by Andrea L. Cook
Having a large number of patients in extended treatment can impact an orthodontic office in many ways. Typically the schedule will be clogged due to additional appointments needed. There will be additional stress in the clinic, and not to mention the PR in the community if your office is known as the office that treatment takes too long.
Here are some steps to help you confirm your number of patients in extended treatment is accurate and then how to address it:
1. Confirm completion dates and status accuracy.
The first step in getting an accurate number of patients in extended treatment is to run the Exceeds Length of Treatment report in either Edge or ViewPoint. This report lists all patients that are in active treatment beyond their estimated completion date.
Once this initial list has been created, all information will need to be checked for accuracy. Are there patients listed in active treatment status that are now in retention? Or between Phase I and Phase II? Were patients’ estimated treatment time posted correctly? After all corrections have been made, the report can be ran once again with an accurate count of patients that are exceeding their estimated treatment time.
2. Get the team involved with reducing this number.
Your team is a critical tool in the reduction of patients over estimated completion date. Your front office team can assist you with managing the status changes and confirming dates. Your treatment coordinators can help you with estimating the treatment time accurately. If you are giving the majority of your patients a 24 month treatment time, make sure you can achieve this. Most often difficult cases such as Class III, adults, and surgical cases need a longer estimate. Set yourself up for success by giving the patient an accurate, realistic time frame. And, if you finish before the estimated date you are a hero instead of a frustration.
Running a daily report of patients on the schedule that are over their estimated date will help the clinical team isolate these patients. This information should be reviewed at the morning huddle.
3. Reduce the number of emergency visits.
A high number of emergency visits will add appointments and often put a patient into extended treatment. This can come from patient compliance or clinical issues that must be addressed. Look for a future blog for tools to reduce the number of emergencies your office is experiencing.