Does managing your dental practice consist mostly of putting out fires? If so, one of the likely reasons you’re always trying to frantically solve things today may lie in how you conducted your morning huddle yesterday, or even last week or last month.
Something I’ve observed over the past 20 years of consulting dentists is that those practices that keep an eye on the future always produce at a significantly higher level, and they’re far more efficient as well.
One of the reasons many practice owners (and staff) loathe morning huddles is that they think they’re time wasters or glorified gripe sessions. The sad truth is that they’re often right.
Most morning huddles have no specific format and are often conducted with the dentist or office manager doing all of the talking and concentrating only on the current day.
What should be included in the morning huddle? A proper morning huddle should always include:
• A review of the key numbers for the day, week, and month.
• How on target the practice is in meeting various goals/targets.
• Setting targets and quotas.
The practice owner or office manager should have each staff member talk about his or her area and how they plan to contribute to the overall office production for that day, week, or month.
Each staff member should be considered the “executive” over his or her area and should run the show for that area. For example, the hygienist would look at all the charts of the patients coming in that day and look at all the treatment plans that have not yet been performed on these patients. The hygienist would note any teeth or situations that were questionable during a patient’s last visit, check to see if any of the situations have progressed, and what the plan is moving forward. He or she should explain all of this to the rest of the staff and doctor so that everyone is coordinated.
The front desk should look at least five to six working days ahead and lay out how many openings there are in the schedule .This means that when Mrs. Johnson pops in with No. 14 still needing to be fixed, everyone knows there’s an open slot for her. The hygienists or doctor can help the front desk fill these slots.
What you’re trying to achieve by having your staff members talk briefly about their areas is to have each staff member take ownership for their positions. Cambridge Dental Consultants’ morning huddle format is designed in part to handle one of the biggest issues practice owners have to deal with, that of staff non-compliance.
The best dental offices look into the future and handle the problems today that can potentially develop into bigger problems tomorrow. This is accomplished not by the dentist or office manager doing all the talking, but by each staff member taking ownership over their area.
10 tips for successful morning huddles
1. Track month-to-date goals vs. actual numbers for doctor, hygiene, and collections.
2. Track yesterday’s goals vs. yesterday’s actual numbers for doctor, hygiene, and collections.
3. Work out today’s goal vs. projected for doctor, hygiene, and collections.
4. Determine how many major procedures are needed for the next five days. How many major procedures need to be added to stay on target/goal?
5. Determine if there are any openings in the dentist’s schedule. Identify patients in the schedule with potential treatment that could be added to the schedule as needed. Other solutions?
6. Identify patients that need X-rays per treatment guidelines.
7. Note what emergency time is available today.
8. Go over financial information on the day’s patients. Identify financial arrangements needed, etc.
9. New patients: Review info from telephone contact form.
10. Status and follow-up on changes from yesterday’s schedule. Bring yesterday’s schedule to discuss to-do’s and potential issues or problems, i.e., lab cases not in, lack of inventory, etc.
Offices with a low collection percentage should also review the AR report. If the proper format and forms are brought to the morning huddle, it should be no longer than 10 to 15 minutes.