Ensure that Your New Employee Succeeds
The last thing most doctors want to do is dismiss an employee. They are not alone - virtually every good employer will agonize over having to take that step. It’s the stuff sleepless nights and angst-filled days are made of. Consequently, many dentists will tolerate low morale, inappropriate behaviors, utterly ineffective systems and considerable personal misery - not to mention a huge drain on financial resources. I suggest that you do all you can to avoid ever finding yourself in that position to begin with. Rather, you can take steps to ensure that every new hire is well prepared to succeed, beginning before you ever say the words “You’re hired.”
First, resist the urge to hire under pressure. I know that when a two weeks’ notice lands on your desk, panic sets in and you want to fill the void as quickly as possible. If ever there were a case when the proverbial phrase “haste makes waste” were true, this is it. The person you hire needs to do more than fill a spot. This isn’t a temporary fix to an immediate problem. You are making a long-term commitment. She/he is going to affect you, your team, your patients, and your profit for, quite possibly, a very long time. Easy answers and fast fixes now can metamorphous into complicated problems and staff issues down the road. Treat the hiring process with careful and deliberate planning and preparation.
Follow these steps:
Next week, once they are a member of your team, don’t leave them twisting in the wind.
Peak Performance Coaching
While curious, dentists for the most part are skeptical of working with a coach. For many, coaching means there is “something wrong.” With this misunderstanding about coaching, it’s natural that dentists are reluctant to engage a coach. Some equate coaching with psychological counseling. Rightly so, they don’t want someone probing into their childhood issues, resurrecting painful emotions about the past, and diagnosing what’s wrong with them.
In contrast, working with a coach in the corporate world means you’re “high potential.” Pending opportunities for promotion are on the horizon. Companies invest significant dollars to develop their employees. Why? The ultimate goal of coaching is to improve business results. Whether it is increasing customer loyalty, retaining valuable employees, or managing the change that is inherent in business today, coaching enables leaders to impact bottom-line benefits - growth in revenues and profits. So too in the dental world. Running a practice is complex. Increasing competition, diverse employees, and demanding patient populations require an extensive skill set if you are going to succeed.
Coaching is really about doing things more effectively, about honing your abilities to the utmost. Take into account that mastering the art of leadership requires learning to do what may not come naturally to you. Additionally the strengths that helped you to be successful can become weaknesses through over-use and over-reliance.
If you grew up playing sports, you had a coach. He or she was there with the team. That person didn’t play in the game but helped you and your teammates improve the way you played. The coach challenged you to do things differently, to be better.
Consider a professional sports team. Perhaps football. Large sums of money are spent recruiting the best players. These athletes are put through technical training. They learn the plays and strategies to win. Now imagine that they play the entire season without a practice session or a coach. No team owner would ever expose his/her investment in that kind of risk. However, it happens all the time in the dental industry.
The first 100 years of the field of psychology has been focused on anxiety, illness and pathology. However, over the past decade, psychology has shifted. Now there is compelling experimental evidence showing that a simple adjustment in your daily life can increase your quality of living. Coaching is about making those little adjustments to bring out the best in you.
McKenzie Management’s Dentist Coaching Program is tailored to those who have an understanding of their strengths and obstacles. Delivered by telephone, the program is purchased in four, one-hour blocks of time. Generally the Doctor and I talk once per month. At the end of each conversation, we establish goals and action steps to be accomplished before the next coaching session. The structure of the session is focused on outcome. This process is more successful when we identify specific commitments and time lines. Everything we discuss is completely confidential. That is the only way coaching works.
The coaching model I use is called “Assessment-Challenge-Support.”
While it's certainly true that you don't have to have a coach, consider for a moment what you might do if you did have a coach.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at email@example.com
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
Coding for Hygiene Services
Last time we talked about the hygienist as a production and profit center for a practice. Now we will cover several ADA codes associated with hygiene services and see how they might be used. ADA Current Dental Terminology (CDT) codes are essential for reporting services on insurance claims. However, they also provide “shorthand” for offices when it comes to record keeping, treatment planning, and fee development. While it is well known that insurance benefits are limited when it comes to many preventive, periodontal and even diagnostic services, using accurate coding can streamline office communication while ensuring that patients are receiving the benefits for which they are entitled.
It goes without saying that treatment should always be based on patient’s needs, not their insurance contract. However, when we help our patients plan for their procedures by providing information about possible insurance benefits, they are more likely to go ahead with a proper and complete treatment plan. Here are a few “hygiene codes” and common insurance considerations. Keep in mind that there will always be exceptions to any general guidelines.
The code name indicates that the procedure is appropriate for an adult, however the definition mentions “permanent and transitional dentition.” Therefore, this code can be accurately applied to individuals of various ages. Insurance contract guidelines may designate age restrictions, such as for patients over the age of 14 or 16, but that should not be the rule for the dental office. If the service provided is the equivalent of an adult prophy, then age should not be a deciding factor. Despite this, patients and their parents should be advised that a carrier may only pay toward the “child” procedure D1120-Prophylaxis-Child, based on their contracts language. Most carriers cover D1110 twice per year, sometimes with a 6-month interval requirement.
D4341 and D4342-Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing
Many carriers will cover D4342 at a rate of 60-70% of what they allow toward a D4341. It is a good idea to decide on one fee for the code, regardless of whether one, two or three teeth in the quadrant need treatment. In other words, if #3 and #4 are in need of root planing, submit D4342 with whatever fee the office uses. Don’t reduce it by 1/3 because only two teeth are involved. Many carriers are paying toward D4341 and D4342 once every two-three years. Patients who have undergone these services may then receive D4910-Periodontal Maintenance for the “life of the dentition or any implant replacements.” Most dentists also consider that they, and their hygienists, have the prerogative to decide when and if a patient has returned to health.
Next time: Hygiene Scheduling - Never Enough Time?
Carol Tekavec CDA RDH is a speaker on dental records, insurance coding and billing, and patient communication for McKenzie Management. Interested in having Carol speak to your dental society or study club? Click here
Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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