Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Technology Purchases?
When you invest in new technology for your practice, you likely have visions of how much more efficient it will make you and how it will enhance patient care. You and your team members are excited by the possibilities at first, but eventually that all wears off. Turns out the technology was more of a source of frustration than anything else, and six months after the purchase you still don’t really know how to properly use it.
This is a common scenario at many of the dental practices we visit. Doctors invest in technology they’re excited about, but decide not to pay extra for the training the company offers. They convince themselves the new hardware, software or gadget will be intuitive, and that they won’t have any problem successfully integrating it into the practice. Skipping training will save both time and money, they reason, so they commit to carving out time in the schedule to teach themselves and their team members how to use this new piece of equipment or software.
Problem is, that usually doesn’t happen. No matter how well intentioned these dentists are, they just don’t have time to figure out how to use a new high-tech product on their own. The result? Frustration. No one knows how to use the technology, and that means the practice only benefits from a fraction of what the new device or software is actually capable of. In some cases, dentists and team members avoid using the once promising technology all together. They continue to perform tasks the old way, as the new technology sits in the corner collecting dust.
This all can be avoided with proper training. Think about it. You just spent thousands of dollars on a product that’s supposed to improve your practice. Why wouldn’t you spend a little more on training? This will ensure both you and your team members are comfortable using the product and that you get the most out of the purchase, rather than pushing it aside as you promise to someday find time to learn how to use it.
If paying for training is the issue, resist the urge to overextend your technology budget. Remember, you’re not going to get the ROI you’re after if you can’t afford to invest in the necessary training.
I suggest you develop a plan that allows you to truly maximize every major technology investment you make. This will help you decide which technologies are best for your practice. Without a plan, it’s tempting to purchase as many of the latest, greatest advancements in dentistry as possible. The danger is you’ll end up with all this high-tech equipment that just sits in your office, doing nothing to make you more efficient or move your practice forward.
Here’s a step-by-step approach to not only ensure you make the right technology decisions for your practice, but to also ensure you know how to effectively integrate them.
1. Develop a technology vision. Ask yourself how you want the practice to use the technology and how it should benefit your patients.
2. Identify which system the new technology will improve, whether it’s treatment presentations and case acceptance, scheduling, financing, collections or reducing broken appointments.
3. Take a technology inventory of your practice. Look at what you already have in terms of hardware, software and networking capabilities.
4. As much as you might want to, don’t try to make upgrades all at once. It’s better to integrate technology in stages. This will help keep you from overwhelming both your team members and your pocketbook.
5. Train your staff. This is key to successfully integrating any technology into your practice. While you might not want to lose the time it takes to complete the training, trust me, properly training your team will save you a lot of heartache down the road.
6. Determine best practices for team training. Every technology or software is different, and sometimes it might make more sense to complete training in phases. This enables team members to master one element of the technology before moving on to the next.
7. Make it part of your budget. Dental products and technologies are constantly improving. Budget to make upgrades on an ongoing basis to keep your practice as up-to-date as possible.
If you want a leading edge practice, it takes more than just investing in technology. To get the most out of any technology you purchase, you have to develop an integration plan that includes the proper training. When you do, you’ll get a much better ROI while also improving practice efficiencies and enhancing patient care.
Next week: Want to maximize your ROI? Follow these tips.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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Are You an “Invisible Dentist”?
Google is one of the most popular search engines available and is used daily by millions of people. In the last two months I have been asked the same question by two different dentists in two completely different geographical locations: “Where are my patients?” You can Google that question, but you won’t get the answer you are looking for. These separate practices belong to established general dentists with long-term friendly, professional staff and clean, organized offices with aesthetic appeal. Parking is great, locations are favorable and their fees are fair. They both accept PPO insurance and are in-network for a few plans.
So what’s the problem with this picture? There are several different factors that can affect patient retention, and it takes some time to fully analyze all of the contributing influences.
People are using Google and other search engines to find new dentists and are also looking at their current dentist’s website to get answers to questions about staff, services, insurance and financial issues, and links to their reviews. They are also curious to see if the practice is on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Some patients may be asking “Where is my dentist?” when they have a difficult time finding the practice online.
Searching on Google is an opportunity for comparison shopping for the patient. For the office, a great website is critical for obtaining new patients and retaining the current patient base. It is a way to connect to the practice beyond the confines of the dental treatment room and billing desk.
The evidence is seen in the schedule in the form of open time on the doctor’s schedule and cancelled and unfilled hygiene appointments. A panic mode of negativity can cause the dentist to frantically blame some or all for the holes in the schedule. The dentist is usually partially right because some people are to blame – but before casting the net to catch the perpetrators, take a look at the “big picture” of practice systems for flaws.
