Want Fewer Problems? Do This.
“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan” - Eleanor Roosevelt. Doctors and dental teams would do well to post those words where they can be reminded of that truism daily. We see dentists and their staff expending a lot of energy wishing. They wish they could curb appointment failures. They dream about treatment acceptance. They long for less drama and more collaboration. They yearn for fewer problems and issues in the practice.
Yet they scramble through their days. They huff and they puff in frustration. They go home exhausted and return the next day to battle through it all again, running and reacting to whatever comes their way. And what’s the return on this investment of aggravation? Weak profits, high overhead, employee turnover, costly patient attrition, and seemingly endless stress.
Wishing doesn’t yield much in the results column. Stop longing for things to be different and start planning to create the change you want to see, beginning with your attitude. The difference between those who are successful and those who are merely average often boils down to how they see themselves. Do you see yourself and your team as high-capacity players who consistently deliver excellence? Do you see your practice as the most successful or among the very best in your community? How do you talk to yourself and your team? Are you negative, condescending, and destructive? Or are you encouraging, positive, and helpful? I guarantee that how you see yourself and your team as well as how you talk to yourself and your employees directly affect your success.
There is a fundamental reality in the workplace: Happy employees produce. And doctors who enjoy coming to work are far more successful than those who’ve lost their passion. But what does all this talk about success and happiness have to do with expending energy on planning? Happy, successful people plan. They aren’t in a perpetual cycle of reacting to what is happening to them; rather they are creating their reality through the deliberate actions they take every day.
In the dental practice, the most effective, accomplished, and content teams meet regularly to plan their success. Yes, the humble meeting is a cornerstone in the happy, productive, and successful practice. But it’s not just a matter of gathering everyone in a room and talking. Effective meetings follow a plan, naturally.
There are two types of meetings that practices need to carve out a sliver of time for: the daily meeting and the monthly meeting. The daily meeting is brief and to the point; you’re not sitting around the break room table with coffee and donuts. This is a summary meeting that lasts 15-20 minutes and takes place before the first patient arrives. The objective of the daily meeting, which is led by a designated employee and not the doctor, is to discuss the day’s schedule as well as recap yesterday’s highlights and what’s on tap for tomorrow.
Specifically, you want to determine where emergencies should be placed. Additionally, clinical staff should review patient records before the meeting. If Mrs. Smith is coming in for her professional dental cleaning, and she has a cracked tooth that she has not scheduled for treatment, this is the opportunity to emphasize to her the importance of addressing dental needs before they become dental emergencies. Additionally, if Mrs. Smith has $1,000 in unused dental insurance benefits, it’s a good opportunity to remind her that if those benefits are not used, she will lose them, which brings me to my next point.
Finally, daily meetings provide an excellent opportunity for clinical assistants to consider where the doctor is most likely to get backed up, causing the schedule to run behind. Thus, they can determine in advance if additional assistance will be needed to prep for a particular procedure or if hygiene checks need to be adjusted to ensure smooth patient flow through the day.
A mere 15 minutes a day will go a long way in helping the team plan to succeed.Next week, addressing the “big picture.”
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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