Dental Office Manager Training: Scheduling
What does your appointment book look like? Is it easy to see your hygienist’s next opening? Can you quickly see when your dentist has a half hour available to fit in an emergency exam?
Most dentists never change the appointment book view from the day they install their dental practice management software. The default setup includes all providers on one page and identifies dentist and staff time with X’s /’s and blank squares. Depending on the number of providers, a practice could have several columns – shrinking the number of characters that show in an appointment. The fewer characters you can see, means the less information you can convey at a glance.
Instead, think about what information you want to see – and then alter your appointment book view to achieve that display. Here are a few ideas:
Use more than one page
You can create up to 12 different appointment book views. These are linked to the F keys at the top of your keyboard. To set these up in Dentrix, go to the Appointment Book page, then select View – this brings up a window where you see the number of views you have set up right now. To set up a new one, click New – that brings up a window that allows you to customize the view. Here you can select the Providers, Operatories (this is what will show as the columns across the top of the screen), Start hour and End hour. These hours are important because they affect how your schedule prints out – if you work until 7pm one evening and you leave the default at 8-5pm, you’ll never see your evening appointments on a printed schedule!
Next, you select the Days this provider works (I recommend choosing all but Sundays just in case your dentist or hygienist adds an unusual Wednesday sometime – you don’t want that skipped in your weekly view). You also select View Amount (if this isn’t checked then you won’t see any $ production in your appointments), View Notes and View Alerts. Finally, you can customize the order of information displayed inside each appointment – name, procedure, amount, phone, etc. Knowing how to easily change this view makes it a piece of cake to print a schedule for a dentist to make follow up calls at day’s end. Just change the order to include the phone number right below the patient’s name – and that will take care of all 2 unit or more appointments for the provider that day.
Group certain providers on one page
Look at each dentist’s team and set one page per team. If you have a general dentist that practices with an EFDA, then you can set up a separate column for the dentist and the EFDA – that way you can see exactly when open time exists for either one. If you have a pediatric dentist running several columns – you can identify them separately here, and if you add multiple providers (EFD1, EFD2, etc.) then you can even track their production separately.
This approach works nicely for grouping all hygienists together as well. That way, when a patient calls to schedule a cleaning, the office manager can flip to the page showing all the hygiene schedules to find the first opening. Keeping this page separate from the dentist also expands the column size, so notes are easily shared between the office manager and the hygienist.
Change whenever you like
The nice part of the appointment book view is that since it is customizable, you can change it as often as you like. That gives you the flexibility to try out a new view with your team – and then a few weeks later, ask everyone how they like it. Has the view made it easier for the office manager to find open time? Are staff adding notes to the appointments seeing them more easily? Is it easier to train new staff as your appointment book becomes easier to understand visually? Even small changes can increase your team’s efficiency and patient care.
Successful scheduling is just one way you can run a successful dental practice. If you’re interested in new ideas on running a dental practice, please subscribe to my weekly blog:
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