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12.28.07 Issue #303 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dread Setting Goals? Try This
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Goals. Every year about this time you think of them. You may even write them down. If you’re really ambitious, you pledge to look at them and act on them daily. Then other things start to pop up and before you know it, it’s been six-eight months and you find a piece of paper buried beneath a pile of things you meant to get to but never did. And there scribbled at the top is the word “Goals.” That nasty feeling of failure creeps in.

You’re in good company, doctor. For many dentists, the goal-making process becomes a monkey on your back, a recipe for more stress rather than a strategy for action. Why? Goals can be intimidating because if you don’t reach them you feel you’ve failed. Or there’s so much to get done, you feel totally overwhelmed. So you choose to simply go along doing what you’ve always done because, well, at least you know what you’ll get. But that doesn’t stop you from wanting and wishing and dreaming big. And therein lies the challenge.

How do you get results from wishing and wanting? How do you take a desire and make it a reality, without the burden of a huge list of “goals” or the risk of failure? Focus on one area at a time, and break the process down into manageable steps. Let’s say your desire is to increase production in your practice – a critical area for every office. How do you get it? By making even minor improvements in those areas that influence production, starting with treatment communication. 

Have you introduced new services in your practice? In the coming year, educate patients about the many benefits of your current and expanded services. Have you asked your patients lately about their dental wants? Ms. Young may be newly single and very interested in exploring some cosmetic options in ‘08, but she may not even know that you can provide those – unless you educate her. Do patients need more dental care than you are diagnosing? In the New Year pledge to diagnose what the patient needs - what will benefit their total oral health. Resist the urge to diagnose only what you think they can afford. 

Take a look at team follow-up. Is the treatment coordinator tracking patients who need treatment but are not scheduled or have cancelled? If a patient cancels an appointment and says they will call back to reschedule, give them a reasonable amount of time to do so. If they do not reschedule within a few days they should be contacted. Your concern is the patient’s welfare. Following through on treatment ensures excellent oral health and is in the patient’s best interest. 

Review patient charts daily and follow-up with those that have not pursued recommended care. Remember, you are your own marketing staff. In the dental practice, marketing is education; it’s not high pressure sales. It’s your responsibility to educate patients on the necessity and value of dental care. If the team isn’t sure how to educate patients effectively, train them. Conduct mini-clinics during staff meetings to share key benefits of new/existing treatments the practice offers. Draft question/answer sheets on the most common questions patients ask about specific procedures so that everyone is prepared to answer the fundamental inquiries.

In addition to improving treatment education and follow-up, take these steps to increase production in the New Year.

  1. Establish daily production goals and schedule to meet those goals.
  2. Prescribe a treatment plan for patients that includes everything that needs to be done - appointments necessary, the cost of treatment, an estimated length of treatment time, and any treatment options.
  3. Designate a treatment coordinator who is responsible for presenting treatment plans to patients and is expected to secure at least 85% case acceptance.
  4. Implement an interceptive periodontal therapy program.  Provide superior customer service that will encourage patients to refer friends and family.
  5. Each month run the year-to-date Practice Analysis Report and compare it to the same period last year.

And finally, keep wishing, hoping, and dreaming big. Goals don’t have to be intimidating or overwhelming. You can turn each of your wishes and desires into reality with the right direction and the right plan. Let McKenzie Management help you get there. Give me a call and we’ll make sure this is your best year yet. 

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at
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