A TED talk I heard recently that was given by an ER physician made a point that pertains to every endodontist’s office too. “Everybody has to be ready for whatever comes through the door.” But how can we accommodate emergencies efficiently without causing stress, confusion and unproductive hours in the day?
Once I tamed the scheduling process in my own office, I was anxious to share it with others because I know it’s a universal challenge. So here are my Top 7 Scheduling Tips:
- Take a look at your own scheduling history. On average, over the last year, how many emergencies vs scheduled appointments did you average daily? That will give you a general guideline for what you might expect next year and how many open spaces you should allow. It will also tell you if it’s time to bring in an Associate to share the workload.
- Don’t fill your schedule so tightly that you can’t handle emergencies. We do run a mini-ER so turning away referrals could hurt you in the long run. General dentists, if they find you unavailable, will move along to those who have more of an open door. Reputation management is real – you don’t want to be thought of as the Endodontist who never has room for emergency cases.
- Build a dependable scheduling process. Think of all the what ifs that can happen and plan for “whatever comes through the door.” Once your staff knows what to do in each situation, they will feel more confident and you will feel less stressed. If they are uncertain about how to handle something, they could interrupt you to get the answer. The idea is for you to be able to stay out of the scheduling process (as well as the day-to-day office details) and just do your work. I remember an Endo saying to me, “I can either train and trust my staff or I can stay late.”
- Train, train, train. Juggling an Endo schedule takes confidence, finesse, a kind attitude with patients, and thinking well on your feet. And it takes a deep understanding about how endodontics work. The scheduler needs to be able to determine whether a patient needs a consultation or a root canal or consider all kinds of criteria for scheduling. The time you spend training your schedulers is money in the bank.
- Prepare a list of questions that your scheduler should ask patients – a different list for different needs. It is way too easy, during a busy day, for a scheduler to simply forget to ask something important.
- Make sure your schedule is updated instantly. Naturally, you and your dental assistants need to know when there are changes so they can move to the next case quickly.
- Make sure patients never feel the stress of confusion. Whether on the phone or in person, the patient does not need to know that there are scheduling challenges taking place. Your schedulers need to have a positive, “no problem, Mrs. Smith” attitude, Patients are nervous enough when experiencing pain and anticipating a root canal.
My coaching program addresses the philosophy, training and details of a really efficient scheduling system. To learn more, schedule a free 30-minute introductory phone call with me. Click here to schedule.