... McKenzie Management e-Motivator readers
are ahead of the curve in their use of technology. (Note to all
those techno-gurus that have labeled dentists as technophobes, you’ve
got the wrong group.) In the last few issues of our weekly email
newsletter, I asked you to take 60 seconds and tell us a little
about how you use technology to communicate. If you haven’t
taken this quick and easy eight question survey click
here and please do so.
what you told us: More than 93% of those responding to date
have Internet access, 41% via dial up modem, 32% use DSL,
15% have a Cable Modem through a cable television company, and 5.1%
use a T1 line. Ok, I’m impressed. In order to prepare yourself
for future services, you will want to have high speed internet access.
Not only do you have Internet access, many of you tell us that you
have multiple computers in the practice. Nearly 30% have
between 6-10 workstations and nearly 13% have between 10 and 15
computers in the office. The trend of clinical computing
is clearly upon us. That is very good news, but it does bring with
it a few caveats. Remember, you now have every human in your practice
with their hands in the “cookie jar.” You want those
hands to be clean. In other words, take steps to systematize security,
consistent data entry, and data maintenance.
In addition, the numbers tell us that not only do you have
multiple computers you are using them. A full 97% of you
are using your practice management software for patient billing
and 92.2% are using it to bill the insurance companies. Just over
90% are using the software for recalls. What’s more,
an impressive percentage of offices are using dental practice software
for clinical purposes: 78.1% for treatment planning, 35.3%
for restorative charting, 31.4% for periodontal charting, 31.1%
for digital imaging, and 29% for digital X-rays. Yes! You are good!
Good, yes, but could be better. Unless accounts receivables are
up or, worse yet, staff are killing time with rounds of “Go
Fish,” nearly 60% of our e-Motivator readers
do not pay close attention to their practice numbers. Many
of you (28%) take a closer look when you are entering a slow period.
But we know you may not know how to see a slow period until it hurts
– really hurts! If at this moment you’re smiling
that smug grin and telling yourself that you’re one of those
docs in the forty-something percentile who does pay close attention
to their numbers, make sure your financial parachute is ready to
open when you need it. Learn how a practice management consultant
would analyze your numbers.
If production looks like July rainfall in Death Valley, you need
to tune into the problem now, not when bills can’t be paid
or your retirement isn’t funded for yet another month. Don’t
lull yourself into thinking it’s just this economy thing.
On the flip side, if the receptionist is joking with patients that
it’s easier to get tickets to see Barbra Streisand in concert
than it is to get an appointment at this practice, sorry to say
it may not be just a testament to your fantastic dentistry. You,
my friend, are not taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity.
Stick around and see what happens in this situation and the results
are predictable. Your practice will plateau prematurely; I guarantee
likely, recall and scheduling are on autopilot. Hygiene is booked
– you guessed it – six months out and no one is considering
that whole scheduling to meet production goals concept. It’s
your practice. It’s your profit or it’s your loss. If
you’re not monitoring the numbers correctly, your team will
most likely stop monitoring the systems for which they are accountable.
Overall, however, congratulations clearly are in order. Many of
you are pointing and clicking your way to million dollar practices,
and several others are using technology to continuously improve
systems. Look for more survey results and comments on those findings
in upcoming editions of e-Motivator.
you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie
in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
series of short weekly chores designed to keep the return on investment
in technology at its highest level
VP Professional Relations
Common Myths Regarding Software Support
Last week I discussed a productive project for the week [see
article]. I received a few emails asking me “how”
to run the reports I specified in the article.
speak to literally thousands of dental offices
year. The requests to have me help them run the reports struck me
as rather odd. Our e-Motivator survey [take
survey now] shows that 98.6% of you own practice management
software. My previous professional experience tells me
the majority of you subscribe to software support from your software
supplier. This means you are paying for them to be there when you
need help. It would be reasonable then to ask the question, “why
don’t you call your software support center when you don’t
know how to run a report?”
I will share with you some inside tips on how to get quality software
support from your practice management software vendor. First, I
want to address some common misconceptions regarding technical support.
Common misconceptions/beliefs regarding technical support
I need my answer now. It will take forever to get an answer.
