Balance Workflow with Schedule Optimization

In a busy practice it can be hard to meet a patient’s needs all in one workday. On the other hand, it can also be hard to keep your schedules full day after day. How do you know if you are doing it right? How do you know if you are scheduling with maximum efficiency, allowing for quality patient care but also accounting for your bottom line?

This is where schedule optimization becomes critical. You want to give your busy front office staff every possible advantage when it comes to keeping your patient flow moving. Dentrix provides several tools that can help you fill your schedule and track your progress, such as:

  • Perfect Day Scheduling - that allows you to designate time slots for specific types of production.
  • ASAP/OPEN List - to track patients who need or want to come in sooner.
  • Unscheduled/Wait Will Call List to keep track of patients who cancel or fail appointments.
  • Communications Manager - to reach out to patients with appointments via postcards, emails and text messages.
  • Daily Huddle Report and the Schedule Management section of Practice Advisor to help you track your scheduling efficiency on a daily and monthly basis.

And what’s even better is that you can combine all of these tools to make your office a scheduling powerhouse.

As a longtime Dentrix staple, Perfect Day Scheduling has been one of the best tools for visually outlining your scheduling preferences. You can easily create up to six time blocks per provider to order your day according to the procedures attached to your appointments. Designate the mornings and early afternoons for crown and bridge. Save the late mornings for simple fills and the last appointments of the day for new patients. You can even designate special time frames to be held open in case of emergencies. This keeps the whole office on the same page when it comes to what is scheduled and when.

The ASAP List keeps your schedule flexible. You can assign a patient an appointment later in the week, but then add this appointment to the ASAP List. When a slot opens up in the schedule, check the list for priority patients that have a clinical need to come in sooner. You can also track patients who have flexible schedules via the OPEN setting. Each time you schedule an appointment, ask the patient if they are flexible. Simply make a note as to the patient’s preferences on the appointment and add them to the OPEN List. As you have unexpected openings you can quickly access the list to see if one of your ASAP or OPEN patients can come in sooner. Now your schedule can adapt to all the changes and still be full.

The Unscheduled List has been a trusted friend for a long time in many offices, but in others it’s hardly touched. Did you know you can purge old appointments from the list by date? No more deleting appointments one by one. You can also set a time limit for appointments to remain on this list. For example, call each patient on the list once or twice a month for three months. Use the Office Journal to keep track of your efforts so you know how many calls each patient has received and when you can remove them from the list. This way, the list doesn’t continue to grow forever. The most recent patients are contacted and older appointments are removed in time.

The Communications Manager is part of our eServices and can be a powerful ally in the war against appointment failures. The days of merely calling your patients the day before their appointments or sending out just one postcard are over. Now you can use an online interface to sync with Dentrix and send out patient communication in a variety of ways, all from one place. If you have patients who are attached to their phones, send them texts. If you have patients who live with their iPads 24/7, send them emails. Your more traditional patients can still receive postcards. Now each patient gets customized contact depending on their preferences.

The Daily Huddle Report was designed to give you daily feedback in a variety of areas. For scheduling, you can get statistics on everything from the number of patients seen to the number of unfilled hours for your dentists and hygienists. Or get a count of broken appointments that have not been reappointed so you know where to focus your staff’s efforts. It can even track future ASAP appointments so you know if you need to work extra hours to see critical patients.

The Schedule Management section of Practice Advisor Report gives you a cumulative view of the state of your schedule. Just like the Daily Huddle, you get a count of your unfilled hours. You also see your hourly production so you know how to value the hours you have worked. You can see total hours scheduled to gauge just how much time you were with patients each month. Not only do you see how many broken appointments you have for the month, but you can also track the revenue lost from those appointments. This section helps you truly see just how optimized your schedule is and whether there is room for improvement.

Schedule optimization is no longer just a dream. A good schedule can be created, tended and tracked by using the tools available to you throughout Dentrix. From the nitty-gritty of the day-to-day tasks to the grand overall view of things, Dentrix can help make your schedule easier to manage than ever.

Published: 6/24/2011