End the Exam Tug-of-War

A dentist is typically pulled multiple directions during the day, and this is especially true when it is time to do exams.  Typically, the dentist is right in the middle of treatment while the hygiene team waits for her to get up for an exam.  Or, an assistant is letting the dentist know an emergency patient is ready for an exam.  When it comes to exams, the dentist can feel like everyone is tugging at the same time.

In many practices, this tugging leads to dissatisfaction all around, including patients who do not get enough quality time with the dentist who is rushing to the next operatory.  Fortunately, there is a better way than the tug of war.   

If you talk to your hygiene team, you will likely find the best time to do an exam is any time after x-rays and charting have been completed.  Sure, the ideal time is at the very end, but that can lead to the unwanted tug of war.  If you want to keep your hygiene team on time, and if you want to feel less rushed and have more time for your patients, plan to do recall exams earlier in the hygiene appointment.

For emergency visits, you can time exams more appropriately by putting emergency patients in a spot where you can actually see them.  The concept of just putting the patient in the schedule and hoping it will work out does not lead to great patient experiences.  If you schedule emergency patients with the exam in mind, you will do a service to everyone involved.

When is the best time to do exams in your practice?  Talk to your team and consider how you can make the placement of exams more effective.  This will end the stressful tug-of-war.

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