Attn: Office Managers, Make the Most of Your Doctor’s ‘Great’ Ideas
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Take cover office managers, the Chicago Midwinter Meeting recently concluded and thousands of dentists have returned to their practices with a zillion great ideas that they want you to implement today. Sound familiar?
Ah yes, many a dental staff member has been the “beneficiary” of the vicarious continuing education experience. The doctor attends a conference and returns positively beaming with excitement, enthusiasm, and stories. Stories of dentists living in rural communities of 500 people doing TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS in production! Stories of dentists working three hours a day, two days a week, and blowing the competition away. Stories of dentists with perfect schedules, ideal collections, and computer systems that not only spit out completely understandable reports, they predict the future as well! Oh-My-GOSH!
Now lest you think that I am not a supportive of dental conferences, just the opposite is true. It is extremely important to take advantage of training opportunities and become involved in your professional organization. Just look at your dentist. She/he came back renewed and refreshed. And, agree or disagree, she/he probably did return with a few very good ideas. The challenging part is trying to implement them.
That’s where training programs and involvement in your own association come into play. Organizations such as the American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM) provide workshops and conferences of their own, such as the annual Dental Managers Conference, as well as offer access to numerous resources. As Heather Collicchio, AADOM president, explains, “Dental office managers can feel very isolated. But if they have the support of a 2000+ member organization such as ours and access to programs and services that are specific to their responsibilities, it makes their jobs that much easier, and their contribution to the success of the practice that much greater.”
Similarly, companies, such as McKenzie Management offer specialized training opportunities specifically for office managers at all levels from beginner to highly experienced. And for those who simply cannot get away, there are online training options that can be completed in 30 minutes or less.
Now make the most of your doctor’s post-conference enthusiasm. Let’s say the dentist comes back and tells you she/he wants you to figure out exactly how many hygiene days the practice needs because she/he wants to make sure the office doesn’t have too many or too few. More on that in a moment.
This is your opportunity. Take advantage of it. After you’ve calculated hygiene days, deliver this information to the doctor with a suggestion that you would also like to reduce overhead, improve collections, make the most of patient insurance benefits, enhance marketing, improve patient retention, and so on. To do that, you’d like to sign-up for the two-day McKenzie Management Advanced Training Program for Office Managers, which is offering a $250 reduction in tuition to AADOM members.
The money you save the practice in curbing lost hygiene time should more than pay for your one-on-one training session. Most importantly, in applying the knowledge you gain, you’ll be instrumental in helping the practice achieve production and other goals month after month. In short, you’ll be making sure that the doctor can implement all his/her good ideas.
So how do you quickly assess hygiene days? Follow this formula:
- Count the number of active patients – those due to return for recall in the next 12 months.
- Multiply that figure by two, since most patients come in twice a year for oral hygiene appointment.
- Add the number of new patients receiving a comprehensive diagnosis per year. For example: your practice has 1,000 active patients + 300 new patients = 1,300 x 2 = 2,600 possible hygiene appointments.
- Now take that number and compare it to the hygienist’s potential patient load.
- If the hygienist works four days a week, sees 10 patients per day, and works 48 weeks a year there are 1,920 hygiene appointments available.
- Subtract that total from 2,600. You are losing nearly 700 appointments per year – 680 to be exact – or 14 patients per week. In this scenario, the hygiene department should be increased 1.5 days per week.
If your practice schedules patients when they are due rather than pre-scheduling appointments, examine how far ahead patients are booked for appointments. If there are no openings in the hygiene schedule for a solid three-week period and some patients are being bumped into the fourth week, you may need to consider increasing the hygiene department’s availability in half-day increments. If you find there is more hygiene time than necessary develop a patient retention strategy and focus greater attention on filling those extra days.
Now go in there and WOW your doctor with your numbers.
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