In order to control overhead, it is absolutely critical to keep patient treatment times on track. In our office over 80% of our patients are treated in 14-18 months. This is the single most important aspect of overhead control. More patients that are in treatment cause more emergencies, more hygiene problems, more missed appointments, etc, that drag down your bottom line.
So the strategy I use is to use EVERY appointment to get the most treatment done to further the goal of finishing in the short amount of time.
Patient comes in with LR6 off, she's wearing elastics. We are busy but not slammed. Her appointment is in 4 weeks. My assistants rarely even ask anymore. Just get the tooth ready and let's put the bracket back on. Yes I know we're busy and a wire clip would take 30 seconds while a rebond in this case about 10 minutes. But I want to get her done! I don't want to delay treatment another month. We already had to get a chair ready, etc., and she's here now so let's do it! (not yelling just excited)
Patient has a wire poking badly and needs to come in. Goes to school 20 miles away (happens a lot in my area). We are very busy. No broken brackets. It's on the schedule for "emergency 10," so 10 minutes are allotted. At this point we will do the entire adjustment, even though we are very busy. Reasons? Again, they are already in your chair. Also, if you do the ADJ appt now, it frees up another appointment when they were due to come in (possibly opening up one for an EXAM). Finally, the parent is super happy that you just saved them another 40 mile roundtrip visit and time out of school in 1 week.
Now, you may think these examples are obvious. But actually you'd be surprised how many emergencies are treated quickly with no one knowing when the next appt is scheduled, where the patient is arriving from, or where they are in there treatment.
The point here is to use every appointment to it's fullest.
This probably brings up issues in some minds like "well our policy is ____________."
Of course, I have an opinion on that too, so the next blog will address, "I'm sorry, that's our policy."