Keep Your Schedule Full Like a Pro

Keeping Your Hygiene Room Booked and Productive

OK hygiene coordinator, I’m sorry to have tell you this, but your office is in a terrible pickle.  There is a hole in your hygiene schedule this afternoon and another big opening tomorrow.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out not only how to fill those holes, but to use key lists and reports in your Practice Management System to ensure that, the next time you find yourself with unwanted schedule gaps (and you know you will), your team members will work together like the band of sleek, high-tech, problem-solving experts in those Mission Impossible movies.

The goal here is to have your step-by-step process that you go through to fill these inevitable openings in your hygiene rooms and write it down in your office manual so next time this happens anyone on your team can pull out this info sheet and follow your instructions.

 Your First Tool – the “Unscheduled List” or “ASAP” list

First things first – let’s get today’s opening filled before we think about tomorrow’s issues, OK?  To fill the opening in this afternoon’s schedule, I would definitely start with your quick call list.  This list is a great tool for filling those short notice openings that come up because it is usually populated by patients who have either broken an appointment, missed an appointment or you just stuck their appointment here for quick access.  My recommendation is to keep this list very current and set a goal to work your quick call list frequently so it continues to stay a manageable resource to help you fill those annoying short notice cancellations.

To maintain a short, useful list you’ll need to take regular action to move names off of it.  In other words, once a patient’s appointment has been moved to the Unscheduled List, don’t just leave it there!  Call the patient and get them re-appointed.   Working the Quick Call list is just another part of your office management responsibilities and you should make room for it in your daily routine just as you do for collection calls or past due insurance.

The Continuing Care List

With all that good work on your quick call list, you filled that hole in today’s schedule with nearly a scratch on you.  Bravo!  But, there’s no time to sip a well-earned margarita just yet.  You’ve still got that gap in tomorrow’s schedule that demands your attention.  For this, you’ll want to pull out your handy dandy Continuing Care List or sometimes called the Recall Report.

Your Continuing Care should be able to be filtered to generate a report of patients that meet a particular set of criteria.  So for example, if you are trying to fill the opening in your hygiene room for tomorrow I would create a list for patients due up through tomorrow.

Now that you have created a list to work from, start calling!  Like I said above, when you are making these calls it is important to document your phone conversations with your patients.  My favorite place in the Dentrix software for documenting phone calls to patients is in the Office Journal – and it works out beautifully because when you generate a Continuing Care report, the tab for the Office Journal is right at the top of the report.   How easy is that?

The Continuing Care system is the lifeblood of any dental practice.  Your goal is to make sure your patients are being reminded that they are due and follow up on those past due patients.  If you have worked in dentistry as long as I have you know that patients are very forgetful.  It is important to create a routine so you are working to get these patients re-appointed.

Treatment Manager Repor or Unscheduled Treatment Report

So, you used your Continuing Care list to find a 3-month past due prophy patient who could probably come in tomorrow and fill that open spot.  All done, right?  Well, not so fast.  Here’s another wrinkle just to keep you on your toes.  The opening in your hygiene room tomorrow is a 90 minute slot and that 60 minute prophy appointment just won’t fill it.

Never fear though, because I know you want to fill every precious moment for your hygienist so she can be as productive as possible, I have another great tool for you!  In addition to working the Unscheduled List (Quick Call List) and the Continuing Care Report (Recall Report) on a regular basis, you can also follow up on patients who have unscheduled scaling and root planing treatment to complete.  For this, I suggest using the Unscheduled Treatment Report.

Now, what would be perfect for that 90 minute opening?  Why, 2 quads of gum therapy, of course.   If you are treatment planning your gum therapy treatments through the Dentrix Patient Chart, it will be a piece of cake for you to pull a list of patients that have the D4341 procedure code in their treatment plan to fill that opening in your hygiene chair.

As the Hygiene Coordinator, your mission to keep that  hygiene chair full and productive is vital, and – not unlike Tom Cruise’s missions to save the world from imminent annihilation – it is never-ending (just think, it’s not another year on the job, it’s a sequel!)   With the three great tools we’ve reviewed here – the Unscheduled List (Quick Call List), the Continuing Care List (Recall Report), and the Treatment Manager Report (Unscheduled Treatment Report)- you can make your job easier, while keeping the Hygiene room booked and the hygienists happy.

So, do yourself a favor and give these tools and resources  a chance to support you in fulfilling your mission and  managing your hygiene in a more efficient and productive way – get your team together and put them to work for you today.  And yes, you can have that margarita now.