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    How to lower overhead and increase productivity with optimized scheduling blocks

    Switching up how you schedule appointments can have a big impact on your practice.


    Concrete goals for your practice

    How do hourly production goals work in practice? Here are a few pointers to get you started:

    • To find your hourly goal, start with your monthly goal. Divide that by four (for the four weeks in most months) and then by the number of hours your practice is open each week.

    • Meet your hourly goal with major procedure blocks. Each major block should be one-and-a-half to two hours long.

    • Once you’ve blocked out the space for major procedures, you can fill in the other chairs with your less productive services like cleanings, simple fillings and orthodontia adjustments. All of the production from these appointments will be in excess of your hourly goals.

    • Do not violate the blocks. Once you allow a violation of a block, violations become the norm and you lose your blocks. At that point, you need to start over from scratch on the schedule.

    • Diagnose, diagnose, diagnose. In the past, you may have been unwilling to diagnose emergent issues because you didn’t have openings in the schedule to deal with them. You have the time now. You can get the patients in quickly, so don’t be afraid to diagnose. 

    Read more: 3 ways to fix a cash flow problem in your practice

    Notice that with this method you are doing major procedures every day that you’re open, not just on certain days of the week. At first, you may wonder if you can fill three or four major procedure blocks every working day. The answer is yes! One benefit to these blocks is that when you have patients who need major work, you can often schedule them within the week. Patients appreciate it when you take their needs seriously and help them get care quickly. Even if a dental situation isn’t an emergency from a clinical perspective, it often feels like an emergency to the patient. When you offer those blocks, patients will fill them.

    If your block is still empty 24 hours in advance, you can fill it with patients from your ‘sudden opening’ list or use the time to do same-day procedures for patients diagnosed during their cleanings. However, once you’ve been using this method for a month or so, you’ll find that if you have the blocks, you’ll have the patients to fill them.

    Track metrics so the whole staff can see

    Once you implement block schedules, track your hourly production and get your whole staff involved in meeting goals for production, on time appointments and diagnostic rates. If you’re concerned about your overhead, look for places where you can reduce waste and track your progress toward eliminating wasted supplies or utilities. No one can meet fuzzy goals like “improve efficiency.” Give your team concrete benchmarks tied to real rewards, and they will exceed your expectations.

    A productive, well-run practice benefits you, your team and your patients. Take the time to implement block scheduling, and you’ll be able to do more good for your community with less stress for yourself.

    Vicki McManus Peterson, RDH
    Vicki McManus Peterson, RDH, is the co-founder of Productive Dentist Academy, a public speaker and owner of a dental practice in ...
    Bruce B. Baird, DDS
    Bruce B. Baird, DDS, one of America’s most productive dentists and leading productivity expert, practices comprehensive treatment ...


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