Chaotic schedule not new to dental practices. Missed appointments, visits taking longer than usual, and no free slots for new patients are common occurrences in a clinic. If this sounds like a typical week to you, your practice could benefit from a dental scheduling coordinator.
Do You Need a Scheduling Coordinator?
Whether or not you need one depends entirely on your practice, team, and schedule. If you are lucky enough to have an office manager who can maintain the schedule for you, then you might not need a scheduling coordinator at all. But if your schedule is the stuff of nightmares, this team member can be invaluable.
Some solo practices struggle to fit in patients or have issues with overbooking/underbooking. Scheduling appointments for multiple dentists within the clinic while accommodating the occasional specialist for a large, multi-specialty practice can also be a source of stress and frustration. A scheduling coordinator can improve productivity and revenue, reduce frustration for the entire team, and streamline appointments for you and your patients.
Hire the Right Person for the Job
Every dental clinic has its own unique needs and scheduling problems. The role of scheduling coordinator and its associated responsibilities will vary from one practice to the next. Develop a detailed job description that highlights the skills you are looking for in a coordinator. Make sure to include all their responsibilities – even ones that they have to do on any regular basis. A clear job description will help you screen candidates and leave no room for confusion about what the job exactly requires from them.
Don’t Skip the Training
No matter how experienced you are coordinator is, they won’t be familiar with your routines, staff members, and patients. Training is extremely important to make sure your scheduling coordinator has all the tools they need to do their job. For instance, they need to know how long each procedure takes so they can schedule patients correctly. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with hour-long appointments which actually require two-hour procedures.
Develop a Plan Together
Your scheduling coordinator needs to know your goals with respect to booking appointments. What are your daily production goals? Does your team normally schedule certain procedures for later in the day? How do you plan to balance new patients looking for immediate appointments versus regular visits by existing clients?
Emphasize how important it is to leave some slots open for new patients calling in. No one wants to wait for six weeks to see a dentist. Suppose you had 8 new patients last month. That means you need to leave at least 2 openings each week to accommodate such callers.
The scheduling coordinator should also know your policies with regard to cancellations, advance confirmations, and other issues. Is your goal to reduce the number of cancellations or to fill slots during slow hours/days? All this information will impact their efforts to streamline your schedule. You might want to dedicate a specific time each week to go over scheduling issues with the coordinator.
Communication Is Key
As with every other team member, keeping the lines of communication open is vital. Your scheduling coordinator should never have to guess when it comes to booking appointments. They should have all the information available to them to schedule patients according to your requirements.
Communication between your team members is also essential. You may not always be available to meet with your scheduling coordinator when issues arise. But your team can collaborate and communicate with each other to solve problems. With a dedicated scheduling coordinator on board, you and your team will finally have an optimized schedule that doesn’t cause stress all the time!