Many dental practices are struggling financially because they have fewer new patients coming in and existing patients are postponing oral care appointments to save money. To stay viable, dentists are trying to increase efficiency and cut costs. Managing your time effectively is crucial to ensure a successful practice. Very often, dentists find themselves running late between appointments or working longer hours than they intended. At the end of the day you might wonder where the time has gone.
The first step therefore, is to track the amount of time which is spent on daily tasks and procedures in a typical week. Analyzing this data can reveal areas where time can be saved. Sometimes dentists perform tasks that could easily be delegated to their hygienist or assistant. There may be procedures which can be completed in less time by using automated equipment. For example, the use of a cloud-based mobile EDR and practice management solution can help save time in areas like documentation, charting and many others (check out Dovetail’s website for additional details). You might even find that there are a couple of employees who need to be trained to work better. Identifying and implementing solutions to these issues can increase efficiency significantly.
One of the major reasons that practices often fall behind is that the responsibilities of various employees are not clearly outlined. It may be that a patient is left waiting in the chair because no one knows what work is to be done next or the dentist ends up doing the job of the hygienist because he/she is busy elsewhere. You have to create a chart showing the duties of each employee during a typical appointment so that everybody knows their role. This ensures that there are no bottlenecks and saves time for both the practice and the patient.
Dental practices can also implement daily meetings in the morning to go over the list of patients scheduled for the day. Errors and inaccuracies in charting, insufficient records and special needs can be corrected and accommodated if everybody knows about it in advance. For example if a patient’s record shows that a particular chart is missing, the office manager or receptionist can schedule more time for the hygienist to complete the task. This way other patients are not kept waiting because an early appointment took more time than expected.
Proper time management allows a practice to treat their clients punctually creating a good impression. It also means that new patients can be accommodated without overworking the dentist or other staff while reducing stress and increasing the profitability of the clinic.