8 Ways to Improve your Dental Case Management
How is your dental office processing lab cases?
Commonly we see the same scenario repeat it self over and over again. The patient shows up on-time after taking the time off work or away from their busy schedule. They complete their update paperwork, and consent forms and the doctor gets started checking health history and pre-medication prior to pulling the patient back for their confirmed seat appointment. When the dental assistant begins setting up the operatory for the procedure, she discovers the immediate denture had not yet been delivered from the lab.
Sounds familiar? This unfortunately is one of the most common scenarios we see from dental offices. Lack of dental lab case management can be costly, not only in production but in patient and team satisfaction.
8 Signs of poor lab case management in your dental practice:
- The Doctor is constantly having to ask if cases are here.
- Patients are not scheduled properly for follow up appointments or at least 10 working days out from case submission for most cases.
- Dental labs call to speak to the doctor to better understand RX.
- Cases are not checked to ensure they are in the office 2-3 days out from their seat date.
- Your office is using paper lab slips not using a online lab portal.
- Patient scheduled and product has not been delivered from lab.
- Office and Dental Lab miscommunication regularly.
- Assistants are putting unrealistic due dates and scheduling patients accordingly.
We want to help prevent this common issues and many others with Reliable Dental Lab's Top 8 Tips for Case Management.
Here are 8 Ways to Improve your Dental Case Management
1. ASSIGN ONE DENTAL ASSISTANT TO BE YOUR LAB CASE MANAGER
Designate one or two assistants to be your go to lab case management. When offices have too many hands checking in cases and entering or writing out lab slips, errors are bound to happen and its tough to pinpoint any problems. By having a designated assistant or lead assistant manage all cases it ensures consistency and accountability.
2. UTILIZE YOUR LAB MANAGEMENT PORTAL.
I know there are still a few of those offices that use paper lab slips, but fortunately most of Reliable Dental Lab's Clients are using our designated Lab Portal for case management and lab case tracking. Which makes your life and our lives much easier!
Benefits to using a Lab Portal:
- Quick and efficient case processing - Enter cases within minutes with out having to fill out a paper lab slip.
- Lab case tracking - Find out where you case is in the process and when the actual schedule due date should be.
- Doctor Preferences - Are you having to adjust crowns frequently? You can easy add a preferences such as "light contacts" that will carry to all cases digital prescription slips or you can tailor it for specific products.
- Record keeping- record keeping is made simple, we can track redo percentages and other key performance indicators that can be helpful to your operation.
- Easy billing and reporting - see you lab bills and payments instantly.
- HiPAA Compliant - The portal is HiPAA compliant and secures all your patients information.
- Email Reminders and Case Notes - Case notes are digital and email reminders help remind doctors and assistants of any pending notes.
3. FULLY UNDERSTANDING THE DENTAL LABS TURN-AROUND TIMES
Most dental labs need 7-10 days to process for most lab products as they are processing 100's or 1000's of cases monthly from many clients all across the country. Understanding your dental labs turn-around time is key for successfully scheduling patients. Most labs work off a working-day schedule i.e. Crown and Bridge Turn-around time is usually 10 working days. Where we see most offices have issues is when they are not properly scheduling the patients according to the labs turnaround time. Also, understanding that even though a case may be entered into the system today, until the case is picked up from the lab the turn-around timer does not start. For example, if I enter a case on a Friday the 25th, however the driver has already came for the day and will not be back until Monday the 28th, the 10 working day turnaround does not start until Monday the 28th.
- Try to not schedule your seat patients until the case arrives in the office and your staff has properly quality checked the case.
- If you must schedule the patient in advance, understand that the turn-around schedule starts when the driver picks up the case and not when the case is entered into the portal or the lab slip is written.
4. CHECK LAB CASES 2-3 DAYS OUT
This is critical! If you takeaway one thing from this article today this should be it. We encourage our dental offices to check cases 2-3 days out from the patient's scheduled appointment. Checking a case does not mean just looking at the name on the box, it means removing the contents of the box and ensuring the product meets practice standards and matches your prescription. By checking 2 days out it allows the office and the lab to try to fix any issues prior to the patient's appointment. In the worst case it allows you to reschedule the patient prior to them being in the dental chair and taking time off work, if absolutely necessary.
At Reliable Dental Laboratory, we quality check our cases multiple times through the process but we are not perfect! Our goal is for your patient to be happy with their restoration, but sometimes errors happen and we want to do our best to help you mitigate those tough conversations.
5. DESIGNATE ONE AREA FOR CASES IN/OUT.
Lab drivers have to pick up and drop office cases anywhere from 20-40 dental offices per day. So that means they have very little time to spend waiting for cases to be bagged or placed in a designated area. Please designate a spot for cases to be dropped off and picked up so your designated lab driver or courier doesn't miss any.
We offer free Reliable Dental Laboratory bins for our customers so that there is a designated area in each dental office.
6. ROUTINE FOLLOW UPS FOR CANCELLED/RESCHEDULED SEAT APPOINTMENTS
Patients may cancel or reschedule appointments from time to time without making a new appointment. The individual assigned to the lab case management must follow up on those missed or cancelled appointments to ensure you get your cases are seated timely. As you know waiting too long to seat a restoration can have a negative impact on the final result. Preps, gum lines and shifting teeth may affect how the restoration seats. This could be costing your office money!
7. GOING DIGITAL
Most of our offices are still sending impressions and we appreciate any cases we receive, however we do have a small percentage of offices that are using intraoral scanners to take a digital impressions and we accept most STL files at Reliable Dental Laboratory. As you know digital impressions are generally more accurate down to the micron and make it overall better experience for the patient. In addition to these great benefits, we are able complete digital cases on average 3 days sooner than a traditional impression, especially if your office is out of state and shipping cases to us.
If you are interested in going digital, we have partnerships with various scanner companies and we would be happy to make an introduction for you.
8. LAB COMMUNICATION.
Good communication is key to the success of a great dental lab/dental office relationship. Understanding that you are going to have remakes no matter how good the prep or impression is, and its not anyone's fault is the first step!
"An assessment by Gordon Christensen similarly found that up to 90% of all dental impressions don’t effectively capture the entire margin of the crown.2 And, a supporting LMT study shows that 78% of restoration remakes are due to dentist error and 22% are due to lab error." -3M Dental Blog
The point is, remakes happen and will continue to happen and its ok. We are not here to go back and forth on who is to blame for a case not fitting, our goal is to ensure you patients get a quality, affordable restoration in a timely fashion.
Being able to communicate to the patient when issues arise and not blaming the lab technician is a start. A common scenario that occurs when a restoration does not fit: Doctor and dental assistant try-in a crown and there is a open margin. Instead of blaming the dental use verbiage like, "We want your smile to be perfect, but we noticed a slight imperfection in your crown which happens from time to time, so we will need to send this back to the lab to get it right." This builds trust with you and your patient and also limits any negative tensions.
Communication and trust in your laboratory makes all the difference! We appreciate you taking the time to read this and please know we are willing to help assist you in setting up a great case management system with you! If you have any questions or any requests please reach out to us at info@ReliableDentalLaboratory.com or at (702) 259-9990!