09.18.09 Issue #393 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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The Difference Between Software Trainers and Professional Dental Consultants

To date there are approximately 140 different dental software programs available on the market, all competing for their share of the dental business. There are a few software programs that seem to have the lion’s share of the business, and it has been lucrative for the people selling these products to also become “dental consultants” based on their knowledge of the software.

So why not kill two birds with one stone and consult in the practices that purchase the software program? When you already have a foot in the door as a software trainer, the transition to consultant may seem easy, thus blurring the distinction of software trainer and professional dental consultant. It is undeniable that there is a critical need for training of the software programs to properly manage both the business and clinical data. A software trainer is necessary to make sure you are not making errors and to show you better ways to navigate the program. With the goal in mind of going chartless and eventually paperless, it is imperative that all paper forms being used are converted to a computer form for the same purpose. For instance, the health information form in the computer should be used instead of the paper health history form, and the patient should sign the digital signature pad instead of the paper. Insurance claims that have to go out with attachments and narratives should not be printed out, written on and sent with documents attached. You cannot go paperless until you have achieved a standard uniformity with all documents.

Once the dental practice understands how to use the program to their best advantage, the software trainer is seldom called back again unless there is a new team member added or the upgrades contain complex information requiring the services of the trainer.   If the trainer is going to be a professional consultant to the practice, then he/she needs to be available to oversee and implement the suggested changes to the practice for a specified period of time and with a performance agreement as to the outcome.

Recently, during software training in a new practice, the trainer announced that he was a dental consultant and began giving advice contrary to advice that was given by a professional dental consultant earlier that week. The dentist, shaking his head, agreed to abide by the advice of the software trainer concerning tasks at the front desk. He was unaware that the front office person was already in over her head with an inbox full of unprocessed insurance claims that needed narratives, x-ray and perio charting attached, billings with unanswered questions and unscheduled patients needing appointments. 

The software trainer gave standard advice, not customized advice based on the analysis of the business systems, staffing and overhead demands of the dentist. By saying that he was a consultant, the software trainer started priority confusion for the business coordinator as to what was most important to do. “I have a hard time working because I am not sure what I am supposed to do next,” she stated. 

Professional dental consultants have a system to carefully analyze all operating systems, staffing issues such as job descriptions, temperaments and training, office policies, overhead percentages, profit and loss, hygiene department, recall systems, billing, insurance, leasing arrangements and more, before giving any advice to the dentist about what systems to add, remove or implement. The consultant is there for a contracted period of time to implement changes with support of the entire team who have agreed to take responsibility for their share of the outcome. It is a professional dental consultant’s job to find hidden untapped revenue and teach the dentist and the team how to capture that revenue. It takes time to observe, analyze and write a plan of action. Software training takes a lot of time as well, and requires the availability of the entire team to succeed.  Will software trainers be available to take consulting questions from their clients when they are in the middle of software training in another office? That won’t work. Just as dentists cannot do dentistry and answer their own phone, I say leave the software training to the trainers and dental consulting to the professionals. You will get a better result from both.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’s Advanced Training Programs to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com.

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