Written by Cindy Rogers, RDH
I admit that while I was a scheduling coordinator, I was treating the schedule as if it were a video game. I would squish and stretch appointments to make them into pretty colored boxes that all fit nice and tightly together. I thought to create a productive day meant to have all the blocks filled in.
It did not occur to me that these pretty little boxes basically controlled how the clinical teams’ day would run. Yes, they did often come up and kindly tell me to stop treating the schedule like a video game. I was told that they needed more time for this or that and that they could not possibly do a root canal at the same time as an extraction. I did not really understand what they meant. All I knew is that my pretty boxes needed to match up and their demands were messing that up.
After being reminded a few hundred times and working with some great consultants, I got better at this, but still did not truly understand why my boxes couldn’t just fit together nicely.
Now that I am a hygienist, I totally understand and often apologize to my previous team for all of the agony I must have caused them. I figure the reason they supported my transition into hygiene was so that I would get my payback.
Five main points to consider when planning your day
1. How much time does each procedure require?
Make a list of how much time each doctor needs for treatment procedures. (i.e., 60 minutes for one crown, 90 minutes for two)
2. What hygiene visits do NOT require an exam?
Typically, gum treatment appointments do not always require an exam. This is where you will be matching up time for the doctor to perform procedures that are hard to break away from.
3. What time of day do the providers prefer to perform longer procedures?
Let’s face it, some of us are morning people, and some of us aren’t. Why not do your patients a favor and find out.
4. What is a good time to save for new and emergency patients?
You should have time set aside for emergencies and new patients. You want to be able to offer these patients an opportunity to come in within 72 hours of them calling. Often, offices will block out time right before lunch. This way they have time to perform a palliative treatment if needed, and a longer lunch if not.
5. What is your daily production goal for each provider?
Each provider should have a daily production goal. When you mix and match these procedures during the day, they should add up to reach this goal. Now you want to match up the hygiene appointments that do not require an exam with the longer treatment appointments. These will be your rocks for the day and time where the providers can work uninterrupted.
Next, schedule treatment such as composites, and preventative hygiene. These will be your pebbles. After the foundation of rocks and pebbles are set in place, you can sprinkle some sand around them. Sand will be your crown seats, limited exams, and hygiene re-evaluations.
Each day should be balanced this way to assure your goals are met and that you are not running around crazy seating crowns and doing limited exams one day and sitting for 8 hours straight the next. Everyone on your team will be much happier and more productive. Remember that the daily schedule is your plan for the day. If you plan poorly, chances are your day will run poorly.