In this guest post, The Dental Detective’s Trish Lewis-Clark shares five ways dental offices anywhere can relieve the stress that can go off the rails for a full day.
Have there ever been days when everything felt mixed up in the office?
All patients are late.
The phones go crazy in advance.
The hygiene department is a good 15-20 minutes behind due to waiting times for exams.
A dental assistant tells you that the patient in Exam Room 2 has just decided that he does not want the treatment that you have planned for him. Why? Well, you’ve thought about it, and if the insurance doesn’t cover it 100%, they’ll just wait.
Wait for what you ask yourself. A lot of not-so-pleasant scenarios go through your head, right?
You take a deep breath and find that you worked through lunch and definitely didn’t go to the bathroom all morning.
Is there a better day ahead?
Why is there yes.
With a few simple steps, the day can – and will – go smoothly!
Let’s start at the top.
Eliminate your stress
For each department, set a schedule for your time on the timetable.
In other words, what buffer do you have so that you can still see a patient if they are late?
This can vary from the doctor’s schedule to the hygiene plan.
Do you have a guideline if patients show up at a specific point in their scheduled time?
Remember, you set the tone.
When you speak to a patient, let them know that you will be in time for the 10:00 AM appointment.
Don’t make them wait and they won’t keep you waiting!
Cross-train on the phones
If your phone is ringing like crazy make sure you have a backup to answer it.
A good rule of thumb: everyone should be properly trained on how to answer the practice phone.
This is useful when, for example, the front is checking out a patient and needs an additional hand. If no one is available, it may be time to hire another team member.
If the phone rings, that’s great news! Someone wants to talk to Your work out. They could have called anyone, but they called you!
Make sure there is someone around to answer that call and answer all of your burning questions.
Keep the team moving
If your hygiene department is constantly behind schedule, start by reevaluating a few areas.
Are they given enough time?
Are they properly planned to flow with the doctor’s schedule?
When the backlog’s domino effect begins, it never ends well. Be proactive and prevent it at all costs.
If you have an overflow room, use it as a backup if necessary.
In this way, you allow the team to develop further.
Answer questions before the day of treatment
Patients need to know what is expected of them at each appointment.
This includes everything from the cost of treatment and the estimated deductible to the length of the appointment.
Make sure they don’t have any questions in front for the big day of treatment.
Signing and dating a treatment plan can remove any questions about when you discussed things with the patient.
Scan this plan into the patient record. You can quickly use this as a reference if you have any questions later.
This will deter the practice from an immediate derailed day.
Don’t be a martyr
Make sure you take one or more breaks throughout the day.
This is for the bathroom.
Take one for mental regrouping.
Take a break to eat something.
It is important to take care of yourself. Without you healthy there is no way to steer the practice in the right direction.
If this means scheduling reminders or locks that no one is allowed to remove – including yourself – then go for it.
As with anything in life, there are variables.
Just like an emergency evacuation or natural disaster plan, we need the same plans for practice. A plan is better than the plan you have wish you had in place.
When you think about things like that, how can you not have a perfectly flowing day every day ?!
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