09.11.09 Issue #392 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Yesterday’s Expert is Today’s Amateur
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Hiring someone who is “experienced” does not have the same meaning that it did in the past, unless this person has had formal business training and can demonstrate more than e-mail skills on the computer. If the job requires the employee to compile spreadsheets using Excel, but the applicant only has superficial knowledge of the program, find out before they’re on the job. If staff are expected to compile letters to patients, doctors, insurance companies and others using Microsoft Word and the applicant has no idea how to use the formatting options within the program, better to learn that now than discover it in six weeks. Don’t allow yourself or your team to be surprised by what a new recruit doesn’t know. Test applicant skills before you ever offer them a front row spot on your team.

For example, if you’re hiring a new office manager, this applicant’s skills should be evaluated in a number of areas. Consider this approach: first, make up a “dummy” patient on the computer and ask the applicant to put together a treatment plan and then schedule the patient for multiple appointments. Next, ask the candidate to post from the treatment plan. From there, the applicant should be asked to gather insurance information on the “dummy patient.” Finally, the applicant should be able to create a treatment proposal and a financial option sheet. These are the basics. You will be able to observe skill level and the need for additional computer training.

Will the investment necessary to bring this person up to speed be too great, or do their strengths outweigh the weaknesses? Can the shortfalls in their skill levels be overcome with proper technical training? You’ll have clearer answers to those important questions if you carefully evaluate the applicant’s current skill level. If you choose to train, make the most of the teaching opportunities across the entire staff. 

If you’re planning to train the new employee in-house, consider exactly who is going to take on that responsibility. If it’s you, the doctor, do you plan to see patients in the morning and clear your afternoons, so that you can teach the new employee how to use the systems? Chances are great that you have neither the time nor the inclination to take on this responsibility. If it’s another staff member, do you plan to pay them extra so that they can teach the new recruit after hours? What is the competency level of the person training the new employee? Is this person the beneficiary of layers of information that have been passed down from one worker to the next and still just trying to figure things out themselves? Or are they truly an expert on how to use the systems fully and effectively.

Certainly, well-trained staff can be helpful in familiarizing new employees with computer systems. But plan to budget for professional training and make the most of those dollars spent. Take specific steps to build a lineup of software superstars with an effective training system. Bring the software trainer in to teach the employee specific skills, and document each session, so that the new employee, as well as others in the practice, can review steps for completing specific tasks and check their level of mastery. Keep the documentation in your Dental Business Training Manual along with a checklist of computer system skills specific to your practice that each employee should have mastered.

Each time you integrate new technology or make use of a new tool in your computer software, add the training steps to your training manual. This will allow staff to review procedures that they don’t use regularly and help new staff to master new systems more quickly and efficiently.

Finally, remember the three month rule of thumb. In general, it takes three months of supervised training to get a new hire up to speed. Don’t assume that they know their job because they say they do. Monitor the performance during the 90-day training period and have a senior team member check the accuracy of the work with the intention of coaching - not criticizing. Front office accuracy in new patients, collections, production and retention can be checked by the daily and monthly reports run by the computer.  Instructions on reading these important reports are also incorporated into the curriculum no matter what system you are using.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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