They won’t know the answer when I call anyway.
They will try to tell me I need training if I ask a question.
Their whole goal is to take my money each month and not have me
Their job is to solve my problem.
One time I called and they didn’t help, therefore they can’t
help with anything.
Reality from your software company’s viewpoint
No you don’t, and no it won’t!. Our records indicate
that only 8% of our calls are truly “emergency” calls
(help!, my whole network is down). All others are triaged in priority
order based on volume.
We have three levels of technical expertise.
You can assume the level one technicians are new and learning.
If they can’t handle and resolve your question, it will
go to a level two technician. If a level two technician cannot
find a solution, your problem will be elevated to a level three
technician (most experienced). Our level three technicians openly
communicate with the software development/testing department on
the hardest of questions.
It is certainly plausible that you do need training! You should
know that when you call, we have a record of the last professional
software training you received. If you are asking questions covered
in training, it is best for you to receive training. Training
is NOT a high profit center for our company. As a matter
of fact, it is one of the lowest profit centers. We are not recommending
training to make more money. We are recommending training so you
use and are happy with our product. We want you to be a customer
Quite to the contrary! Every time you call, we get the
opportunity to introduce our newest products and services.
The last time you spoke to the phone company about your bill,
did they speak to you about call waiting, call forwarding, messages
on hold, your cellular plan, high speed internet access, etc?
We want you to call!
From a pure business standpoint, support is not a large profit
center. Even the largest company in the practice management software
business has a hard time making the support department profitable.
Client relationship management software alone can cost the big
companies upwards of $250,000 to manage thousands of users efficiently.
No, our job is to help you diagnose your problem over
the phone. Our “hope” is to determine if
our software is the cause of your problem. If it is our software
that has created the problem, we will make it right. If it is
something else in your network, we are there to assist in the
diagnosis but we cannot be responsible for the end solution.
If you called and do not think we helped resolve your situation,
please call and re-open the issue! Remember, we want you
to call. Our technicians must mark items as “open”
or “closed”. Their managers are tasked with making
sure items are not “closed” if they do not deserve
to be closed. The managers are responsible for customer satisfaction.
to do when you call your software support department
Be clear if it is an emergency or if you can indeed have the question
answered within a reasonable amount of time
Know your network, operating system, printers, etc. Have
an equipment list ready to fax to the tech department
if they ask for one.
Be courteous! They are there to help you. When was the last time
you yelled at someone and received help? Better yet, when was
the last time someone yelled at you? Did you feel like helping
them after that? If the level one tech doesn’t know the
answer, expect them to elevate the problem. If they do not, ask
them to. One inexperienced tech does not mean they’re
all inexperienced. It just means they are new to the
Understand that your practice management software is 1/1000th
of the components that make up your whole system. There are all
kinds of other things like hardware, wiring, electricity, operating
system, and other software, that could be causing the problem.
Adhere to a planned training policy. If your
software vendor publishes one major update each year, schedule
update training once a year. If you don’t like calling support,
the fastest way to avoid it is to become more thoroughly trained
on the product.
Screen! If you get an odd error on your screen, hit the Prt Sc
key on your keyboard. Bring up your word processor and right click
onto an open new document. Click Paste. Voila’,
there you have the error code.
Try to remember (even document) what you were doing (in the software)
at the time of the occurrence. You can’t expect a technician
to be able to help you quickly without credible and complete information.
Make friends with your support technician. Send their manager a
complimentary email every once in a while when they do help you
out of a jam. Your software technical department is a valuable resource.
You pay for technical support. Now you have some guidelines to make
its use more efficient and effective.
What’s stopping you now???
you have any questions or comments, please email Mark Dilatush at
in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club?
Mark's Technology Workshop titled Using
Your Practice Management Software to Drive Revenues on Dec.
10th in La Jolla. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 1-877-900-5775
The Cold Shoulder
Giving Dentists And Their Staff Different Perspectives On Day To
am the wife of one of the dentists of a two dentist practice. I
am a registered dental assistant and have been working part-time
office for six years.
