The 3 most common battles within the dental practice ... and how to overcome them

Founder of Rae Dental Management discusses the three most common battles within the dental practice and suggested solutions.


Wed, 2014-06-25 07:09 | by Dayna Johnson


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Working as a consultant to dental practices around the country, I have seen way too many times a solid dental business torn apart at the seams because of inner struggles.

In this article, I want to expose the three most common battles I have seen, as well as offer my suggestions on how to eliminate those problems if you’re currently struggling with them.

1. The struggle of the schedule
The appointment book is the one thing in the dental practice that affects every team member and every patient. Think of it like a kitchen in a fine restaurant. There are many cooks in that kitchen and, if someone on that team doesn’t follow the recipe, it can create chaos behind the scenes and customers will receive a different end result then they were expecting.

The problems I find in the dental practices I work with are completely avoidable, with a little planning.

Front office: “Get your hands out of my appointment book!”

My response to this is, “Well, it’s not your appointment book. It belongs to the entire office, but you can take back control of it.” Multi-tasking within the office is a great thing, but you must give your team direction. You, as scheduling coordinators, need to tell them what can be scheduled and where. Map out the appointment book for your clinical team so they can see over four to eight treatment rooms at a glance and schedule an appointment easily and correctly.

Most practice management software systems have a way of coding different areas of the appointment book so that the team can quickly see open spots that fit the parameters of an appointment that needs to schedule. Some examples for coding are emergency time, crown seats, ortho checks, and other nonproductive appointments.

These nonproductive appointments are important to block time for because they should not be scheduled in high productive time blocks. If a clinical team member does not know where to schedule a crown seat, he or she will just stick it wherever … and you know that will cause a problem between the front office and the back office.

Back office: “All the front office is concerned about is the production goal, and I need to get this patient in this week.” 

This is a tough one because taking care of your patients’ needs and making sure the office reaches its production goals are both important. Like I said above, it’s notyour appointment book; it belongs to the entire team.

This applies to the clinical team as well. If you have a patient in your chair who requires an appointment this week and there is not a preblock that fits your needs, then it is up to you to talk to your scheduling coordinator. If you and your scheduling coordinator can look at the appointment book together and she understands the importance of scheduling the patient in this week, then the two of you can come up with a solution together. The scheduling coordinator can make adjustments in her goals and the preblocks for the rest of the month to make up for the disruption in the initial plan.

There will always be exceptions, even when you have your schedule mapped out. When the front office and the back office can discuss it, the magic can happen and the teams can schedule together harmoniously.

Christine Taxin
36 Abington Avenue
Ardsley New York 10502
United States of America