Coordinating Multiple Locations in Dental Group Practices Using Google Calendar

Dental office manager training for group dental practices

Are you managing a multi-location group dental practice? Do you have a handful of offices IdealDaywhere your dentists may rotate through or even help each other cover CE and vacation time by working in different locations? If so, the group practice dental office manager for each location has the challenge of keeping everything straight. “Now, which location is Dr. Abbott working in the week of Thanksgiving?” Or “Who could cover this office while Dr. Costello takes a week out of the practice?” are conversations that occur regularly.

One idea to manage different office schedules is to use Google Documents. One of my favorite applications in Google Documents is the Calendar. First of all, I love that using these applications is completely free, so every dental office manager can have access at no cost. Next, each office manager can create a calendar for the primary dentist. Named for the dentist, you can select a color for each provider and set up a regular schedule (Dr. Abbott works Mondays and Wednesdays 10am – 7pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays 8am – 5pm and is off on Fridays). Even this unusual schedule can be easily set to repeat and is quickly edited.

When each provider has a schedule in Google calendar shared with all the other dental office managers in the dental group practice, this saves mountains of time from phone calls and emails asking, who is where, when! Plus, you may have one person who can keep the entire schedule in her head, but she is constantly bombarded with scheduling questions and unable to accomplish much else in her day.

Train your dental office managers to use the calendar

As the dental office managers meet regularly, they each are responsible to review the Google calendar 1-2 months out to look for hiccups or problems. This is a great way to plan holidays in advance also. The administrator should start the scheduling for the furthest month out by communicating with the dentists to let them know of any holidays, school closings, planned CE, etc. She also should request any vacation or other days off a full month or two in advance. This allows the dentists to look at their calendars both professionally and personally to decide what they need.

Once the dentists have communicated their calendars to the administrator then in the next “all office manager meeting” each dental office manager can see and discuss the changes and make plans for coverage. After the meeting, each office manager is responsible for setting up her own dental software (such as Dentrix or EagleSoft) schedule and reviewing the calendar with her team. These dental office managers may also want to create a separate Google calendar just for this office and share with the clinical and administrative teams to make sure no one is left out from knowing the schedule.

Since the administrator can set the rights to each person she shares the Google calendar with, we limit the accidental deletion of provider schedules. Its easy to share this calendar with the dentists as well, giving them read only access so they can see the coordination between locations anytime without worrying about making changes.

As you work with Google calendar, you may fall in love with it just like I did! Soon, your busy family may create a Family calendar in Google to keep track of doctor appointments, vacation days and school events. Some sports teams are jumping into Google calendar as well, making keeping up with soccer practice and away games even easier than sending giant emails to 20 different families. Another beauty of the Google calendar is that you can download the app on your phone and easily add or remove events. Never double book yourself again!

Finding and making the most of free technology applications such as Google calendar can help a multi-location group dental practice stay organized.

For more group practice ideas, you may be interested in reading about a 4 location group that increased its profits by over $500,000 in one year:  

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Training your dental staff is just one way to run a successful dental practice. If you’re interested in new ideas on running a dental practice, please subscribe to my weekly blog. One of the biggest challenges to managing a dental practice is managing dental insurance. With dental insurance handled, then dental marketing for new patients becomes a primary focus. In today’s day of online reviews, handling patient complaints well is essential. As your practice grows, hiring dental staff becomes more important. With 16+ years of dental practice management experience, I’m open to your questions to help you run a successful dental office.

Feel free to email me.

AUTHOR: Jill Nesbitt
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