Due to a family emergency, the office manager was forced
to leave suddenly and my husband asked me to become the office manager
and takeover full responsibilities temporarily. Temporarily has
become permanently. At the time, I agreed in order to help out my
husband and his partner, but I soon realized that being an office
manager included a great deal of paperwork and managing of the finances.
I find myself spending long hours on the computer and deeply miss
the client contact that I enjoyed as a registered dental assistant.
I want my husband and his partner to hire a new office manager but
they say I am doing such a good job and they feel uncomfortable
bringing in a new person . They say this new person would disrupt
the harmony and friendly team environment. I am not happy, do you
have any advice?
Sad in Sarasota
There are four issues that come to mind. Being a registered dental
assistant, you are well aware of the dynamics, responsibilities,
and obligations that go with conducting business in a dental practice.
This level of awareness makes you a wonderful partner in a marriage
and it makes you a tremendous asset in the business, because not
only do you have a personal investment, but you also have a business
perspective that includes technical ability and expertise. You are
a very valuable person to your husband, his partner, and the business.
This level of influence should feel good.
On the opposing side, we have a sense of obligation
that comes from your relationship in marriage as well as your direct
benefit from a successful business. From this standpoint, your sense
of obligation makes perfect sense. In response to your sense of
obligation, agreement to fill in for the office manager makes perfect
sense, as it was offered as a temporary solution.
second issue concerns a trivial lack of honesty. Your husband
and his partner obviously recognized your talents and recruited
you to help them through a difficult period. It is not surprising
that, when you demonstrate effective management talent, they, recognizing
how hard it is to find good talent, would attempt to keep you on
full-time. Their sense of security in having someone that they know
and trust in the position of financial management is a great relief
to the owners of any business; however, encouraging you to take
a position by saying that it is temporary and then resisting your
calls for them to fulfill their promise of finding another manager
begins to cloud their honesty and taint the level of trust.
This does not feel good.
From this perspective, the doctors are abusing their power.
Your agreement was based on trust and a sense of responsibility
and their lack of follow-through demonstrates a certain discounting
of your personal self-interest in favor of their own businesses
interest. While some may make the case that you are the direct beneficiary
of this added responsibility, I will offer you that if your temperament
is one that enjoys and takes pleasure in relating to people, then
the stress and strain of these new duties will hurt you.
It is for certain that the stress and strain will appear in your
marriage overtly or covertly. It is not worth the price of passively
complying with your husband's wishes. His vision is very shortsighted
as the consequences to your marriage might be substantial and you
may not realize it until it is too late.
next issue concerns your personality. You are the only person in
the world that has an obligation to protect your own self-interest.
It is my belief that everyone is born with a brain that has a unique
set of natural talents. When we interact with our world and utilize
those abilities that come natural, we consume the least amount of
energy, enjoy the time spent expressing ourselves through these
talents, and maintain a disposition that is positive and constructive
for others to see and enjoy. Any attempt to diverge from your natural
talents will begin to stress your personality. You do not need me
to tell you that stress is a destructive force and will eventually,
I repeat, eventually eat away at your overall happiness
When we are young, it is easy to live life and tell ourselves that
we are doing something for a greater good; however, as we age, maintaining
the energy to maintain the lie becomes prohibitively expensive.
Your awareness that you enjoy client contact is another way of saying
that your natural talents require such a connection to feel good
about yourself and it is your obligation to find and create the
avenues that provide such connection. It is enough to say that it
simply feels good. Sacrificing your natural temperament in the name
of making money will have long-term consequences for you, the team,
the business, and ultimately your marriage.
the last issue concerns the interest of the business
practice verses your own personal self-interest. We are all in business
to make money and making money feels good. There are those people
who live to make money because they believe that making money is
an end point. However, happy people know that money is only a means
to end. Regardless whether one of the partners is a husband or just
a longtime friend, the interest of the partners is to make money
in order that they can use money to enjoy the things in life that
feel good. Their obligation is to themselves and to the extended
family that benefits from their hard work.
there is your self-interest which must also be maintained and respected.
