As a dentist, you know every minute saved will ease your stress and improve your practice. Often you’re so squeezed for time it’s difficult to set aside even a moment to consider making changes to your work processes. But time and energy invested in improving your practice’s efficiency can help. Consider the following methods to help your office run more smoothly, creating benefits for you and your patients.
1. Delegate. Your skills and knowledge are targeted toward caring for your patients. That’s where your time will be most effectively spent. Spending long hours managing scheduling, insurance claims and billing diminishes the amount of time you could be spending with patients or taking on more patients. But be aware: If you’re going to hire someone or assign staff to manage tasks you used to handle, they will likely need time, training and support to make the transition.
2. Use technology. The tasks associated with payroll, appointments and record-keeping can take up a huge amount of time — unnecessarily, because they can often be dispatched by software. Secure programs that can help patients make appointments online, request refills or ask questions. These programs then enable you to decide when and where you want to attend to these tasks, instead of trying to tackle them piecemeal during the day. Many software programs also have backup and support available should you decide to assign these responsibilities to someone else.
3. Analyze your weaknesses. Having support staff is no guarantee of an efficient practice. What you need is for your support staff — indeed, your entire practice — to work well and wisely. This requires that someone, either you or your office manager, take the time to analyze your practice’s routines to make sure things are being done efficiently. You’ll want to analyze staff responsibilities, workloads, time spent on various tasks and unnecessary overlap. You can use software tools to facilitate your office analysis, hire a consultant or do it yourself.
4. Support your staff. Training staff so they can do their jobs efficiently is time and money well spent. Cross-training your staff can be beneficial as well, so if one person is out, other staff members can take over the missing worker’s responsibilities without time-consuming learning curves.
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