Scheduling To Goal
Each morning, hygienists should review their daily schedules at the business meeting. It’s important to check the patient charts to see what each patient is due to have done that day. In addition to what each patient needs, hygienists should also be aware if they are scheduled to goal, under goal, or over goal. Being prepared with this information allows hygienists to “own” their work and goals for each day.
Daily goals are based on what the hygiene department or hygienist needs to produce in their schedule to be a productive component of the practice. They are also based on what is a realistic day, and what can be accomplished in the time allowed for each individual patient.
Many offices get excited when the hygienist is continuously over their daily goal. However, the hygienist should be scheduled to goal; this is what will make the entire office run smoother. If the hygienist has x-rays and periodic exams on every patient one day, and none the next, it will increase or decrease the stress of the entire office.
If the doctor has to do multiple exams, it may directly increase the stress of the assistant because s/he may have to continually leave their own schedule and get behind. This leaves the doctor running late, which in turn stresses the assistant and front office because the doctor’s patient is upset at having to wait. This tends to cause stress for the doctor too.
If the doctor does not get to the hygienist in time for exams, the patient in the chair has to wait for an exam and the patient in the reception room has to wait to be seated. This results in the hygienist being late, and depending on how many hygienists you have in your practice, that may be a lot of unhappy patients.
These scenarios could lead to a reduction in patient retention and continuously stressed office staff – which patients can feel the moment they walk in the door.
Whether patients are making their appointments when they are leaving or calling the office in the future to book, appointments should not just be thrown into any empty hole that fits the time they need. It is recommended that the Scheduling Coordinator evaluate what the patient needs for their next appointment, as well as what works best for the future schedule.
If the patient is retired, be mindful to not offer them an early morning or late afternoon appointment, as these times are more difficult for patients to get. The exception would be if you are filling a last-minute cancelation. See if they are willing to take the ten o’clock or eleven o’clock appointment that may not be in as much demand.
Make sure you are looking to see what the patient will be due for at their next hygiene appointment. Are they going to be considered a high production appointment? Look at the appointments scheduled for that day. Does the hygienist already have enough high production scheduled to meet goal for that day? If so, move onto another day and offer that time and date to the patient.
If for some reason the office is unable to schedule the patient when they are due for their hygiene appointment, ask: “Is it alright if I put your name on our priority list in case we have any changes? That way we are able to keep as close to your recall as possible and help keep your mouth healthy.”
This will do a couple of things for your practice. It will tell patients it is important for them to stay on schedule for their recall. If your practice is ok with pushing their appointment out a week or two from when they are due and they are on a three-month recall, what kind of message does that tell the patient? It tells them that it’s alright to not stay on schedule. This will also help you to create and have a functioning ASAP list to help fill last minute cancelations and no-show appointments.
The next time there is an appointment scheduled in your practice, I hope for your patients, your practice, and your production that the person scheduling it doesn’t just fill a hole. Correct scheduling can determine how smoothly the day will go.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
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