Gaining new patients and retaining existing patients require that you update your website at least annually and every time you add new services, new staff, new associates, new hours and new insurance networks. One dentist in this story had been in practice for decades and was scaling down his hours. The associate who was a prospective buyer of the practice was working more hours. Patients had not been informed of the existing dentist transitioning out of the practice and thought perhaps he was retiring. The associate was not mentioned on the website so there was confusion. On top of that, the associate was listed online as working in another practice ten miles away. As patients phoned in for a recall appointment they were told their regular dentist was not available that day for the examination, but the new dentist could take care of their needs. Patients ended up leaving due to lack of communication and trust.
The other dentist in this story had not updated her website for ten years. Her name did not come up at all in a Google search for dentists in her town. She had not updated print advertisements in the local newspapers in almost as long. The ads had grown tired and lacked critical information about the practice. Neither the website nor the advertisement mentioned that the dentist was now doing “one day crowns” because a CEREC machine was purchased five years ago. There was also no mention that she was doing orthodontic services such as Invisalign in her practice.
Both practices were pre-scheduling all of their hygiene patients, but if the patient called to cancel and did not reschedule, they weren’t getting called back. New patients were on lists to move up should there be a cancellation, sending a message that the practice was busier than it really was.
Staying connected to your patients with the online presence of a great website and social media connections is imperative on today’s information highway. In the same respect, internal marketing in the form of patient follow-up lets patients know you want their business and they are less likely to seek dental care elsewhere. Want McKenzie Management to analyze all of your business systems? Call today for a consultation on practice analysis and dental consulting services to keep your practice growing and thriving.
Get New Patients to Accept Treatment
You’ve noticed case acceptance is down in your practice, especially with new patients. This of course is hurting practice production and your bottom line, which means it might be time to take a new approach to case presentations.
When presenting treatment to patients, remember that it’s not about what you want; it’s about what the patient wants. Focusing on their wants and needs is the best way to get more new patients in the chair and raise production numbers. Here are a few tips to make sure that’s how treatment is presented in your practice.
Don’t overwhelm them
Here’s an example of how not to present treatment to new patients:
“Kate, it looks like you need a few ceramic crowns and composite restorations. I also want to replace that missing tooth on the lower right side with either an implant or a bridge. Sound good? Great. Let’s get you on the schedule.”
From there, many doctors would have their hygienist enter this information into the computer, print out the treatment plan and then go over that plan with Kate. The result? Kate is looking at a bill of $7,800 for dental work she had no idea she even needed. Her head is spinning before she even gets to the Financial Coordinator, who is tasked with helping Kate find a way to pay for all this unexpected work.
Not surprisingly, Kate doesn’t agree to any treatment. Why? It’s a lot of money and she needs to discuss it with her spouse. At least that’s what she tells the Financial Coordinator. She leaves without scheduling and with no intention of coming back to your practice. That means Kate doesn’t get the treatment she needs and your production continues to suffer.
Get more patients to say yes
After your hygienist spends time educating Kate about the benefits of maintaining her oral health and showing images of her mouth taken by an intraoral camera, it’s time for the doctor to come in and start talking about treatment options. This is what the doctor says:
“Kate, as you can see, you do have some areas of concern. I understand you travel a lot for work, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want those broken down silver fillings to crack while you’re on the road. With your permission, I’d like to start replacing those two old fillings here (as he shows Kate the image) with two beautiful porcelain crowns. That work can be completed in the office in just one visit, so you won’t have to make multiple trips to the office. From there, we’ll discuss the other areas that need to be addressed. How does that sound to you?”
In this scenario, Kate doesn’t feel nearly as overwhelmed. The treatment presented is manageable, and will only cost $1,900. She knows she can get the initial work done in one day and then move forward with the rest of the treatment plan when she’s ready. Guess what? Kate books the appointment and you’ve managed to grow production and your patient base.
Keep working with them
“Kate, our goal is to help you receive the dental care you want and deserve. Will you be available later this afternoon or tomorrow? I’ll discuss your concerns with the doctor and get back to you with other options. How does that sound to you?”
Remember, something is better than nothing. You don’t want to lose first-time patients because you didn’t offer a treatment plan they’re willing to consider. Even if they don’t want to go forward with any treatment now, if you keep them as a hygiene patient and continue to educate them about the services you provide and the possible consequences of not going forward with treatment, they’ll eventually opt to schedule that appointment. When you offer alternatives, more patients will say yes, ensuring they get the treatment they need while also boosting practice production and your bottom line.
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