Do You Love Your Job?
We’ve recently marked the annual Feb. 14th celebration of Valentine’s Day - hearts, flowers, candy, and of course, love. For many successful dentists, their greatest love is their profession. They went into dentistry to help people and they are enjoying the rewards. They strive to be excellent at what they do, and they benefit from the success that comes with that distinction.
For others, when considering their profession, the word “love” doesn’t enter their minds. Certainly, they did at least like it in the early years when they were new to dentistry and it was exciting, before they had to be concerned about overhead, staffing, customer service, collections, insurance, and the like. They went into dentistry, what they got was a business. They would love to love their profession again, but for now it’s a job that must be endured.
What separates those doctors who love what they do and those who don’t? For starters, 20 practice management systems. The fact is, most dentists sincerely enjoy providing dental care. That is their passion. It’s where they want to focus, yet the frustrations of being a small business owner, managing a team of seemingly perpetually discontented staff, and dealing with the challenges and frustrations of setting themselves apart in an increasingly competitive dental marketplace have become overwhelming. Each can wear on a practitioner to varying degrees, but almost without exception, those facing the greatest level of discontent with their chosen careers are the doctors that struggle with staff. Nothing is more critical to the success of the practice and the satisfaction of the dentist than the team which s/he hires.
As some of you may know, in 2006 we unveiled Talent Management Testing for Dentistry, which was developed for McKenzie Management in partnership with the Institute for Personality and Ability Testing (IPAT). It is an objective test that measures dental practice applicants against a profile of the “ideal” candidate for the specific position to be filled. It provides a statistically valid and scientifically-based hiring assessment tool for dentists.
Recently McKenzie and IPAT completed a research study that analyzed more than 1,600 test results. Using a Multivariate Analysis of Variance, a complex statistical technique, some common behavioral patterns were identified among dental staff:
What does the above mean for you and your staff? Read on. The findings show, for example, if dentists are less extraverted, this may impact their treatment presentation skills as well as their ability to lead employees. This will likely contribute to weak case acceptance and disgruntlement among the team fueling team conflict.
Business employees can be highly organized and independent, which is good unless their strong behaviors are dominating the direction of the practice. It’s not uncommon in struggling practices to find doctors and/or staff who are afraid to recommend changes or improvements to specific business systems for fear of reprisal from the office manager. These doctors are unhappy and often feel that they are working for the employee(s). Business personnel are more organized and self-disciplined, which is why they, not the hygienists, should be managing recall.
Clinical assistants that resist new ideas and change may be less inclined to pursue continuing education opportunities that would enable them to increase their value to the doctor and the practice. An undertrained clinical assistant limits the doctor’s ability to focus on higher value production. Hygienists inclined to greater stress may be resistant to instituting an interceptive periodontal program, thereby limiting the practice’s financial potential and the hygienists’ potential to grow and learn.
However, just because there are patterns in behaviors doesn’t mean that those behaviors cannot be managed. Knowing that the patterns exist enables dentists and their teams to pinpoint where staff and doctor training would be most effective. Additionally, they can leverage this knowledge for greater productivity and profitability.
Next week, Love your practice again.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
If Itís Good Enough for Bill Gates, Itís Good Enough for You!
I recently watched Bill Gates being interviewed on the Sunday morning news. I find him fascinating, but even more so this time because he spoke about “Measurable Progress” and how surprised he was that organizations and companies don’t apply this approach, which he discussed in his 2013 letter to the Gates Foundation. Why would I care about this? Because it is what McKenzie Management teaches our clients, as you know if you are or have been a client. He states in his annual letter that “setting clear goals and finding measures that will mark progress toward them can improve the human condition.” Let’s take his annual letter and apply it to you.
In this analogy, the “human condition” is your practice. How many of you have a goal? If you have a goal, do you have a form of measurement to see if you are achieving your goal? Do you share your goal with your team? I have worked with many dentists who report to me that they have an “idea in their head” of how much they need to produce for the year - but what good does it do if no one else in the office knows what the goal is? And how do you plan to achieve your goal? Simply picking a number and hoping it happens would not be a Bill Gates approach. He indicates that all those involved need to know what the goal is as well.
In a dental office, there can be a variety of goals - increase profit, reduce stress, grow the practice in order to bring in an associate, sell the practice, and so on. All of these goals must have a measureable plan to succeed. Let’s start with a goal that is relatively easy to set and measure - Decreasing your Accounts Receivable.†
Step 1 - You must understand what would be considered a success if the goal is achieved. In this case, a healthy Accounts Receivable would be 1x the practice’s net production. For example: if your net production last month was $75,000, then your AR (not including the credit balances) should be $75,000 or less.
