12.28.12 Issue #564 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Scheduling In Advance May Be Deceiving
By Jean Gallienne, RDH BS

When offices book each patient six months in advance for their next hygiene appointment, they may be deceiving themselves into believing that the hygiene schedule is full. As a result, when they look ahead at the hygiene schedule they may see it is solidly booked for a month or two in advance and there is no place to put patients trying to get in for their hygiene appointment. This can cause a knee jerk reaction, resulting in the idea that more hygiene appointments are needed. The doctor may hire another hygienist, or have the current hygienist add time to their schedule in order to accommodate patients.

The next thing you know, the hygiene department has a lot of open time and profitability has gone down. Patients are canceling because they are sick, have to work, are going on vacation or even worse, are no-shows to the appointment all together. The scheduling coordinator and the recall coordinator work their fingers to the bone dialing for dollars trying to fill the schedule, which is harder to do when the cancellations come at the last minute.

I wish I could tell you how to eliminate any open time in hygiene. Although there is no golden answer, there certainly are ways to reduce the amount of open time in the hygienists’ schedules. Here are a few of them.

1. Having a recall coordinator may be priceless, as this person’s sole responsibility is keeping the hygiene schedule full. When there is a cancellation or change in the schedule, it is the number one priority for the recall coordinator and the scheduling coordinator to work on filling the schedule for that day.

2. Creating lists to use if there are changes in the schedule is extremely important. Have patients prepared to move forward if there is a change in your schedule, or if time permits, get a patient in that does not have an existing appointment. If there is limited time and the hygienist needs a last minute high production block filled, look through the future appointments for a root planing patient and see if they may be able to come in sooner. The scheduling coordinator should have already asked the patient when they made their initial appointment if they would be interested in being moved forward if there is a change in the schedule, and what times may work for them.  

3. Calculating the amount of hygiene time that is needed for your practice is valuable. Just because your schedule appears to be full does not mean you need to add an additional day of hygiene. Many offices have more hygiene time than they actually need, and this leads to having more open time than there should be.

4. Setting up your schedule based on past history will help also. This means scheduling appointments in order to optimize the hygienist’s time, allowing them to reach their daily goals. Get out of the mindset of filling holes in the schedule with any appointment, and instead schedule the optimum hygiene schedule. You may want to have blocks placed in your schedule based on the past history of the hygiene department, allowing for the patients to get appointments in a timely basis. Your practice needs will make a difference as to what the blocks may be for, whether they are new patient blocks or high production blocks. 

If the hygiene department sees new patients first, then you want to allow time to be blocked out for new patients. This will help prevent the new patient from calling and not being able to get in immediately. If the doctor sees the new patient first, you may even want to consider having blocks for new patients in the doctor’s schedule. The last thing you want is an entire day of all new patients and not one high production procedure in the doctor or hygienist schedule.

How many blocks do you need for new patients? This depends on how many patients on average are seen each month in your practice. This is the reason why you need to look at your past history before just randomly putting blocks into your schedule.

How many high production blocks do you need to schedule in each day? Is a new patient block considered a high production block in your practice? What appointments count as a high production block in your practice? This will vary depending on the hygienists’ goals, what the appointment consists of, how much time is allowed, and the cost of each procedure done.

The main thing to keep in mind is that just because your schedule appears full today, it may change first thing in the morning when the front office comes in and gets the phone messages. Patients do get sick and have emergencies that happen. Being prepared on how to fill open time in order to meet your offices goals is a key plan in scheduling.

Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151

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