Another "No-Show"! Now What?
Dr. Nancy Haller
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You’ve bought the book An Idiot’s Guide to Eliminating Procrastination but you only read the first chapter. You want to wait until you have the time to really sink your teeth into the information.
Your desk is covered with stacks of journals and paperwork. You say you need to come in some weekend and file everything.
You have a 4:00 PM patient appointment to review a large treatment case but you haven’t had the time to prepare for the presentation. You flip through the chart at 3:55 PM and wing it.
If these examples describe your behavior it’s likely that you are a procrastinator. You’re not alone. Studies suggest that about 40–45% of the population is made up of go-with-the-flow people. These are folks who want to live a spontaneous life with flexibility. They prefer to stay open to new information and possibilities. Casual and open-ended, they appreciate the process of exploration and discovery. They adapt to change easily and they enjoy the variety that accompanies the lack of planning. They value the process as much as achieving the goal.
Procrastination usually happens when we don’t have enough information about what we are trying to do. On the positive side, your style enables you to juggle many balls simultaneously. You aren’t easily rattled. You adjust easily to unexpected events. You take the time to see all sides of an issue. You really may do your best work in the 11th hour.
On the other hand, you start too many projects and finish very few. You may have trouble making decisions. You do things at the last minute; it stresses out people who work with you, and sometimes backs you into a corner.
If procrastination is holding you back from a more productive and profitable dental practice, read on. The goal is not to change who you are. After all, you are successful and you have many admirable skills.
The goal is to improve implementation. In my experience, procrastinators tend to delay action until they “havetime.” However, it is far better to spend a few minutes every day on something than to postpone action until you have a couple of free hours and do nothing until then. It's too difficult to carve out such a big chunk of time. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. Here are some tips to conquer procrastination:
Make a list every morning on a 3” x 5” index card. Identify 3–5 priority actions that can be accomplished easily and quickly. Carry the card with you throughout the day and look at it frequently (at least once every couple of hours).
Do only one task at a time and fully focus on what you are doing. Consider a 10-minute plan. Set a timer and work on something for just 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, switch to something else if you want. (Chances are you may get so involved you will keep going.) Reset your timer for the next 10 minutes.
Keep track of your accomplishments and celebrate your success at the end of the day. (Track your completed tasks on a weekly basis.)
Pay attention to the language of your thought processes. Be encouraging rather than self-defeating. Telling yourself, “I’ve got to get more organized so I don’t feel overloaded,” can be restated as, “By being more organized, I will have more free time for golfing and sailing” (or whatever your recreational passion might be).
Schedule planning time and write it in your calendar. Keep these time segments small. Start with 10 minutes of uninterrupted thinking time. Use the timer mentioned above.
Accept that there is no perfection. Establish deadlines for your “data gathering” time. Most of life’s daily decisions are not matters of life and death. Give yourself a deadline and stick to it. And remember, even if you make a less-than-perfect choice, you are masterful at adapting.
Expect some setbacks. If you don’t complete your five priorities for the day, commit to doing better tomorrow.
Remember that everything will take longer than you thought. Be realistic and patient.
If you still find yourself getting stuck, it may be time to modify your environment. Enlist the support of your staff to hold you accountable or hire a personal assistant who can organize your files. Strive for progress, not perfection.
Dr. Haller is available to coach you to higher levels of performance in your practice.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
New patients come through the door with great expectations, looking for a new dental home—a place where they feel welcome, well cared for and comfortable. Are your new patients feeling this way after a professional cleaning visit with your hygienist?
Your business office team has done a great job with the phone call from the new patient because he/she scheduled and showed up for the initial appointment with the doctor.
Now the patient is coming in for the second appointment to meet the hygienist. Upon arrival, the patient will be greeted with a friendly welcome from the Scheduling Coordinator. The business team understands the value of every new patient and the potential of more referrals if the patient is satisfied with treatment.
Although the interaction with the business team is important, the interaction between the hygienist and patient is critical for patient retention. The hygienist is the person the patient is going to be spending the most amount of time with in the treatment room. The hygienist needs to make a connection with the patient that will make him/her want to return at the recall interval. This visit, in your office, needs to be exceptional compared to any other professional cleaning appointments they have ever had. What should the hygienist do to establish this rapport?
First and foremost, the hygienist needs to be focused on the patient during that appointment time. Patients should never feel as if the hygienist is concentrating on anything other than their appointment. Patients need to be listened to as they discuss their dental concerns with the hygienist. Patients should also be addressed by name, as in, “Hi John! It is so nice to meet you.” Giving undivided attention and using names will let patients know they are valued.
Hygienists have formal education and are licensed to ensure adequate basic clinical skills. Patients typically are not able to see big differences in the performances of clinicians; however, they can—and do—realize when a person is going above and beyond to deliver excellent service. It is the above and beyond that will set your hygienist and your hygiene department apart from the others in your area. Some suggestions for accomplishing this goal are:
Dim any bright overhead lights while patients are reclined. This prevents them from staring into the lights for the duration of the appointment.
Use accent lamps on corner tables to aid in lighting the room. The use of indirect lighting in combination with the absence of bright lights makes the operatory atmosphere more relaxing for the patient and the operator.
Place a small pillow under the neck of the patient and a roll pillow under the knees. This placement supports the neck and bending the knees allows the lower back to adapt to the chair so it does not remain arched for the entire appointment.
Purchase a back massager for added patient comfort, like the inexpensive kinds that are used on the seat of a car. Patients usually appreciate the lower back mode the most. Do not get one with rollers; they typically are too much for the patient to tolerate during the cleaning. Place the massager on the dental chair. The controller can be attached to the side of the chair with Velcro and turned on and off by the clinician, or just handed to patients so they can decide what feels best.
Provide a blanket to those patients who are chilled in the cool treatment room. This allows them to relax rather than shiver.
Apply lip balm to patients’ lips at the conclusion of the appointment. A patient’s lips get very dry from the pulling, rinsing and wiping during the appointment. A thin coat of lip balm replaces moisture and makes the lips feel hydrated again.
Escort the patient to the front office. Say a sincere goodbye and, “Thank you for coming in today. It was a pleasure to meet you. I look forward to seeing you again in June.”
The implementation of extraordinary services and techniques will distinguish your hygiene experience from others and will certainly have your new and existing patients telling their friends and family about their wonderful hygiene visit!
Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department?