Dental Block Scheduling Reduces Stress & Increases Dental Office Production!
Dental block scheduling is a win-win for both patients and the dental practice. More patients can be treated and in less time with block scheduling. The dental team also knows what to expect each day and how to schedule each day. What more could we ask for?
How is your dental restorative schedule doing right now? Are you meeting office production goals? Are you happy with the way the day is going overall? Do you find the team is stressed or feeling that there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything that is in the schedule?
Is there room in your schedule for new patients each day? And do you have blocks for emergency dental care? If you don’t have the schedule you need to properly care for new patients or emergency patients, it’s time to make a change!
Maybe you are seeing production highs and lows with no consistency in the restorative schedule from day to day. Dental block scheduling can truly fix these issues. Dental block scheduling allows a dental practice to create their ideal daily restorative schedule.
Where do we start? Let’s start by defining the production goal. Then create the blocks needed to reach that goal.
Dental Block Scheduling To Reach Production Goals
- Define Your Monthly Production Goal. This is a dollar number. Productivity is not determined by the number of patients seen in a day, but by how much dentistry is done in a day. Let’s say you have a monthly production goal of $100,000.00. Next you will want to convert your monthly production goal into a daily goal. The idea is to reach the monthly goal day by day.
- Define Your Daily Production Goal. This will help you determine how to schedule each day. Let’s say you are in the dental office 16 days a month. Your daily production goal would be $100,000.00 divided by 16 for a total of $6250.00 per day. And as a side note, you want to schedule differently during vacation times. For example, if you know the office is closed Christmas week, adjust your production accordingly. You know you now have to meet your goal in less days.
- Build a balanced daily schedule with a mix of major, basic, and tertiary procedures. (Major procedures are crown, bridge, implant, etc. Basic procedures are fillings, extractions, etc, and tertiary dental procedures would be those procedures that have no dollar amount attached to them). You will want to schedule a mix of these appointments each day. Start with major procedures!
Create Your Blocks
- Calculate how many “major” procedures you need each day to reach production goals. The idea is to reach target goals with just major procedures. Each dentist needs a different amount of time for procedures. Identify doctor time and assistant time. Set the block accordingly. For a great schedule, you need to know who is where when. When is the doctor free to see another patient? When are the dental assistants making temporary crowns or taking impressions?
- Add 2 blocks for new patients. One block in the morning and one in the afternoon. Again, identify the x-ray and assistant time on the appointment block. Then add the time for your dentist to do the exam. New patient blocks tend to take up time in the schedule. And that is why we work to reach production goals with major production blocks.
- Next, you want 2 blocks for emergency care. Decide how much time you want to allow for emergency care. And I would recommend one of these blocks in the morning and another in the afternoon. Don’t worry if you don’t use both. Most likely, you are not blocking a lot of time for these emergency appointments. And remember, you have already reached your production goal!
- Schedule the basic restorative and tertiary dental procedures around those major blocks to fill in time and provide a little added production. Be careful not to add too many short appointments into your schedule. There is the room turnover and instrument usage to take into consideration too. Too many short appointments back to back can cause stress and appointments to run late.
Dental Block Scheduling Tools
I think all dental software systems have some sort of dental block scheduling tool. Be sure to research the tools that are available for you in designing and implementing your own restorative schedule blocks. Don’t be afraid to move around a block or two to accommodate your dental patients. Don’t be so rigid in your scheduling blocks that your patients can’t get in! Some offices get to rigid here. Then the block system fails. It’s meant to be a guide, not a hammer!
This might be a great time to bring the entire dental team together to discuss the restorative schedule! If regular team meetings are held, make it a point to bring up the restorative schedule. Ask the dentist and the team how things are going with the schedule? Are there changes that everyone would like to make? For example, is enough time allowed for procedures. Or do you need to shorten appointment blocks. Are all of your blocks set up just the way you want them.
One team member should be responsible for the majority of scheduling. One person needs to be accountable and oversee the restorative schedule. The more hands that are involved in the schedule, the messier and less organized the day becomes. However, you do want everyone on the team to understand the basics of scheduling and what your block scheduling looks like. There is a definite balance to the schedule working well. Open and constant communication with the entire team is beneficial.
Dental Block Scheduling Allows You To Move “Like” Appointments Forward
Once you have created the blocks in your dental restorative schedule, don’t be quick to fill an open major restorative appointment with a basic or tertiary dental appointment! I know it can be tempting, but really work on moving like appointments forward, should a patient need to reschedule their major restorative appointment. If a crown patient reschedules their appointment, move forward another crown appointment. Or if you can move up the ladder, and schedule a higher production appointment do so. Just don’t move down the ladder.
It’s also possible to plug an emergency patient into a major restorative appointment. Some times, an emergency patient will call with a broken tooth and need to be seen soon. You can tell from the patient’s description of the dental emergency that they may need a crown. Of course, this takes some experience and judgement, too. But if you are in a place where you feel you are a good judge of guessing what might be needed, and can perform treatment right away, make it so!
Keep a great call list of patients willing or wanting to move their major restorative appointments forward. Ask each & every restorative patient you schedule if they would like to be notified of any schedule changes in order to move their appointment forward. You’ll be so glad you did! Knowing who is available at short notice to move their appointment forward when will save your schedule many times!