Dental Lab Case Management Importance
Dental lab case management can make or break our restorative schedule each day. Is the case here? Nobody knows! Where did the case go? Which lab did we send that one to? When did it go out? And just how long will it take you to answer these questions? Is there one person ultimately responsible for lab case monitoring? If not, that might just be the place to start! Although, there are a few additional steps to consider as well!
Choose one dental assistant and one administrative person. And these two people can work as a team. The dental assistant manages the case send off. And may need to check on a case that isn’t in house when it’s needed. However, the administrative person often receives the case first. And may also receive phone calls from the lab. Especially of the lab is asking about a shade, contact, new impression or other case details.
Everyone Should Know
However, we want everyone to know the system. Because all team members deserve time off. And may need sick days. Life happens. So, we want the entire team in the know. But we also want two team members to take the lead. These two team members may request help from others at any time. But are the key contacts and responsible for knowing what is happening with each case. And should work together and share information with each other.
Create a manual and a guide that outlines the system. In the event that a new team member joins the practice, we want this to be part of their training. Create your very own training checklists, guides and manuals for the team! Use your existing team members to help put this together. And please, use the materials here to help you as well. Remember, every dental practice is wonderfully unique. So, take what you like, and leave the rest. But make your training manuals and guides the best they can be. And update them often!
Dental Lab Case Management Directory
Dental lab case management begins with a directory. Document the names and phone numbers of the labs your practice uses. And be sure to include specific contacts if you have them. It might also be helpful to include their hours of operation. And perhaps a website or email address as well. Whatever communication system works best for the practice and the lab is what we need to consider here.
Create a hard copy as well as a digital copy. But begin with the digital version. Once the digital version is available for the team to access, a hard copy can be printed and stored. However, we are not finished yet! We have a few more items and pages to add to our lab case management system. So, let’s move on to the next topic of discussion now.
Lab slips accompany most cases we send off for completion. These lab slips contain valuable information. So, we want to scan these lab slips into our patient charts. This will also help us identify information should a question or problem arise. And may even contain the lab’s time requirements by case. For example, how much time the lab needs for a nightguard fabrication or to make a crown.
This is the next basic requirement to consider. How much time does each lab require for each type of case? And what is the in-house time versus the shipping time? Let’s be realistic and also consider how much time it takes our office to prepare each case for send off. And what does our dentist require for time in our office to review each case before delivery, if any? This will be an important guide in scheduling.
Dental Lab Case Management & Scheduling
When we don’t manage lab cases well, it shows up in our schedules. A patient arrives for their appointment and their case is not in the office. And maybe nobody noticed until an hour before their appointment. Or maybe no one noticed at all! Our patient is in the chair and there is suddenly a panic. Nobody wants that! So, let’s break down the amount of time we need between patient appointments involving a lab case.
Schedule all the individual patient’s appointments at the start. If we are fabricating a removable upper denture, we have a series of appointments to consider. And the case will be in and out of the lab several times before a final delivery appointment. Know the breakdown of time for each appointment type between appointments. And schedule each of the appointments in the very beginning. I would even include the list of appointments for the lab to see. Then if there are any foreseeable problems, we can catch them early.
Utilize Practice Software
Lab tracking is available within dental practice software. We need to take full advantage of this. Enter the information this system asks for. The name of the lab, information from the lab slip, etc. And be sure to use the lab case check in features as well. Although a dental assistant prepares a case for send off, the administrative team receives the case. The administrative team member can check that the case as arrived.
Set a designated pick up spot for case arrivals at the front desk. Once the front desk team member checks the case as here, it is then set in our designated spot. The dental assistant checks throughout the day to pick up new arrivals. And can then review that the case is ready for the dentist to approve. Be sure to give the practice enough time to manage the delivery flawlessly. We want to have the case in-house long enough for our dentists to confirm this is what they want and can move forward as scheduled.
Dental Lab Case Management Systems Defined
Create the system that works best for you, your team, and your patients. This is truly all about you. But make the system simple and clear. Communicate with your team what the system is in an office business meeting. Perhaps use a business meeting to outline a system. It can be a great team building exercise. And if you need any help with this or any other system definition, please feel free to reach out to me. I’m just an email away!