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Episode #584: 5 Tips to Increase Productivity as a Dental Team, with Robyn Theisen


Your schedule may be full — but full of what? If your days are packed with busywork, you’re not productive or profitable! So, how do you increase productivity without working harder? To find out, don’t miss this episode! Kirk Behrendt brings back Robyn Theisen, one of ACT’s amazing coaches, with five tips to work smarter as a team to run a more predictable, productive practice. To learn how to get started, listen to Episode 584 of The Best Practices Show! 

Episode Resources:

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

The Best Practices Show Episode 566 with Robyn Theisen

The Best Practices Show Episode 576 with Debra Engelhardt-Nash

Main Takeaways:

Have morning meetings. 

Start by setting goals and setting schedules. 

Get a mix of patients. Don’t recycle the same ones. 

Focus on bringing back unscheduled A patients, not C patients. 

Understand the difference between being busy and being productive. 


“Working smarter, not harder, is cliché and it fits here with the way you leave at the end of the day. How do you feel about your day? If you’re exhausted, that’s a different type of productivity than leaving at the end of the day like, ‘That was a great day! It felt good. We saw patients. We were able to spend time with all of our patients. They left with great service.’ That makes for a more productive day, I believe, and there are ways to do that to make sure that you can accomplish that.” (3:57—4:24)

“Where I would start is setting goals, and then creating a block schedule or scheduling to goal. There are different ways to refer to it and different ways to set it up, but knowing, what is your goal at the end of each day? And the easiest way to do that is by a number. So, you have a production goal, setting up your goals that way, and then analyzing your schedule. When do I want to do the most productive procedures? When do I want to put those into my day? Do I want to have that all done by noon and after lunch? Or if you’re working straight through that afternoon part, it’s set up where you’re doing different types of procedures that don’t require as much for you. I also think that blocking your hygiene schedule and setting that up with it is another way to not feel crazy during the day. How many exams do I want to do in an hour? How do I incorporate scaling and root planing blocks into that? How do I incorporate the new patient block so that you have the time to be in all of those different places, and give your patients the best that you have to offer, and take care of yourself in the process?” (4:47—5:51)

“In dentistry, we often hear, ‘September is always a slow month,’ or we have different “slow months” that we’ve talked ourselves into throughout the year. And if we are dedicated to a system, and then to the production and scheduling to production, the ebbs and flows don’t have to be as high and low. You have a system around how you schedule to goal, the ways in which you direct patients to those holes, and the whole team is working on scheduling to that goal so there’s more consistency in your days, in your months, and in your years.” (7:23—7:54)

“You can look back at your production and know, ‘I did this many crowns. I did this many fillings. I have to seat this many crowns.’ So, if you can look at what those different services are and how many you need, you can start to put together a schedule that allows you to get your composites done, and it doesn’t have to be a whole day of composites. You have your crown blocks; you have your high production blocks. So, there’s a way to look at what you have historically done and be able to create a schedule around that. And hopefully, as you become more productive, that changes a little bit too. So, you might have to tweak your blocks as you go along. But it’s about looking at what you’ve historically done, what your goals are, and how do we fit those services together to get to that goal each day.” (8:50—9:31)

“Offices that have morning meetings are 17% more productive than offices that do not. And this is a great piece of the block scheduling system, or scheduling to goal, is the morning meeting. I think it’s a crucial part of it because it’s the opportunity that we have to look at today to say, ‘Are we scheduled to goal? If we’re not, what are the opportunities? What are the same-day treatment opportunities that we have that are coming in today that we could schedule? Where do they fit in the schedule so that we can get ourselves to the goal? What are the next openings that we have within our doctor’s schedule, hygiene schedule, whatever that is? Who’s coming in today that potentially fits that?’ And so, we can direct those patients to fill those holes or the gaps in our block scheduling. Then, it becomes a team sport to do this, not an individual [on a] business team that’s stressed with getting the schedule full and having it be full. It’s the whole team.” (11:04—11:59)

“I have been to a number of morning meetings where they just read what’s on the schedule. They read the same things that we can all read. It’s more about looking at the opportunities. I can read what’s happening today. I want to know what I can’t read on the schedule and what opportunities we have to fill those going forward.” (14:02—14:19)

“My third tip is around mix of patients. I know that there are many, many, many practices out there that are absolutely crammed full in hygiene. They’ve hit capacity. What I’m also seeing at the same time, for those of you that have Dental Intel, is I’m seeing a correlation in the diagnostic percentage of the doctor. So, I see that the diagnostic percentage is lower than what we would like to see or what the national average is. And diagnostic percentage is looking at how many patients came into your practice today that you diagnosed something new on. So, it’s looking at the number of exams that you’ve done, and where you’ve diagnosed. What I’m seeing is that we’re having the same patients come in over and over again. Because we’re at capacity, we’re rescheduling those same people. And the minute that somebody falls off a list or falls off their appointment — they cancel the appointment, or they don’t show up for it — we are using our ASAP list to fill back into the schedule. So, we’re recycling the same people over and over again instead of looking at the opportunity in our unscheduled patients. How many patients have not been in in six to nine months or six to 12 months? Even the 18 to 36 during the COVID-19 period, if we invited those patients back in and continued to mix up treatment opportunities, we’re going to have a different mix for the doctors as well.” (15:18—16:40)

“A lot of [unscheduled patients] still consider you to be their dentist. They don’t realize how much time has gone by. And so, it’s not that they don’t consider you to be their dental home. They are unaware of the time that has passed. And many times, we haven’t called them, or we haven’t reached out to invite them back.” (17:49—18:06)

