Are You a Hole Filler?
After typing this title, I realized that this question could easily be posed to a dentist as well as a Business Coordinator! I suppose that a dentist is a “hole filler”! However, this article is directed towards the Business Coordinators that struggle to keep the dentist busy all day long by “filling holes”.
First……what does a “hole filler” do? Simply put, they fill holes in the schedule with patients. Any patient will do – let’s just get someone in the chair so the doctor doesn’t see the hole. Okay. I understand this.
Third…where does the “hole filler” get the list that allows them to “dial for dollars”? The correct answer is the practice management software but as consultants we still see sticky notes on the monitor or hand written names on pages of paper!
Last….what’s the relevance of filling the “holes’?
Before we discuss how to “fill the hole”, let’s review what a “hole” is! You would all probably agree that a hole is an opening in the hygiene or doctor’s schedule that will lead to lost revenue for the amount of time related to the hole. And how much revenue would be lost as a result of this “hole”?
Good question, right? The answer depends on the daily/hourly goal that is established for that producer. In other words, if you are a hygienist and your daily goal is $1200 and you work 8 hours, your hourly goal is $150. Therefore, if your “hole” is for an hour, the practice will lose $150 as a result of the hole unless it is filled.
If you are a dentist and your daily goal is $5,000, your hourly goal for an 8-hr day is $625. As above, if you have a 1-hour hole, you stand to lose $625 based on the value of your hour.
Why are goals relevant in determining the value of a “hole” for any given day? Is it possible that a hole may have no value at all and as a result, filling the hole could be unnecessary? That concept can be hard to sell to your dentist.
But let’s dig a little deeper and analyze a situation that “hole fillers” face each day:
Jane, the hygienist, has a daily goal of $1200. A call comes in from her patient that morning to cancel their 1-hr appointment scheduled at 2:00. A “hole” is now created, valued at $150.
Susie, the “hole filler” is working alone today, as her co-worker in the business area is ill. Susie has been instructed to “fill the holes”. Now Susie is faced with a time management issue. She has checks to post, appointments to confirm and now, a “hole” to fill. What to do, what to do? Susie gets bogged down with “priority confusion”.
Susie’s first thought is……”2:00 appointments can be hard to fill and I know that Mrs. Jones at 3:00 cannot come in earlier. I will have to spend “time” this morning making calls and hope I get lucky and find someone at home or work that is willing to leave their home or work.”
In reviewing the appointment schedule to see if maybe there is a doctor patient that is due or past due for their professional cleaning, she also notices that Jane is not scheduled to her goal tomorrow due to two “holes” in the schedule. Oh my! Oh my!
Now Susie is feeling the pressure and frantically starts the “dialing for dollars” steps to fill the 2:00. Maybe if a patient can’t take today, they can take tomorrow’s hole.
Susie is missing one piece of the puzzle that will make her life much less stressful and that is asking herself one simple question………”Do I need to fill the hole today?” How would she know how to answer this question? Simple……is Jane already scheduled to goal for today even with the “hole” since she has two patients with SRP appointments? Well, yes she is! So, in theory, the “hole” has no value since Jane is already scheduled to goal for today.
Now Jane’s priorities have changed. Instead of having to stress over filling a 2:00 appointment today, she can now focus on the two openings she has tomorrow where Jane is not scheduled to her daily goal. HOWEVER, does that mean that Jane doesn’t even make an attempt to fill the hole? NO! Because going over the goal to $1350 for the day may make up for a day next week where the last minute hole could not get filled and the production is $1050. While the daily production objective is important, don’t overlook the month to date goal as the bigger picture.
Time management and learning to prioritize tasks are so important for any team member in a dental office, not just the business team. An assistant must decide in a few seconds whether to unbox supplies or load the autoclave. The doctor must decide whether to anesthetize his restorative patient first or take care of a hygiene exam.
Time is money and there are only so many hours in a day to perform the tasks that must be completed in order for the practice to run smoothly and productively. Don’t get bogged down with “priority confusion”. Learn what tasks always takes precedence over other tasks to make your day less stressful and more productive.
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