Your scheduling system is the core of your practice. It drives production. If you create an excellent schedule, you’ll be able to focus your resources more effectively… and grow practice income.
Revamping your scheduling system takes quite a bit of planning. Following are several basic guidelines that will ensure the best results:
- Conduct procedural time studies. Conditions in any dental practice change over time, such as the experience levels of you and your clinical staff, new technologies, new governmental regulations, etc. For this reason, you should measure how long it takes to perform various procedures and tasks. The timing process is relatively simple, and it can make a huge difference in how patients are scheduled.
- Use 10-minute increments. Most practices have already shifted from 15-minute units to the more precise 10-minute increments for planning appointments. If you haven’t done so yet, you can easily make the switch when you have the results of the time studies in hand.
- Structure an “ideal day” template. What’s your idea of a perfect daily schedule? The only way to make it happen is to define it, explain it to your team and train your scheduling coordinator with scripts that guide patients into the ideal schedule openings.
- Use scripting to control all aspects of scheduling. You can’t put together an efficient daily schedule without patient compliance. Write scripts to ensure that most practice-patient interactions about scheduling achieve the desired results.
- Schedule new patients within 7–10 days. In today’s more competitive dental market, you can’t afford to keep patients waiting for their first visit to your practice… because they might change their minds.
- Update your confirmation process. Modern communications technologies offer better ways to confirm appointments than the old postcards-and-phone-calls approach. Review the various techniques and services now available to dental offices and put together a more effective methodology.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to creating a scheduling system that will decrease stress, reduce rushing and downtime, and enable you to increase production without working longer hours.
For a more in-depth discussion of revamping your schedule, check out Dr. Levin’s popular how-to book, Power Cell Scheduling.
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