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Don’t Let Technology Purchases Go To Waste
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Your practice has been in a bit of a slump lately, and you’ve decided to make some changes – starting with investing in new technology. You just know this purchase is going to be exactly what your practice needs to improve production, boost efficiencies and even raise team morale.

There are many benefits the right technologies can bring to a dental practice, but only if you take the time to implement them properly. If you don’t have a plan in place, there’s a good chance the technology won’t be used nearly as much as you envision, and will never actually realize its full potential.

That’s a shame, because technologies like 3D cone beam imaging, CAD/CAM, lasers and cloud-based practice management software can do wonders for practice efficiencies, while also elevating the level of patient care you’re able to provide. But if you and your team members don’t know how to use them properly, or only learn the basics, these practice builders will only bring you stress and frustration.

Want to maximize your technology investments and watch your practice flourish? Of course you do. I’ve put together a few tips to help you make that happen:

Think about how the technology will be used in your practice. There’s no shortage of dental technologies you can invest in, but that doesn’t mean you should purchase them all. Before you bring in a new product, really consider how it will benefit both your patients and your practice. If the benefits aren’t clear, the software or device might not be right for you.

Establish a budget. These purchases can be pretty expensive, so it’s important to plan ahead. Determine how much you can afford to spend on technology upgrades each year, and don’t go over that amount. Keep in mind you don’t have to buy everything at once. Purchasing equipment in phases will help you keep costs down while still updating your practice.

Ask yourself a few questions. No matter which technology you’re considering, you need to know how much you plan to invest, how you’ll use the technology and how you plan to measure ROI. Measuring your potential long-term financial benefits is vital to determining if you should purchase the technology or invest the money elsewhere. 

Identify which systems need the most work. The right technology can invigorate struggling systems, which is why I suggest you determine which systems need the most improvement, then look for technologies that address the problem areas you identified. Broken appointments causing chaos in your practice more often than you care to admit? Think about adding a patient communication system that reminds patients of their appointments and makes it easy for them to confirm. Case acceptance down? A variety of digital tools can help improve education, making patients more likely to trust your recommendations and accept treatment.

Don’t forget about the associated costs. Depending on the technology you’re adding, you’ll probably have to invest in technological infrastructure upgrades, such as software, hardware and wiring, to support it. While this makes the initial price tag a little larger, it will save you money in the long run. With the proper setup, the technology will last longer. Do your research so you know exactly what to expect, and don’t forget about ongoing costs that you’ll need to be prepared for, such as maintenance, service and training.

Dental technology continues to evolve, giving you a variety of ways to update your practice and improve patient care. These technologies can be huge practice builders, and might even help you renew your passion for dentistry. But if you don’t have a plan in place and opt to skip training, these expensive devices will sit in your practice unused, constantly reminding you of the money you wasted.

To maximize ROI on your technology purchases, develop a plan, stick to your budget and invest in training. You’ll find you get much more out of the software or equipment, helping you grow your patient base, improve production numbers and increase your bottom line.

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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What To Do When You Lose A Business Employee
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant

Dentist Case Study #261

The doctor’s concerns: “My Office Manager turned in her notice today. She’s been a loyal employee for 10 years and I really have no idea what she does or how she does it. I’ve always just trusted her to get the job done. How will I ever replace her?” 

Losing a valued employee can be pretty stressful – especially if you’re completely unprepared for the departure, like this doctor. As the practice CEO, you have to keep in mind that even your most loyal employees will likely leave at some point, meaning you should have a plan in place to make the transition as smooth as possible when they do.

In this doctor’s case, he needed to find a new business employee, and fast. His Office Manager was leaving in a mere two weeks, relocating to another state with her husband. But our doctor had no idea what actually went on in the business area, making it difficult for him to find a suitable replacement and then properly train the new team member. He was feeling pretty lost, which is why he came to McKenzie Management for help.

Create Checklists
The first thing we suggested he do is have the current Office Manager create a few checklists before her last day. These lists serve as a guide for the dentist and the new hire. The first list she developed outlined all the basic information the new Office Manager would need to know to get started, and included:
 
• The passwords and log-ins for the computer, insurance websites and collection agencies
• Instructions on how to use the business office equipment, including the scanner, printer and copier
• Contact information for various suppliers, software support and repair services
• A list of all the stationery and other paper supplies that must be ordered from time to time, and information on where to order them
• Computer back-up information

This checklist is a great start, but it certainly isn’t enough to get the doctor and eventually his new Office Manager up to speed. The second checklist we had him ask her to create detailed protocols for various business procedures. It outlined how to: 

• Generate weekly statements
• Generate insurance claims
• Manage the recall system
• Manage accounts receivables
• Keep patient records current
• Post payments
• Make appointments
• Run reports to complete monthly practice performance statistics
• Print routing slips
• Create a treatment plan from the computer

We suggested creating forms for every task, and then making them easy for all team members to access. 

Have a Plan
While these checklists are very helpful to have when an employee leaves, they do take time to create. With all her other tasks, this Office Manager simply couldn’t put the lists together during the day, so the doctor asked her to work overtime to ensure she finished them before she moved across the country – which of course he paid her for. In this case, the Office Manager was happy to put in the extra hours to help with the transition, but that isn’t always the case, especially if the person leaving is unhappy with the dentist for any reason.

To avoid this scenario, I suggest you ask current team members to put checklists together as they can. Make it clear you’re not expecting them to leave any time soon, but that you’d like to have the checklists ready to go in case of an emergency. Remember these checklists don’t only come into play when a team member quits. They can be useful when employees are out sick, on vacation or on maternity leave. They also can be great training tools.

Don’t Forget About the Clinical Team
I know I’ve mostly focused on the business team, but it’s important to have checklists on hand for clinical jobs as well. I suggest you ask your clinical team members to create checklists that outline the various tasks they perform daily, weekly and monthly. The list should include how to:

• Set up trays  
• Sterilize instruments
• Store supplies
• Control inventory

The Value of Checklists
Finding out a key team member is leaving can be pretty stressful, especially if you’re not prepared. Asking team members to create checklists ahead of time will help ease some of that stress. You’ll know exactly what each team member does, making it easier to find the right person to take over that role. The transition will be much smoother, which benefits your practice and all your other team members.

If you’d like more guidance on how to create these checklists, feel free to reach out to McKenzie Management. We’ll help make sure you’re prepared the next time an employee tells you they’re moving on.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you implement proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com

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