Don't Miss This When Spring Cleaning Your Practice
Updated: Nov 1, 2021
This is my favorite time of year. The birds are chirping, trees are waking from their winter sleep and the wild flowers are blossoming everywhere. It is also the time for some spring cleaning; dusting the ceiling fans, moving the furniture to clear the dust mites, washing the curtains, cleaning the windows.
I could go on and on. What about the spring-cleaning for your office? When was the last time you looked up at the light fixtures to make sure there were no dead bugs? Or cleared the gutters and patio of debris?
Often times we spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our own families, naturally our office space will need some sprucing up as well. Take this time to walk around your office and try to look at it through your patients’ eyes. What mess would they see that you might have gone blind to? After you have cleaned the office, it’s time to take a look at your office policies, fee schedules and patient records.
When was the last time that your office manual was reviewed? Often times we find office manuals with out dated policies, policies the doctor does not enforce or policies that no one is aware of. It is vital that the doctor and/or office manager reviews the office manual yearly to make sure it is current with the rules they want to enforce. Once the owner and/or manager has reviewed it, the manual needs to be reviewed with the entire staff. We highly encourage monthly meetings with the entire team; going through the office manual is always a good topic to cover. Whether you review the entire manual in one meeting or decide to cover parts of it throughout the year. It is a topic that needs to be discussed.
What is your vacation policy? Does it apply to all employees, or is there a probationary period employees must fulfill before they are qualified to receive the benefits? This is a very touchy subject and it needs to be addressed thoroughly and carefully. In most practices, the amount of vacation you receive will depend on how long you have been with the team. With that being said, vacation time should not start accruing until the new employee has finished their probationary period. Some doctors will state once they have finished their probationary period they receive one week of vacation their first year and develop the tiers from there. Other doctors have it state that once you have worked for the practice for one year after the probationary period is complete, the new employee may start taking vacation time. There was a practice I worked with that was owned by two doctors. Each doctor would take a week off at some point of the year but never at the same time. As part of their policy, any employee who has earned two weeks of vacation in a year must take one of the weeks that the doctors is out on vacation. This helps make sure they are not all the sudden understaffed.
What about your fee schedules? When was the last time your fees were increased, or the last time you negotiated your fee schedules with the insurance companies you are in network with? Just like you should look at increasing your office fees every 2-3 years, you should renegotiate your fee schedules with the insurance companies you are in network with. It is very rare that the insurance company will increases your rates on their own, which is why you need to take the initiative by asking for it. If you don’t ask for the increase, they are going think that the current fee schedule is enough of a reimbursement to you.
There is also the task of going through your patient records in your office. Whether you have physical charts or digital charts (or both) it is important to review the records of patients who have not been in your practice in a while. Typically, I would say if it has been more than two years since a patient has been in your practice, pull their chart and give the patient a call. On this call let them know that it has been ___ years since we have seen you and would like to get you scheduled with the doctor to make sure everything is okay. If the patient does not answer simply leave a message stating, “Hi, this is Chris from Dr. Molar’s office. I was calling in regards to your appointment, please give our office a call at 800-555-1234.” After leaving a message I would immediately inactivate the patient in your software, and/or store their physical chart with the rest of your inactive patients. When the patient calls back and says I don’t have an appointment, the staff would respond with “I know we were calling to get you scheduled because it has been ___ since we have seen you.” This will lead the conversation to the patient either scheduling or letting you know they are seeing another dentist.
Spring cleaning takes some time, but it is time worth spent. A clean office will please your patients because they will see that you care about your practice. The entire staff will appreciate current patient records and an up to date manual because will make their day-to-day duties easier to complete. If you need more tips or help tackling your spring cleaning reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.