6 Hiring Mistakes Most Dentists Make
You can hear the words, but you sure don’t want to listen. Your loyal patient coordinator of seven years is telling you all about her big plans to move across the country in two weeks. You smile and wish her well, all the while wondering how the heck you’re going to replace her, and already dreading the thought of hiring someone new.
While hiring new employees can be stressful, this situation isn’t cause for panic. Think of hiring new team members as an opportunity to reassess your systems and goals, as well as an opportunity to improve your practice. No matter how much you loved Patti the Patient Coordinator, I can guarantee you she wasn’t the perfect employee you’re picturing now.
Oh yes, but the hiring process has burnt you before. You shudder to think about all the hiring mistakes you’ve made, and how much money it’s costing your practice. You know you have to get this next hire right, or it could cost you thousands in lost revenue.
If you want to make the right hiring decisions, you must have a system in place. Most dentists skip key steps in the hiring process, and they end up with underqualified employees or employees who want to do as little as possible and still collect a pay check. To help make sure this doesn’t happen to you ever again, I’ve put together a list of the top mistakes dentists make during the hiring process, and how you can avoid them.
1. There’s no job description. Many dentists scoff at this, but it’s critical to create job descriptions for every position. Not only do job descriptions help keep current employees on the right track, they help you find qualified candidates with the necessary skill set when it’s time to hire.
Taking the time to create detailed job descriptions makes the hiring process easier for everyone involved. The job description tells you exactly what you’re looking for – no more guessing or settling for the first candidate who sends you an impressive resume. And if you send applicants a job description before the interview, they’ll have a much clearer picture of what the role entails, from hours to benefits to necessary skill set, and can bow out early if they find it isn’t a good fit.
2. The job listing attracts the wrong crowd. If you want to attract the best and brightest to your practice, your job listing has to stand out. Target your ads specifically to the position you’re hiring, and highlight all the relevant information job applicants want to know, including office location and position status. Use active words to describe the role, and remember to include a salary range because 50% of prospects ignore ads that don’t.
3. Resumes aren’t properly reviewed. It’s easy to be dazzled by a well thought-out resume, but remember the resume is nothing more than a sales pitch. Applicants exaggerate or even flat out lie, making the hiring process that much more frustrating.
When reviewing a resume, look for common red flags. If the resume lists skills, responsibilities and accomplishments but has no chronological record of employment or job details, you’re dealing with a job hopper. Large time gaps in employment history is another tell-tale sign this applicant might not be hiring material. It also helps if you know exactly what you are looking for when reviewing resumes. Use the job description to help determine if applicants are a good fit, and quickly move on when it’s clear they’re not.
4. There’s no phone screening. Before bringing candidates into your practice for a face-to-face interview, you have to conduct a phone screening. Why? If you don’t, you may waste a lot of time and effort only to find out the seemingly perfect candidate isn’t willing to work the weekend and evening hours the role requires.
During the phone screening, ask candidates any pressing questions you have about their employment history, and ask what salary range they’re looking for to avoid any surprises later in the process. Pay attention to tone and attitude as you talk. By the end of the call, you’ll likely know if the candidate just isn’t a good fit, saving you both time and frustration.
5. Asking the wrong questions. During the face-to-face interview, don’t rely on close-ended questions that will only yield yes or no answers. Ask open-ended questions that will give candidates the opportunity to describe their experience and skill set. You’ll get more detailed responses, and you’ll learn more about the candidate’s true feelings and character.
Don’t let candidates get away with vague or general descriptions. If Super Steve with the dazzling resume tells you he administered the recall system, ask him to describe that recall system and his exact role.
6. There’s no testing. Unfortunately, you can’t take applicants at their word. Before hiring new employees, make sure they fill out an application and complete pre-employment testing that includes an assessment test (you can read more on how I can help with this HERE) and a personality temperament test. It’s also important to call references and do a background check for each candidate you want to hire.
While the hiring process can be stressful, hiring the right employees is vital to your practice’s success. With the right team on board, you’ll find your practice is more efficient and your patients are happier. Your profits will go up and you’ll be glad you took the time to make the right hiring decisions, rather than settling for anyone with a pulse.
Next week: How to craft the perfect job description.
For more information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Appeal Letters for Denied Dental Insurance Claims
In part one of this article, I laid out the process of preparing to write an insurance claim appeal letter and collecting the relevant information to get the claim paid. If you enjoy working for free, this is not an activity you will see value in doing. But after doing a few of these, you will realize it is better to give more information on a claim the first time rather than appealing it two, three or more times to get paid.
This is a sample of an appeal letter that resulted in the claim being paid at the maximum allowable; the names of parties involved have been removed. Treatment is for a single abutment bridge (cantilever). Background on this claim includes the first denial as “not a covered benefit under this plan”, the second appeal denied for “consultant review deems tooth has endo and perio involvement”, resulting in the third appeal below:
Dental Insurance Company
Dear Dental Appeals Consultant,
Per the request of our patient, ______, we are reopening the appeal process for the attached claim with additional documentation. Because of the reason for denial listed on the last EOB issued _____ and because our patient talked to a representative for_______ and was told the claim “should not have been denied” we are asking you to review all of the documents attached to this letter. We have included more information to prove that the treatment was warranted and meets the standard of care necessary to alleviate pain and infection and restore our patient’s bite to function with a long term prognosis for success. Important also is that the treatment is a covered benefit under the patient’s policy.
