A few weeks ago I had an interesting conversation with a member of our Mastermind program during one of our focused coaching sessions. Bev is the office manager of a large practice with multiple hygienists. Her frustration is one that you may have faced too. How do you schedule a productive day that won’t send your hygienists over the edge? Bev was struggling because her hygienists have a very specific way they like their day to be scheduled. No back-to-back x-rays or perio maintenance patients. That’s pretty hard to pull off. Your schedule isn’t static, changes happen. The admin team is responsible for creating a productive day and the hygienists must deliver the care.
I have to admit, it is a fine balance and there are many moving parts. In fact, one of the first things I do with my private clients before I ever step foot in their office is look at their schedule. I set up a web meeting and work with the hygiene coordinator to put systems in place to ensure that when I go in-office to do training, there’s somewhere to put the increased perio therapy and maintenance and the hygienists have time to spend on co-diagnosis.
So I had a few bits of advice for Bev and I’ll share them with you.
1-Reality Check– The fact is there will be days when you have back-to-back patients that need x-rays, you will have days where you have several perio maintenance patients. Hygiene isn’t a leisurely occupation. If we want to be productive, we usually have to hustle. And when a patient drops out of the schedule, be thankful when your admin team fills it quickly. Let me be clear here… it is counterproductive to cut appointment time. Be sure to schedule the appropriate amount of time to do a thorough exam, co-diagnosis and the needed treatment and know that there are going to be days that are more challenging than others.
2-How Can I Help-When you see that you’ve got a busy day on the schedule, identify the points in the day that will be a stretch and then come up with a proactive plan! For instance, if a perio maintenance is followed by a patient that needs 4 bitewings and a panorex, call the patient and see if they can come in 5-10 minutes early and then have someone immediately seat the patient, take the x-rays and then move the patient to hygiene. In your morning huddle (you’re having one, right?) look at the schedule and have the hygiene team tell you where they will need support. Often hygienists don’t like to ask for help when they’re knee deep in patients. At that point, they’re just focusing on completing one patient and seating the next.
The key is to have a plan and support each other in meeting your responsibilities. Create a win for everyone-the practice, the team and the patient.