For busy dental practice owners, juggling tasks is a constant struggle: trying to keep up with daily operations, observing patient care, managing staff, and finding time to run the business smoothly. It seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to balance admin responsibilities with patient care. However, with efficient scheduling and the right technology, you can streamline administrative processes and clinical workflows to master time management and reclaim your precious time.
1. Plan Schedules Effectively
It’s no surprise that effective planning can vastly reduce the time spent on administrative tasks, but it does mean that you will need to set up your schedules initially and ensure that all your team are on board with their hours. Scheduling patient appointments and your staff’s work schedules can be two areas that eat into your time if you haven’t set up specific procedures on how to handle them.
A productive schedule in any dental practice consists of managing a range of different appointments—from post-procedure follow-ups, to emergencies, as well as major and minor treatments. Alongside broken appointments, human and financial resources, establishing an efficient schedule is not always easy.
One of the best ways to manage each day’s procedures is block scheduling. By assigning specific slots for various procedures, such as routine, new patient consultations and minor/major treatments, you can make sure you have enough time to carry out your dental care commitments within the times allocated. Ensuring your staff are on board and arranging your practice management software to book the appropriate time slot for each procedure will streamline the whole process and make certain your schedules are not overrun.
Staff Shift Scheduling
Shift scheduling is more important than ever in the COVID-19 era. Staff absences can often come without warning, with the requirement for self-isolation following a positive test or symptoms. Tracking and managing work and vacation schedules is not an easy task at short notice. Finding the right person to fill in, at the right time and in the right location, is difficult. This can be a thing of the past, thanks to shift scheduling software that can save you hours.
The importance of your workforce in keeping your business running cannot be underestimated. Happy workers are 13% more productive. Making your staff feel they are contributing to your practice’s success and providing a fulfilling work environment with clear communication, schedule transparency, and flexibility can go a long way to keeping your team happy.
One way of providing transparency, flexibility, and helping your staff to contribute is by allowing your employees to swap shifts. By giving them access to software that integrates with your existing system, your team can easily get started with shift scheduling, empowering them to manage their work schedule while encouraging teamwork and goodwill.
2. Use Technology Effectively
Utilizing technology effectively is one of the major keys to effective time management. Technology can automate admin processes for you and your staff, by automatically sending out appointment follow-ups or post-procedure care instructions. Plus, it can deliver the faster, more accurate, and more efficient patient services that busy dental clinicians need.
Electronic Dental Record Systems (EDR)
Robust data management is paramount to running a successful modern dental practice. An EDR is not just for dentists to document their patients’ contact details and dental records, but is a combination of data structures and processes that is instrumental in documenting clinical information, diagnoses, treatment plans, and services delivered.
With an effective EDR, it is easy to compare the data from your practice to national statistics to identify areas where you may need to improve your services—something that would be incredibly time-consuming to do manually. For example, if a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that 47% of adults in the US have periodontal disease and your data shows that your practice has only 20%, then this could indicate that you may be underdiagnosing that problem.
EDRs are at the core of a system that can manage patient profiles, electronic documents, reporting, tasks, prescriptions, test results, billing information, and more. Solutions offered with software such as Carestack, can streamline complex processes for you, your team and your patients, saving you time and driving efficiency.
Teledentistry came to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a viable option to increase access to healthcare services, and is useful in saving time and resources for both patients and clinicians. Virtual appointments are not designed to replace in-office appointments, as clearly, they are not suitable for every situation. However, teledentistry can be very useful as a follow-up after treatment, to see how your patient is doing.
Furthermore, used as a platform to evaluate and diagnose, it has been estimated by one practice that 20% of emergency treatments can be seen using teledentistry. This can have major benefits for your patient appointment schedules, which can often be thrown into disarray with emergencies.
By embracing AI, dental practices can make their services more accessible and save time for both patients and themselves. AI is already successfully used in dentistry, from website chatbots to diagnostics. Advances in technology are ushering in a new era where smart technology and machine learning will have major repercussions for dental health care, from detecting oral cancers early to boosting efficiency in orthodontics.
Along with machine-learning algorithms, it will be possible to identify patients at risk from specific dental diseases and allow them to be screened or have treatment commenced without relying on routine clinical indicators.
The Bottom Line
As a busy dental practice owner, you probably feel like you’re constantly on the run. Between managing staff and dealing with patients, there’s not much time left for yourself. The good news is that effective time management can help you work smarter and get more done in less time – without sacrificing patient care or your own well-being. By incorporating modern technologies into your practice, you will not only be offering your patients the best dental care available but also maximizing your time resources.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Derek Jones spearheads key initiatives at Deputy, a global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets, and communication. With a focus on healthcare, Derek helps business owners and workforce leaders simplify employment law compliance, keep labor costs in line, and build award-winning workplaces. Derek has over 16 years’ experience in delivering data-driven sales and marketing strategies to SaaS companies like MarketSource and Griswold Home Care.