Your Appointment Book is Costing You Money!! Can You Fix It?

One of the frustrations of a solo dental practitioner is the production in his dental office on the days when he is away or absent from the office.

This includes the days each week that the dentist may choose to not work at his dental office, as well as time off for vacation and for education.

Does the productivity and resourcefulness of dental assistants, hygienists and administrative employees drop in your office during times of absence by the dentist and practice principal?

Is there a “drop” in application to duty during those times of absence, be it on that day of the week that the dentist is not there, as well as those weeks when the dentist takes leave?

And what about the hygiene department?

Is your hygiene department just as productive, day in and day out, whether the doctor is in the rooms or not?

Should the doctor’s absence from the rooms, be it for education, vacation or simply for a regular day away from the tools, should his absence be a significant contributor to the productivity levels of all other employees within the dental office?

I know of a colleague who took vacation time this year for some travel. In the fifteen days that he was absent from his office, his dental hygienist was productively booked only twenty seven percent of the available appointment time.

In the fifteen working days prior to his departure, and the fifteen working days following the doctor’s return, that same dental hygienist was booked for something like over ninety percent of available appointment time.

Now I know that some dental patients feel that they want to *see* the dentist at their hygiene visit, and in this case the dentist’s absence was planned well in advance so that preferential appointing could be organised, but the poor doc was flummoxed as to why the time variance was so great while he was away and how this situation could have been better managed.

One of the reasons this appointment book could have been like this may have been because a previous period of absence could have been carried forward from six months prior?

If this was the case, then it is purely caused by poor administration of the hygiene scheduling.

The solution to this hygiene scheduling problem, which is also a problem in scheduling for the dentist as well, is the strict adherence to templating the appointment book on a day in day out week in week out basis.

[As a brief aside, what you will find common in dental offices like this is that the doctor will return from his time away to an appointment book of his own filled with small short zero fee adjustment appointments rather than his usual longer appointment productive template.]

In the case of the hygiene appointment book, the solution of correct templating allows for even distribution of appointment types on a daily, weekly and ongoing basis, so that a constant level of hygiene production is maintained.

Successful hygienists will see a specific number of regular six month recare patients, a specific number of new patient first cleanings and a specific number of perio only patients, day in and day out.

Variance from this template, like in this case, with the overloading of the appointment book with recare patients at the expense of perio and new patients, will then carry into the future with ongoing hygiene appointments for those patients, creating a “bubble” in the appointment book that needs to be smoothed back out again to fit the template.

Similarly, the doctor’s book too should really have no variance in his template in the time following his return from time away.

However, what often happens is that firstly, crown and bridge cements and issues, that would usually have been scheduled at their regular prescribed intervals, and could not be due to the doctor’s absence, are jam packed into the first few days following his return.

What should happen is this.

Let’s say, that if the regular interval between crown preparation and crown cement is two weeks, and the doctor is absent for three weeks, then the time differential in those cases needs to be five weeks, and not, three weeks and one day.

The productivity template needs to be maintained.

Maintenance of the template provides for a far less stressful work environment.

Deviation from the template results in an increase in dental office stress levels.

And that’s a fact…


Templating your appointment schedule for productivity is just one of the modules that make up The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple to build system that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office of patients who love coming to see me, who come more often, spend more per visit, and accept more treatment, and also refer more, in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know how I did this, then you must read my free special report.

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