7.16.10 Issue #436 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Does Your Website Have This?
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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When was the last time you logged on to your practice website? And please, in 2010, you can’t tell me that you don’t have a website because in this world of constant communication that would be like not having a cell phone. So I will simply assume that if you are reading this electronic newsletter, you earned your Internet stripes long ago and your “storefront” is well positioned with the appropriate www-dot-address on the information superhighway. Which brings me back to my question: When was the last time you took a good look at your website and considered it from the patient’s perspective?

For virtually any commercial operation, the website is the entrance to the business, regardless of whether you are providing dental services, plumbing services, management services, etc. If it looks dumpy and outdated, passersby will think the same of your practice. Prospective patients take one look and pass judgment literally in less than the blink of an eye. If it is visually appealing to them, they are likely to take some time to explore and learn more about what your practice has to offer. If it isn’t, those prospective patients are on to another site almost instantaneously. 

Conduct a website inventory and determine if yours has the key elements that current and prospective patients expect, starting with the four I’ve outlined below.  

1. Is Your Site Appealing?
Patients want a visually pleasant site that they can identify with. Consider the photos and other images on your site. Do they look like the patients that you are trying to attract? You want your practice website to have a look and feel that will appeal to patients that are likely to seek out your services. And keep in mind that while you may personally love a slick, high-end looking website that would be worthy of an audience in downtown Manhattan, if your locale is rural America a different look may be more appropriate. Similarly, if your practice focus is dental implants, dentures, and your demographic is adults and older patients, your website shouldn’t have numerous images of teenagers and young people. You may enjoy the energy and youthful exuberance these images convey, but your target audience will simply assume that your practice focuses on children and teens.

2. Is It Friendly and Informative?
Content should be written in a patient-friendly style. Avoid making the content too technical. The objective is to provide enough information to enable the patient to feel comfortable calling the practice. In addition, keep in mind that what’s interesting to you isn’t necessarily compelling copy for your patients. That fancy new piece of equipment certainly may be worth mentioning, but it’s not necessasrily what will drive the patients to your door.

3. Enlightening or Overkill?
Avoid TMI (too much information). Give enough content that prospective patients can scan the site to gather necessary information without having to read several text-heavy paragraphs. Don’t make this your version of the great American novel. Keep the information clear and straightforward. For example, if you have a page on endodontics it should explain what the procedure is in easy to understand terms – steer clear of dental jargon. It should cover why a patient would need a root canal, and what is involved. Experts recommend using about one to one-and-a-half pages of content per topic.  And always give visitors to your website the option of reading more by clicking on specific terms or tabs to see another page of information.

4. Is It User Friendly?
Can I find my way around? Make it easy to navigate. As for navigation on the site, keep it consistent on every page. If you make prospective patients and other visitors work too hard, they will leave your site and go to your competitor’s. Industry experts recommend horizontal navigation buttons across the top of the page. And rather than having rows and rows of buttons, nest pages under a “parent” page. For example, if you have multiple staff bios you want to highlight, have one button that says “Our Practice” and list the doctors, hygienists, assistants, business team, etc. giving visitors the option of clicking on a name or function to learn more. Remember, the ability to search a website is very important to users. Make sure you provide that option.

Next week, what should you expect to pay for a newly updated website?

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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Nancy Haller, P.h. D.
Leadership Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Leaders Need Learning Agility
By Nancy Haller, Ph.D. , Leadership Coach

We all face uncertainty and stress in our everyday lives. It’s a fundamental part of the human condition. There’s no escaping it. Normally we see a problem, and then we bring our emotions and thoughts into play to solve the issue. We draw on our experiences while simultaneously finding support from partners, family and friends. The anxiety we feel makes us uncomfortable, yet that same discomfort also motivates us to rebalance. This process enables us to grow as we become more flexible and adept at dealing with problems that will arise in the future.

Learning agility is a core competency of leadership. It is not the same as learning ability. The fact that you are reading this article, that you are a dentist, that you have been successful in your academic and professional endeavors, means you already have the capacity to learn. Some people might even say you’re a “quick study” - you grasp information easily and you process it rapidly. Certainly learning ability is a necessary factor for learning agility. But it takes much more than a high IQ to be an effective leader. The willingness to learn and grow is key to developing yourself as a leader and taking your practice to its fullest potential.

Research indicates that agile learners thrive in new and difficult situations. They are clear thinkers who know themselves well and are willing to take risks. They have a curiosity about their world and they apply new knowledge. Most importantly - and not surprisingly - agile learners deliver results, even in new situations.

This is the standard to which all leaders need to strive, particularly in these difficult financial times in which we live and work. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re in charge of a few employees or thousands; you also need to develop learning agility in your people. Here are three important requirements to becoming a more agile learner. Practice each of them daily and encourage your team to do the same.

