Scheduling For Success: Getting Patients Back to Your Dental Practice

Posted by Scott Livingston on Sep 5, 2019 10:36:18 AM
Scott Livingston

There's no argument that diagnosing, presenting and then treating elective/restorative treatment is one of the most important aspects of a dental practice’s success. But often we overlook another critical aspect in the practice: scheduling patients for treatment. Without question, the function of scheduling your patient visits has now moved to the top of the list of activities that have the greatest impact on your overall success.

Think about this for a moment. Obviously, without dentistry being performed on your patients there would be no production, but just as critical, without patient visits, there wouldn’t be any production either. The concept seems pretty easy to get, but if so, why don’t the team members responsible for scheduling know how many patient visits are needed to achieve the production goals? Do you know how many are needed?

It’s a common belief that scheduling is a simple job—so simple, that in most cases when a new team member is hired, especially one with no dental experience, this is the first responsibility they're given in your practice. With very little understanding of how important this role is in the overall success of the practice—is it any wonder why your practice might be under-performing?

Not only is it important for schedulers to understand the effect they have on how full the schedule is, but they also need to understand what effect they have on the overall production, what the production goals are, and at any given moment where the practice is in relationship to the goals you've set.

When a scheduler knows what your production goals are along with what your average production per visit is (which might be low due to ineffective treatment diagnosis and presentation), they will know exactly how many visits you need in order for the practice to reach its production goals for the period.

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Have you already scheduled next week's visits to ensure that you are going to reach your production goal for the week, month quarter and year? Have you looked at it? Do you know where you are at? More importantly, do the team members who manage the schedule know you are in comparison to where you want to be?

The fact is, most practices do not take a proactive approach to scheduling. This isn't the fault of the schedulers, since team members will generally work to reach whatever expectations are set for them and so long as these expectations are obtainable, measurable, and consistently reported.

In truth, this is a difficult job—but an individual who knows where they are in relationship to where they ought to be has a much better chance of reaching a goal than those who don’t know.

Two Ways to Schedule for Success

  1. Declare an annual production goal for the practice and what that means for each provider, then break this down into a week which is easier to manage. Identify what each provider's average production per patient visit is. Take their weekly production goal, divide this by their average production per patient visit. Now your schedulers know exactly how many patients your providers need in order for them to reach their production goals. Keep track of this daily and schedule for success.
  2. Measure, measure, measure! It’s crucial that once you've identified the number of patients your practice needs to see in order to reach your production goals, that you measure and monitor the scheduler's progression towards reaching these goals. When performance is measured, performance improves and when performance is measured and reported back to the team, the rate of improvement accelerates. It happens EVERY time! Make it part of your daily huddles and celebrate success!

At first glance, clinical procedures may seem to be the most important aspect of the overall success in a dental practice. But administrative procedures are just as important. Don’t only try to fill your schedule. Identify your goals and schedule intentionally. That is scheduling for success.

 

Interested in a customized look at what scheduling for success means for your practice? Give us a call and we’ll give you a quick, 10-minute data snapshot of your practice using DI’s Intelligent Dashboard.

 

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