Never Be ‘Busy’ Again
Strike the following words from your vocabulary: “I just want to be busy.” No, you don’t. What you want is to be productive, because in being productive your practice is profitable. And it’s essential that both you and your team not only understand the distinction but create systems to accomplish it.
How do you achieve “productive and profitable”? It begins with a goal. Identify a realistic financial goal for your practice. For example, let’s say your goal is $700,000 in clinical production. This calculates to $14,583 per week (minus four weeks’ vacation). Working 40 hours per week requires you to produce about $364 per hour. If you want to work fewer hours, per hour production will need to increase.
Use the formula below to determine the rate of hourly production:
2. Record the total fee for the procedure.
3. Determine the procedure value per hourly goal. Take the cost of the procedure, for example $1,200 for a crown, and divide it by the total time to perform the procedure (120 minutes). That will give you your production per minute value: $10. Multiply that by 60 minutes - $600. The excess can be applied to any shortfall caused by smaller ticket procedures.
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.
It’s likely you will need to make some other changes in production to reach your goal, such as correcting inefficiencies in the delivery of dentistry and/or decreasing the amount of time to perform certain procedures, which leads me to my next point: Maximize efficiency to manage the schedule. Doctors and assistants in every practice can improve efficiency. Take these steps to inventory and improve your time and motion:
1. The assistant should list the materials and equipment used for each procedure as well as each step necessary to complete each procedure.
2. Indicate next to each task whether it requires the doctor’s time or the assistant’s. Note that administering anesthetic is always considered assistant time. Although the doctor performs this procedure it does not require a single unit of time, 10-15 minutes, to give an injection.
3. Log the amount of time it takes for the doctor and the assistant to perform each task associated with each procedure.
The objective of this time and motion inventory is to identify tasks that can be delegated and opportunities for training that will maximize the assistant’s functions. It also enables both the doctor and the assistant to see more clearly how set-up and tasks can be made more efficient. Reducing the time it takes to perform procedures by as little as 10 minutes can significantly increase profit to the practice.
This approach neither compromises care to the patient nor suggests that the doctor rush, but it can significantly improve clinical efficiency, schedule management, and practice profit. Tip: All treatment rooms should be set up alike. This will ensure that doctor and assistant aren’t waiting for “their” room to free up.
Next, make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the amount of time procedures take. Scheduling time MUST be communicated by the doctor/assistant to the scheduling coordinator – not from the scheduling coordinator to the doctor/assistant. It also should be clear and consistent. Clearly communicating the specific time needed for treatment ensures that the scheduling coordinator isn’t guessing or allocating a specific time for every patient regardless of the procedure.
Tip: Schedule in 10-minute increments and overlap patients during the first and last 10 minutes of each appointment if scheduling doctor time and assistant time is not done routinely.
Focusing on being productive requires a willingness to recognize that “busy” doesn’t necessarily translate to profitable. Being profitable requires a commitment to implement measurable systems.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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