Too Busy to be Profitable?

Treatment Zoning May Be the Solution.

Many practice owners and their teams believe that the main measure of success is a full diary.

Sounds reasonable but does being busy always make you profitable? I’m afraid to say that it may well not unless you are carefully managing your practice diary and have implemented some form of treatment zoning.

Does being over-run with patients, constantly running late with appointments, hearing the ring of unanswered phone calls and watching dental assistants struggle to keep up with the rapid turnaround of surgeries and equipment for the next patient make you successful and profitable?

Do you have enough time to speak with your patients and follow-up or even book in all those carefully prepared treatment plans?

Recalls are essential for any practice and ideally these are booked well in advance of their due date but how much thought is given to when these are booked in? 

Diary management is far more than just filling the diary with as many patients as possible.

Good diary management is about productivity, efficiency and planning.

Too often I see diaries filled day after day with back-to-back recalls leading to:

  • Queues at reception
  • Full waiting rooms
  • Late running appointments
  • Unanswered phone calls adding to the confusion and patient dissatisfaction
  • Clinicians too busy to speak with patients properly
  • Everyone’s focus is on the next waiting patient
  • Pressure on decontamination units and turnaround of equipment
  • No short-term appointments available for treatments
  • No time to follow-up patients waiting for treatment
  • Tired and disillusioned team

Are Treatment Zones the Way Forward?

Creating individual treatment blocks for each dentist within the diary can make a real difference to the smooth running of your practice by reducing the volume of patients in the practice at any one time and ensuring that appointment slots are readily available to complete those vital treatment plans discussed and agreed with patients. Readily available slots for more complex treatments will encourage uptake by patients, allowing them to commit whilst the need for treatment itself and the advice given are fresh in the mind.

Every practice is unique and will manage treatment blocks in different ways but here are some thoughts and suggestions:

  • Mix and match sessions between clinicians so that treatment blocks are spread across the week and there are always general/recall appointment slots available with other clinicians
  • Avoid having recall patients in multiple surgeries at the same time as this generates a high number of patients in a shorter period of time
  • Make use of quieter times such as mid-morning and mid-afternoon for complex treatments
  • Keep your peak times, such as early morning and late afternoons, available for recalls as patients looking for more complex treatments are likely to be more flexible with their commitments and availability
  • Carefully monitor and manage the treatment blocks to ensure they are filled
    • Set reasonable time aside for treatment blocks so that clinicians are confident the slots can be filled
    • Over time the treatment slots can be extended as clinicians become more confident with the opportunities for treatment and increased numbers of treatment plans are delivered
    • Clinician takes prime responsibility for filling the treatment blocks after discussing and agreeing treatment plans with patients – short-term availability of appointments is a benefit to patients
    • Ensure treatments are booked into the first available slot whilst the treatment plan and benefits highlighted by the clinician are still fresh in the patient’s mind
    • Clinician and reception to liaise regularly with regards to filling white space within treatment blocks
    • Any white space still available within the next 5 working days should be actively filled by identifying short-term opportunities for treatment during recall appointments and contacting patients with future treatment appointments to see if they can be brought forward
    • White space still available within the next 2 working days should be opened up and used for new patients, emergency appointments and bringing forward recall patients where possible

Over time and with experience, treatment slots will be optimised with the right balance of availability and opportunities for treatment so that patients are always offered suitable appointments within a week or so of treatment plans being agreed

For a complimentary discussion chat around how Your Dental Manager may be able to support you and your business or to discuss a specific requirement, contact us here or book a convenient call through our on-line calendar.

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