Are your patients getting lost in the commotion of your practice? The constant whir, the frantic pace, the perpetual crisis, the culture of conflict. All of these affect not only doctor and team but also the patients. In fact, in today’s non-stop busy world, patients visiting a practice that is constantly running at the pace of panic are less likely to keep their appointments. They are less open to pursuing recommended treatment and they are more likely to find another practice.
In fact, depending on the level of perceived stress in the practice, some patients may actually feel that they are in the way; they are a bother. They are hesitant to ask questions or to raise concerns because there is already so much perceived stress they don’t want to add to it. They hear the phones ringing. They see the patients lined up in the waiting area. They note the tension in the voices of the team members. They can feel the pressure, and this is not where they want to spend a lot of time or money, for that matter.
And if that’s how the patients view the practice environment on their periodic visits, how is it for those working there day-after-day? Do you feel you are in a race to beat the clock from the moment you slip into that white lab coat until you pat the last patient on the back and tell them, “Everything looks good. See you in six months.” But just exactly how do you impose order on the chaos swirling in your office?
Shift your focus from reactive to proactive. Beginning with practice goals that you identify and share with the entire team, better yet, involve them in the process of establishing attainable objectives for both the practice and themselves. When each person can equate what they do on a daily basis to the practice’s ability to achieve specific objectives, they are motivated to achieve their individual goals.
Next, the fundamental step in turning chaos into cash and goals into reality, manage the schedule. As every dentist knows all too well, the schedule can be the foundation of an excellent day or the ultimate source of frustration and stress that will have you racing one hour and crawling the next. A productive, manageable schedule is possible when the Scheduling Coordinator understands the concept of scheduling to achieve specific daily production goals. It is then that the distinction between keeping the doctor productive and keeping the doctor busy becomes clear.
For example, perhaps one of the doctor’s goals is to produce $1,000,000 annually. Taking 33% out for hygiene leaves doctor with $670K. This calculates to about $13,958 per week (taking four weeks out for vacation). Working 32 hours per week, means the doctor will need to produce about $436 per hour.
A crown charged out at $950, which takes two appointments for a total of two hours, (hopefully yours is less time) exceeds the per hour production goal by $39. This excess could be applied to any shortfall caused by smaller ticket procedures. Unfortunately, you are probably not doing crowns every hour on the hour.
The formula below will help you determine the rate of hourly production and whether your practice is meeting production objectives.
- The assistant logs the amount of time it takes to perform specific procedures. If the procedure takes the doctor three appointments, she/he should record the time needed for all three appointments.
- Record the total fee for the procedure.
- Determine the procedure value per hourly goal. Take the cost of the procedure, for example $215; divide it by the total time to perform the procedure 50 minutes. Production per minute value - $4.30. Multiply that by 60 minutes - $258/hour.
- The amount must equal or exceed the identified goal.
When the team is focused on achieving specific production goals and practice objectives, the entire atmosphere of the office shifts from pressured to productive. Subsequently, doctor and staff are able to focus on diagnosing and delivering the best dentistry for patients.
Next week, steer clear of the top three scheduling mistakes.
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