07.28.06 - Issue # 229 Forward This Article to a Friend

Thriving or Threatened? Time Will Tell
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Experiencing a few growing pains these days? The schedule is maxed out. The team is stressed out. And it seems that no matter how much you work the money’s always out. Doctor and team spend their days reacting to the pressures of the day because their focus is merely on what they have to do right now and not on where they want to be or how to get there. While the practice may appear to be thriving in reality, it is threatened. Take steps to turn it around.

First, the doctor must develop his/her vision and share it with the team. As the saying goes, “If you can’t see it, you won’t achieve it.” Do you want to make more money? Do you want less stress?  Do you simply want to enjoy your practice, your family, your patients more? Whatever your vision, define it and share it with those who are central to helping you create it. Next, look at the details that will be critical in achieving that vision and in creating a practice that is truly thriving.

Starting with the time. I don’t mean the time on your watch; I mean the time in your day. It’s time to make the schedule your servant and not your master, which means scheduling to meet daily production goals, NOT scheduling just to keep the doctor and team busy.

Establish a realistic financial goal for your practice, let’s say $700,000 in clinical production. This calculates to $14,583 per week (taking four weeks out for vacation, holidays, CE). Working forty hours per week means you’ll need to produce about $364 per hour. If you want to work fewer hours, obviously per hour production will need to be higher.

Use the formula below to determine the rate of hourly production.

  1. The assistant logs the amount of time it takes to perform specific procedures. If a procedure takes the doctor three appointments, she/he should record the time needed for all three appointments.
  2. Next record the total fee for the procedure.
  3. Determine the procedure value per hourly goal. To do this, take the cost of the procedure, for example $900 for a crown; divide it by the total time to perform the procedure, 120 minutes. That will give you your production per minute value - $7.50. Multiply that by 60 minutes - $450.
  4. Compare that amount to the doctor’s hourly production goal. It must equal or exceed the identified goal.
  5. Start scheduling to meet that goal every hour of every day.

If you choose to block the schedule for specific procedures do so based on historical data – actual procedures performed over the past six months – and not on what you would like your ideal day to be. You can work toward creating your ideal days, but first you have to have a clear picture of what your real days have been.

Next look at what’s happening in the operatory:

  • Does your assistant anticipate which instrument you need next?
  • Must you repeatedly stop to adjust the light source?
  • Can your assistant clearly see what is happening in the patient’s mouth?
  • Are you performing procedures or explaining matters to patients that the assistant or other staff members could and should be handling? For example, do you explain post-op care to patients even though that’s the assistant’s job? Or do you frequently sit down with parents to discuss the importance of sealants even though this is the hygienist’s responsibility?

Typically, the dental assistant who isn’t adjusting the light source or isn’t anticipating the doctor’s instrument needs is simply not sitting in the chair properly. The doctor who never seems to have enough time often is not delegating every procedure, patient interaction, and staff matter legally allowable in their state.

All of those seemingly minor inefficiencies add up to minutes, hours, and days lost in your schedule. They have a direct impact on your ability to achieve your goals and turn a threatened practice into a thriving practice.  

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns?  Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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