When it comes to successful dental practice management, your front office staff plays a key role keeping patients satisfied and you on schedule. After all, a packed schedule means full chair times and plenty of traffic moving in and out of your office. And while this is great for business, a hectic work environment can cause significant stress for a front office team tasked with greeting patients, completing payments, and booking appointments if you’re not sufficiently staffed.
When your front office staff is stretched thin, job dissatisfaction starts to creep in, which can cause some unintentionally negative interactions with patients. If your front office runs efficiently, however, there’s a better chance of improved productivity thanks to better job satisfaction and support.
To help keep your staff functioning and your practice humming, here are a few tips on how to help your staff accomplish more in less time and with less stress.
Step 1.) Become a Task Master
Examine your practice’s most important administrative tasks, and then take some time to consider everything else that needs doing on a daily basis. Once you have a list of these essential tasks, develop a strategy for assigning tasks to your team members.
When selecting who receives what assignment, you should take into consideration individual strengths and weaknesses. If Employee A has a great way of interacting with patients, it may make sense to put him or her in charge of greeting patients and scheduling. Conversely, if you have an employee who excels at analytics and understanding complex details, these talents seem ideal when it comes to handling billing tasks. Assigning tasks by keeping the individual strengths and weaknesses of your staff in mind is a great way to help boost productivity while also improving job satisfaction.
If you have a head staff member, ask that individual to help you identify the strengths of each staff member and in delegating workloads. This will not only help to minimize your work when scheduling, it also enables you to seek the assistance of a senior staff member when decision making; further helping to boost morale while ensuring you pair the right person with the most appropriate tasks.
Once successfully implemented, it won’t take long before you see the benefits that efficient task delegation can have on productivity and your bottom line.
Step 2.) Create a Productive Work Environment
The majority of front office staff members are required to wear multiple hats at once as they juggle jumping from one task to another. Unfortunately, studies have repeatedly shown that trying to multitask actually hinders productivity and work performance. To keep your team better focused, work to reduce distractions so each member of your staff can finish their tasks quickly and accurately.
Start by taking a look at how your practice functions. For example, if the front office workflow continuously interrupts the work of your admin staff, you may want to consider setting aside another workstation for your admin staff to use when completing their tasks.
Additionally, make sure your front office team isn’t slowed down by too much small talk. While patient interaction plays a key role in improving satisfaction, there’s a fine line where overly talkative or inquisitive patients can really make things slow to a crawl. Make sure to give your front office staff the training and tools needed for them to handle these type of touchy patient situations successfully so that patients’ needs are met without anyone feeling offended.
Two other productivity tips: 1. track the amount of time it takes to complete regular tasks and look for ways to reduce that time, and 2. follow the “two-minute rule”, which states that any task that you can complete in less than two minutes should always be done first.
Step 3.) Take Advantage of Online Scheduling
Few other digital services offer your dental practice the ability to improve productivity more than online appointment scheduling. When patients have the opportunity to cancel, modify, or book appointments online, the call volume your practice receives will drop significantly. Having to answer the phone less will provide your staff with more time to interact with patients and complete administrative tasks quickly and on time.
Not all online scheduling services are created equal. You’ll want to spend some time researching your options to find the right fit for your dental practice. Selecting a service that fits poorly with your dental practice management philosophy will only create more headaches in the long-term. Since your front office staff will work most closely with the new system, make sure to ask for opinions on what features they would most like to see before settling on which system to use.
Step 4.) Embrace Automation
One effective solution for streamlining your front office staff’s workload it to use automation for certain tasks. If this sound complex, don’t worry. Embracing automation is actually fairly easy. Start by examining the workflow of your practice, recognize which tasks take up the most of your staff’s time, and research options for automating those tasks. For example, rather than having your staff call patients individually to remind them of upcoming appointment times, consider using an automated service. Instead of receiving a phone call, your patients will receive text or email reminders, and your staff will no longer spend time leaving voicemails.
You’ll be amazed at what options you’ll have for streamlining your front office’s workflow once you embrace automation. While you may fear that relying on technology will cause your practice to lose that “personal” or “human” touch, you’ll find patients far more receptive to automation when it comes to providing nonintrusive means of interaction than you might expect.
Simple Steps Toward Better Dental Practice Management
By utilizing these simple steps, you can reduce stress while improving productivity in your dental practice. Not only will your staff have more time to complete daily activities, you’re also more likely to experience lower staff turnover rates. After all, a happy and well-run front office makes a great investment.