3.23.07 - Issue # 263 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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Is Your Front Office a Category 5 Storm Warning?

Do you hear the sirens going off in your head when you see the holes in the schedule?  Are you heading for the basement because payroll is due and you don’t have enough to cover it?  What is happening?  You have four front office people to make sure the schedule is “full” and the money is collected.  You thought you were safe.

This is a true story from the case files of McKenzie Management’s Advanced Training.Center The names and location have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

Dr. Goodtooth and his partner Dr. Grandstand have a beautiful office with all of the latest technology.  They have spared no expense for computers and monitors in every operatory, digital x-ray, surgical microscope, intra-oral cameras, and ergonomically correct front office and treatment rooms.  They have the WOW factor plus they are in a large city with plenty of opportunities to attract patients. 

Dr. Goodtooth, a general and cosmetic dentist is booked solid and new patients have to wait four weeks to see him.  He tends to run 15 minutes or more behind because he loves to talk and says that is what patients want from him.  The Office Manager, Trudy Lovespeople, says that many new patients do not show up for their appointment and she doesn’t know why.  Studies show that most people expect an appointment within one to two weeks of the time they call.  They will make an appointment and then call another office and schedule something sooner and then not call you back.

Dr. Grandstand is a periodontist and feels that marketing is to blame for the lack of patients receiving on-going periodontal therapy  The current active patient base is over 3,000 yet only a small percent are in periodontal maintenance. On top of that, they have three associate dentists that are on a percentage of production that spend too much time with empty chairs.

Upon examination of the latest reports produced by the software system, it was determined that key systems were in “crisis”.  The recall system needed an overhaul and several recommendations were made, including changing from “cutesy” see you in 6 months cards to McKenzie Management’s system of professional cards in envelopes with a reason to return for the professional cleaning and exam.  Insurance companies were dictating soft tissue management protocol and the hygienists were not being directed to promote periodontal care.  Dr. Goodtooth expressed his concern that the hygienists never used the intra-oral cameras that he had installed “for them”.  Dr. Grandstand was put in charge of getting the periodontal program back on track with all hygienists understanding the protocol, using the camera and learning the software.

Even though there were four front office people all with written job descriptions, several systems were in the red zone.  The accounts receivables were beyond acceptable range with over 90 days at 45% of total AR when it should be 10% or less.  Insurance claim filing was backlogged and no one on the staff knew how to do attachments of digital x-rays and periodontal charts. It was recommended that the software trainer return and also those who know the system are to have a designated time to train other team members.

Overdue collection calls, overdue recall patients, unscheduled treatment calls were being made “once in a while” when someone had time.  Trudy expressed her concern that there were time management and absenteeism issues with staff.  Trudy was given the direction to redo the job descriptions delegating more responsibilities to her team and instilling performance measurements so that they understood their areas of accountability.  Creating daily tasks lists with completion by the end of the day was recommended.

It was discovered that all patients were being checked out at the front office.  With the average of six patients coming to the desk to be checked out and six more showing up to be checked in the chaos at the desk was “crazy”.  Recommendations were that all hygiene appointments were to be made at the hygiene chair and that all post-op, delivery or phased treatment plans were to be scheduled at the chair by the dental assistants.  Financial arrangements were to have been made and any monies due collected by the Financial Coordinator prior to the patient being seated so that the patient did not have to wait at the desk to pay. It was also recommended that the dental assistant was to enter the treatment plan while the patient was in the chair and not have the front office do it at dismissal.

There is a lot of work to be done to get this office where it should be.  Don’t wait for “storm warnings” to motivate you to seek help.  Call us today.

For more information on McKenzie's Advanced Training for Dentists, Office Managers and front office team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com, call 1-877-777-6151 or visit our web-site at www.mckenziemgmt.com


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