Dentists Running Behind Schedule Occasionally
Dentists running behind schedule every now and then is pretty normal. And although it can create some stress. It’s usually not the end of the world! But mostly depends on how we handle this. The dental front office plays a key role in keeping waiting patients calm. And keeping the stress level down.
Hopefully, the clinical team has given the front office team a heads up! Because if it happens that the dental front office notices the doc is running behind, patients are already upset. But at times, it may just not be possible to know the doc is running behind, until you notice a frustrated patient standing in front of you!
Dentists Running Behind Schedule – Step 1!
Start by taking a deep breath. That’s it! Now, smile! A reassuring and confidently warm smile is so helpful! Be sure to give your patient time to express their concern. Especially if they’ve come up to your desk to inquire about the delay! And once they have said what they need to say, I like to ask this question:
“Thank you Mrs. Smith. I hear what you are saying. Please tell me about your schedule today. Do you have a time factor or another appointment we need to consider right now?”
Gather information! Mrs. Smith might have a very important appointment she is worried about getting to. Or a sick child waiting for her. Anything is possible. Gather information. And then talk to your clinical team. Find out if they can get Mrs. Smith out when she needs to go. Don’t make any assumptions. Just communicate the facts from the front to the back.
Work To Keep The Schedule Intact
Let’s not offer to move any appointments right away. It may be necessary. But not the best first choice! Try to save the day!! And make this the entire team’s goal! However, if that is the only or best alternative, then go with it. I’ve seen dental practices offer gift cards for a coffee if they keep a patient waiting. It’s a nice gesture.
Think about how the office handles late patients. Karma has a funny way of playing out in these situations. If we manage our patients who might run late now and then with tact, they remember this. But if we are harsh and very tough on our patients, we can expect the same treatment in return.
Ask why? Not to lay blame here. But if there is any way to prevent the doctor from running behind schedule, let’s do that! Is there anything the dental front office can do to prevent a schedule back-up? If this is an issue coming from the clinical area, it is out of our control. But if the backed-up schedule is a result of something we did in our schedule at the front desk, let’s own it! And work to do better next time.
Dentists Running Behind Schedule Due To Front Office Issues?
Nobody wants to own this! I don’t!! But sometimes we do own it! Whether we claim it or not. And it’s never fun to claim that we are responsible for another’s misery. Never mind an entire office that is stressed out! Including our patients!! But it might just be that the dental front office didn’t understand something in the schedule.
- Know the amount of time needed for each restorative appointment. Including doctor and assistant time. And be sure not to overlap the dentist, unless he gives clear direction to do so.
- Work within the schedule template outlined by the team. Don’t get creative here! If the team has taken the time to work out a great schedule template, honor that here!
Clinical Explanations For Schedule Delay
Unexpected clinical reasons can be cause for a schedule delay. And sometimes, there is nothing and no one to blame. It is what it is. Kind of like that flat tire you didn’t see coming! If we knew ahead of time there would be a problem, it wouldn’t be a problem. So, as much as we want to fix everything, we can’t.
But you can’t have patients just sit and wait! It’s best if the back office team such as dental assistants and/or dental hygienists can communicate to waiting patients themselves. There is something to be said for a clinician who will take the time to do this. The dentist doing this is even better! And it means so much to patients.
Communicate before a patient asks why! Make the first move from the back office. Even if you can’t deliver this message to the waiting patient yourself. Let the front office team know what the estimated wait time might be. And make sure your waiting patient can continue to wait. Their schedule might just not provide that much wriggle room!
Dentists Running Behind Schedule Too Often?
Dentists running behind schedule daily is another issue entirely. And the team needs to call an immediate meeting to work this out. Identify the source or all of the possible sources. It could be more than one issue is present. So, you want to be sure to have someone taking great notes and hit on each key issue. Allow time to discuss these issues freely and without criticism.
As a help and a guide, please download my Dental Restorative Schedule Repair Kit! It may offer you some help on just how to begin to tackle your schedule challenges! This can be a great way to open discussion in a team meeting too! And may lead to more discovery and insight! Just click on the link below and it’s yours!