is reserved for the doctor’s “ideal” treatments than the practice has a history of delivering. Rather, calculate the number of crown and bridge units – or other procedures – over the last six months and divide by the number of days worked. Then you can reserve time in the schedule based on the number of units actually performed.