1.6.17 Issue #774 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Carol Tekavec, RDH
Hygiene Consultant
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When in Doubt, Go Back to Basics
By Carol Tekavec RDH

A new year can bring a sense of bright beginnings and a chance for a fresh start, but it can also bring a sense of uncertainty. After a consequential election, a sense of uncertainty can be more pronounced. What will be the best way to navigate changes that are likely in store for our nation, our practices, and ourselves as individuals?

National changes will likely include modifications in insurance options for persons purchasing on the individual market, but may also affect plans provided by employers. Dental offices who have offered medical plans for employees may find changes in available plans, but on a time-table that is currently not known. Will there still be a requirement for coverage for pre-existing conditions? Will that coverage trigger higher premiums? Will there be a reinstitution of payment caps for chronic or critically ill persons? For dentistry in particular, individual plans under Obamacare guidelines did not typically provide for dental coverage, but expanded Medicaid plans did specify coverage for children. Offices with a contingent of Medicaid patients will need to stay on top of eligibility modifications that may be coming.

One way to face a time of uncertainty is to focus on the basics of our practices and how we approach our profession. The profession of dentistry is one that affects millions of people in a positive way each and every day. Our patients rely on us for the relief of pain, the restoration of function to their teeth and mouths, and the renewal or rebuilding of their appearance. These are no small accomplishments!

In addition, as small business owners, we provide employment to thousands of professional assistants, hygienists, and clerical staff. Their families depend on this employment for income for their present and future needs, as well as their retirement. As has been said many times, small business is the engine of prosperity for the country.

With these incredible strengths in mind, we might effectively prepare for the future and whatever changes may be coming by focusing on these strengths in a “back to basics” approach.

1. Courtesy to Patients is Important!
When a patient comes into the office, the front desk staff should be prepared with a smile, a friendly greeting by name, and their full attention. Discuss at your next staff meeting how you want patients to be welcomed. Pushing a clipboard with a medical history attached while continuing a conversation with co-workers is not an effective way to receive a new patient. Patients who neglect to “check-in” should be approached at their chairs in the reception area, rather than yelled at over the desk, “Are you Mrs. Smith?” Returning patients appreciate staff remembering their names with the proper pronunciation – note the pronunciation on their computer record so all team members have access. The mindset should be that of greeting a valued friend in your home.

2. Patient Care and Comfort is Paramount
Offer patients a pillow, a light blanket if needed, a tissue, and lip lubricant. Have headphones with music or TV available. Many patients dislike our bright overhead lights, so have dark glasses on hand. Use topical anesthetic prior to injections, and keep carpules in a heated container. When treatment is complete, ask patients if they would like to rinse with a mild mouthwash at a sink. These little extra touches cost next to nothing and can make a big impression on patients. They understand that you care about their comfort, not just getting them in and out of the chair. Plus, it sets you apart from other offices.

3. Cleanliness Matters
Make sure the reception area, restrooms, hallways, and treatment areas are scrupulously clean! Get rid of dusty fake plants, old magazines, and worn chairs and carpet. Assign someone the task of checking the restrooms every two hours to make sure everything is clean and neat. Be sure carpets and floors are vacuumed and swept. Sometimes impression materials or other debris can find their way to a hallway floor. Invest in a little sweeper for quick between-patient cleanups. Check out the overhead light covers for dead bugs (you would be surprised at how often this is overlooked). Be sure the chair overheads are clean of splatter. Patients notice everything and will not be comfortable that your treatment instruments are clean if the surrounding areas are not!

4. Talk with your Patients
After treatment, talk to patients about what has been accomplished. Show off your beautiful work! Let patients know that if they have any issues, to call immediately. Also, don’t neglect a great source of new patients; emergencies. Set aside time in each day’s schedule to see someone who is in pain. People who have been rescued from a toothache are great advocates for a practice.

5. Marketing
Be sure your staff members have their own business cards. They can give these to potential patients they may meet in the “outside world”, or simply to provide professionalism and pride in their careers.

The future is always uncertain, but we know that providing our most excellent care and treatment for patients can be a constant, and a way for us to stay competitive and successful. We can face the future with confidence with this knowledge. When in doubt, go back to basics!

Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department?  Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

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