Lately there has been a resurgence in popularity among orthodontists when it comes to the idea of setting schedule templates based on doctor time increments. This is a very orthodontist thing to do. We are nerds and control freaks and we want everything to run perfectly and exactly as planned. The problem is that the world is a messy place and practicing orthodontics is as much art as science (probably more the former than the latter). I would love nothing more than to be able to say that we can plan our day out exactly and have a predictable result for the doctor, the team and the patients but it’s just not possible unless we go to extraordinary lengths to force the day to fit the template instead of the other way around.
The biggest issue when it comes to running on time in an orthodontic offices is that the doctor is almost always the bottleneck. We doctors have large egos and we think we are very important and we think that everyone wants to hear us talk about whatever it is we feel like talking about when the fact is that most people (patients, parents and team members) have stuff to do and places to be and wish we would just shut up and get on with it. But we don’t and we won’t and because of this the patients and parents and team members constantly find themselves waiting on the doctor. Basically, the number one reason that doctor time scheduling doesn’t work is because of us doctors!
Another huge issue in the real world of orthodontic practice is that patients are always showing up early or late with something broken or with a compliance issue or with a hygiene issue and we need to take time to address these things when and if they happen. I’m not saying that patients are bad or wrong for needing extra attention, motivation, education or encouragement, I’m saying that these things are a big part of our jobs as orthodontists and we must take the time to do what needs to be done when and if these situations arise.
Finally, unanticipated things are always happening. Always. Because of all these reasons I think trying to schedule based on doctor time is a fool’s errand. To do so effectively one must build in so much slop to insure that we don’t get behind that our efficiency and capacity per chair suffers terribly. Because we have to schedule less patients for more time to make up for the fact that scheduling doctor time doesn’t work, we defeat the entire purpose of trying to schedule effectively. I know this sounds crazy when it’s spelled out… it sounds crazy because it is crazy. We must not forget that the schedule template is not the end product – helping patients get the smile they want on their terms is the ultimate goal!
Doctor, the two biggest pieces of advice I can offer to help make your day go better are these articles: