1) Know how long procedures really take.
Dentists often underestimate the time needed for a procedure because they only think about the time they spend with the patient. Assistants may overestimate the time required for a procedure because they factor in the room setup and break down. Use a digital timer for timing procedures so you know exactly how long they might take or try a two-week time audit to determine your true chair time.
2) Train assistants in all expanded duties.
The best dental assistants are generally happiest when they are allowed to perform all tasks that the law allows. The dentist should not perform procedures that an assistant can easily perform. This will help you have the best team members and a well-unified practice.
3) Implement a Morning Huddle.
It sets the tone and pace for the day, and is the best way to keep a team focused on patient care and production goals. The morning huddle agenda should consist of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Yesterday, were all the patients called who required follow-up? Do we need to thank patients for referrals? Today, are we booked to goal? Where is the opportunity in the schedule for same-day dentistry? Who needs a radiograph? Which patients are seeing the doctor but are not current in hygiene? Tomorrow, what does the schedule look like for the doctor and hygiene team? Are we scheduled to goal? Are all the lab cases in? Once you get your morning huddle systems in place, the actual huddle should not take more than 15 minutes. The morning huddle is not a place for gripe sessions, new equipment purchase requests, or patient protocol changes. Save big-picture discussions for weekly team meetings.
4) Learn from iTunes and Ebay.
If you’re like most people these days you have an iTunes account to purchase music and a PayPal account for eBay purchases. Both require that you keep a credit card on file. It simplifies paying bills and saves time. Offer your patients that same convenience when you accept assignment of their insurance benefits. Keep a preauthorized credit card on file and bill the patient’s credit card immediately for any balance remaining after benefits. You clear the account instantly and the patient doesn’t need to bother with bills. This is a win-win alternative to sending statements.
5) Get a Handle on Your Inventory.
Inventory management is an essential skill for dentists. Proper ordering ensures that you always have the right products on hand to treat your patients, but it also ensures that you aren’t sitting on piles of extra products. Try keeping all of your office supplies in one location and all of your extra medical supplies in another. Additionally, keep in mind that assigning one person ordering duty minimizes the risk of accidental over-ordering.
6) Look to the Future.
You simply can’t afford to stick your head in the sand and rely on “business as usual” in order to keep your dentistry practice financially viable. Every industry grows and changes over time, so be sure that you’re regularly reevaluating the choices you’ve made in light of market demand. There’s always room for improvement. By taking strategies from other more business-oriented industries, dental practices can maximize their effectiveness, build their customer bases and be prepared for industry-wide changes. All it takes is a little re-imagining and some innovative thinking.