Do You Need To Hire Another Dental Assistant?
Dentist Case Study #233
The doctor’s concerns: “I feel like I’m always stressed. I spend most of my days running from operatory to operatory just trying to keep up. I think it might be time to bring another assistant on to help relieve some of that stress and improve practice efficiencies.”
Before this dentist (or any dentist for that matter) hires a new assistant, he needs to determine if he actually needs one. When he came to us, this doctor really didn’t want to put another employee on his payroll, but he didn’t know what else to do.
Here’s a quick look at some of the practice stats:
• Doctor sees 10-12 patients a day for a variety of procedures, including restorative and endo. About 65% of his procedures are fillings. A local lab fabricates his crown and bridge cases. He typically places one or two crowns a day.
• The Scheduling Coordinator gives the doctor 90 minutes for crown preps and an hour for one to two composites. To allow for adjustments, crown cementations are scheduled for 40 minutes, or 50 minutes if they’re bonded. Endo cases run about 90 minutes for anteriors and 2.5 hours for molars.
• There are three treatment rooms, all equipped with digital radiography.
• Doctor is usually booked out six or seven working days, with slots available for new patients. The practice is open five days a week, and there’s one hygienist in the practice every day. There are currently two assistants, one hygienist and two full-time business employees.
We also know our doctor is stressed out. He feels like he doesn’t spend enough time educating patients or building those all-important connections.
We suggested ways the doctor could streamline his schedule and reduce stress from his day. Here are the recommendations we gave him:
Don’t feel like you have to work out of all three treatment rooms just because you have them. Work out of two treatment rooms instead. This makes it easier to check on hygiene patients and reduces the time patients have to wait to see the doctor. Remember, the number of treatment rooms a dentist should use depends on a variety of factors, including workload, how many days the doctor is booked in advance, procedure mix and the number of assistants the doctor has.
Schedule patients further out. If patients would like to be seen sooner, put them on a priority list and let them know you’ll be in contact if an opening comes up. This also helps alleviate another problem that plagues dental practices: cancellations and no-shows. With this system, the practice has a list of patients who have indicated they want to come in sooner if possible, making them more likely to fill those last-minute openings.
Overlap patients 10 minutes at the beginning and end of every appointment. Finish the last 10 minutes while the assistant seats the next patient.
Communicate procedure times to the Scheduling Coordinator to make sure the correct amount of time is allotted.
Fabricate crown temps chairside to save time.
Consider building in 30 minutes a day for admin time. The assistant can use this time to order supplies and finish equipment maintenance.
Ask business team members to take patients back when necessary.
Like this doctor, if you’re considering hiring another team member then I recommend you ask yourself these important questions first:
• How many patients do I see each day and what type of procedures do I perform?
The answers to these questions will help determine if you really need to hire another assistant or if it’s time to make some changes. Remember, hiring more team members than you need won’t necessarily improve efficiencies, but it will increase overhead costs.
Still not sure if you need to hire? Contact McKenzie Management for more guidance.
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