If your chaotic schedule is a source of stress and frustration, then hiring a Scheduling Coordinator could be exactly what you need to get your office back on track.
This team member can help streamline your schedule, boost practice productivity, and raise your revenues. But that won’t happen if you don’t provide the person with proper guidance from the beginning.
As nice as it would be, you can’t expect your new scheduling coordinator to magically fix all of your problems. As the practice CEO, it’s your job to offer the tools your scheduling coordinator needs to succeed and to set the person up for success. How, you ask? Read on.
Just like you would for any job description you create, include the responsibilities that come with the position as well as the necessary skills and temperament. Use the job description to help you find the right person for the role. Once that person is on board, the job description will make your expectations clear and leave no confusion regarding what the job entails. Think of it as your scheduling coordinator’s road map to success.
If your scheduling coordinator isn’t trained properly, this new team member you have so much hope for will likely do your practice more harm than good. It doesn’t matter how experienced the new coordinator is. Without training, the person will feel lost.
As part of the training process, make sure your coordinator knows not to schedule you to merely keep you busy, but to meet daily production goals. Train the person to confirm appointments with patients two days in advance to reduce the number of last-minute cancellations and no-shows and have him or her develop a plan to fill the openings created by broken appointments.
Skipping out on training to save time or money will only lead to more problems in the long run.When properly trained, your coordinator will have the confidence he or she needs to excel in the role, and the necessary skills to take your days from chaotic to productive.
It’s never a good idea to leave the scheduling coordinator guessing about how long procedures will take. When you do, don’t be surprised if you find yourself with only 30 minutes to complete what’s typically a 90-minute procedure. This will completely throw off your day. Make sure both you and your assistant communicate times with the coordinator, so this problem never occurs.
When new patients call to make an appointment, they don’t want to wait weeks to see you. In fact, even if they do schedule an appointment one month out, they’ll likely call another practice or two to see if they can get in sooner. If this is happening in your practice, it could be because your coordinator is scheduling appointments six months out and leaving no room for new patients.
Losing new patients before they even make it to their first appointment isn’t a good way to grow your practice. To avoid this, tell your coordinator to leave open slots in the schedule for new patients. That way, when they call, new patients can get in to see the doctor quickly, making the first experience with your practice a positive one. To determine how many openings you should leave, look at new patient activity over the last six months. If you treated60 new patients, for example, that’s an average of 10 per month or 2.5 patients per week.
If you’ve decided to hire a scheduling coordinator, you’re probably pretty excited about what this new team member can do for your practice. You’ll finally have a streamlined schedule and fewer stressful days. But this will only happen if your scheduling coordinator has the tools and training he or she needs to excel, and that comes from you, the practice CEO. Give this team member the necessary guidance and soon you’ll have a more productive schedule and robust bottom line.
Are your surgical instruments as expert as the hands that hold them?
Throughout my career, I have worked in many operatories. I worked as a consultant in operatories that were beautiful, where great efforts were made to have the best furnishings, the latest technology, the most up-to-date computers or CT. But when I asked for a periosteal elevator or a Klemmer? That’s when things got funny!
If I requested a Cocker, I was looked at as if I’d asked for a cute puppy with long, fluffy ears. Needle-forceps were used as if they were a Klemmer and vice versa.Cement spatulas were used in place of periosteal elevators. The dental mirrors had certainly seen better days (they were non rhodium plated or had grooves in them like a well played record). There were probes that couldn’t be used because they were broken or crooked, and soon.
This made me realize what little importance most of my colleagues, even the very best and the most demanding, gave to surgical instruments. Allow me to take this opportunity to share here my passion for quality dental instrumentation.
I, like many colleagues, have spent a lot of time, money, and energy learning how to practice (how well, it is for others to say) a profession that is essentially manual, where my hands do the actual work the patient requires of me. In fact, the word“surgery” comes from Greek words that mean “work with the hands.” Our job is clearly very different from that of a psychologist, who needs only a chair and his brain to do a good job.
As I see it, the surgical instrument is an extension of my hand, through which I channel the precision of my movement and the finesse of my work.
Which makes me wonder: Shouldn’t we place the same importance on the instruments we use as we do on the work we do when using them? And shouldn’t they meet the same high standards both our patients and we expect of our work? If I consider myself highly skilled, I should have the instruments to match – justas a tennis player does with her racket, a fisherman with his fishing rod, and so on. Let’s not lose sight of this important detail, if only out of respect for the patients who put their trust in us.
The newest laser or surgical motor is fine, but we can’t forget that a thorough examination is done using a dental mirror and probe that are in good working order. Likewise, an atraumatic extraction performed with great care is done using high-quality pliers. A flap that properly corresponds to the periosteum can only be obtained if the periosteal elevator is up to the job.
Instruments should never be purchased based on price point alone. When buying, carefully consider the instrument and the brand’s merits and reputation to avoid ending up with something of such poor quality it’s almost unusable. Similarly, it is important to have a complete kit of instruments, ensuring that you always have the precise elevator or rongeur that you need in the moment. And don’t cut corners with instrument maintenance, either. Quality instruments that are well cared for will always return the investment and the favor, which means quality results for your practice and your patients.
When confronted with patient questions about the cost of a procedure, you want to be able to tell them that you pay careful attention to all of the details of their surgeries – from your own training, to outfitting your operatory, to purchasing only the best instruments possible.
When you have quality instruments, you perform at your best, you provide atraumatic, pain-free treatment, and – above all –you meet the expectations of yourself and your patients.
Practices should review patient insurance participation each year.The doctor and financial coordinator should be aware of important data, such as what percentage of total practice collections is generated by insurance, which insurance plans pay the highest reimbursement rates, which ones pay the lowest, which ones are provided by local employers, etc. This information will help the practice make the best decisions regarding insurance participation.
Analyze fee-for-service versus insurance production. Tracking these numbers will raise questions: Do you need to focus more on elective services?Should you broaden or modify your insurance participation?Should you change manage mentor marketing systems to improve profitability? The answers will provide insight into how to grow your practice.
Don't forget to double-check insurance claims. Your team should verify all claims before submitting so the insurance company has no reason to delay making payment. Double check all insurance codes.Missing information can add extra weeks or even months before the practice is reimbursed for its services.