Today's blog post comes to us courtesy of our friends over at Front Office Rocks! In the following post, FOR founder Laura Hatch discusses the importance of block scheduling in dental for productivity, profitability, and stress management. Read on for some great insight!
If you’ve ever worked in a dental office for just a few days, whether you were in the front or back office, you know that the schedule makes or breaks the day. Some offices have other issues to deal with, but in almost every case I can guarantee the schedule was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We are building schedules that are unrealistic and hectic.
What does that mean? It means planning your schedule ahead of time and knowing what you need to put into the schedule to hit your production goals.
Have a staff meeting to draft a scheduling policy. We know that things happen each day to disrupt the schedule, such as patients running late to appointments, emergency patients that need to be seen, the doctor running behind with a procedure, etc. If we know this type of stuff happens on a regular basis, why not plan for it instead of letting it wreak havoc on your schedule?
Keep track of every appointment in your office over a two-week period. At the end of the time study, note the length in minutes for each procedure that you did and then figure out the average length of that procedure based on those times.
For example, during the morning huddle, discuss the day ahead and the schedule as planned. Maintain a culture of teamwork where the employees can discuss areas in the schedule where more collaboration might be needed because it could get a little hectic. Identify good places in the schedule to handle emergencies if they call in, so as not to stress out the dental assistants or make the schedule fall apart.
Block scheduling works... here's why: if you fill your dental calendar with all the little items first you're eliminating larger chunks of time necessary for bigger dental appointments. Train your front office dental staff to schedule the big blocks first. Then fill your schedule with the sand – those quick, minor appointments. This method makes scheduling easier and boosts revenue, too.
If not, look at your schedule and see if you're scheduling appointments with your daily production goals in mind.
Ensure that you are scheduling productively from the start. Staff who schedule appointments should be well trained in how to build a productive schedule. Make sure your team is following your office scheduling policy from the start so the need to move patients' appointments in the future decreases. When planning a schedule, front office teams should be thinking about how the appointment will fit into the day, where it makes the most sense, and if it will help hit production goals for the day. The key is to make sure that you have a detailed scheduling policy for your team to follow and then ensure that everyone is following it.