Being a dentist is one of the greatest jobs in the US, but it’s up to you as the dentist and practice owner to make sure that you schedule your work in a way that brings you joy, time, and money. Lead practice coach Christina Byrne is here to share six steps to creating a schedule that fits your work into your life and not the other way around. Proper scheduling can make everyone happier and more productive in the right ways.
Christina has been involved with dentistry since 1985. As she puts it, she has sat in every chair. She’s been an assistant, worked the front office, and is a hygienist. She is also strategic in helping dentists build better practices that lead to more money and better lives. She shares her tips for time blocking or what she calls strategic scheduling. This strategy can help utilize assistants, staff, operatories, and the dentist’s time in a way that makes the practice better for everyone involved including your patients.
[02:02] Christina is one of the lead practice coaches at ACT Dental. She’s been with ACT for about five years. She’s a dental hygienist and lives in Illinois. She’s been in dentistry since 1985. She’s done everything from being an assistant to working at the front desk.
[03:08] Dentists have to be intentional about how they schedule their day. On a 190 Day schedule, if you have one opening per day per doctor, you are losing about $99,000.
[05:13] An empty chair equals no profit. It can compound into a big problem.
[06:12] Think about strategic scheduling and how to plan the day and week, so that all patients can be seen and everyone gets out on time.
[08:33] There are six steps to creating the perfect schedule. Number one is that the schedule needs to be created for you. Start blocking time, so you know how much you are going to be working in the next year.
[10:43] It’s about what you want your life to look like and you fit your patients into that.
[11:36] You need to be able to take a week a quarter and get away from your business.
[12:19] Step number two involves figuring out doctor time and assistant time. You can find out what your assistants can do in your state at DANB.org.
[13:39] A dentist can burden the whole practice by over functioning. Let other people do what they can do.
[14:04] You are also changing assistants lives by giving them more responsibility.
[14:49] Once you know what you can do and what the assistants can do, you can schedule the time appropriately.
[15:42] You can also do a time study. Use data. ACT has a time study and data white paper that dentists can use.
[19:11] Figure out what your collection goal should be to know how much to schedule each day.
[23:33] Every decision a dentist makes needs to bring them more joy, more money, and more time. A truly smart dentist looks at all of these things.
[24:46] Step three is making room for new patients, scaling and root planing, and perio patients. Appointments three weeks away is too far out for new patients.
[27:08] One of the worst things you can do is explain how serious periodontal disease is to a patient and then schedule their next appointments six months away.
[28:19] Step four is that the best kind of unit to have in your schedule is a 10-minute unit not a 15-minute unit. 15 minute units can cost you seven days a year in unused time. Ten minute units give you more flexibility.
[30:07] Step five is to create a template for each operatory. Know what you’re going to do in each room.
[31:55] Value your time enough to communicate what works best for you.
[33:29] Patients feel powerful when they have two choices, but make those your two choices.
[36:18] Step six is to investigate with your practice software and see if you’re able to color code your appointment blocks. Color codes can give you reminders and help you be strategic with your scheduling.
[40:54] Be strategic with your admin team. They need to schedule downtime to get things done. Give them a block schedule to do other things that need to be done.
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