3.16.07 - Issue # 262 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Can You Hear Me Now?

A McKenzie Management Case Study

Dr. Sharon Stanley- Case Study #305

Dr. Stanley was more than willing to share with a consultant her struggles with the team as well as the team’s struggles with her…yes, she was willing to admit that she caused some of the stress in the office!  Dr. Stanley was concerned about “communication” in her practice.  She felt that everyone was running around like “chickens with their heads cut off” and “the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing”.

Physical statistics of interest:

  • 2 hygienists, 2 assistants, 2 front office employees
  • 5 treatment rooms
  • Doctor’s office and staff lounge
  • Light system for staff communication

Practice statistics of concern:

  • No job descriptions
  • No practice growth over past 2 years
  • Lack of staff enthusiasm and teamwork
  • Stress level steadily increasing

The team members shared:  “The doctor hangs around the front desk all the time asking me “dumb” questions about the schedule, why patients cancel and what am I doing.  It drives me crazy!”  These type of comments can not only mean there may be a lack of respect for the doctor but frustration by the team that does not understand why the doctor does not trust them. While these may be the by-product of the comment, as a consultant, you have to look deeper into the cause of the concerns.  These comments stemmed from lack of communication, training and not having a clear understanding of the expectation of the systems.  It could easily be corrected by the mere fact that if the team keeps the doctor busy doing dentistry, she won’t have time to be asking them questions.

After two days of observing Dr. Stanley’s daily routine with patients, it was easy to see some of the communication issues that she was concerned about:

  • A patient would sit in the reception area too long because no one remembered they were waiting
  • The doctor is needed in hygiene but no one can find her
  • The assistant needs a chart and can’t find it
  • Another hygienist’s spouse is on the phone and needs to know if she wants to have lunch with him
  • An assistant needs someone to help her with an impression

The list goes on and on.  What is sad is that all the employees are scurrying around the office trying to find someone to help them with their “challenge” and no one is actually attending to the patients and their needs.

Have you been to an Old Navy store recently?  They are one of many businesses now using, wireless headsets to very effectively communicate the employees’ needs to fellow employees in order to elicit assistance via 2-way radios.  Features such as vibrating call alert and hands-free push-to-talk microphone earpiece helps to improve communication and workflow. After the initial two-week complaining from the staff regarding change, listen to some of the comments from the doctors and team members…

  • Hygienist – It is so great to be able to tell the doctor when I am ready for my exam without having to interrupt my time with my patient
  • Assistant – It is helpful to be able to contact the other assistant when I forgot to put something on the tray
  • Schedule Coordinator – I can tell the hygienist when her patient calls to say that they are running 5 minutes late…and, of course, we all know that they really mean 15 minutes!
  • Financial Coordinator – After I get the credit approval, I just notify the assistant using the headset instead of having to run back there and tell her
  • Everyone – We can actually find the doctor to tell her that her next patient is seated and ready to go!

All these comments may seem trivial, but the office is q-u-I-e-t-e-r now.  Team members aren’t yelling instructions down the hall; the doctor is conducting her hygiene exams in a timely manner; patients aren’t waiting in the reception room because someone forgot to “turn the light on”, etc.  Now, EVERYONE knows what is going on in the office and this is vital in order for the practice to run smoothly and efficiently.

This is just one of many ways in which you can improve the communication level in your practice and your team can “hear you now”!

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies….. email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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