Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say!
Dr. Steve Smith – Case Study #61
Dr. Smith’s primary concern is high overhead caused by relocating his office and they are not producing enough dentistry.
Dr. Smith’s practice facts:
Yes, it was unfortunate that Dr. Smith was forced to relocate after the expiration of his long-term lease. The building was being sold. His lease payment at the previous location was much less than the new lease agreement that he has agreed upon in his new location. It is also written to inflate each year for a few years. I suppose the assumption is that his practice will continue to grow each year.
“Nancy, I feel like I am trapped. I am not making enough money to pay the bills. I would sell this practice in a moment and work for the person that buys it, but I also like being my own boss.”
Overall, the practice ran very smoothly. The doctor was seldom behind schedule, the team was experienced and knowledgeable and the office was beautiful. The patients could watch TV or their favorite movie. However, all these “high-tech” luxuries were keeping the team from talking with the patients about dentistry,
After spending two days observing the team’s performance, as well as listening to the doctor’s dialogue with the patients, it was evident to me what the problem was. Dr. Smith lacked confidence!
A patient does not want to here “adequate”. They want to hear “best option”. Dr. Smith should not “think” – he should “know”. The tooth either has decay or it doesn’t. Patients have no idea what an “ML Resin” is….they do understand a “2-surface tooth-colored filling needed because of the cavity”.
I also observed Dr. Smith changing his diagnosis once the patient had been anesthetized. The patient was prepared for a crown and he elects to restore the tooth with an MODBL composite. I have to question the doctor’s “wishy-washy” approach to dentistry. My concern is the patient’s loss of confidence when these changes are made.
Review the outstanding treatment during the morning huddle, using the computer so the photos and x-rays can be reviewed. Do not conduct the morning meeting in the sterilization area where there is no computer. Confirm the treatment as being accurate so the hygienists can present it to the patients and Dr. Smith can re-confirm and support her. Allow Sandy, the 9-year veteran, to “sell” the treatment to the patients. Dr. Smith and the hygienists do not like to “sell” and Sandy is excellent at presenting treatment and getting it scheduled.
I asked Dr. Smith not to be the “nice guy” and downgrade his treatment recommendations. When he recommends a crown instead of an MODBL and this is what is “sold” to the patient because it is the best option for them, stay with it.
Please understand that I am not saying that treatment recommendations don’t change…sure they do. What is important is that your team understands your reasons for change, as well as the patient. EVERYONE must be on the same page in order for the office to work in unison. Say what you really mean and don’t downplay it. Do what you say unless there are clinical reasons to change your diagnosis.
At my revisit with Dr. Smith 6 months later, he has learned to remove his indecisive words from his clinical presentation and has become more consistent with “staying the course” of treatment. As a result, his production has increased over $10,000 a month. Sandy has been instrumental in presenting and selling treatment in the consultation room instead of simply passing the patient to the Schedule Coordinator at the front desk.
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