The word “busy” means different things to different dental professionals. For some, it’s a reception area that is at full capacity. For others, it’s the stress that comes with running around the office for 8 hours a day in order to meet and treat each patient on time. However, the ideal situation is the precise balance between a fully engaged office staff and a productive (and profitable!) practice.


There are certain signs that a practice is busy, but not productive.

1. The objective is simply to keep the schedule full, rather than to focus on patient care.
2. Both the dental and hygiene schedules are booked for weeks or months in advance, which forces patients to wait long periods of time for routine cleanings or procedures.
3. Patient intake is a headache, and retention is weak.
4. Office staff skip lunch breaks and grab a protein bar instead, in order to catch up with work.

Here are ways to streamline your business and finish off your days feeling productive- not burned out!


Streamline your patient intake process.

The traditional pen and clipboard style of receiving new patient information or updating existing information is out! Why waste time by having the patient fill out health history forms, only for the front desk to key in the information into the system? By utilizing tablet technologies that integrate into your system, patients can directly update their personal health information electronically. This reduces the potential errors and time spent associated with the traditional method.


Coordinate with the front and back office staff.

The ability to coordinate the office workflow is one of the key factors of any effective team. Schedule weekly team meetings to set clear objectives for each day, week, month or quarter. Additionally, a quick 10-minute huddle every morning will create open lines of communication, and ensure that both the front and back office staff are working towards the same goals. When an entire team has set objectives, the workday will be streamlined, focused and effective.


Delegate, delegate, delegate.

Often times, the person with the highest level of education will want to be in control of tasks that can be done by an administrative employee. It’s important to establish what each staff member is responsible for. For example, the dentist shouldn’t spend time making copies of any documents or scheduling appointments, when his or her time is better spent treating patients. It’s important to delegate as many administrative tasks as possible without impairing the understanding of how the practice runs. If you feel that an administrative employee doesn’t have adequate training or information to get certain tasks done, investing a few hours in helping him or develop the needed skills will pay off much more in the long term.


Confirm appointments at least 3 days in advance.

This may be labor intensive for the front office, but it’s essential to confirm appointments at least 3 days before the appointment date. While it may seem as though no-shows or canceled appointments give staff 15-30 minutes to sort through emails or complete other mundane tasks, what it really does is create idle time and waste resources that can be put to better use. If occasional cancellations occur, the front office staff can contact patients that have appointments set at a later date to see if they are able to come in sooner.


Any successful dental practice is built on organizational systems that allow ultimate efficiency. By making sure that systems and procedures work smoothly, dentists are able to make optimal use of their time, facilities, and staff.