Four Disciplines for the Dental Practice
Those of you who work in busy dental practices know that at times there is total chaos, at other times just chaos, and sometimes there is calm – and that is when the manager comes up to the desk and wants to know why the patient cancelled. Reflecting on a great book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving your Wildly Important Goals, by Sean Covey, Jim Huling and Chris McChesney, thoughts go to the “whirlwind”, a term from the book used to describe the everyday urgent priorities that fill the day in a business. Often we are lost in this whirlwind and think because we are “busy” we must be achieving our goals. But being busy is not always the same as focusing on what is most important to achieving our goals. We can convince ourselves that busy is productive and even profitable, until we look at the numbers at the end of the day.
The following is a summary of The 4 Disciplines of Execution, as explained by writer Clayton Christensen:
Discipline 1 – The Discipline of Focus
Discipline 2 – The Discipline of Leverage
Discipline 3 – The Discipline of Engagement
Discipline 4 – The Discipline of Accountability
Dental practices are often reactionary in how they operate. For instance, when there are cancellations and broken appointments in the schedule, the focus is on “why did they cancel?” There is a whirlwind of energy created, first to ask why the cancellation and next to fill the cancellation. A broken appointment is a “lag measure” because it has already happened. In achieving our “wildly important goals” (WIGS), we need to identify the “lead measures” – those that can influence a change in behavior leading to cancelled appointments.
Every WIG must contain a clearly measureable goal resulting with a date of completion. The formula “from X to Y by when” is the format for achieving goals. In this situation, the wildly important goal is to focus on preventing cancellations and broken appointments. Specifically, it could be to “decrease the number of cancellations and broken appointments 15% by November 30th.”
Track the number of cancellations and broken appointments in time units over the last twelve months. This is what happened, and now we need to decrease these numbers. As a leader, the manager or dentist will need to motivate the team to be involved in practice performance. What type of appointment is most often cancelled? Is it the 6 month prescheduled appointment? Is it appointments without financial arrangements? Is it new patients who were appointed more than two weeks from their initial call?
Are there other influences affecting patient compliance, such as patients having to wait more than fifteen minutes to be seated? Was there a message of urgency? Were the benefits explained? By identifying the lag measures, the team can formulate the lead measures, those that will move the practice towards preventing cancellations.
At McKenzie Management, we look at the total practice systems and analyze them to determine what behaviors or systems need to be changed to achieve better results. Bring your wildly important goals to us and we will help you with practice success.Forward this article to a friend
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