Time Management or Out of Time?
Ever wonder where the day went? When you’re busy in the whirlwind of activity that is a typical dental practice, time is one of the most valued commodities. When harnessed correctly, we have a productive, profitable and smooth running day. But when derailed by issues that zap the time and energy from us, we are less than enthused about the work we do.
It would be simple to say “buck up and ride it out” or “it is what it is” and just deal with it, which is what I hear from dental team members who believe they have no say in what happens in their dental practice. But the first step to finding relief is to acknowledge that there is a problem, and the second is to remember that there is a solution to any problem. If chaos is the accepted mode of the day and you are happy with that, then okay. But if you want to bring change to your day and create synergy and harmony, consider some of the following observations and recommendations:
1. Start the day with a personal or group affirmation, such as thanking the team for being there on time.
2. Start every day with a morning meeting to confirm the schedule and recognize any problematic patients or time allotment issues.
3. Have a current list of patients available for last minute appointments. Time is critical when you need to fill a last minute cancellation.
4. Identify patients who have additional treatment needed that could possibly extend their appointment should there be a cancellation.
5. Focus on the most important issue that will affect the outcome of the day. This issue could be an individual goal or a group goal. For the clinical team, it might be setting up for a surgery and having team members in place to ensure all goes well. For the front desk team, it may be securing financing for the surgery prior to the day-of, getting signatures on paperwork prior to treatment, calling in prescriptions and confirming that the patient has a ride home.
6. Maintain communication within the practice during the day by instant email messaging, intercom or phone system. Instruct the business team to keep the clinical team aware of late arrivals or last minute cancellations and direct them to possible patients that could take the open time.
7. Delegate duties to other members of the team to help support a critical issue that needs to be completed. For example, if you want to update the fee schedules in the system but cannot be interrupted, delegate an estimated amount of time to a team member to answer the phone and check patients in so the task can be completed.
8. Create short task lists for everyone based on the most critical issue of the day. Accountability would be to complete these tasks by the end of the day. This helps the team to manage their time more efficiently.
9. Schedule and prioritize. Just as the doctor and hygienist are bound by their schedules, the business team also has tasks to schedule to completion, such as outbound calls to the unscheduled patients or follow-up on collection accounts. If these tasks are not scheduled into your day and given priority, they will not happen.
10. Define job descriptions. The first step to accountability is a written job description for each team member. This is the basis for their job success. Each person needs to know what is expected of them and how they integrate into the success of the team.
11. Have a standardized protocol that the entire team understands for daily operations in the practice. For instance, what is the protocol for a patient who is 15 minutes late? What is the protocol for scheduling a surgical patient? What is the protocol for scheduling an emergency patient? What is the protocol for a new patient? If everyone understands and follows these protocols, there is less time wasted asking questions and making errors.
12. Communicate to patients how long they will wait and ask them if it is okay. If you are running behind, apologize and offer the patient an option to reschedule. Look to see what happened that day and try to anticipate the future. Making patients wait is one of the top five complaints for dental practices.
Don’t let time be your enemy. If you want to learn to schedule your day so you are less stressed, more productive and more profitable, call McKenzie Management today at 877-777-6151 for Professional Business Training.Forward this article to a friend
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