Often, a solo practitioner in general dentistry opens the practice housing two restorative and two hygiene operatories, as well as one overflow operatory. The restorative rooms are scheduled in a staggered fashion or with one designated as a high and one as a low production room.
The two hygiene rooms serve to provide preventative and periodontal care to patients and also provide exam opportunities that fill the restorative schedule, while the overflow operatory is used by all in order to maintain a timely schedule.
A five operatory general practice works well to provide for the needs of a new practitioner and his or her patients, but what happens when each operatory is routinely booked to capacity?
Tell-tale signs your practice is reaching or exceeding capacity:
- Scheduling chaos
- Working into/through lunch
- Next available restorative appointment is more than three weeks out
- Next available SRP appointment is more than two weeks out
- Next new patient appointment is more than two weeks out
- New procedures have been introduced, such as sedation dentistry, which require more space or a dedicated operatory
Once you consistently reach scheduling capacity, the foreseeable options are to expand, limit new patient growth, or face attrition. Existing patients need to see someone who can readily accommodate them, especially those with emergency situations seeking immediate relief.
Remodeling or expanding your practice is certainly a financial decision. Adding an operatory has costs AND many benefits. Each operatory wields the production power of $150k+ per year.
It allows for emergency appointments as well as immediate treatment, such as a whitening procedure. These types of appointments hold tremendous value. It’s been reported that the addition of an operatory creates an increase in production, on average, by 20% – 30%. Any patient in pain is one needing immediate attention. The accommodation of a new patient creates a relationship and a tie to your practice — you were there to help. The accommodation of an existing patient reinforces the type of practice that allows you to be available for the unforeseen as well as reinforcing and building the relationship you’ve already created.
It frees the staff to make sound decisions based on patient needs rather than space limitations, which has an added benefit of creating greater efficiency, productivity, and quality of care.
Finally, it reduces not only staff stress but the practice’s overhead of staff salaries created by the burden of working overtime. If you find your practice meets the criteria for capacity, it may be time to expand in order to manage your growth. At Burkhart, our Equipment Specialists, Account Managers, and Practice Support Team are available at no charge to help you strategize for your best possible practice.
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