Dr. Dean C. Bellavia



Keeping your Team Busy

Saturday, 28 April 2018 15:02
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Is your practice productive and are your team members busy?  Do you know how to keep them busy when the doctor is not in the office?  Do you have a contingency plan for when you will be out of the office for an extended period of time?  If so, this management pearl may help.


Running a successful practice is not easy, especially when it comes to keeping your team productive or busy.  Practice-wise, staff account for about 20-30% of your overhead and it is a shame to waste it.  Team-wise, staff should not be hectic or board, but instead, have a smooth, productive day.  The best way to accomplish this is to have a well-designed schedule that utilizes your team effectively and to conduct your days so that you can adjust to the ups and downs effectively.  Refer to the following if you want to design a smooth productive schedule:  http://www.thebioengineeringco.com/index.php?option=com_hikashop&ctrl=product&task=show&cid=47&name=schedule-design-tx-quality-control-kit&Itemid=860


Other than scheduling, most practices have on-going weekly procedures to cover the office when the doctor is not there.  This typically involves a receptionist to cover the phones and a DA to deal with emergencies.  The DA can be scheduled in the office or be on call for emergencies; whatever works.
There are also certain situations arise that can upset both you and your team—when the doctor is not in the office and team members are.  The doctor may be away on vacation or fall ill and need to be out of the practice for weeks or months.  During his/her absence the doctor doesn’t want to waste money on office coverage when patients are not being seen.  Some team members do not have the financial discretion to not work and may not have the vacation time to cover the doctor’s absence.  This causes conflict between the doctor and team members that needs to be resolved.  There is usually an unwritten agreement between the practice team members that they will receive their usual pay.  But that all falls apart when the doctor will be out due to long-term illness.


If the illness strikes quickly and the doctor can’t treat patients for many months, the practice can run down hill quickly.  That’s why it is important to have a realistic “overage agreement” between your practice and others.  It may involve other local orthodontists or friends at a realistic distance.  If you don’t have an up to date coverage agreement you need to get one.  The AAO website and others have agreements to refer to, to set up your coverage.

When the doctor is scheduled to be out for weeks for a medical emergency or whatever, it is unfair to have needy team members bear the unforeseen financial burden of not being able to work and get paid.  If planned far enough ahead, the practice can have another orthodontist treat its patients according to a specific schedule.  If this is not possible, you can give team members who have to work specific projects to complete by the time the doctor gets back.  Such projects may include:

1)  Clinical: clean, restock, reorganize and restock all of the supplies closets/areas

2)  Clinical: clean, restock, reorganize and restock all of the supplies closets/areasClinical: do a thorough cleaning/maintenance of the sterilization area, records area, any Tx chairs/units, etc.

3)  Clinical: bring in patients with hygiene problems and spend the time teaching them to do better (tell them you are having a special hygiene clinic for them)

4)  Match payment files with active patients to make sure that every patient started has a financial agreement

5)  Do a thorough study of your patients with insurance and make sure all filings and payments are up to date

6)  Go after all of those Will-Call-Back patients and get them scheduled

7)  Print out a list of all patients on OBS-Recall (and Ph-I retention) and make sure they all have appointments; if not make them

8)  Do a thorough study of your patients with insurance and make sure all filings and payments are up to date

9)  Do those special projects (marketing, etc.) you have been putting off until you had the time

10) It is helpful to keep an ongoing list of projects you need to get done in situations like this


The practice will need to monitor the team member's project progress by checking up on them daily (or the days they are scheduled to work) to see how well they are doing and whether they have any questions.  Nothing is perfect, but planning ahead helps.

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