October 24, 2023
Front office vs. back office at your dental practice – do you have a tight team or is it totally out of sync? The front office and back office being disconnected in dental practices is an age-old problem. Unfortunately, this is more common than not in most dental practices.
For some reason–and who knows how this came to be – there is a very clear “line” down the middle of the office. How does this line happen, and what can we do for better flow and communication in your dental practice? It should never feel like a front office vs. back office scenario!
Next Level Consultants are a team of practice management consultants working to help doctors find holes in communication where scheduling is falling flat. Continue reading for the best ways to manage your team when you are faced with this challenging yet common scenario…
Does This Sound Like Your Front and Back Office Dialogue?
If you took a minute to listen to your front and back office dialogue, you might hear a lot of these recurring themes that keep popping up. Some of the common conversations you might hear include…
“What is the matter with them in the back?
We are trying to get production on the books.
Can’t they hurry up?
What is going on?
I have patients waiting…..”
“Are they crazy?
How are we supposed to get this done in that amount of time?
I didn’t even take my lunch break.
Who scheduled this patient next to that procedure?
I am moving this patient.
I can’t get my additional responsibilities done.
A crown at the end of the day, are you kidding me?”
Meanwhile, don’t forget the doctor (you) does not want to hear any of this kind of back and forth. If this sounds like your dental office, it’s very likely that you are very exhausted by the end of the day. Just like everyone else, you are probably running around crazy too. Does this sound familiar?
The Simple Steps to Eliminating Front and Back Office Divide
So by now, you might be wondering, how you can successfully close this gap between your front office and the back office streamlining communication. If so, great news! There is a simple remedy to correct the issue at hand. Once you start taking a few of these simple steps, you can be on the path toward having a team that embraces a beautiful relationship. Even better, that “line” we talked about will actually become non-existent.
Step 1: Get the Staff on the Same Page
First, you need to get the team’s commitment, and that means from everyone. This will define the moment to your team that you are changing the way the practice operates. Forget past processes – they have to go – it’s time to move forward. What matters most right now is the team acknowledging that things need to change and make a commitment to being a part of that process. Once that is done, the change can start happening.
The idea is to get commitments and agreements so everyone will be on board and on square one. If they are not ready to be onboard, working together towards being more like a team, maybe this isn’t the right practice for them? Everyone should want to be part of a team that wants to work smarter, not harder. In the words of a very insightful dentist I know,
“Let’s try it, just for fun!”
Step 2: Create a Time Study
When you book appointments without regard for a realistic time assessment, you will be setting up a hopeful situation that will most assuredly fail. Quite simply the schedule will never run on time. What’s the fix? This is the perfect time to do a time study.
A time study is where you keep track of each and every appointment in your office over a two-week period. At the end of the study, note the length in minutes for each procedure that you did. Next Level Consultants works with your front office and back office as well as the doctor’s to put these kinds of practices and technologies into place. If you need help and an outside source of motivation or inspiration let us know?
From there you can figure out the average length of each procedure based on the numbers. The study will give you an average of how long it takes to do a specific procedure from which you can now plan and work from more effectively. Don’t worry if its not perfect, we can always do another audit and adjust later down the road.
At the end of this step, you’ll have a realistic assessment of the amount of time that needs to be scheduled for each procedure. There is freedom in knowing. Without a clear path ahead you won’t be able to move forward.
Step 3: Get Smart About Booking Appointments (Try Block Scheduling)
Next, you need to bring your team together and make a strategy. It’s time to get smart about how you book appointments, and this conversation can be kicked off at a staff meeting.
Schedule a staff meeting where you can focus specifically on drafting a new scheduling policy. For example, block scheduling can be an excellent tool for your dental practice. Block scheduling is a method that ensures specific blocks of time are set aside for particular types of appointments, ensuring efficient utilization of both staff and resources.
We know things happen on an everyday basis that can disrupt the schedule, such as patients running late, emergency patients, or the doctor is running behind. Since we know that these delays happen, why not include a plan for just that? This approach is a much better proactive solution, rather than letting those things wreak havoc on the schedule and your staff.
All the while, identify good places in the schedule to handle patient emergencies. This will alleviate stress on the dental assistants and prevent the schedule from falling apart.
Step 4: Define The New Policies for Scheduling
To get a handle on your dental practice management, it’s time to implement some new policies. When it comes to new policies for scheduling, try the following approach:
- Sit down as a team.
- Discuss other issues that cause schedule delays throughout the day.
- Make a decision on how these situations should be handled.
- Write down every issue identified.
- Document the new office policy for addressing each issue.
- Post these policies in a location where the whole team can see them.
It’s important to mention that you must be clear about the purpose of this meeting from the beginning. The intent of this meeting is to make educated decisions on how these things can be handled. This is not the time to bring up past problems and start pointing fingers. The idea is to foster a solution based conversation. If you have to, you can refer to those commitments that everyone signed and agreed to.
Someone with effective communication skills and group management needs to make sure the meeting stays on task and does not turn into a complaint session. Keep a “matter-of-fact” focus on what the scheduling issues are and how to move forward. If you feel like you need help with dental practice team management and leadership skills, Next Level Consultants can definitely help you with that.
Step 5: Staying Flexible and Communicating About Schedule Changes
Finally, make sure your employees are staying in good communication over the new scheduling implementations.
For example, if you don’t already, use the morning huddle to discuss how the schedule is planned that day. Have an environment that encourages communication, where the team can decide when more collaboration and teamwork is needed. This teamwork and communication will most definitely be needed when the schedule becomes a little hectic as things move forward.
If there are times when things don’t go smoothly, always refer back to the policy. Remind the team that it’s important to follow these policies every day.
Getting the “Team Management” You Need with Next Level Consultants
Inevitably, there will be undiscussed scenarios that arise. Just continue to address them with new policies as needed and add all policies to the master policy documentation. If you don’t have one of these systems in place, ask for help at Next Level Consultants. We provide dental practices team management for the front office, back office, and beyond. Get your team all on the same page and put an end to the “War of the Roses”.