Step 2 - Now that the goal is set, there must be protocols implemented that will allow the business assistant assigned to this goal to succeed. These are the tools that are placed in the toolbox, along with the training that is needed to use the tools. An example of a tool would be a “script” to use when calling a patient with an outstanding balance that is more than 45 days past due. Another example of a tool would be a well-written letter that is mailed to the past due account holder offering various payment options such as CareCredit.
Step 3 - Measuring the goal. After a month, how will you know if progress is being made towards the goal? The business assistant should generate the Accounts Receivable Report and reflect on whether the accounts over 45 days have decreased.
Step 4 - Sharing the success with the entire team (especially you) encourages your business assistant to keep up the good work and motivates him/her to continue their efforts in order to achieve the goals.
McKenzie Management’s offices set goals and monitor a minimum of 34 business measurements every month. Everyone in the practice knows what the measurements are and how they were established. At the monthly meeting, each person responsible for the measurements will report their results to the team so everyone can share in the success.
Measuring for success can make a difference. Can you imagine taking a road trip and not having any idea where you are going, where you will stay and when you are going to get there? Owning a dental practice without measured goals, training and systems to reach the goals would be just like that.
Would you like to change your practice results from last year? Start with establishing management and measureable goals for tasks such as outstanding insurance claims, unscheduled time units, daily production per provider, number of new patients, etc. and begin to measure them monthly. Better yet - call us at (877) 777-6151and talk with one of our Practice Solutions experts on how we can help you be a Bill Gates and “measure for success.”
Dental Software Knowledge and Hiring Right
Eaglesoft, Dentrix, Softdent, PracticeWorks, Denticon, Practice Web, QSI, Perioexec, CurveÖand the list includes another 130 plus different dental software programs on the market today. It is a virtual minefield of dental software programs for the dentist to pick his/her way through. Once the decision has been made and the program is running the daily schedule and all other tasks associated with management of data - from posting payments to tracking treatment acceptance - it becomes highly important that the staff know the software to the extent applicable to their job description and position requirements.
Many dentists do not know how to navigate through the software program that is managing the important data in their practice, yet they require the business staff to be proficient. This puts them at a disadvantage because they have no way to measure the employees’ skill. It also puts them at a disadvantage in hiring the best staff for their practice, because they will not consider a qualified applicant unless they have this particular software skill. Research shows that there are misconceptions about how long it should take to learn a software program. As a result, many dentists don’t want to take the time for a new hire to learn the program but want someone already trained to step right in and take over. Studying trends in job posts on major sites it is noted in post after post “must have Dentrix G4 training” or “don’t apply unless you are proficient at Eaglesoft.” Suppose the great person you are looking for has been in a practice for six years and used Practiceworks proficiently. From the job post it appears that his/her resume will be deleted for lack of necessary skills.
It is unquestionable that having the skills necessary in the right dental software will put you way ahead of the pack of job applicants. On the downside, it can limit the number of positions the applicant can be considered for. Dentists surveyed are leery of paying for software training on new hires because if it doesn’t work out they leave with a new skill and the dentist has to start the search over again. If the burden of paying for software training was put on the new hire, perhaps things would be viewed differently. For instance, if you do not have an existing employee that can train a new hire and you have to hire a professional software trainer, you could ask that the new hire pay for part or all of the training to be reimbursed after six months of employment. After the six-month period, the dentist would then pay for future software training.
Personnel working in dental practice management say that once you are proficient in one system, it is easy to learn another. The main challenge is matching the icons to the window you need to open and the key-strokes to get to the information you are looking for. This will take usually about a week to learn the basics such as scheduling and posting and another week or less to learn the more advanced areas such as sending electronic claims with attachments, merging letters and insurance check posting. Other computer skills often overlooked in the hiring process and important to the growth of the practice are:
Microsoft Word, a program that is part of Microsoft Office. This program allows the business coordinator to create documents, letters, faxes, labels, envelopes and can format text and graphics to add a professional appearance to the document.
Microsoft Excel, (Microsoft Office) a spreadsheet tool that allows you to track large amounts of numerical data into rows and columns and convert that data into graphs and charts.†
Microsoft PowerPoint (Microsoft Office) allows you to develop interesting and interactive presentations. This is a skill in demand, especially in offices that want to educate and promote their practices to the outside world in seminars and other education applications.
Adobe Photoshop is a graphics editing software that can help you to create designs for marketing products. Photoshop allows you to create images or manipulate existing images such as those taken with digital cameras. You can paint, retouch and add drawings to existing images with this program.
For a successful and profitable dental practice, the dentist and the team must continue to learn about and implement the new changes in their dental software programs.†
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