Your self-interest, at least in this situation, is not about making
money but rather about being helpful, effective, efficient, responsible,
and finally being loving and supportive. By nature, you
have the right to maintain your dignity, the respect of others,
and an entitlement to privacy. I will advise you that you
are the only one that can defend these entitlements, and for that
reason the responsibility falls on your shoulders to solve this
what you might feel, if you make an announcement that you will be
leaving as office manager in 3, 6, 12 months, it will be received
with confusion, dismay, or congratulations. None of this is important.
Their reaction does not matter and nor is it real.
are perfectly entitled to take back your life and everyone,
I repeat, everyone will understand what you are doing and why. You
may feel that it is necessary to explain to your colleagues and
husband in great detail why you want to go back to being a staff
member, but I am telling you, as your coach, that you do
not have to explain because everyone understands.
has recognized that the change in position has changed your demeanor.
You are not the same person that you were before and everybody knows
it. It is for this reason that when you make your announcement,
regardless of the reaction on their faces, everyone understands
including your husband. Remember, that they felt the same way when
the office manger suddenly left. I would encourage you to simply
make the announcement and give the problem of managing the
practice back where it belongs: on the shoulders of your husband
and his partner.
Want your issues answered? Ask the email@example.com.
The Coach's Conflict Resolution Workshop in La Jolla Oct 8th and
Dec. 6th. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 1-877-900-5775
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you want to know how you could be
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have a question that I believe will be of interest to a lot of practices.
When do you consider a patient as "inactive"? Every patient
in our office, whether emergency or comprehensive, is placed in
our recall system so they are kept "in the fold". When
two years have gone by and the patient has not had a recall appointment
or is overdue for one they are sent a letter notifying them that
they are still in our practice but will no longer be contacted via
phone, letter or e-mail to get their teeth cleaned etc.(please realize
that this is after multiple contacts and office newsletters to their
home in an attempt to get them in). We do this so as to no longer
waste anymore time or postage attempting to get them in. In your
opinion is this too strict of a system and are we shooting ourselves
in the foot? Also, should we continue to send them a newsletter
(which costs approx.$1.30 each)?
an active patient is a patient who is due to come in for recall
from today to one year from today. They are “actively”
engaged in a treatment process in your practice. A patient who was
due yesterday who did not keep their recall appointment is now in
an "inactive" state. Your chances of retaining this patient
"back in the system" is of course, very likely. However,
a patient who was due last week, or last month, or 3 months ago,
etc. who is also inactive, stand a slimmer chance of being retained.
It is very common, however, to keep patient records "active"
of patients who have not been in for two years...HOWEVER, if you
honestly believe they are an "active" patient which constitutes
the patients you have "actively" returning every six months,
you're kidding yourself, aren't you? A patient who was due July
2001, on 6 month recall has missed 5 visits to your practice. Your
chances of retaining them are slim to zero. The only reason for
keeping 2 years worth of paper charts is the convenience of not
having to go to the basement should one call back but don't kid
yourself… they are not an active patient.
Regarding emergency patients, develop a plan to sell the comprehensive
exam to the emergency patient at the first visit. I would delegate
this to the chairside assistant and she would report at your monthly
meeting her % of conversion. Those emergency patients not converted
would not be given an "active" patient chart or status
in the computer. A survey letter could be sent to the patient after
3 months of them not scheduling for the comprehensive exam. I would
not send them a newsletter as they have not shown their commitment
to the practice.
I would recommend that the letter you send out after two years be
a survey type asking the ptient to respond and you must enclose
a self addressed envelope with a "stamp". Your letter
is probably passive in nature, simply stating a fact "you won't
be contacted" when it needs to have a call to action. This
letter can be found in my How
To Have A Successful Recall System book that you can order on
my web-site http://www.mckenziemgmt.com.
It does cost 5x as much money to get one new patient as does just
to keep the ones you had who will tell other people. Therefore in
regards to the newsletter, my advice would be to send it to your
active patient base, active as being described above, and one year
past due patients.
you wondering if your hygiene department is producing what it could
Allan Monack's hygienist produces $1231 a day seeing
1 patient an
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prophy fee of $70.
your hygienist producing?
Monack is the Hygiene Clinical Consultant for McKenzie Management.
He can help you produce the same results.
To find out more about the Hygiene
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here], contact us at email@example.com
or call: 877-777-6151
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