Dental practices are known to use this most common yet effective system to increase productivity without corresponding elevated cost. Block scheduling allows you to treat more patients in less time and brings stability to a dental practice. However, before switching over to Block Scheduling, here’s what you need to know.
What is it?
Essentially, Block Scheduling involves charting time into blocks, with each block corresponding to a particular type of procedure. We recommend the following block components - ‘High Production/Major Procedures’, ‘Low Production/Minor Procedures’, and ‘Emergencies’ (optional). A daily block schedule should consist of a balanced combination of Major procedures such as crowns, implants, etc. and Minor procedures such as fillings, extractions, anterior root canals, etc. It is also important to set aside a block for emergencies according to the needs of your practice.
How does it work?
Always schedule a Major Procedure block early in the day, under the first slot. A second Major Procedure block could be placed in the afternoon. Other blocks, including blocks for new patients, maybe slotted in around these Major Procedure blocks. The objective is to reach a particular production goal (in keeping with your profit targets). The number of blocks, block timings, block durations, etc. need to be created in accordance with the said goal.
Block Scheduling Hacks
It’s important to keep your dentist’s work methodology in mind while creating blocks. How long a dentist may take per procedure varies from doctor to doctor. Identify your doctors’ and assistants’ timings, and plan your blocks accordingly. New patients tend to take longer, therefore, create longer time blocks. Emergency blocks are also important for a holistic block schedule; they may be customized as per your requirement, and ideally should not take up too much time, as per CDC’s established dental practice management coaching.
Minor Procedure blocks may be scheduled around Major Procedure blocks, in order to fill in the extra time and add to production. However, production goals should primarily be met through Major Procedure blocks. It is also important not to incorporate too many Minor Procedure blocks, as they may spill over into Major Procedure blocks. This may lead to increased room turnover time and lesser productivity.
For easy interpretation of your block schedules color-code them. Colors register quicker while scheduling. Block scheduling also serves to create a better rapport with patients. Providing preset timing options for patients to choose from could lead to more positive feedback from the patient. Asking patients to choose their preferred time slot gives them a choice, while at the same taking the doctor’s schedule into account.
Finally, it is important to understand that block schedules are guiding schedules. A schedule that is too rigid may not be sustainable in the long run, and therefore has to be able to adapt according to the needs of the practice. The ability to rearrange or reschedule blocks with relative ease is a key component of block scheduling. This management technique can significantly improve dental practice productivity, as per CDC’s dental practice management coaching.