Running a successful, profitable dental practice is enormously dependent upon not good but superior book management.
How do you manage your appointment book? Do you give it the attention it deserves or do you just open it up and hope for the best?
If you want to improve productivity and maximise the clinical time available in your practice then read on.....
The first step in superior book management is to operate a booking system which meets the needs of your individual practice.
Depending upon your practices main focus you need to create and implement a system that caters to it. For example if you're a well established general practice with a high number of loyal patients it would be wise to schedule specific slots for routine examinations to ensure there is a daily limit on the number of exams scheduled, leaving enough time in the day for more valuable treatments thus maintaining a good hourly/daily rate.
Before deciding how you want to structure your appointment book you must give some thought to several factors:
· What is your main focus?
· What would your ideal day look like?
· How much do you want to earn per day?
· Does your book tie up with anyone else, for example the hygienist?
The main aim of any book management system is to not only ensure there is room in your book for a full range of treatment but more importantly that your day is varied and productivity is maximised. There is nothing worse than a day filled with short, low value appointments, days like this leave you and your team feeling over worked and under valued, a full day of hard work ends up yielding little financial return.
Regardless of how you structure your system, you should make sure it incorporates some way to allow the following:
· Time for New Patients
· Time for Emergencies
· Time for Routine Examinations & Low Value Treatments
· Time for Advanced or High Value Treatments
It is important to involve your team in the design stage of a book management system, they can provide you with invaluable input that will really help the system succeed. They are also more likely to be supportive of the system as they will have a good understanding of what its all about and having been involved in the design they will really take ownership of it!
Once your system is in place you should stick to it, obviously some level of flexibility will be needed but on the whole it is important for everyone to understand that the system is the system and it should be followed.
The next stage in superior book management is to manage your system. You've trained your team and they all understand how it works and they are all working to it but having a system does not fill the space!
Book management should be PROACTIVE NOT REACTIVE. All too often practice teams REACT to gaps in the appointment, they are actively following up recalls, not handling cancellations effectively and are not pro-actively working to fill un-booked space ahead of time.
A good follow up system can transform book management and I believe all practices should adopt robust systems to track patients through the key elements of the patient journey, click here to read my previous post on follow up systems.
Set your team some targets specific to the appointment book, this could be based on utilisation of hours available, income yielded per day, x number of a specific type of appointment, set targets that are specific to what you want to improve and monitor the progress rewarding team members for success.
In summary, it is possible to unleash the potential of your appointment book but you must have good book management processes in place to maximise productivity. Your team must understand and support your book management systems and be proactive in filling gaps and handling cancellations.
At Practice Perfection we can help you improve your book management procedures, train your team and ultimately increase productivity! Get in touch to find out more email us at email@example.com or call 07703627873
In order to maximise your appointment book and develop amazing relationships with your patients your team need to master the art of follow up.
Follow up is something I cannot impress enough upon my team and my clients. I strongly believe that there should always be a next step and you should be the one in control. Success does not just happen it is something that takes hard work and dedication.
Every patient whether new or existing should be part of a system and everyone in the practice should know where they are in this system. A traditional recall system is not sufficient to maximise patient retention and it does not demonstrate first class level service to your patients. A robust follow up system is necessary to capture every step of your patient journey and ensure no-body falls through the cracks.
A multi-level follow up system captures patients from the moment they get in touch until the moment they leave your practice for good (which is hopefully never!).
A follow up system is a fundamental part of good practice management and will ultimately lead to higher performance and productivity as well as amazing client relationships.
With an effective follow up system patients feel important, cared for and that you really do have their best interest at heart.
I recommended you identify the key follow up points in your patient journey for example enquiries that have not yielded bookings should always be followed up, as should patients who have cancelled and not re-booked an appointment.
Having a good system is only the first step the most important part of making a follow up system work is ensuring everyone in the practice knows HOW it works. Follow up communications are worthless when the message is wrong, in fact they can be worse than worthless they can be harmful, patients can feel hounded and harassed and this impression will not help patient retention. Your team need to know how to communicate effectively to ensure patients understand the nature of the follow up communication and that it is intended as a tool for improved customer service and efficiency rather than to ‘fill the book’. It is vitally important to know and respect the patients contact preference, many patients don’t like phone calls they may prefer to communicate by email where possible and it is so important to offer a method of communication that the patient is comfortable with.
Scripting is an effective way to ensure your message is being received, identify with your team the need for a follow up system, examine your patient journey to determine appropriate points for follow up and agree a system. You can then work together to create procedures, scripts and even email or letter templates to assist in the process. Make sure your team is on board with the new system and practice with each other (yes the dreaded role play that we all love so much, but it really does work!) after all practice makes perfect.
If you’d like to find out more about evaluating and improving your administrative systems and increase productivity please firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.practice-perfection.co.uk
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