“The diagnostic percent is impacted by many different things, one of them being the mix of patients. Another thing that I see that goes back to the block scheduling is that when doctors have no schedule to their day or cadence to their day, they’re rushing in and out of exams, the diagnostic percentage can also be impacted by that when you don’t have the time to spend with your patients. So, going back to the block scheduling, if your schedule is more predictable and you have the time to be able to spend with your patients, that also impacts that number.” (19:23—19:53)

“Are you looking at A, B, C patients in your ASAP list? Are you looking at those in your unscheduled patients? There are ways to not be calling the same C patients over and over again that have cancelled, or owe you money, or any of those things, and keep inviting them back into your practice. Let’s, instead, look at the unscheduled patients that are A patients and bring them back in.” (21:09—21:32)

“[When you reschedule A patients], you get patients back that you enjoy seeing. You’re not fighting with people to find value in coming to their appointment. You have these people that are like-minded, and it’s more gratifying to work with those kinds of people in your practice. We talk about patients that show up and pay their bill. Many of my practices, their A patients are also people that trust them and accept treatment. They trust what you’re telling them and they’re going to accept to move forward with the treatment. So, it is an all-around more enjoyable experience, and you have healthier patients that you’re serving because of it.” (22:17—22:50)

“Bucket number four is hygiene production. When I think of hygiene production in a block schedule, I don’t just think of perio. I think of hygiene, overall, and our standard of care, and are we aligned, and are the beliefs that we have about hygiene and when patients should have fluoride, when they should have X-rays, when they should be considered for some type of gum therapy treatment, are we following those? Do our metrics say that that’s what we’re doing? And to make the hygiene schedule productive is a big part of the practice. And similar to having a dentist do composites all day, if we have hygienists that are doing prophy, prophy, prophy all day long, they’re not going to be nearly as productive or, I would think, have as much fun and enjoy the profession as much as if there was a mix of things in there. When are we taking the X-rays? Mixing in some perio treatment, mixing in a new patient, having that mix every day that isn’t so repetitive can be far more productive for the office and result in healthier patients.” (23:51—24:55)

“I find with a lot of my doctors, when we start talking about standard of care, they can tell me what their standard of care is, and they assume that it’s happening. And so, without that calibration piece or numbers to really track that information, you don’t actually know what’s going on in your practice and that your standard of care is being followed. So, there’s an opportunity to be more productive, and an opportunity to make sure that you are following through on the health piece of what you promised your patients and what’s important to you as a team.” (27:39—28:07)

“Bucket number five is a dental health history. So, in most practices that I’m in, we have the health history form. And then, there’s typically another form that patients are filling out that has something to do with, ‘Are you happy with your smile? Are you interested in whitening?’ any of those things. What I see often is that they get overlooked the first time when it’s a new patient, and then they really get overlooked again because it gets tucked in the computer. Nobody really goes back to it. And those are great opportunities. COVID-19 really changed a lot with our practices with what services you provide for people to see. So, oftentimes, patients have no idea what possibilities there are. Unless we go back to asking those kinds of questions and understanding what they really want for themselves, I think we miss a whole opportunity to talk about different services, what kind of cosmetic opportunities are there, what can we do to improve somebody’s smile. All of those, it’s a missed opportunity to not use that form on a regular basis.” (29:23—30:22)

“I am getting closer to 50. And as I get closer to 50, my healthcare needs to change, or what I want for myself changes. It’s different than when I was 40. I’m looking now at how we preserve this. So, over time, if nobody ever talks to me about that again — I’ve changed over the last decade. I want to know what options are out there. I want to know what I need to do to maintain what I have and to keep my teeth.” (31:02—31:25)

“I am all about being efficient and effective and working smarter, not harder. So, spending the time to plan your days and being intentional about them makes for a more productive day for your entire team, a more gratifying day, and leads to better health for all of your patients — which is ultimately our goal when we’re working in dental practices, to take the best care we can of our patients.” (33:16—33:35)


0:00 Introduction. 

1:31 Productivity versus busyness, explained. 

3:40 Work smarter, not harder. 

4:39 Tip #1) Start by setting goals and schedules. 

5:51 Be dedicated to a system. 

8:39 Look at your mix of services to schedule. 

10:47 Tip #2) Have morning meetings. 

12:11 A great practice has a great huddle. 

15:14 Tip #3) Get a mix of patients. 

18:11 Pay attention to your diagnostic percentage. 

19:53 Bring back your unscheduled A patients. 

23:47 Tip #4) Pay attention to hygiene production. 

26:26 Calibrate on standard of care. 

29:18 Tip #5) Get a dental health history. 

31:55 Topic for Robyn’s next podcast. 

33:08 Last thoughts on increasing productivity. 

Robyn Theisen Bio: 

Robyn Theisen brings an entire life and legacy of dental experience to the team and every team with which she works as the daughter and sister of dentists. With almost 20 years of experience in dentistry, her roles ranged from practice management to operations at Patterson Dental to coaching teams. Robyn’s passion is empowering teams to realize that they can dramatically impact the lives of the people they serve by implementing skills and systems to remove barriers to life-changing dental treatment. She has done it for decades and does it every day with dental teams. 

Outside of coaching, she enjoys time with her husband, Rob, and two daughters, Emerson and Ruby. She loves traveling, music, fitness, and cheering on the Michigan State Spartans. 


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