8 ways dentists can use their time more efficiently
There are several steps dentists can take to make their practices run more smoothly and efficiently, and this will make both staff and patients very happy.
It’s important to run your dental office as efficiently as possible. When an office runs well, you can see more patients and keep them happy during their visit to your office. Your patients have lives too, and they don’t want to spend hours in your waiting room. Here are tips that I’ve found help dentists use their time more efficiently so that everyone is happy.
1. Set aside the appropriate time for each procedure
Dentists often underestimate the time needed for each procedure. This is because they only consider the time that they spend in the office. What they also need to consider is how long it will take to set up and break down for a visit. Before and after the dentist comes into the office, the technician has several duties that normally take several minutes to complete properly.
● Room set-up
● Room break-down
● OSHA compliance steps
● Lab work
● Sterilization of instruments
To correct this problem, do a two-week time audit to see how much time patients are actually in the chair.
2. Allow assistants to do their job
Many dentists waste time performing procedures that their assistantsare legally allowed to perform. They may think they don’t have the time to train the assistants properly, or they may want to micromanage. This can waste a great deal of time.
To correct this problem, you should get a copy of your state law. Define the procedures that assistants are allowed to perform. If your assistants are unsure how to perform these procedures, take the time to train them properly. This will pay off in the long run.
3. Have an assistant assigned to keep things moving
Many dentists and assistants do not think any further than the patient in their chair. They do not think about how the entire clinical area is moving to get patients in and out in the appropriate time. When an assistant walks around to see what’s being done and what needs to be done in order to keep things on track, patients will not spend too much time in the office and you can see more patients each day.
4. Hygienists should complete their part of a patient visit before the dentist comes in
One common problem in dental offices is that the hygienist is still working with a patient when the dentist is ready to make his or her visit. Before the dentist comes in, the hygienist should have completed:
● Medical history
● Oral cancer screening
● Periodontal screening
● Restorative screening and intraoral pictures
To correct this problem, create a checklist for hygienists to complete.
5. Let hygienists do their job
Often when a hygiene exam goes beyond the hygiene portion, the dentist will come in the room and take over the entire procedure. This is not necessary.
To correct this problem, the assistant can alert the dentist when he or she is needed. After the dentist has completed the necessary job, the dentist can turn the reigns back over to the hygienist to complete the visit.
6. Be prepared for the day
When the supplies and equipment are not prepared for all patients, this can put the visit on hold while the dentist, hygienists, or assistants gather up what is needed.
To correct this problem, the supplies and equipment should be set up first thing in the morning for all patients with morning appointments. The same should be done right after lunch for the afternoon patients.
7. Have an assistant for the extra chair
Many dentists believe that having an extra chair will help the office work more efficiently. This is true – if there is a hygienist or dental assistant to work the extra chair. If not, it can cause chaos.
This chair can work only when there is a full-time hygienist or assistant working it. It should be designated for procedures that a hygienist or dental assistant can handle, such as teeth bleaching, post-op checks, applying sealants, and seeing children for their prophys.
8. Set a protocol for emergency patients
Many dental offices see emergencies as they come in, or when it’s convenient for the patients. These visits can cause the day's schedule to come unraveled.
The best way to correct this problem is to set aside a fixed time each day for emergencies. This may take some changes in office procedure and protocol, however, making these changes will lead to everyone’s time being used more efficiently.
Michael O'Brien founded Crawford and O'Brien, a high-level Internet Marketing Agency. The agency gets massive results for dentists and clients around the country, leaving them with filled chairs. Although the company started with dentists, they are now taking on all kinds of verticals due to their ability to achieve amazing returns at such a low investment rate. If you want to dominate your pipeline for your company, feel free to reach out and network with me.