Here are some scenarios that I have encountered where implementing a key change in how a dental practice scheduled resulted in 30% to 50% increases in production. These scenarios may not fit how your practice is currently scheduled but I think you will see from them, how powerful it can be to evaluate your schedule to ensure that it is conducive to growth.
In one case, the practice was in a number of insurance networks and when I first spoke to the dentist, she told me there was no way I could help her produce more, because she was booked out over 6 weeks and there was no place to put any more patients! Her profit margin was low – – but she was max-ed out production wise! When I studied her schedule, I could see that she was heavily booked with the in-network insurance patients. They were actually being given priority in her schedule – even to the extent of occupying the most ‘popular’ patient slots. They were easier to schedule as they had no out-of-pocket expense, so they got whatever appointments they wanted. Of course, they also pretty regularly no-showed. Patients who were fee for service, were being booked far out in the schedule because it was already full of in-network patients. Seeing this, the doctor agreed that the right priorities were not been given attention to, in terms of scheduling patients and we drafted a new policy. This policy limited the number of in-network patients that could be seen daily. We did not limit it too much to begin with but enough to shift the focus and cause everyone to work harder on getting the private pay patients scheduled. We also added marketing campaigns to ensure that there were a wider variety of patients to schedule. The staff were trained on how to successfully discuss treatment plans and handle any objections to scheduling — so they had more confidence that they could fill the slots without having to rely on in-network patients. This resulted in an immediate 30% increase in production within 2 – 3 months and is now closer to 100% – enabling the owner to hire an associate within one year.
In the second case, the practice was already fully fee for service, but a study of the schedule revealed that patients were been given whatever appointment slots were open, rather than slots that ensured that daily production was maximized. This resulted in the all-too-familiar situation of the doctor working long hard days and having very little production to show for it! It also resulted in the patients who needed a lot of work done, having to wait to get it scheduled and we all know that the longer a patient waits, the greater the likelihood they will not follow through! So, we drafted a policy that ensured that a minimum number of bigger cases were scheduled daily. Training was given to make sure this transition could occur. For example, the front office staff were trained on a variety of templates so they understood what an ideal day looked like for the dentist. Training was also provided on gaining treatment acceptance so there were more larger cases, to fill these allocated slots on the schedule.
Again, as in scenario 1, this dramatically shifted the focus from merely filling up the day’s schedule, to making sure patients who needed a lot of work got priority in the schedule. The result was tremendous for this practice – production went up by 50% within a few months and has continued to grow since. This has necessitated the addition of another assistant, another front desk team member and now we are adding a third hygienist!