Sally's 7 Resolutions for a Successful New Year
At long last, the day has arrived. It’s December 21st, and doomsday predictors are likely to be disappointed when they wake up to a world that is still spinning and stockpiles of canned goods that will remain untouched for the foreseeable future. It’s probably fair to say that the only apocalypse you’re going to encounter is the one you’ve created for yourself, something much closer to home than a meteor from a distant galaxy. This would be the cataclysm that comes with the closing of your practice’s budget year.
Although turning over a new leaf with the start of a new calendar may not be an option for the Mayans, the good news for you is that 2013 is just days away and you will have another 365 rotations of the Earth to see to it that next year ends not with fear but with celebration. To ensure that 2013 brings you a host of new opportunities, consider implementing my Top 7 New Year’s Resolutions for the dental practice.
1. Lose Weight - Starting with the Dead Weight in your Practice
2. Reduce Debt
3. Spend Less Time Working
Scheduling time should be communicated clearly to the scheduling coordinator. This basic yet commonly overlooked detail ensures the person in charge of making or breaking your day isn’t forced to guess how much time a procedure will require. Avoid the tendency to engage in “wishful scheduling” in which more time is reserved for the doctor’s “ideal” treatments than the practice has a history of delivering. Rather, calculate the number of crown and implant units or other procedures over the last six months and divide by the number of days worked. Then you can reserve time in the schedule based on the number of units actually performed.Next week, Part 2 of Sally’s 7 Resolutions for a Successful New Year.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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Taking Pride in Your Job - Time to Renew our Reasons for Working in Dentistry
I remember several years ago when I graduated from Dental Assisting/Administrative College (ok it was 30 years ago), feeling so proud to be in a profession that enabled me to help others and have an impact on their lives. It excited me to be involved in a practice that was like a family unit, all working together for the betterment of the patient. TEAMWORK stands out as one of the key components what was drilled in my head as a student. In addition, respect for not just the patients and other team members but for the DOCTOR.
What caused me to reminisce about the “old days” was the fact that many individuals in dentistry today have not been formally educated. “On the job” training has occurred in over 90% of employees for Dental Assisting and Administrative. According to the American Association of Dental Office Managers annual 2012 report, 56.4% of Dental Office Managers have been in the industry for 15 years or more. This number indicates typically that once we get into dentistry, we generally don’t get out. It is a pleasure to see professional organizations including ADAA, ADHA, and ADA taking pride in the careers we all have chosen. Back in the day, many of us actually took a Creed, Pledge or Oath as a class during our graduation. I suggest this would be a great start to the first team meeting of the New Year with everyone on the team reciting for their profession.
“The object of ethics is to emphasize spirit (or intent) rather than law. Dental ethics applies moral principles and virtues to the practice of dentistry.” American College of DentistsADAA Creed For Dental Assistants
To be loyal to my employer, my calling and myself. To develop initiative – having the courage to assume responsibility and the imagination to create ideas and develop them. To be prepared to visualize, take advantage of, and fulfill the opportunities of my calling. To be a co-worker – creating a spirit of cooperation and friendliness rather than one of fault-finding and criticism. To be enthusiastic – for therein lies the easiest way to accomplishment. To be generous, not alone of my name but of my praise and my time. To be tolerant with my associates, for at times I too make mistakes. To be friendly, realizing that friendship bestows and receives happiness. To be respectful of the other person’s viewpoint and condition. To be systematic, believing that system makes for efficiency. To know the value of time for both my employer and myself. To safeguard my health, for good health is necessary for the achievement of a successful career. To be tactful – always doing the right thing at the right time. To be courteous – for this is the badge of good breeding. To walk on the sunny side of the street, seeing the beautiful things in life rather than fearing the shadows. To keep smiling always.
Juliette A. Southard
AADOM Code of Professional Conduct for Dental Office Managers/Administrative
1 - Participate in the development and in the advancement of our profession.
Dental Hygiene Oath for Hygienist
American College of Dentists, Dentists’ Pledge
I shall accept the responsibility that, as a professional, my competence rests on continuing the attainment of knowledge and skill in the arts and sciences of dentistry. I acknowledge my obligations to support and sustain the honor and integrity of the profession and to conduct myself in all endeavors such that I shall merit the respect of my patients, colleagues and my community.
I further commit myself to the betterment of my community for the benefit of all society. I shall faithfully observe the Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct set forth by the profession. All this I pledge with pride in my commitment to the profession and public it serves.
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Paying the Dental Bill - Who is Responsible?
Dentistry is a people business, and because of that we want warm and friendly people answering the phones and scheduling appointments. Extroverted, feeling type temperaments are great for building practices and making patients feel cared for and appreciated. The down side to these temperaments is that the accounts receivables go up along with the failure to secure written and signed financial agreements prior to delivering dental care. The ability to be warm and friendly yet firm and systematic is an acquired skill that must be taught and coached. Having a written payment policy in place is the first step in the process of learning sound collection tactics. Presenting payment options on a document that clearly defines the patient’s responsibility to pay opens the conversation as to who will pay, when they will pay, and how they will pay. All of these questions must be answered before treatment is rendered. Let me illustrate in two different scenarios:
Case 101: Twenty-one year old Susie Q calls the dental office with a toothache and is appointed that day for an emergency visit. Fees are not quoted and Susie did not ask. When she is brought to the desk and quoted $125 by Berta the Scheduling Coordinator for the visit, she announces that her father, who lives in another state, is responsible for her payment. Her parents are divorced and she lives with her mother in town. The father is billed and Susie makes a follow-up appointment for a root canal, build-up and crown. Susie comes back two days later and is treated in full for the amount of $2300 to add to the existing bill. She has signed nothing. Her father is again billed. At the end of the month, Berta notices that the bill has not been paid and sends another statement to Susie Q’s father. When the bill is over 60 days, Berta calls the father, only to be told that he did not give Susie permission to incur this debt and he is not legally responsible to pay it. No one obtained a written agreement with him nor did Susie call him. Now Berta has to phone Susie Q and try to get her to speak to her father to work out the payment.
This common scenario takes a lot of time on the phone and written communication. Who is responsible for payment of this account? Consumer credit laws change from state to state, so it is important for anyone who presents financial options in the practice to understand these laws. In general, Susie Q is twenty-one and is responsible for debts she has incurred. If there is a legal document on file regarding child support stating that her father is to cover her dental expenses until she has graduated from college or has reached a certain age, the dental office has no way of knowing that fact. Susie Q does not have any income, so collecting the monies from her are going to be next to impossible, even with the threat of ruining her credit by sending the account to collections.
Case 102: Eighty-five year old Henrietta calls the dental office because her denture has broken. She is appointed that day. She is a new patient and Dr. T says that the denture cannot be repaired and must be replaced for the fee of $1500, or $2000 if she wants custom teeth. Henrietta wants the custom teeth and impressions are taken that day. She signs an informed consent and a computer generated treatment plan. She is told to pay half at her next appointment in two weeks.
The next day, her daughter Marge calls to complain that her mother is being taken advantage of and demands the treatment be halted as she is the appointed executor of her mother’s estate and must give permission before any work is started. This is another scenario that is becoming more common, as people are living longer yet have to relinquish certain responsibilities such as management of personal and financial affairs to family, attorneys or other legal entities.
By using the WHO, WHEN, and HOW formula along with a written treatment estimate, an informed consent and a financial agreement form, both scenarios would have ended favorably with the practice being paid and the patients and their families pleased with the professional treatment in the practice.Forward this article to a friend
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