Optimizing Operatories

Optimizing Operatories

Are Treatment and Production Walking Out Your Door?

How much recommended treatment is walking out the door of your office every day because you do not have a chair available to seat that patient and take care of them immediately? If a patient leaves with a recall appointment for treatment that could be done the day it’s diagnosed what are the odds that patient will return? Unless you have a 100% treatment recall rate you are losing the opportunity to provide patients with care they need in real time.

In a well-designed office there is always an unbooked operatory to relocate a patient from their hygiene exam, or scheduled treatment appointment in your chair, in order to execute the treatment discovered in the moment. The workflow and schedule of many doctors is driven by the notion that all chairs must be full of people at all times. Every successful practice strives for full and robust schedule with loyal and trusting patients who reliably keep their appointments. With an unbooked operatory, “pressure release valve”, to perform some procedures as they arise. You are capitalize on the opportunity to provide care on the spot very profitably.

Successful treatment planning should present the whole picture of each patient’s oral health care journey. Your patients accept your diagnoses and your recommendations because you have cultivated a relationship of trust with them. Your team has patients well trained and educated and when you find an issue they will be pleased that you have the option of immediate treatment available for them in that moment. Many patients might even accept the option for cosmetic dentistry such as whitening in the moment if it is regularly offered to them. You and your clinical team can feel more comfortable presenting and diagnosing treatment with the knowledge that you can accommodate the treatment for your patients in that open operatory.

I always recommend to my dentist clients that they consider the busiest times in their offices when they are looking to grow, and not the slowest. It seems logical to think of times when chairs are empty, or that day the schedule collapsed at 10 am and everyone was on the clock with empty operatories as the most important measure of lost production. I challenge you to reconceptualize the value of an available operatory and all those days when you could have added treatment when the patient was already in the office if you just had a place to put them.  Imagine saying, “We can take of that for you today if you have a couple of hours.”

In my experience I consistently see that an additional operatory yields approximately $250,000 a year in collections. That’s $2,500,000 over 10 years. If I am half right, or wrong that’s $1,250,000, or a million in profit. All that lost opportunity for production and exceptional patient experience occur because the office was too small, not too large! You can offer premium patient experience with less recall and waiting. Offer the now option. Any procedures you add to your existing schedule today are mostly profit (86%) since your fixed costs are already incurred. Lab and supply expense are incurred that’s it. Reschedule less, appeal to the customer and lower stress while increasing profits. Everyone wins.