Are Inefficiencies Holding Your Practice Back?

Nobody wakes up and says, “Today I am going to be inefficient.” Yet if we were to evaluate our everyday routines, we would discover inefficiencies. So why do they happen? We are human. As creatures of habit, we get so busy just trying to make it through the day that we don’t stop and evaluate whether there is a better way to do things. And sometimes, even when we discover these easier, more effective ways, we still don’t adjust our routines because we feel uncomfortable with change.

During the four years that the Dentrix Profitability Coaching Program has worked with customers from coast to coast, we have identified the two inefficiencies that hurt dental practices the most: lack of a daily huddle and holes in hygiene.

Lack of a Daily Huddle
Are you holding a 10- to 15-minute daily huddle every day? If you are, congratulations! If you are not, I would challenge you to start. Some common reasons we hear from offices when we try to implement a daily huddle are “We have been trying to do it for many years and it doesn’t work,” or “We start at different times so we can’t have them” and, of course, “We are too busy for a daily huddle!” If you have found yourself making any of these statements, we’d like to introduce you to the Dentrix Daily Huddle 21-Day Challenge.

The Dentrix Daily Huddle 21-Day Challenge
Here’s how it works: First, you and your team need to learn about the Daily Huddle Report (to learn more, go to and select Daily Huddle on the right-hand side of the screen), and customize that report for your own unique practice needs. Once the report is set to your preferences, we challenge you to use this valuable report to guide your daily huddle meeting for the next 21 days. Clinical research shows that it takes just three weeks to form a new habit. If you focus on having an effective, efficient daily huddle for 21 days, it will become a habit for your staff.

The daily huddle serves two purposes. The first is that the Daily Huddle Report provides statistics for production, collections, new patients, case acceptance and schedule efficiency for the previous day, the current day and the rest of the month. By tracking these on a daily basis, you will not get to the end of the month and realize you fell short of your goals.

The second purpose is to have important conversations about patients on the schedule so the team can be prepared. For example, if you are a treatment coordinator, you want to see which patients have outstanding treatment plans and, if you have holes in your schedule, see if the patient can get that outstanding work completed while in the office. Or at least get the patient scheduled for their outstanding treatment plan. If you are a hygienist, you can review patients coming in tomorrow, for example, and see if someone is due for a Pan or FMX. And if you are a financial coordinator, you might want to see pending balances or outstanding treatment plans.

The average practice that uses the Dentrix Daily Huddle finds they are saving between 60 and 90 minutes a day, just in how long it takes to prepare for the huddle! If you were able to free up 60 to 90 minutes today, what would your team focus on during that valuable time? Would they focus on overdue hygiene patients or scheduling unscheduled treatment plans? Or would they have more time to spend with patients and enrich the in-office patient experience? Would there be more patient referrals? Would insurance estimates be more accurate? What would you do with the 60 to 90 minutes that you could get back in your schedule?

With the changing landscape of what is happening with PPOs, corporate dentistry and the increase in multi-location practices, it is more critical than ever to drive efficiencies. While many practices say they simply do not have time to have a daily huddle, we ask, “How can you not have time to have a daily huddle?” We all know the importance of eating a well-balanced breakfast to fuel us throughout the day. Your daily huddle is no different. By having a daily huddle you will be fueling and energizing your team to better manage the day.

Holes in Hygiene
Whether a practice has been using Dentrix for six months or 20 years, we often find patients slipping through the cracks. Sometimes it is just a few patients, but often it is more patients than the practice would have thought. How does this happen? Sometimes the procedure codes are not attached to the right continuing care type, or the continuing care type isn’t attached to the appointment—or maybe the patient is overdue and the team doesn’t have time to reach out to inactive hygiene patients.

Whatever the case may be, inactive hygiene patients typically mean holes in the hygiene schedule. But those holes don’t stop there. They carry over to doctor production. Patients that don’t come through the hygiene operatory don’t have the necessary X-rays and exams that identify needed treatment. It is expected that 85% of doctor production comes from patients that come through the hygiene department—so filling the hygiene schedule is a sure way to increase doctor production.

One of the seven sessions of the Dentrix Profitability Coaching Program digs very deep into opportunities in the hygiene department. It discusses how to make sure the team is using Dentrix fully to maximize the benefits of one of the most important systems in your practice.

Author: Tammy McHood, Sr. Product Manager
Published: 03/31/2014
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