Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2016 05 No Stress 1

Fight stress with the right scheduling system in your dental practice

May 20, 2016
Got stress? You might not have the right scheduling systems in your dental practice. Dr. Roger Levin explains what Levin consultants do to help clients reduce stress and improve their scheduling systems.

You might be surprised to learn that your daily stress can be reduced significantly by improving your scheduling system. The optimal situation for any practice is to go through a highly productive day without feeling rushed or experiencing downtime. A smart scheduling system can put you in the “sweet spot.”

If you haven’t completely updated your scheduling system in the last few years, bottlenecks, workarounds, and just plain obsolescence are probably causing inefficiency … and stress.

When Levin Group consultants work with dentists, they implement high-performance scheduling systems that are fully customized to meet each practice’s specific needs. Though your new approach to scheduling should also reflect your unique situation, the following guidelines will help you come up with the right solution:

• Conduct procedural time studies

If you haven’t done this within the past few years, your scheduling coordinator may be inadvertently creating stress by allocating too little or too much time for appointments. These studies will give her a more accurate idea of how much time you’ll need with each patient.

• Use a scheduling template to put together an ideal day, every day
Rather than allowing patients to be scheduled haphazardly, think about what kinds of appointments you’d prefer to deal with at different times of the day. Provide this objective to your scheduling coordinator so she can plan your days accordingly.

• Make sure patients value their appointments

Patients often have busy days as they juggle various demands on their schedules. Unless they understand how important it is—for their oral health as well as for your practice—to honor their commitment and show up on time, you might get bumped. This creates either a patient backup (stressful) or a gap in your schedule (very stressful). This behavior can be pre-empted to some extent with scripting that enables your scheduling coordinator to pleasantly ask for punctuality.

• Use a modern, multi-pronged approach to confirmation

For all but your oldest (or old-fashioned) patients, reminder postcards and voicemails left on landline phones have been surpassed by other means of communication. Place calls to cell phones. Use texting, with permission. Investigate confirmation services. All of these methods can reduce no-shows and late arrivals at your practice.

• Stay on schedule

If you make patients wait beyond their appointment time, you’re sending a clear message: Your practice doesn’t care about staying on schedule. This tells patients that it’s okay for them to show up late, too.

Based on principles such as these, a new scheduling system for your office will eliminate many causes of the stress you and your team experience every day, and will also help increase practice productivity.

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