3.2.12 Issue #521 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Scheduling Resolutions
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

“Empowerment isn’t magic. It consists of a few simple steps and a lot of persistence.” - Ken Blanchard, author of “Empowerment Takes More Than a Minute.”

Dear Belle,

I am frustrated beyond words. My new business coordinator is not any better at scheduling than the last one I had. Today was a good day with production but we had patients waiting in the chairs and in the reception room. I had a seat appointment scheduled in the middle of a large prep case and a new patient exam at the same time. I told her I want to be busy but I don't want to die young. What can I do to empower her to do it right? 

Dr. Rolling in the Deep

Dear Dr. Rolling,

Scheduling is one of the biggest challenges a general practice faces. The complexities can be overwhelming to the person in charge of this task. To bring resolve and function to this system, it is recommended that we examine the basics of what a dental practice schedule represents and the factors that must be present to make a great scheduled day. 

Does the business/scheduling coordinator have a daily production goal to schedule? Without having a dollar goal, the scheduler will be motivated to fill every slot of open time because she/he doesn't know if goal is met for the day or not. This can be stressful for the clinical team, and making goal is accidental if not planned. If goal is met, open time can be held for opportunities that will present themselves such as emergency patients that need endodontic care or crowns, new patients that want to be seen that week and hygiene patients that have work to be done and would rather stay than come back.

Does the business/scheduling coordinator share the dentist's vision for the perfect day? In order for the person in charge of scheduling to do their job well, it would be desirable to be able to visualize or see in writing what the doctor would like the day to look like. If the doctor would like quadrant major dentistry scheduled from 8:00-11:00 and a new patient exam at 11:00 and a seat at 11:30 and the same again starting after lunch - it would be of benefit to communicate this to anyone scheduling appointments.  Block scheduling has been popular in the past to train new people how to schedule for production. As an exercise, take a blank schedule and draw it out as you see the perfect day. Indicate who will be helping, when and where with marks showing doctor time and assistant time. Having this kind of template is very helpful to the scheduler. 

Does the practice hold morning meetings and are the past and future schedules examined for ways to improve? At the end of the day - if it was a “perfect” day - analyzing why would be a great training experience for the entire team. It is not only the business/scheduling coordinator that makes or breaks the schedule. The entire team must be onboard to make the schedule work. During the morning meeting, the following can be discussed:

  • Where to put emergency patients.
  • Any patients that need FMX or panorex not indicated on the schedule.
  • Open-ended appointments or patients that have other work to do that could stay if there was a cancellation at the same time.
  • Patients on hygiene that have incomplete treatment plans where an exam may be of benefit.
  • Patients in hygiene that may have minor treatment and can stay to complete today.
  • What worked on yesterday's schedule and what did not and why?
  • Patients that have balances on their account that must pay prior to being seated.
  • If there is going to be a traffic jam at the front desk at a certain time, perhaps appointments can be scheduled at the hygiene chair.
  • Family members who are due and have not scheduled yet.
  • Patients with special needs such as the elderly who want blankets and neck pillows to children who are phobic and nervous.
  • Someone to answer the phone if the business coordinator is presenting treatment and making financial arrangements.

Dr. Rolling, it would behoove you to stop blaming the person, and look to fixing the system of scheduling in your practice. Persistence in improving the communication about the schedule to the entire team is essential to enjoying your patients and doing dentistry the way that you want to.

For business training on improving all office systems including scheduling, call McKenzie Management today at (877) 777-6151 and sign up for a course.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management'sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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