TIME IS MONEY – PART II – Who is doing what? Are the right people performing the right tasks at the right time?

I am constantly surprised when I visit dental offices at how much inappropriate use of time I see.

Some dentists either don’t know, don’t see or just don’t care about the amount of time, usually their time, being wasted because of poor decisions made in the office and poor explanations and poor instructions given.


Consider this list of tasks in the dental treatment room and what hourly rate you are paying for these to be performed. Remember, if a DA can do it, and perform it prior to the patient entering the room, it is far more economical than having it done by the dentist while the patient is in the treatment room.

  • Filling out forms
  • Getting boxes
  • Putting matrix bands together
  • Assembling and getting out impression materials
  • Unassembled discs and mandrels
  • Things being kept in drawers that should be out. E.g. Cotton rolls, pads, etc
  • Restricted access to things that should be at fingertips.
  • Items needed during treatment being kept in non-treatment areas, like a storage cupboard or a steri area…
  • DAs not doing DA stuff, e.g. docs doing stuff DAs can do, and should be doing, while the DA sits doing nothing. E.g., like loading trays with alginate, or mixing alginate….
  • Etc. etc.

Lets look at the numbers.

A dentist can work on anything from $400.00 to over $1000.00 per hour. For this equation/example lets use $600.00 as a base. From that let’s say that 60% is going to pay the expenses of the practice…$360.00 per hour [see previous blog http://wp.me/p2c8zv-G ]

So, expanding on from this point, when the dentist is performing procedures that only he can do in the office, like drilling teeth, etc….he is earning $360.00 per hour for the office.

And every time he stops doing this, the income to run the office stops as well.

So in my travels, I often see dental offices where the dentist stops or ceases production and waits for a DA to get something that she should have had ready in advance.

Or he waits while the DA does something that she could be doing after the patient has departed.

Or worse still, the dentist performs a duty that the DA could have, or should have performed prior to the patient arriving, or worse still, performed after the departure of the patient.

In all three situations, the dentist stops working for $600.00 per hour and watches someone on $20.00-25.00 per hour interrupt the cash flow of the dental practice…this is a huge *NO! NO! *

The easiest way to fix this anomaly is to analyse all parts of each and every dental procedure process. Work out if each and every step or stage in each and every procedure is doctor time, nurse time or patient time.

Make sure you know the difference! Anything that is nurse time that is not being done is robbing the practice of vital income dollars. It also is robbing the patient of their valuable time, because it makes the appointments take longer to do. This is really a waste of patient time. It is an insult to your patients. They are paying for you to be ready to treat them, and to do it in an efficient systemized manner. If you don’t look efficient, you look inefficient, slapstick, and uncoordinated.

How do you think your office procedures stack up in terms of time efficiency? Do you think your patients see you as efficient?

If you believe you have room for improvement, it will improve your efficiency and improve your business cash flow. There will also be a flow on effect of patients accepting and booking more treatment, and referring more patients, because you look and feel [to them] more professional and efficient.

This is easy to do and implement.

Just remember, remember this…the doctor’s time is sacrosanct!

It should be well-structured, high priority, and always preserved. It should never be interrupted!

Anything that is not exclusive to the doctor should be performed by other team members. And not at the expense or interruption of doctor time.

Following these principles will have significant positive flow on effects for your dental office!

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