9.3.10 Issue #443 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Rid Your Practice of the Top Two “Misery Makers”
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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One little procedure here, another little procedure there, and a different little procedure after that… We’re seeing it again – dentists cobbling production together from a series of “little” procedures. This brings me to #2 on the list of Misery Makers in the dental office (I talked about #3 last week) – Production/Scheduling Inconsistencies.

Some figures indicate that more than 80% of all patients come to the dental office to receive care because of a single issue or problem. What does that tell us? I think we can draw a couple of conclusions. For starters, generally speaking, patients have not been educated to expect to come in for more than one procedure at a time. And doctors are most likely recommending treatment that they believe patients will schedule – a single procedure here, another single procedure there. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: You have a professional obligation to recommend the treatment each and every patient needs, not the treatment that you think they will either accept or can afford.

Certainly, you should expect that patients will want to pursue larger treatment plans in phases. And it’s not likely that most will immediately accept a $10,000, $5,000 or even $2,000 treatment plan the first time that they hear it. But my bigger concern is that too many dentists, particularly in the current economy, are shying away from recommending ideal treatment, i.e. more comprehensive treatment plans. And if such plans are recommended, they are typically discussed once and then relegated to the patient files where they will remain indefinitely.

Your ability to produce is tied directly to the patient’s desire and understanding of the need for treatment. Patients must be continually educated on the value and importance of pursuing recommended treatment. If production is not where you want it to be or not where it needs to be, it’s time to closely examine your treatment presentation protocols and techniques.

From there, specific production goals can be identified and communicated to the scheduling coordinator. This person is critical in your ability to meet your production goals. However, in too many practices the scheduling coordinator believes her/his job is merely to fill open time slots. Wrong. S/he needs a clear and specific job description, well articulated goals and objectives, and training to learn specific scheduling strategies to meet established production goals. Scheduling and production should be the strongest systems in your practice. If they’re not, seek help and eliminate the suffering.

And the #1 Misery Maker for most dentists – Staff Conflict. Conflict often begins with a minor disagreement, an annoyance, or misunderstanding. Rick isn’t providing the production reports as promised. Anna is routinely walking in late. Caroline is scheduling 60 minute patients in 40 minute slots or worse yet… in 80 minute slots because she “knows” her doctor talks too much!

Issues such as those come up in virtually all dental practices. But because the employees are afraid to deal with the matters head on, they opt for the passive aggressive approach, engaging in gossip and whisper campaigns instead. Nasty comments and accusations quietly abound. Eventually, the lid blows and the damage caused can, in some cases, be irreparable.

Conflict may be a reality of living and working, but if managed correctly, it can become a constructive rather than destructive tool in the practice. Follow these strategies for dealing with conflict effectively:

  1. Set aside time to directly address matters that are causing conflict. Focus on the issue, not the people. Do not allow gossip or personal attacks. These are a profoundly destructive force in any workplace, especially small offices. 
  2. Establish clear standards for professional office behavior and specific office policies. If the scheduling coordinator is routinely slotting emergency patients incorrectly, assume she/he doesn’t know what you expect. Educate and help her/him to become more effective.
  3. Deal with the issues that cause conflict. Do not make excuses so that you can continue to look the other way. She’s too nice. He’s too argumentative. They’ve been doing it that way forever. They’ll never change.
  4. Choose to be positive. Anyone can criticize others and be negative in difficult situations. It’s the leaders and problem solvers who choose to remain positive and constructive.

Address the issues that are impeding your personal and professional satisfaction. Whatever the “Misery Makers” are in your office, you do have the power to fix them. It’s a matter of choosing to do so.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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