8.10.07 - Issue # 283 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Technology Mistake
Customer Service
New Hygienist

Budget Wise and Avoid the #1 Technology Mistake
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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After dental school, technology is probably the biggest investment you’ll make in your career. And with so many fabulous options available where and how do you begin to choose what to buy and how much to spend? It starts with careful planning and preparation to ensure that you and your team maximize every penny of this major practice investment.

First and foremost, curb the urge. As dazzling as that new piece looks on the showroom floor and as promising as it all seems to be, resist the temptation to splurge at the next dental meeting unless you’ve done your homework, carefully researched your options, educated your staff, and determined a budget.

Without a budget, the cash outlay for technology can quickly become overwhelming for the doctor and the practice. But how much is enough? I recommend that practices set aside about 5% of their annual gross revenues for both business and clinical technology.

On the business side, the typical budget would be about 1.5%. At that level, practices should be able to purchase the following:

  1. New computer hardware every 36 to 48 months.
  2. Practice management software, regular updates, and unlimited telephone support.
  3. On-site professional technical hardware and network installation and maintenance.
  4. A minimum of 16 hours of on-site software training annually.

Dentists should be able to use their practice management software to easily access a few key system reports regularly. First, the Accounts Receivables report. This shows the total amount of money owed the practice from patients, insurance companies, or other third parties. The report should include every account with an outstanding balance, the date of last payment, and a note indicating if payment was from the patient or the insurance company. Practices also should be able to closely monitor patient retention with the production report. Depending on your software system, it may be called Production by Provider, Practice Analysis, or Production by ADA Code.

The management system also should enable the practice to track unscheduled treatment using the Unscheduled Treatment Plan Report. In addition, the system should make it easy for patients to pursue treatment. For example, certain software programs allow you to determine in just 10 seconds if a patient is eligible for treatment financing through CareCredit. This feature alone can significantly improve treatment acceptance.

On the clinical side, the typical annual budget would be about 3.5%. This would include both operations and clinical information management. At that level, the practice should be able to purchase the following:

  1. New computer hardware every 36 to 48 months.
  2. Practice management software, regular updates, and unlimited telephone support.
  3. All clinical software upgrades to the practice management software.
  4. Digital X-rays, digital imaging (camera), periodontal probing, etc.
  5. On-site professional technical hardware and network installation and maintenance.
  6. A minimum of 32 hours of on-site training each year.

Don’t skimp on the training. That is the biggest mistake that doctors make in purchasing technology and equipment. I’ve talked to too many dentists that didn’t want to pay for training. They convinced themselves that they could figure it out and then teach the staff or reluctantly agreed to training on the condition that all of it be crammed into a few hours.

Six months down the road, the doctor is wondering why that multi-thousand dollar investment hasn’t paid off. Why staff grumble when asked to use it, why no one seems to have an interest in mastering it. Until eventually it’s relegated to the basement, quietly deleted from the system, or secretly buried in the back of the storage closet. And the doctor is out several thousand dollars.

On the other hand, those practices that are using technology and equipment to pave the way to higher profits and greater productivity have planned exactly how they will use it. They’ve thoroughly trained the team and will continue to do so as necessary, and they have an established budget that ensures systems are updated and replaced regularly.  And major purchases take place only after careful research and planning is done.

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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Belle DuCharme CDPMA
Instructor/Consultant
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Making Customer Service Your Daily Goal

“Service is just a day-in, day-out, ongoing and never ending, unremitting, persevering, compassionate type of activity.”  Leon Gorman or L.L.Bean

Service to our patients, friends and family has become a dying art in an ever-increasing impersonal world.  E-mail, text messaging and cell phones are all forms of instant communication that keep us abreast of the comings and goings of friends, patients, co-workers and loved ones to the point where privacy is at a premium yet intimacy is rare. These types of communications have replaced the face-to-face communication so important to building real relationships.  E-mail can never replace a warm handshake or a comforting hug.

The environment of a dental office can be friendly and inviting with smiles, hellos and a “how can I serve you” attitude.  Or it can be as impersonal and cold as a text message.  Providing excellent customer service is about serving others beyond expectations.  In the Advanced Business Course offered at McKenzie Management we focus on developing systems that will give the patient the excellent service that they deserve.  Providing excellent attention is setting aside the “office politics” to look at the reason we are in dentistry, to serve our patients.

Poor customer or patient services can convince a potential patient or a patient of record not to have treatment in your office.  Is the initial phone call of the new patient given undivided attention?  Or is the caller placed on hold repeatedly or for long periods of time giving the impression that you are “too busy” to see him/her.  If you are doing any of the following you could be promoting the decline of your practice instead of the growth:

  • Having restrictive appointment hours making it difficult to schedule a time
  • Being booked out for more than two weeks
  • Over zealous about full mouth treatment plans on the patients first visit
  • Making scheduled patients wait more than 10 minutes for their appointment
  • Not explaining before the appointment how insurance benefits are accepted in your practice
  • Not presenting written treatment options
  • Not presenting written financial options
  • Not offering out of office funding services such as CareCredit
  • Not giving the patient pre-op instructions or post-op instructions
  • Not having inviting and clean restroom facilities for patients to prepare for the appointment and to freshen up afterward
  • Not giving the patient information on services or products that may improve their dental health
  • Not having a marketing plan to retain existing patients and to attract new patients
  • Not offering special services to promote patient comfort such as CD players, personal movie players, warm neck towels, booties or blankets etc.

