Time Management

You may delay, but time will not. ― Benjamin Franklin
Essential Appointment Book Guidelines
  1. Book today and tomorrow first. When today’s schedule is filled and meets your production goal, schedule tomorrow.
  2. Schedule all productive appointments in the first five hours of your day. Our goal is to meet our daily production goal before lunch.
  3. Schedule all non-productive appointments during the afternoon. (Minor restorations, polishing fillings, denture checks, etc.)
  4. Only the receptionist makes an appointment. Exceptions must be double-checked with the receptionist.  She/he alone has the responsibility and the authority to schedule a productive day.
  5. The doctor and the assistants should follow the schedule. No treatment substitutions unless the receptionist is notified.
  6. For the appointment secretary: Never ask a patient when he/she wants to come in for treatment. Be prepared to  suggest available times that will allow you to schedule a productive day. Use  alternative choice questions, i.e. “Which would be most convenient for you, Mrs. Smith, Thursday at 3:00 or next Monday at 2:00?”
  7. When filling cancellations or changing appointments, try to present it as an advantage to the patient, i.e. “Your crown came back from the lab sooner than we expected…”
  8. Schedule new patient exams as soon as possible.
  9. Project your production each day before the day begins.
  10. Utilize the doctor’s time efficiently. Sometimes that means reminding him/her that “The doctor is the only one who can perform that treatment”.
  11. If a patient calls and cancels an appointment, never say “that’s okay?”
  12. Do treatment in as few appointments as possible, over the shortest time span possible.
  13. Do you hold time for emergencies?  Do you do palliative treatment only?
  14. Solve emergency problems before discussing overall goals.
  15. Use a telephone/initial interview slip for new patient call and emergency calls.
Filling “Day of” Broken Appointments
  1. One of the biggest frustrations the doctor and staff face is that last minute cancellation. Here’s a great way to fill that void and continue to be productive: After first checking with the secretary, check the patient in the chair. It is possible you can complete more treatment than you had planned for this appointment?  (Of course, ideally you have already scheduled the patient’s treatment in as few appointments as possible over the shortest time period.)
  2. Do more treatment than you originally planned on another patient who is scheduled for that day. A recall patient is a perfect candidate.
  3. Use lab cases. Keep a register of all lab cases and know when the lab work has been returned.
  4. Keep a list of “available” patients, i.e. retirees, homemakers, patients who live or work close to your office. Some people prefer to respond to short notice rather than scheduling an appointment in advance.

The important thing is to keep the lines of communication open between clinical and administrative staff.  You can work together if everyone knows what you are trying to accomplish!

Duties of the Appointment Secretary
  1. Totally in charge of scheduling the entire staff/office.
  2. Responsible for daily production.
  3. Become the scheduling expert and determine what happens for the day. Responsible for making the office flow smoothly,
  4. Must plan to reach annual production goals through daily goals accomplished.
  5. Determine work and vacation schedule for the Doctor and the Staff.
  6. Reschedule patients if possible to see that production goals are met.
  7. No down time is left in schedule
  8. Concentrate on today and tomorrow only.
  9. Keep appointment book neat and orderly,
  10. Make the staff aware if office is running behind the schedule.
  11. Back up the financial staff person.