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Sally McKenzie's

Weekly Management e-Motivator


Issue #56

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e-motivator Article.

March 21, 2003

Sally McKenzie,CMC
McKenzie Management

1-877-777-6151 Ext. 11

“Top Obstacles to Achieving the Ideal Practice.”
Obstacle #7– Schedule or Lunar Landscape?
This week… one of the barriers likely to be interfering in your ability to reach your goals. Next week I’ll discuss proven solutions.

Some days, the craters in the schedule are so large the whole thing looks like the face of the moon – a desperate wasteland of nothingness. One patient after another either decides not to show or cancels. As the day painfully drags on, your stress level and practice expenses are in a tight race to see which one can reach the stratosphere first.

If it’s any consolation, you are not alone. Every practice has patients who don’t show or routinely cancel their appointments – from those that serve primarily patients with lower dental IQs to those that treat the busy executives. That’s small comfort, however, when you consider the annual cost of cancellations and no-shows, this would easily pay for a couple staff members or any number of office perks and benefits. It’s in the neighborhood of $40,000 and that doesn’t even begin to measure the cost of follow-up treatment that is lost.

Remember, like you and your staff, patients are dealing with dozens of demands, responsibilities, and stresses. They are so overextended between employment issues, children’s activities, volunteer responsibilities, economic concerns, and so on that when it comes to a commitment that the patient may not feel is absolutely necessary, such as a dental appointment, it’s likely to be relegated to the “I’ll get to it eventually” category.

No, you won’t completely eliminate broken appointments and no shows, but you can take steps to significantly reduce those crater-size holes in the schedule. Next week, see my number one recommendation for getting patients in the chair when they are supposed to be and other strategies to minimize the schedule gaps.

Is your hygienist producing at least 33% of his/her total production in periodontal services?

Check out our "how to" manual   

Are the majority of your patients on 6 month recalls?


Technology Tool Box

Mark Dilatush, VP of Professional Relations
for McKenzie Management


1-877-777-6151 Ext. 28

A series of short weekly chores designed to keep the return on investment in technology at its highest level.

If you missed any of the previous issues CLICK HERE.


Bottlenecks? Automated Patient Check In Protocol

Purpose: Proper processing at patient check-in will provide exceptional customer service, smooth transition to the treatment rooms, and much faster check-out.

What to do:

  1. Always try to greet the patient by name. If your front desk team is new or unfamiliar with most patients, consider taking a portrait of your patients. Digital images of patients do not have to be used just for cosmetic imaging or treatment plan presentations. Use a patient portrait to greet your patients by name.
  2. Update your patient information. Your practice management system should be able to tell you when the last medical history was taken. Present the medical history form at check in. Every patient (at check-in) should be able to review the information you have on file for their record. Every patient should be given the opportunity to “update” their information BEFORE they are seated. I would recommend printing the pertinent information on file (in the computer) and handing it to the patient on a clipboard. Updating information at check-out (as opposed to check-in) causes most of the bottlenecks – not patient volume.
  3. Once the patient information is updated, tell the rest of the team that the patient is ready to be seated. Many of you have light systems. Some of you have computerized this process. Most of the time though, the back is notified BEFORE the patient has been greeted and processed properly. Try not to notify the back until the patient information is updated properly and completely.
  4. When the patient returns from the treatment room to the front desk (assuming their information was updated properly), how long does it really take to process a payment, make the next appointment, and print a walkout statement? Two minutes? Three minutes?

If your front desk is “bottlenecking”, don’t get upset. Take a look at which patients created the bottleneck and why it happened. From my experience, the delays are caused because the front desk didn’t have the correct information in the computer system to process the patient efficiently.

I do realize there are patients who forget they changed jobs or that their spouse changed insurance plans. Those instances are certainly in the minority. Ninety five percent of your patients should be able to check out of your dental practice in two to three minutes. If you’re counting, that’s 160 patients in an 8 hour work day!

Some readers of this newsletter are Administrative Assistants in general dental practices. Many of those practices see 25 to 30 patients per day. I want you to visit a busy orthodontic practice some time. Orthodontists have perfected the art of processing patients in and out; they have to. Some of them actually see 160 patients per day!

Remember … a better check in = a better check out!

Interested in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club? Click here

Dear Sally,
Following your visit to my office in the late 80's, my practice is producing way over 100% from that time with 55% overhead. With some fine tuning, I know we have room for growth. Thanks for all you have done for my practice and my personal life. Your management assistance has allowed me to live a high quality life all these years and spend quality time with my family. I just wanted you to know that you are not just a practice management consultant. What you do for our professional lives ripple affects the quality of our personal lives as well. Looking forward to working with you again.
Best Wishes,
Scot Mardis, DDS
Terre Haute, Indiana

How satisfied are you with your practice?
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Special Price for this week's newsletter readers…… $37!!
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La Jolla, CA 92037

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This issue is sponsored in part by:


McKenzie Management


The Center for Dental Career Development

Lares Research

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