6.15.07 - Issue # 275 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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Anticipation or Just Knowing What Comes Next

One of the key traits of top dental assistants is the ability to anticipate what the dentist will need next as they are working at the chair.  It is the ability to read a situation and be able to think of what the next few seconds or minutes will demand of materials or skills.  What instrument will be needed for the procedure and is the patient comfortable, will the cement set too soon etc.  Part of this ability is gained from training, the other comes from being focused and attentive to the moment.

This ability to anticipate is also a necessary trait of the Dental Business Administrator.  When scheduling a new patient, it is important to anticipate that this patient is coming in to get their “chief complaint” addressed.  Many offices set new patient protocols and tell the patient what they will receive at their first visit regardless of what the patient really wants.  This lack of attention is like handing the doctor an explorer when he wants a curette.  Anticipate that you will need to guide the patient into accepting the full exam, prophy or periodontal evaluation, necessary x-rays, and addressing the chief complaint. Start by explaining to the patient what they can expect to receive during the initial visit in your office and ask them if they have any concerns that they want addressed.  Make notes of these concerns and assure the patient that careful attention will be given to these areas.

Learning to read the situation and know what comes next is a skill that can be developed if one is awake to what is happening at every moment.  For instance, when a patient comes in early they are hoping to be seen early.  It is correct to acknowledge and thank the patient for arriving early but it is also correct to tell the patient as to whether or not you can see them sooner.  If the doctor is running late and the next patient is waiting in the reception area past his scheduled time it is obvious to expect that patient to inquire as to why he is being ignored.  Don’t wait for that to happen. Find the reason for the delay, apologize to the patient and let him know how long he will have to wait.  Offer a drink or use of a phone to call family or work about the delay.

If your 3:00 patient has not arrived by 3:05 you can anticipate that he may have forgotten the appointment or got distracted at work.  Call the patient to see if he is on his way and leave a message that you are concerned that he has not arrived.  This shows the patient that you are expecting him and the time is really reserved just for him.

Anticipating the successful growth of your dental practice is monitoring the production and collection figures every month.  How many new patients do you see a month?  If you have been seeing 25 to 30 new patients a month for a year and now the figures are dropping to 20 or less, you must anticipate that this trend is a warning that there are system failures that need to be addressed immediately.  Several thousand dollars in unscheduled treatment could mean that treatment presentations need an overhaul or that patient wants are not being addressed.
Have you stopped having team meetings?  You can anticipate lower job morale, duplication of some tasks and other tasks not being completed, and chaos and job turnover.  Anticipate that your team needs a forum to communicate about their work and a chance to connect to other members of the team.

A call from an Office Manager who had recently attended McKenzie Advanced Training for Office Managers, confirmed the positive results of understanding how great a skill it is to be able to read the practice pulse on a daily basis and to know what to do to change the course of daily events.

“First you have to know what the business systems are and how to measure if they are successful or not.  Before the training, I did not know how the production figures contribute to the payment of the total overhead.  Just showing up and doing your job is not enough to make a truly successful and enjoyable office.  You have to know what you are trying to accomplish and be able to gauge your activities to get there.”

Anticipate a brighter future as a Dental Administrator/Office Manager, call today for McKenzie’s Advanced Training Course.

For more information on McKenzie's Advanced Training Programs for Dentists, Office Managers and Front Office, email training@mckenziemgmt.com, call 1-877-777-6151 or visit our web-site at www.mckenziemgmt.com.

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