Tips from a Practice Management Consultant

Running Behind Schedule

When surveyed, patients have specific beefs about their dentist’s practice (maybe not yours in particular, and probably only SOME of the patients).  We thought it would be helpful to give you the number one complaint and some handlings:

You are often/always running behind schedule

Most practices have times when they get behind schedule for one reason or another.  In lots of practices, it is chronic.  In fact, if you look at RateMDs, it is an extremely common complaint by patients. Let’s discuss some of the causes and what the handling is.

  1. Emergencies where a patient is in trouble MUST be fitted in somewhere obviously. At the same time, running behind is bad service to the patients who come on time for their appointments and is bad for your Word of Mouth marketing.  To deal with this, some practices causatively leave an opening in their schedule in the morning and one in the afternoon as well.  Or, you use your lunch hour or stay after hours to treat the person.
  2. Lack of Systems and Structure is another cause of running behind. Having practice policy on how to book “Ideal Days” with times blocked out for the different types of procedures is vital.  Also, there are patients you double book because they will likely not show up at all.  Good policies laid out and followed reduce headaches.
  3. Unscheduled treatments can subtly throw you off your schedule. You treat the patient for the expected service today and then the patient says, “Say, what about this problem … can we do something about this today while I’m here?” You with your big heart try to accommodate the request but then run behind for the rest of the day and reduce service to the subsequent patients.  Best option is to tell the patient that you would be very interested in helping them with that issue but want to give it the right amount of time and attention, and you would like them to schedule a time to come back so you can properly take care of it.

Dental Practice Policy

90% of the time your practice should be running on time and there are loads of ways this can be worked out.  Write these into your policy manual for the practice and get everyone to follow it.  A smoothly running, on time practice is a pleasure for everyone, including your patients.

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