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Retake Control in 2012
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Welcome to the New Year. Like many of you, I appreciate the opportunity for a fresh start that January 1st offers. For practice owners, it’s time to refocus, revisit priorities, and recommit to implementing systems that will enable you to achieve real success in the coming year. Below are my top 10 recommendations for a successful 2012. If you are ready to retake control of your practice, enjoy greater prosperity, and experience considerably less stress, read on.

10.Give and Receive Feedback
Most dental practices are small operations. You work closely with one another and there is no room for backbiting, hidden agendas and the like. It’s essential that the CEO/dentist sets the tone. Praise openly, establish expectations clearly, and constructively redirect when necessary. This street should run both ways. Welcome feedback from employees and patients as well. When receiving feedback make a conscious decision to listen carefully to what the person is saying and control your desire to respond. Recognize that feedback is one of the most critical tools you have in achieving your full professional potential.

9. Recognize and Reward Your Team
A well-constructed rewards program has specific criteria and objectives. Ultimately, the program should be designed to work for the good of the practice and to help move the practice and the team toward established goals. 

8. Stop and Listen to the Person behind the Patient
It’s common for doctors to be so focused on what they need to tell the patient, they forget to consider what the patient may want to share with them. Dentists are very good at telling patients what they should do, what’s wrong, what the best course of treatment is. While that information is critical to patient education and proper care, listening is essential to building a positive relationship with the person. Ask questions and pay attention. Keep notes in the patient records and acknowledge milestones in the patient’s life, such as a child going off to college, an upcoming wedding, or the patient achieving a personal goal, etc. It’s all part of building the personal side of your professional relationship with patients. Why is this important? Because patients are far more likely to accept recommended treatment when the doctor is interested in them as a person.

7. Make the Most of a Treatment Coordinator
With proper training, treatment coordinators can be expected to achieve an 85% rate of treatment acceptance. The doctor is still actively involved; however, his/her emphasis is on diagnosing and delivering care. With a treatment coordinator, the doctor recommends treatment; the treatment coordinator further explains it and answers the patient’s many questions. Next, s/he makes sure the patient is scheduled. If the patient doesn’t schedule immediately, it is the treatment coordinator who follows up. S/he offers reassurance and unlimited assistance to the patient in helping them fully understand the treatment, the need for it, and the benefits of pursuing it.

6. Establish Specific Job Descriptions for Each Employee
Define the job that each staff member is responsible for performing. Specify the skills the person in the position should have. Outline the precise duties and responsibilities of the job. Include the job title, a summary of the position, and a list of job duties. This can be the ideal tool to explain to employees exactly what is expected of them. And I guarantee your employees will appreciate knowing what is expected. Best of all, job descriptions are the cornerstone of employee accountability.

5. Create a Superior New Patient Experience

  • Provide a relaxed, non-rushed environment when explaining treatment.
  • Explain to the patient how you will make her/him comfortable during treatment and what options are available, such as anesthetic.
  • Explain in simple language the reasons the procedures are necessary.
  • Use educational tools, like video or other visual aids.
  • Ask the patient questions to determine if s/he has any false ideas about treatment. (For example, many patients still think that root canal therapy involves removing the roots.)
  • Be empathetic to the patient’s concerns about the condition of his/her teeth. Patients who have postponed dental care are often embarrassed by their oral health.
  • Make sure the benefits and the possible risks to the procedures are understood.

Next week, my top 4 recommendations for 2012.

Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.

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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