8 Ways to Increase Productivity in a Dental Office

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When it comes to running a dental practice, productivity is everything. With your office operating smoothly, you can end up with happier patients and more satisfied employees, without negatively impacting your bottom line.

But increased productivity doesn’t simply happen out of the blue. It takes time and effort to create an efficient practice. Luckily, there are several ways to approach this end goal.

When exploring what can increase productivity in a dental office, it all comes down to working smarter—not harder. Using advanced technology and new workplace strategies, you can deliver a smoother, faster patient experience.

#1 Move Appointment Booking Online

From greeting patients to submitting insurance forms, your administrative office staff already has countless responsibilities. That’s true even without the time-consuming task of making and taking calls about scheduling. 

To save employees and patients time and energy, consider moving the entire process online.

These days, it’s easy to add an account section to your website. Using existing services, you can give your dental patients access to an online portal that allows them to book, modify, and cancel appointments themselves. Scheduling appointments online is a great way to save time on the phone and the computer, letting your desk staff focus on other tasks at hand.

#2 Use Automation to Confirm Appointments and Avoid Cancellations

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the number one factor preventing dentists from reaching 100% capacity is cancellations. With that in mind, eliminating cancellations and no-shows should be a priority.

Of course, some cancellations are inevitable. The goal is to be able to fill any canceled appointments as soon as possible. To do that, send your patients several automated appointment reminders well in advance. That way, patients can inform you of schedule changes early enough for you to rebook.

Here’s an ideal appointment reminder cadence: 

  • One month in advance
  • One week in advance
  • 48 hours in advance

The best way to send an appointment reminder is generally via text message, as texts have a 98% open rate. However, sending out individual messages is as time-consuming as making phone calls. Instead, consider using a mass text messaging platform to schedule automated SMS reminders.

Overall, when you provide timely reminders to your existing patients—including documentation about no-show fees—you can encourage everyone to come on time.

#3 Make the Intake Process Digital

Do new patients at your practice have to sit and fill out a paper form the first time they walk in? If so, you could be wasting time on two fronts.

First, there’s the extra time a patient spends in the reception area writing out their details. Second, there’s the time it takes your office staff to input the patient records into your system.

With that in mind, you may want to purchase a tablet for the reception area that allows patients to fill out a digital intake form. Alternatively, you can have your intake form available online and encourage patients to fill it out before they arrive.

#4 Streamline Your Operations with Digital Dentistry Solutions

When your patients reach the chair, you’re presented with one of the biggest opportunities to save time and increase dental office productivity. Using new dental technology can help you reduce chair time when you opt for digital solutions.

For instance, consider the process of taking oral impressions. The traditional tray-and-putty approach can be messy, time-consuming, and labor-intensive. If you go digital and use an intraoral scanner instead, you can shave precious minutes off of every consultation. 

The result? Every dentist could see two or three more potential patients every day. That’s a massive uptick in potential revenue.

Even better, digital impressions are more accurate than their traditional dental procedure counterpart, saving you time on any back-and-forth with the lab. While the average denture process for adjustments can take four visits, digital dentures can cut the process down to two. With these new advancements in dentistry, going digital seems like a no-brainer.

#5 Simplify the Hardware Ordering Process

Beyond obtaining the impression, there’s also the process of ordering the dentures or crowns from the lab. With digital scanning, you can say goodbye to manually inputting measurements or mailing out molds to the lab. Instead, you can send out orders instantly.

The sooner an order goes out, the sooner it can come back—and the sooner you can see your patient again for a fitting.

What’s more, because the measurements from the scan go directly to the ordering system, you eliminate the possibility of errors. When you do it right the first time, you don’t need to spend time fixing it.

#6 Offer Teledentistry Appointments

Ultimately, some visits don’t need to be in-person—and today’s technology makes remote consultations possible.

Tele-visits can eliminate the time-consuming before and after parts of a dentist appointment and cut right to the important section. With shorter appointments overall, you can see more patients in a day.

By offering video consultations for certain patient circumstances, you can:

  • Expand your reach and see non-local patients
  • Work remotely and eliminate your commute
  • Free up a chair for in-person appointments

#7 Automate the Billing Process

Like the intake process, the billing process should be paperless and automatic.

There are numerous dental billing software options available for quickly sending statements to patients or insurance providers. Automated systems can also reduce the time it takes for payments to come through, scan spreadsheets and PDFs for data, and auto-populate claim forms.

Because billing can be one of the most time-consuming parts of your admin staff’s day, automated billing doesn’t just save you time—it can also save you money on employee wages.

#8 Improve Employee Satisfaction

Last (but definitely not least), you can increase dental office productivity by keeping morale high. Treating your dental team well can help you avoid lost hours from employee burnout and sick days.

To discover ways to better your employees’ lives, go straight to the source and talk to them. Find out what they need to be happier and more productive at work. Typical requests might include:

  • Upgraded systems
  • New office furniture or hardware
  • More flexible schedules
  • Different or better benefit packages
  • Increased wages

Boost Your Practice’s Productivity with Dandy

Whatever increased productivity means to you, one thing is for sure: The longer each patient spends at your dental clinic, the fewer total dental patients you can see.

One of the biggest opportunities to affect total visit time is reducing chair time. After all, the bulk of a dental visit happens in the chair.

Looking for ways to speed up appointments without sacrificing the quality of experience? Look no further than Dandy, the leading digital dental lab.

When it comes to how to grow your orthodontic practice, with a focus on operational efficiency, our platform helps you shave time off every aspect of the dental experience—from the initial scan to the order delivery. Whether you need a digital night guard, a single crown, or a full set of denture impressions, Dandy handles it all, leaving you more time to see more teeth.

Get started today, or find out more about going digital with Dandy.

Sources: 

American Dental Association. HPI: Dental practice schedules were on average 83% full in February. https://www.ada.org/publications/ada-news/2022/march/hpi-dental-practice-schedules-were-on-average-83-full-in-february

Gartner. The Future of Sales Follow-Ups: Text Messages. https://www.gartner.com/en/digital-markets/insights/the-future-of-sales-follow-ups-text-messages

Journal of the American Dental Association. Intraoral Scanners. https://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(21)00312-3/fulltext