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6.13.08 Issue #327 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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Scheduling: It Makes or Breaks Your Day

“That was a terrific day we had today. I want to thank all of you for your efforts in making this day not only profitable but pleasant. It is the first time in a long time that I have actually enjoyed being a dentist.” —Dr. Gerry Smithfield (not his real name)

Days go by, the moment is gone and the usual grind sets in. Looking over practice production reports will reveal whether you made goal on any given day but it does not reveal any sense of accomplishment, team synergy or just plain happiness felt. Having really great scheduled days can leave some team members with a sense of euphoric accomplishment that can last for days or even weeks. It can fuel the fire of personal significance that might manifest as taking extra time to educate a patient about the benefits of implants, as saying, “Let me help you,” to a team member struggling to learn to schedule on the computer or as offering to stay late with an emergency patient after everyone else has left for the day.

Examining a week’s worth of patient schedules during McKenzie Management’s Advanced Business Training can demonstrate to Office Managers and other members of the front office team the technical problems that are causing practice difficulties. The schedule is the wheel that turns the practice and the Scheduling Coordinator is the driver. Because a week’s worth of practice schedules represents a snapshot of what is happening, it proves to be a very valuable learning tool. Scheduling Coordinators who want to schedule to meet goal and to reduce daily stress need to know some key points when planning each day. These points include the following:

  • doctor clinical time units for each procedure performed by the doctor (should be in 10-minute increments)
  • assistant time units for every procedure scheduled (should be in 10-minute increments)
  • what appointments are “open-ended” and can be extended if necessary
  • accurate doctor and assistant times (Is the doctor spending too much time in his/her office or running behind continually?)
  • patient issues affecting the scheduled time (likes to talk, uses a wheelchair, etc.)
  • hygiene examinations during scheduled treatment time
  • the doctor’s need to receive or make phone calls during patient time
  • whether a scheduled procedure meets practice goal for time allotted
  • where emergencies will be seen that day
  • scheduling lunches so that everyone will get a break
  • effectively utilizing dental assistants (Are registered dental assistants doing expanded functions per state laws?)
  • which patients need “evidence-based” x-rays and whether an assistant or hygienist will take them
  • whether dental assistants enter treatment plans and clinical notes on the computer as the doctor is diagnosing
  • how long each patient waits to see the doctor (time waiting after being seated)
  • noting lab cases scheduled for delivery, and receiving and checking them for accuracy
  • making sure the scheduled day represents the service mix that the doctor(s) have requested (not an entire day of deliveries or back-to-back endo)
  • scheduling New Patients and identifying who will conduct the new patient interview if the Treatment Coordinator is not available
  • determining if the schedule can accommodate, within a week or two, any new patient that calls
  • determining if patients for whom hygienists are assessing periodontal conditions and motivating them to get scaling and root planning with anti-microbial treatment can be scheduled within a week or two

The Business Coordinator or Scheduling Coordinator responsible for scheduling the doctor(s) and hygienist(s) should be informed of the dollar amount the practice has to produce each day. This total amount would also include each hygienist production goal. When the Scheduling Coordinator is told to “keep the schedule full,” she/he may end up with a busy and possibly frantic schedule, but not necessarily a profitable one.

Knowing what makes or breaks the schedule is vital to creating a “perfect” day versus just “filling lines” without thought to how it will affect the team.

If you would like for McKenzie Management to train your Front Office Scheduling Coordinator please contact us at 877-777-6151 or or visit our web-site at
Interested in having Belle speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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