1. Make A Commitment To Learning
Dentists are notoriously perfectionists. On the positive side, this bodes well for precision, accuracy, and follow-through. However, perfectionists are fearful of uncertainty or ambiguity, of giving up control and “letting go.” They demand immediate results from themselves (and others), and are unwilling to go out on a limb and take the chance of being embarrassed. Unfortunately, this prevents true learning. Recognize and accept that learning or doing something new is uncomfortable.

2. Seek New Challenges
Many of us prefer to stay in the comfort zone. It’s safe and predictable. While it’s natural to want to avoid discomfort, commit to do one thing differently each day. As Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly said, “do one thing that makes you uncomfortable each day.” Certainly it is a bit daunting to push yourself into something unfamiliar, but that behavior is the very thing that builds confidence and keeps you engaged in your work and in life.

3. Practice Giving And Receiving Feedback
Remember how you learned to play an instrument or a sport. You had feedback from a teacher or a coach. When you challenge yourself to learn new skills it’s essential to know how you’re doing. Identify trusted and objective people who will provide you with that kind of crucial information. Ask them to be honest and kind in order to maximize your learning. Listen to what you hear without rejecting, defending or explaining. Give yourself time to process the feedback. Then make the necessary changes and keep growing.

The power of learning agility is that you get better at problem-solving. We discover that things are not insurmountable. We grow in confidence and in our love for life. And that is the difference between mediocre and peak performance.

Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at coach@mckenziemgmt.com

Interested in having Dr. Haller 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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Making Periodic Hygiene Exams Faster and More Efficient
By Jean Gallienne, RDH BS

In my last article, we talked about how the doctor may work on maneuvering in order to make periodic exams in hygiene less stressful on everybody. This time we are going to look at what the hygienist may want to do in order to make the exam go faster and be a higher quality exam for the patient.

The hygienist starts preparing for the exam the night before by going through the clinical notes, x-rays, and treatment that is pending on every patient she will be seeing the next day. She will make notes on the patient’s route slip or on a day sheet so she is prepared at the morning meeting to brief the doctor and the entire staff about the needs of each of her patients. The next morning during the meeting, she will go over all of these notes with the entire staff and everybody will look at the schedule to see how the dental team can make it work best for everyone. Sometimes this may even mean bringing a patient in 10 minutes earlier to have another staff member do x-rays or to find a good time for the doctor to break away to do exams in hygiene.

In order to make the doctor’s time more productive in the hygiene room while performing a periodic exam, the patient should already be aware of what “may” be going on in their mouths. This is up to the hygienist to do as soon as possible. Other than updating the health history, the hygienist should be updating the dental history first thing, before the patient even opens their mouth to be examined. The hygienist may want to ask: “What changes or concerns do you have when it comes to your teeth?”  Making sure to keep this an open-ended question is best.

This information should be noted in the chart or in the clinical notes in the computer. When the doctor enters the room, regardless of what stage in the appointment, you will be able to quickly identify the patient’s concerns. If the patient had concerns, the hygienist should address this first, because most people are not interested in what your concerns are until their concerns have been addressed. This is also true when the doctor comes into the room and is doing the periodic exam.

Once the hygienist has looked in the patient’s mouth - after visually looking for suspicious areas and taking any necessary x-rays and/or intra-oral camera pictures - the hygienist should make the patient verbally aware of what may be causing the concern. Whether it is root sensitivity, a cracked tooth, or a bruised periodontal ligament that is possibly causing the concern, make sure the patient is aware.

Another good habit for the hygienist to get into is to have the x-rays and the intra-oral pictures that the doctor needs to see on the screen, as well as the explorer, probe, and mirror in the same place every time for the doctor. When the doctor enters the room and is looking at the notes and patient’s x-rays, this is a good time to brief the doctor on what the hygienist has gone over with the patient. This will be done in front of the patient. The more the patient hears the information, the more it is going to become a true concern of theirs. This is particularly important if the problem is not what the patient’s initial concern was, but something else going on in their mouth. Be careful to go over the patient’s concerns first with the doctor.

If treatment is needed, it should be put into the computer in the treatment plan and the financial coordinator should be made aware that there is treatment in the computer. This way, the financial coordinator may have all of the insurance and co-payments figured out before the patient is even dismissed from the chair. This allows the patient to make a quicker exit and to be well informed of not only their oral needs but what the cost will be to have it done.

These are just a few suggestions that will help with decreasing the stresses that the periodic exam in hygiene causes for the entire office. This is a team effort. The main concern is WOWING the patient and having them feel comfortable in the environment that is created by you and your team, even on a busy day.

Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com and ask us about our one-day Hygiene Training Program.

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