10.18.13 Issue #606 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Profitability, Production, and Patients in 2 Hours or Less
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Dentists continually express their frustration over challenges they experience motivating their teams. Yet they do little to create a culture in which employees feel engaged, valued, and part of the decision-making process. Doctors commonly set themselves up as the wise sage of the practice, the guru, and the go-to-person for any and all matters. The unfortunate and often unintended byproduct is a virtual strangulation of creative problem solving. Employees commonly lament, Why should we give input? If it’s not the doctor’s idea, she will make an excuse for why our suggestions won’t work. Or, We’d like to recommend changes, but the doctor never gives us the opportunity; he shuts us down if we try to offer suggestions. The employees you want on your team have no interest in merely being cogs in your wheel.

Quality employees want to deliver quality work and be part of a collaborative process. But real collaboration requires a commitment of time and energy to identify and address issues and explore opportunities that will enable the team to become more effective in their roles, and enable the practice to become more profitable and successful. Racing from procedure to procedure day after day doesn’t lend itself to building strong collaborative teams. Rather, it requires time away to meet and discuss challenges and opportunities that the practice faces. In other words, it comes down to well-planned and well-organized staff meetings.

It is in monthly staff meetings that the team has the opportunity to identify and solve problems, examine areas of responsibility/systems, establish policies, present information, motivate and educate one another, exchange ideas - all of which are vitally important to growing a thriving practice and creating a culture of engagement, inspiration, and problem solving.  

Allow about two hours a month for your staff meetings and make sure the agenda is delivered in advance; otherwise employees will not be prepared to discuss matters that require their input and are likely to perceive that you don’t really want it. The agenda should include standard items that the practice is continuously monitoring - all areas affecting the profitability/success of the practice. For example: numbers of new patients, recall patients, collections, treatment acceptance, production, accounts receivables, unscheduled time units for doctor and hygiene, overhead, etc.

One person is responsible for compiling and distributing the agenda to doctor and staff in advance of the meeting. However, this person is not in charge of developing the entire agenda. That task is the responsibility of the full team. Post the agenda in the break-room or other area where staff will see it regularly and can add items as they come up during the month. Issues that present themselves regularly in the daily huddle but require more involved discussion and analysis should be put on the monthly meeting agenda. In addition, consider items such as improving the work environment, examining the patient experience in detail, practice/patient communication, etc.

List the most critical issues highest on the agenda to ensure there is adequate time to talk about them. Determine how much time you will spend discussing each matter, avoid getting bogged down on unrelated topics, and insist that team members come prepared to discuss the items listed. Assign a facilitator/leader (other than the doctor) to “guide” the group in the discussion. Talk about only what is on the agenda.

First, cover the critical systems. For example, the scheduling coordinator would report on key numbers within the scheduling system:
1. New patients scheduled for the month
2. New patients actually seen
3. Number of emergency patients
4. The number and dollar amount of unscheduled time units for the month
5. The number of patients with unscheduled treatment

From there the group can discuss if the practice is on track with its scheduling goals. Are there specific system barriers that are preventing the scheduling coordinator, and consequently the practice, from achieving those goals? Use the collective problem solving skills of the team to develop strategies to address those barriers and help identify solutions to problems that may be occurring in the scheduling system. Seek input from everyone, and don’t be afraid of conflicting views.

Meetings are intended to be designated times in which you can focus all of your energy and team resources on addressing key practice issues. Run correctly, they are the most effective means to identify and solve problems, establish policies, share information, motivate each other, define areas of responsibility, and exchange ideas.

For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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