What would it look like for you and your practice if you could increase your clinical efficiency? 2 more cases a day? 3 or 4? What would you do with the extra income, time, and energy? Would you take that vacation, buy your dream home or get completely out of debt? Take more time for yourself and your family?
Depending on the complexity of the case, your average root canal may take 45-60 minutes, or as long as 90 minutes. In my experience working with many other endodontists, the average practitioner is only completing 3 to 4 procedures each day. For many, the numbers don’t add up. That’s just 2 to 4 hours of procedure time—yet many endos are working 8 to 10 hours a day! Where does the time go?
Often, the issue comes down to inefficient office systems and clinical techniques. In my office, I complete between 9 and 11 procedures each day, and still manage to work the same (or fewer) hours than other endos!
Scheduling efficiency lays the groundwork
The secret to improving patient throughput (to borrow a Lean concept) starts with better scheduling. This involves not only how you schedule, but also the structure of each appointment and how you use that time when it’s on the books.
- Single-visit appointment scheduling is a must! A second appointment effectively cuts your fee in half. If your goal is efficiency, same-day appointments connect cost and procedure, wrapping everything up in a single visit.
- Train support staff to take care of prep work, to reduce the total procedure time and the time you spend working on each patient. Ideally, your average case time should fall right around the 30-minute mark.
- Institute pre-visit procedures. Use digital forms or day-before calls to collect patient or insurance information, discuss fees and treatment questions. When they arrive for their appointment, patients should find themselves headed directly to the chair for radiographs, CBCT and pre-op work up by the dental assistant. Without these systems in place, this could easily add 30-45 min to your schedule (per patient).
It’s vital to trust your support staff with as much of the upfront prep work as possible, so you can administer your talents efficiently. Anything not hands-on can and should happen prior to the appointment, and anything not involving interior tooth repairs should be delegated.
Clinical efficiency optimizes income
In most endodontic practices, the monthly overhead doesn’t change much, which means completing more cases increases the net income of the practice significantly.
Assume your practice’s monthly overhead is $50k. It takes roughly 33 completed procedures to hit that goal, which means completing 4-5 cases a day, 4 days a week, would take almost 2 weeks to meet the overhead. An efficient clinical approach could cut that timeline to just one week. This significantly boosts the income for the practice and the net income to the owner.
Whether it’s a defined protocol for room turnover or a cycling system between procedure rooms, there’s opportunity for clinical efficiency between patients. That said, clinical efficiency during procedures is paramount. You and your staff need to be in-sync, following the same unspoken protocol together.
Your assistant should review the patient’s history, radiographs, and the CBCT prior to you seeing the patient. They should know your approach to a routine procedure like the cadence to a drumline. Most important, every person involved in the treatment process should know and execute their duties with precision and timeliness.
It’s not just about speed—it’s about accuracy and quality, as well. Errors and waste are enemies of efficiency, which is why it’s always in your best interest to do it correctly and excellently, in that order.
What do the possibilities look like for you?
Imagine you’re able to double (or triple) the efficiency of your practice. What would you do with all of the abundance in your life? What would you do with the extra time, energy, and money? Pay off debt? Build your dream home? Travel the world? Fund your children’s college education? Donate to charity? Whatever your prerogative, efficiency gives you options.
Incrementally increasing the number of cases you complete each day (as single-visits) gives you the opportunity to do whatever you want with your life. Your ability to dictate your schedule becomes almost as freeing as the money you’re making. It’s an empowering thought for endos feeling the strain of five-day workweeks and 10-hour days.
The bottom line is that many endos can leverage better scheduling and clinical efficiency into amazing possibilities. Sometimes, hiring a coach can assist you with finding those blind spots or things you just didn’t have the time to think about. You just need to know where to start.
If you’d like to have a chat about what improved clinical efficiency could look like in your practice, please schedule a call.