For clarity I have attached documents to support previous appeals. Since the root canal therapy on ______ our patient has been pain and infection free. For _____ months the tooth has not failed, so with this in mind, please process this claim for payment. To deny it for endodontic reasons is absurd as you can see from the attached post-operative report from the endodontist, ______.
Also for your review is the periodontal charting showing that the bone level around the tooth was good and stable and the patient has responded to periodontal therapy. So to deny the claim for periodontal reasons is also questionable. Please see attached the long term prognosis for the prosthetic from Dr.________.
Our patient feels a huge injustice because you have denied this claim twice. When the patient called you, your representative stated that “it should have been paid”. Please see that this injustice is reversed for our patient, _____.
The next appeal letter also resulted in payment of the highest allowable maximum:
This third appeal is submitted by the request of patient ___________.
We have received your latest denial of the crowns on teeth number 24 and 25 for our patient, _____. You have seen the evidence but have denied the claim due to “attrition, wear and bruxism.”
The crowns were necessary due to fracture, washed-out existing restoration and severe craze or fracture lines which cause the teeth to split or break off when eating. Because these particular teeth are incisors, they have to hold and bite through food for the patient to eat. The patient states that she does not suffer from bruxism and the condition of her teeth does not warrant normal wear and tear.
Our patient______ made a special trip to the office to have additional intra-oral photos taken of her teeth to show the new crowns in place and to also show the condition of the adjoining teeth. We want you to consider that the crowned teeth were in worse shape than the adjoining teeth, which Dr.____ has determined will need future treatment.
Since the crowns are standard of care in this situation, I would ask that you review the evidence and give our patient the benefits for these crowns under this policy.
I hope this information helps to get your future denied claims paid. To learn more about how to operate a successful and profitable dental practice, contact McKenzie Management for Professional Dental Business Training in your town or ours.
The Proper Use of Auto Confirmation Programs
The purpose of this article is to guide you through the “big picture” of implementing a successful recall confirmation system, where at least 75% of your patients are assisting you and utilizing the program. Many offices that have implemented an automated confirmation software program assume they no longer have to confirm their patients’ appointments. This is NOT correct and here are a few reasons why:
1. Not everyone checks their emails daily. I know this is hard to believe, but some patients are not as attached to their devices as many of us are.
Educate your patients on how to use this technology to benefit them. Once you have made the decision to implement a program, it is very important that you “teach” your patients how to use it. You shouldn’t assume that they know how to respond just because they receive a text or email from the office. Many times they will see the subject line, say to themselves, “Yes, I know I have an appointment on Monday” and delete the email without responding. Patients receiving text messages don’t always read the instructions that say to reply with a “C”, so they send back a friendly message telling you that they look forward to their dental appointment. This is nice, but it doesn’t notify the program that the patient has confirmed.
Create an attractive and eye-catching notification for the front desk. Express your excitement in implementing a customer service program that will assist patients in acknowledging their upcoming appointments. You could even have 4x6 cards printed that explain how to respond to the texts and emails from your practice. Offer a form for patients to complete, asking how they prefer to be contacted – Text, Email, Phone or Mail – and then confirm their email and cell phone number. Also instruct them on how to respond and the importance of responding:
Just reply with the letter “C” to indicate that you have received the text and are confirming the appointment.
Keep in mind that this confirmation text should be received 2 WORKING days prior to their appointment. As a side note, consider the option to send a “friendly reminder” two hours in advance for those who get bogged down in work and forget what time it is.
“Please open the email that you will receive from our office and click on the “Confirm” button (or whatever your software program provides) to let us know that you have received our email and have responded.”
“How many times are you going to contact me?” Have you heard this from your patients? Maybe they are correct! Most programs are implemented with a pre-set method of contacting the patients and how often. Think back on how you used to contact your patients. A written notification was sent 2-4 weeks in advance and then you made a call 1-2 days in advance. Sometimes you had to call again if you were not able to reach the patient. I would suggest you follow a schedule that is similar, such as follows:
1. Notification of the appointment when it is made in the office.
If you have not received a text or email confirmation the day prior to their appointment, you will now need to place a call manually to check on them. “Mrs. Jones, this is Nancy at Smiles for You Dental. We are looking forward to seeing you tomorrow for your professional cleaning and exam at 10:00 am. See you then!”
The patient calls back and says they have received your text and email. Do you not “trust” them to keep their appointment? Again, educate your patient. “Mrs. Jones, I am so sorry. Apparently we failed to inform you of our new automated confirmation program that makes it easier for you opposed to being annoying. Did you receive our text? To make it easy for you, you only need to reply with a “C” and hit send. Did you receive our email as well? Next time, please take a moment to open the email and click on the ‘confirm’ button. Either of these steps informs us that you have received our message.”
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