13 Ways To Increase Your Dental Practice’s Productivity
Note: While this blog post references dental offices, the strategies discussed will undoubtedly help all medical offices.
What can increase productivity in a dental office?
Successful dental offices run on efficiency, enhanced workflow management, and synchronized product integration.
A standard dental practice has two separate units that need to work together: operations and office management. When both are working well, a dental office should notice an increase in productivity. How do you increase productivity at your dental office? Follow these easy steps to get your office functioning like a well-oiled machine…
Step 1: Enhance Telephone Interactions and Communication
The first interaction between a patient and the dental office is usually through the telephone. Because of this, it is necessary to train your staff to answer and communicate in a professional manner.
Furthermore, it is also important to train office staff to handle issues that may arise during this interaction. Office staff should be trained in basic sales principles to ensure they handle every customer interaction appropriately.
Step 2: Reduce the Time Patients Spend in the Waiting Room
When patients must spend a prolonged period of their precious time in your waiting room, this can have a negative impact on your practice. If patients are constantly checking their watches or fiddling with their smartphones, you may have a problem.
It’s a significant challenge for both dentists and assistants to overcome this issue but it is important to remember that efficiency can make or break your practice.
Train dental staff to be professional and knowledgeable at all times. Educate all dental assistants to make sure that they know how to properly handle the basic administrative functions within the office. These functions may include:
- Knowing the timeline for each dental procedure for scheduling purposes.
- Training staff to perform basic dental procedures such as dental impressions (depending on the laws in your state)
- Ensure that the hygienist is always available to make the patient’s oral assessment.
- Delegate and ensure that everyone clearly understands their roles within the practice.
- Manage supplies and equipment through automation
- Have a dental assistant assigned per chair in the office
Step 3: Streamline Patient Intake Procedures
If you’re still using a clipboard and a pen, chances are that you are not running your practice as efficiently as you could be. If the information is collected by hand, it means that someone else is spending time keying in the data.
Take advantage of modern technology and invest in tablets or laptop computers. By integrating systems, a patient’s personal data can be updated electronically and in real-time without the need for extra personnel.
In turn, this has the potential to reduce errors in patient data.
Step 4: Enhance Patient Perception of Hygiene
Hygiene means a lot more than simply being clean. Train staff to engage patients in conversations about proper hygiene practices. .
If the staff answering the phone and interacting with patients are trained properly to reinforce the value of visits concerning hygiene, this has the potential to positively impact your practice's overall income.
By encouraging bi-annual hygiene services, your practice will likely see an increase in the following:
A productive dental office will confirm appointment close to the date of a hygiene appointment (generally two days before) and will schedule the next appointment before the patient leaves the premises.
Step 5: Improve Communication Between Front Desk and Back Office Staff
An efficient office requires clear and uninterrupted communication between staff members. Use modern technology, such as customer service management software programs, to quickly communicate information. This will save time and allow more time with patients.
For direct communications within an office, consider an intercom system, instant messaging through practice management software or telephones.
Step 6: Take Advantage of Automated Billing
If you haven’t done so by now, it is important to begin using automated billing as traditional methods of billing are time intensive and vulnerable to human error.
It is important to invest in highly-rated billing software to get the job done right the first time.
Automation makes life easier and should be taken advantage of when practice resources allow for it.
Step 7: Embrace Python Programming to Automate Basic Functions
Encourage administrative staff to take a course or two in computer programming. Consider paying for this, as this knowledge will be mutually beneficial for your staff member and your practice.
Python is a popular programming language that is often used for general-purpose tasks. It’s a fairly easy program to learn and its design is geared for code readability. It is one of the most straight-forward programming languages out there.
With a basic knowledge of Python programming, administrative employees can do the following:
- Analyze Excel and PDFs spreadsheets to analyze codes and extract information from PDF files to Excel and vice versa.
- Web scraping, also known as web harvesting, is a method of extracting a huge amount of data from websites to save to a database or spreadsheet)
- Automate simple tasks with Python programs
- Automate text pattern recognition, also known as data mining, allow the extraction of important information like names and phone numbers
- Develop programs that send out emails and notifications such as appointment reminders, welcome messages and thank you notes.
- Control the keyboard and mouse to automatically create shortcuts and buttons
With knowledge of Python programming, your practice can easily automate common administrative tasks and save a significant amount of time.
Think about how much time you could save by web scraping. Instead of manually searching for information on the web and keying it into a spreadsheet (which can take hours or days), Python will help you perform this task within minutes.
Step 8: Conduct Workshops to Make Administrative Staff MS Office Experts
Many people have basic Microsoft Office skills, but they may lack knowledge about shortcuts and other ways to improve productivity.
