The Best Month of My Dental Practice!
Case File #248
“I cannot believe what just happened. Six months ago, I had holes in my schedule with low production and hygiene fall out. This month we finished with the highest production and collection month I have experienced in my career.”
Dr. Bob decided he needed to make some changes in his practice six months ago. He said “what have I got to lose, I am not happy the way things are.” Wanting to pursue another focus for his practice, he was met with resistance and disregard from his staff. In frustration, Dr. Bob decided to enlist the help of a professional and reputable dental consulting firm. Concern for how his patients may view new team members kept the doctor from making decisions to find new people, along with the fact that he just didn’t trust that he had the skills to make the right decisions in the hiring arena.
Of his small team of four people, only one team member - the dental assistant - supported the direction he wanted to go. Because of this, Dr. Bob enlisted the consulting team to direct him in finding the right people for his practice. He replaced his two part-time dental hygienists with a full time, extroverted, highly motivated and skilled dental hygienist who took the extra time to help guide patients toward accepting the treatment that had been diagnosed and yet not treated. She began using the intra-oral camera on a regular basis to demonstrate not only the need to replace worn, defective, unsightly and failing restorations but also focused on the benefits of new and better restorative options. Of course this took extra time, but the dental assistant then stepped forward to do the hygienists’ instruments, thus freeing her a couple of minutes for each patient to get oral pictures.
Finding a front office administrator who was not overly concerned about what the insurance was going to pay or whether the patient could afford the dentistry was a challenge. After much interviewing and testing, he finally found an applicant who shared his philosophy about health-centered dental care. The total interview process took almost three hours but at the end of that time, the doctor felt confident that this person shared his goals and could deliver the right attitude.
With the new team on board, regular meetings including a daily morning huddle took place at a scheduled time. Constant supportive or directive feedback came on a daily basis. More education and training helped everyone stay focused on their work and goals. Setting goals like going “chartless” and training everyone to scan documents when they had open time was achievable when everyone shared the same goals.
Making the practice a pleasant place to be included storing unsightly charts out of site and making sure the areas that patients could see were spotless and beautifully decorated. Internal marketing was improved to make sure that patients did not wait more than five minutes to be seated. Financial arrangements were presented for everyone that was given a treatment plan so that there weren’t any miscommunications about payment and when it was due.
The biggest key to this practice’s success was the thoughtful and careful dentistry that Dr. Smithston delivered to his patients. His goal to provide the best dental care was demonstrated in all that he did for his patients. He had been doing this type of dentistry for years, but there was an important element missing - and that was the support and focus of his team. His leadership skills improved with coaching from the consulting team and he realized that he needed to be accountable for the success of his dental team.
The positive energy created by this shared vision attracted the patients, and they began accepting the benefits of improved health offered by Dr. Smithstons’ dental care team. Compliments began coming in about the team and patients voiced their pleasure over the positive changes made to the practice. It was a wining situation for all concerned and manifested in more than doubling his production and exceeding production and collection goals by thousands of dollars.
*names changed to ensure privacy - case study is based on an actual practice.
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