12.6.13 Issue #613 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Scheduling Traps That Trip You Up!
By Nancy Caudill

Dr Graham was at the end of his patience when he announced, "My schedule is killing me! I am working harder and making less money. What am I doing wrong?”

Dr. Graham’s practice statistics:
- 1 doctor and 2 assistants working 4 days a week
- 20 year old practice at the same location
- 7 hygiene days per week
- 2 business assistants working 4 days a week
- $2,800 doctor daily gross production currently
- $3,300 doctor daily gross production last year
- Collections at 98% of net production

Dr. Graham enjoyed a slower pace and dedicated time to chat with his patients. His patients liked him and paid for their dental services. All "appeared" to be normal, including his schedule, because at first glance it was full. The entire left column was filled from 8:00am until 5:00pm with an hour for lunch, and the adjacent column had patients sporadically scheduled throughout the day. However, upon further scrutiny, there were many scheduling mishaps that were probably the root of Dr. Graham's feelings of being trapped. They were identified as the following:

Scheduling Traps:
1. The combined practice goal was $6,000 but Dr. Graham did not have a specific goal.
2. Procedures were scheduled in both columns that are "doctor only" procedures.
3. Too much time was scheduled for procedures, leaving unused time units.
4. Too many non-productive appointments were scheduled in one day.
5. There was a need for more dental assistants!
What was discovered in Dr. Graham's practice was that Sharon, his Schedule Coordinator for seven years, resigned to start a family. Dr. Graham then hired Kathy who had 3 years of dental experience. Dr. Graham assumed she knew how to orchestrate a productive schedule - therefore no time was spent giving Kathy the proper training she needed, and she “didn't know what she didn't know.” How hard could it be to put names on a schedule and keep the holes filled? Kathy could do that.

Unfortunately for the doctor, Kathy was getting caught in these scheduling traps, as many Schedule Coordinators do, because of lack of training. Here are some tips for avoiding dangerous scheduling traps:

1. The doctor must have a daily production goal. This goal can be based on many different criteria, such as a general overall increase of 20%, establishing a 55% overhead, gross wages overhead of 20%, etc. Remember that the hygiene goals must be established first after the practice goal is established. The remainder of the production must be produced by the doctor. 

2. Understand doctor procedures versus assistant procedures. Most dental software programs allow you to set up default times for procedures as well as whether each unit of time is doctor or assistant time. Take the time to set up your procedures with the accurate assistant/doctor/assistant time to make it easier for the Schedule Coordinator to properly utilize both doctor columns of the schedule. Educate your scheduler about why it is impossible to perform a root canal procedure in one treatment room and prep a quadrant of composites in the other treatment room at the same time.

3. Schedule the proper amount of time for each procedure. How does the Schedule Coordinator know? Because the information is given to her on the routing slip by the assistant when the patient is "passed off" to her at the front desk. Yes, default times are set up in the computer to make it easier, but it is important that customized time be assigned to each patient. Only the doctor and assistant know how difficult the 1-surface resin filling is going to be on Mrs. Jones or how quick and easy a 3-surface posterior restoration will be for Mr. Smith. Sometimes the default time is not applicable to each patient. This information is crucial to proper and productive scheduling.

4. Limit the number of non-productive appointments per day. Dr. Graham had one day that had 4 crown cementations. When the doctor says, “Mrs. Jones, Kathy will schedule an appointment for you in two weeks to get that new crown placed for you,” don't take him literally. If he prepped 4 crowns that day, don't give him 4 crown seats in two weeks, spread them out a day or two apart. Pre-determine exactly how many crown seats you are willing to do in a day, as well as other non-productive appointments such as wax try-ins, final impressions, etc. All these procedures eat up doctor time and create no production. The daily goal will not be reached with too many of these appointments.

5. If the schedule is properly managed, there is no need for additional assistants. Doctors sometimes feel they can produce more if they have one more assistant and can open up one more treatment room. Wrong! No matter how many treatment rooms and assistants you have, YOU can only be in one place at one time.

Dr. Graham was happy to call recently and report that after professional training of his new Schedule Coordinator, his daily production is reaching almost $4,000 a day and he is only seeing 8-10 patients instead of 15-17. He is now working smarter instead of harder.

Contact McKenzie Management at 877-777-6151 to learn how to rescue your business team from scheduling traps with professional dental training.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com

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