Practice Management for Dummies
It seems as though there is a “For Dummies” book on virtually every topic from Facebook for Dummies to Wine for Dummies to Health Care for Dummies (I wonder if that book covers dentistry). There is even an Australia’s Dangerous Creatures for Dummies – better to be prepared should that adventure trip into the Outback suddenly go horribly wrong. Certainly, the market for those bent on self-help is huge. In fact, earlier this month, the parent company reported a 10% increase in profits for the third quarter in the Dummies line.
I am reasonably convinced that if there were a Practice Management for Dummies book, dentists would buy it - certain that they had the template to the perfect practice. And the best part, they could pick and choose those things they would be willing to implement, or, should I say, that they believe would actually fly with their staff. I can see the doctor scanning the table of contents now - “Let’s see, here’s a chapter on hiring and firing. I’ll only read the part about hiring because I don’t ever want to fire someone. And here’s another chapter on retention and what I need to change to keep my patients. Hmmm, I really just want to find the chapter about how I can get a gazillion new patients in the door without ever having to change a thing.”
The self-help approach is a great concept and obviously it is a huge money making industry. The problem is that while dentists may recognize that they need help with something, too often they may be afraid of the commitment that real change requires. They are afraid of the investment of time and money, so they look for those cheap and easy “fixes” that they believe will require the least amount of pain, suffering, and expense. And lo and behold, a few months later no real change has happened and they are still dealing with the same frustrations, financial loss and problems that have been weighing them down for years.
Although dentists come away from articles, books, and seminars with kernels of very good information that, if implemented correctly, would be tremendously beneficial to the practice, the doctor cannot do it alone. He/she simply does not have the time or the expertise to examine the systems, determine the shortfalls, run reports, analyze results, and address the current and potential problems associated with system changes. Moreover, if the doctor isn’t diagnosing and delivering dentistry, the practice isn’t making money.
Bottom-line: major shifts in protocols such as scheduling, collections, treatment presentation, financial arrangements, marketing, etc., require research, careful planning and implementation, and ongoing monitoring and adjustment. The reality is neither dentists nor dental teams know how to conduct the research within their own practices to determine how effective a blocked schedule would be, or how well a new collections procedure would go over, or how to generate a flock of new patients. They do not have the demographic information at their fingertips to determine if a significant change in the practice will be accepted or rejected.
Moreover, it is incredibly difficult for doctors alone to create true change in their practices. Employees, naturally, are resistant to change. They must be educated, trained, and coached to understand how the change benefits them, the doctor, and the practice as a whole.
As much as you may want to, you simply do not have the time to be the CEO, the VP of Production, the Director of Human Resources, the Accountant, the Visionary, and the Practice Management Consultant – no matter how many self-help books you read. But you do have a choice. You can continue to limp along and try to figure out over the lifetime of your career how to make the most of this unwieldy thing that is your practice and do the dentistry as time allows. Or you can invest a little time and money and within weeks enjoy the practice you’ve always dreamed of. Think about it. Then call me. 877-777-6151
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