Providing training on MS Office will help employees at your practice learn about ways they can increase productivity and use applications to their full potential.
However, a workshop alone isn’t enough. Ensure that the newly found knowledge is put into practice right away.
Step 9: Ensure that the Office is Designed for Enhanced Efficiency
The layout of a dental office needs to be more than just aesthetically pleasing. All operations within the office need to be arranged in a manner that is closely related to the delivery system.
If the dental office is designed to encourage productivity, you can save time and this will have a positive impact on the overall practice.
Step 10: Invest in Effective Lights
It is important for dentists to work in an environment free of shadows in order to perform delicate dental procedures. Investing in coaxial-mounted LED lights will eliminate the need to reposition the light to avoid shadows, thus making each procedure more efficient.
This, in turn, will positively impact patient care as there will be less room for error.
It’s also a good idea to incorporate curing lights like Ivoclar Vivadent’s Bluephase. This efficient light probe is proven to increase access to the toughest and darkest areas of the mouth.
Step 11: Incorporate Digital Employee Scheduling Systems
Your dental office is successful, not only because of the expertise and reputation of the dentists but also due to the friendly staff that patients encounter during their time at your practice
Keep your staff happy by incorporating digital staff management tools to schedule shifts. This method saves time for the person in charge of scheduling.
Keep staff happy by incorporating digital tools to schedule shifts, saving time & ensuring accuracy.
You should also consider the impact of increasing employee moral and overall happiness by implementing the following:
- Conduct employee satisfaction surveys
- Solve problems immediately within the office
- Make changes when necessary
- Bring in a consultant
- Always remember that happy employees build a great dental practice.
Step 12: Improve your Practice by Paying Attention to Patient Complaints
Every now and again, you will have to deal with complaints from patients regarding your staff or practice.
Develop forms on your website or through an email link to get all the information you can from the patient. Follow up on negative feedback with an interview with staff members related to the incident. Remember that all feedback gives your practice the opportunity to improve.
By addressing issues and missed opportunities, you can deter the same situation from occurring again.
Problems may not be resolved overnight, but you can keep working on it until you achieve your goal.
Step 13: Increase Morale by Incorporating a Bonus System
Add a bonus system and share the results with the entire team on a regular basis. If the practice is doing well and employees are reaching their targets, provide a bonus incentive.
Staff achievements can also be promoted within the practice, on the website, and on social media.
Whenever possible, share positive patient stories with the staff. Not only will this boost staff morale, it also has the potential to generate new business for the practice.
**BONUS** A Healthy Practice Boosts Productivity
If you’re not hitting your patient target every month, this will have a negative impact on employee productivity, morale and profits.
When things are not going well and the practice is hurting, this will be felt throughout the office.
If your staff is bored and hanging around without much to do, they may also feel insecure about their jobs.
If this is the case, how do you get more patients through the door? In today's world, you have to look beyond traditional practice listings and advertising. The internet and social media are great platforms to get noticed.
Driving Traffic to Your Website Through Videos
In order to drive more traffic to your website, consider using YouTube to market your dental practice. YouTube has long been a tried and tested tool to increase the popularity of any topic or business.
What should you create a video about? Perhaps a short and interesting video on how a particular procedure is carried out. Or perhaps an office tour. This can be an inexpensive way of broadening your practice's reach.
Any attention through the internet, can, in turn, improve your Google ranking and attract more visitors to your website. Don’t forget to include specific keywords on the video and on your website, and always end with a call to action that encourages an initial consultation. Below is an example of a whiteboard video that we created for Titan Web Agency.
Driving Traffic to Your Website Through Blog Posts
Well thought out, well written blog posts that answer the questions that your potential patients are asking is a good way to get more traffic to your site, and if you have a proper inbound marketing strategy, it can attract your ideal patients as well.
Driving Traffic to Your Website Through Infographics
Your target audience doesn’t have the time or the motivation to read about complicated dental procedures. By designing infographics, you can communicate essential information quickly and visually.
High-quality infographics have the potential to be shared among prospective patients. Infographics don’t have to only focus on dental procedures. They can also highlight dental hygiene, care, and even the healing process after a surgery.
Although staff should play a major role in educating patients, infographics can also be used to assist the learning process within the office.
Infographics can also be used on pamphlets, videos and other educational materials provided by your practice.
Here's a beautiful infographic that Kirkland Family Dentistry created for their website.
Consider following up on an office visit with an email containing an infographic that reinforces positive hygiene at home. By keeping communication channels open, you have a better chance of holding on to your current patients.
What steps has your dental office taken to improve productivity? Is your practice finding success with one or more of these methods? Please share your thoughts and experience in the comments section below.
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