The patient will need to know your policy for cancellations and the consequences of failing an appointment before it happens.  Communication of policies in the beginning is the key to prevent breakdowns in communication in the future.

In some areas of the country, there are shortages of dentists causing some offices to be busy in spite of their bad service.  This could change if a new dentist moves into the area offering better hours, services and attention to patient concerns.

To provide an excellent service experience you must be constantly alert to how you can meet the needs and wants of the patient.  Good service is a team effort and part of the office culture of exceptional care. The team needs to be supportive of each other and leave egos and personal problems on the doorstep.  Healthy relationships develop out of concern for fulfilling a common goal of commitment to the patient’s comfort and overall experience in the office.  For example, Mrs. Henrietta Jones was having new bridgework and crowns done that required several visits.  She had to bring her husband, Fred, with her because his health issues forbade that he be left alone for long periods of time.  Fred Jones loved coffee, so, Jane, the Scheduling Coordinator, made sure that Fred had that cup of coffee at each visit.  She also checked on him to make sure he was doing all right and reported to Henrietta in the dental chair so she wouldn’t worry.  It is that special “service” that is above the normal that makes patients talk about your office to friends, family and co-workers. 

Your office will stand apart from the crowd when you develop your own exceptional dental office experience.  If you want to start developing that “wow” experience now then give us a call and schedule the Advanced Business Training course today.

For more information on McKenzie's Advanced Training Programs for Office Managers and Front Office, email training@mckenziemgmt.com, call 1-877-777-6151 or visit our web-site at www.mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Belle speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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The “New ” Hygienist To The Practice

First, I would like to say congratulations to all of the new graduates that have recently graduated from college and have taken their state boards, or are preparing to take, or have recently received the results of their state boards and passed. 

With that in mind, this means that there will be a lot of interviewing going on in the near future. Some of you have not interviewed in years. While some of you have not had to hire a hygienist in years or ever. What questions will you want to ask? Are you prepared to explain to the hygienist what you expect of them? What income will you pay them? What amount of production will they need to have in order for the hygiene department to be profitable? How many days of hygiene do you need?

These are just a few questions that the practice will need answers to and information that the hygienist should expect to be given when interviewing for the position.

There are many things that may help when interviewing and McKenzie Management has eliminated a lot of that work for you. There are downloadable forms on our website  www.McKenziemgmt.com under Dental Management Products. Not only are they downloadable, some of them are designed as a Microsoft Word document so you can alter them in order to customize it to your practice.

Once you are in Dental Management Products, under the category Recruiting and Hiring, you will find: The book, How to Hire the Best Employee, employee application, and interview questions.

Then, if you look under Job Descriptions, you will find job descriptions that come complete with the tasks performed most generally as observed by McKenzie Management’s Consultants. Downloadable as a Microsoft Word document so you can alter to customize to your practice. This will help when it comes to explaining to the potential employee what is expected of them before they even are offered the job.

Let’s face it, being a hygienist is not just cleaning teeth in a profitable hygiene department. There are many other aspects to the job. For instance, evaluating periodontal condition, selling dentistry, establishing good rapport with the patients so they want to return, helping educate and train the patients on the office policy and what is expected of your patients, working on the computer, being a team player, monitoring hygiene production, oral cancer exams, and taking x-rays, and these are just a few of the responsibilities and procedures that may be in the job description of the hygienist. With all of these different procedures that may be done at a professional hygiene appointment, which ones will be done on your patients?

The potential hygienist will want to know how much time per patient and what is to be done during that time. Will the hygienist be the one to determine how much time is needed based on the individual patients needs? Who determines what each patient’s individual needs are during the current appointment and the future appointments?

Do you have a hygiene department manual created for your office for easy reference? Explaining what treatment is to be done at a prophylaxis appointment compared to a periodontal maintenance appointment? When are chemotherapeutic products placed in your practice? During root planing or after the root planing has been finished and the patient is back for an evaluation? When is the patient referred to the periodontist? How often are x-rays taken, what kind of x-rays, and who takes the x-rays in your office? This should be in an office manual in order for the new hire to look at what is expected of him or her in the time allotted for each appointment.  Once you have hired your hygienist, how will you educate and train him or her on your method of diagnosing? This will enable the hygienist to pre-sell your dentistry even sooner. We all remember the article where the patient went to quite a few different dentists and did not receive one treatment plan that was the same. For instance, if a patient has a crown on tooth #8 that needs to be replaced, some dentists will replace only the crown on # 8 while another dentist may want to replace the crown on #8 and veneer #9 in order to help with shading. While another dentist will look at the entire smile and possibly recommend veneering all the anterior teeth and replacing the crown on #8.

We talked about creating a flow chart in the past. Another great way of introducing your practice philosophy and diagnosing style to the hygienist is to have pictures of different restorative needs and having them say what they think would need to be done and then the dentist will inform her on what he would prefer to do. Some of the pictures may be from the office photo album of before and after pictures or taken from an intra oral camera. One more suggestion, if you do not have pictures, put up some x-rays. What is nice about doing it with pictures and x-rays is that the two of you are able to talk openly without patients around. Thus eliminating the possibility of embarrassment of either of you.

The more prepared you are for a new hygienist coming into the practice, whether he or she is experienced or right out of college, the easier the transition will be for the office and the new employee. Good interviewing techniques, training, and information pertaining to the job at hand is the key to this transition. Every office has different paper work, expectations, and styles.  

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.
Interested in having Jean speak to your dental society or study club Click Here.

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