Too Many Appointments
Many appointments seem to indicate the profitability of the practice (Jameson 2001). However, too many appointments can stress out dentists and hygienists and the practice cannot schedule new patients or have enough time to address dental emergencies (Jameson 2001; Tekavec). Dentists may even spend less time with the patients and provide less thorough treatments (“1500 is the Limit”). Hygienists may also not have enough time “to identify possible patient perio or restorative needs…” (Tekavec). Like dentists, they need to talk to the patient about their findings and future procedures that patients would need (Tekavec). These procedures would help patients and result in more earnings for the clinic (Tekavec). Instead, the practice must reasonably reduce daily appointments and develop efficient systems when scheduling and caring for patients.
Dentists can reduce appointments through many ways. Dentists must assign different responsibilities to other employees during their schedule in order to focus on “high-level tasks” (Jameson 2001). Clinics could also reduce the amount of appointments per day by allowing patients to be in a financing program, where they undergo treatment through “fewer, longer appointments,” paying them “‘over a period of time…’” (Jameson 2001). Dentists can also reduce appointments by increasing the procedures’ prices reasonably (Jameson 2001). While few patients may leave, dentists can earn revenue that can be spent towards overhead and schedule less appointments, allowing them to provide “quality experiences and consultations with those who remain” (Jameson 2001). Dentists could also consider dropping some insurance plans or rejecting any insurance to reduce appointments (Jameson 2001). They could hire other dentists that could treat other patients in order to have less stress and address patient care more efficiently (Jameson 2001). They may also refer them to other specialists (Jameson 2001).
Dentists and hygienists must spend their appointments with patients efficiently. For instance, the clinic should schedule appointment times with hygienists in relation to the amount of time hygienists spend on certain procedures and services for different types of patients (Seidel-Bittke 2016). Assistants could help hygienists by doing tasks such as “operatory tear-down/set-up” and “sterilization” in order “to increase hygiene department efficiency and productivity without compromising quality” (Glasscoe 2004; Watterson 2015). Assistants can expedite appointments, allowing hygienists to have more appointments in one day (Glasscoe 2004). Hygienists should have an organized station so that they could treat the patient without spending unnecessary time looking for certain tools (Glasscoe 2004). Also, hygienists could ask dentists to examine patients when they are available instead of waiting for them after cleaning their patients’ teeth in order to further expedite appointments (Miller 2017). Dentists and hygienists should not spend too much time socializing with the patients so that they could talk about future procedures and address the next patient (Glasscoe 2004).
Dentists and hygienists cannot be burdened by too many appointments. Reducing appointments and creating efficient systems for each individual appointment could help them thoroughly address each patient’s current and long-term needs.