The Quest for “Peak Performance”
As an exercise during The Advanced Business Course for Dentists and Dental Business Administrators, I ask the following question: “ What does your perfect dental day look like? If you could take a picture of that day what would it show?
Dr. Brown’s Business Administrator, Rose, promptly piped up with “A day with no cancellations.” Dr. Brown said “Cuspid to cuspid upper and lower veneer case times two.” Both Dr. Brown and Rose agreed that kind of day made them feel great and in good spirits. They also agreed that the opposite was true when the day fell apart or that big cosmetic case did not schedule for treatment. “It can be like a “roller-coaster” says Dr. Brown. “I have to admit, I blame Rose when my case presentation does not result in scheduling the appointment. The patients seem excited about the work but seem to lose steam at the desk. Rose looks busy all day but I want to do more high-end dentistry. Why doesn’t she get them in?”
Rose quickly responded with “ I don’t know what I can say to them when they don’t schedule. I feel a lot of pressure and when the patient says, “I can’t afford it.” I tend to think that is true". The patient is more truthful with me than with Dr. Brown. It’s not my fault that the patient doesn’t have the money for the treatment!”
The first step in this problem would be to define the “peak performance” necessary for both Dr. Brown and Rose to see satisfaction on a daily basis. A characteristic of a “standard performer” is blaming people, situations and circumstances for ineffective results. Other characteristics include:
Further conversation revealed that Rose had never listened to Dr. Brown present a treatment plan to a patient. She was presented a written list to put into the computer and print out for the patient. She told them the cost and then scheduled the appointments. Her focus was on the dollars and whether the patient could afford the fees. She was never included in the “excitement and enthusiasm” over the “benefits” that the patient was receiving as a result of the dental treatment. Rose was not part of the “back office team” and she felt it. “I feel like they are passing the ball to me and I am dropping it.” says Rose.
At this point we began to analyze an actual treatment presentation. Dr. Brown’s verbal skills were excellent but he dragged on about the technical aspects of the treatment. This could easily confuse patients with information overload. After presenting the different options and benefits he abruptly stopped and said, “let’s go to the front desk.” The patient was then left with Rose who was told to schedule the next appointment.
Characteristics of “peak performers” include the following:
In order to bring a “peak performance” to both Rose and Dr. Brown, they had to drop the “blame game” and both take responsibility for their participation in the treatment presentation process. We worked out a solution to transition the patient to the financial part of the treatment commitment. We worked out a system that included someone else answering the phones while Rose sat in on the large treatment cases to listen to what the patient was hearing from Dr. Brown. Other financing options (CareCredit) were added to the financial stage of the treatment presentations for those patients who needed affordable monthly payments. Rose became part of the excitement of transforming smiles that she had missed with the old way and her attitude was upbeat with anticipation.
Dr. Brown was to start using more “patient friendly” terms when explaining treatment and using more pictures and actual examples to demonstrate so that Rose had to answer less clinical questions when presenting financing options. His transition to the financing stage included a question and answer session to make sure that the patient understood enough to give informed consent to start the treatment.
Both Dr. Brown and Rose left the training feeling more confident that they would be able to perform at a “peak” level and work better as a “team”.
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