1.19.07 - Issue # 254 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Indispensable Employees
Committed to Change?
National Provider Identifier

Become the Indispensable Superstar
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Want to get the very most out of your job? Want to love coming to working every day? Want to become one of the most valued members of the team? Who wouldn’t? Many employees are pretty good at what they do, but they often don’t recognize the importance of their attitude, their relationships with co-workers, and the value of being someone the practice can truly depend on. Any employee can become the practice powerhouse. Start first with the basics.

  1. Be a team player. Being part of the dental team means stepping in where you are needed without complaining or saying it’s not your job. It means getting along with others and bringing a positive and helpful attitude into the practice everyday, from the moment you walk in until the moment you leave to go home.
  1. Demonstrate a solid work ethic. If you are expected to be at the office 15 minutes early for the daily meeting, don’t think it’s okay to stroll in five minutes late. It’s not. If you’re given an hour for lunch, take an hour, not an hour and 10 minutes. Even if you had to work 10 minutes into your lunch hour yesterday and feel you’re entitled to it. Avoid the personal phone calls and the temptation to check your personal email at work. The hours and minutes of the workday are not yours to do with as you please. They belong to the doctor and the patients.
  1. Learn something new. Read the journals and learn about best practices in the dental office. There are numerous resources available from online newsletters, to dental society publications, to professional journals that can give you tips and ideas on how to improve every practice system from how to track production, to more effectively using the computer system, to controlling overhead, to creating a superior new patient experience, and the list goes on and on. Constantly look for ways in which you can improve both your own area, as well as, practice systems as a whole. Share what you learn with the team either through copies of articles, offering to conduct a mini-workshop during a staff meeting, or over a lunch and learn with co-workers.
  1. You’re not perfect, and it’s okay to recognize it. Be open to constructive criticism. We all have strengths and weakness and oftentimes they are one in the same. The get-things-done gal, Jackie, may be the one who doesn’t give up until the job is complete. She’s driving through to the goal and nothing is going to stop her. Doctor said he/she wants to be scheduled to meet a certain production goal every day. And Jackie rises to the challenge, doctor will make that and more! Only problem is Jackie has doctor running non-stop from dawn till dusk. When doctor says this isn’t exactly what he/she had in mind. Jackie takes offense. There’s room for improvement in all of us. Direction, guidance, and even criticisms can help us become more effective contributors to the team. Be open to continuous improvement. It’s more than a catch phrase, it’s a way of life and work.
  1. Develop an ownership attitude. Take full responsibility for those systems you are responsible for and commit to making them highly efficient and effective. Provide solutions, not problems. If you are aware of a system, such as collections, that is not as effective as it needs to be for the practice to control overhead, don’t ignore it and wait for the doctor to intervene. Offer to research best practices for collections and bring back a proposal for how the office might implement a more effective collections system. If the practice has a string of new patients coming in and never returning, offer to head up a sub-committee to identify ways to improve the new patient experience. Improving the practice as a whole is everyone’s job.

The dentist doesn’t have all the answers. Take the initiative to explore new ways to conduct business, increase profitability, and improve systems overall. You’ll be well on your way to becoming the indispensable team player.

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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Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Where is Your Magic Wand?

A McKenzie Management Case Study

Dr. William Francis - Case Study #117

Dr. Francis, general dentist, 21 years in practice and suburb practice, was experiencing the same frustrations and struggles as many of our McKenzie Management clients.

  • Declining production and collections
  • Increasing overhead
  • Not enough new patients
  • General burnout and a feeling of hopelessness

“How committed is my client to CHANGE?

Remember that law about “an object in motion stays in motion”?  Dental practices are no exception.  The direction of the practice will not change until some outside influence applies force to cause it to go in a different direction.

It is McKenzie Management’s objective to determine what type of force needs to be applied ,as well as, properly train the employees that are affected by these changes, and to monitor the results of the changes over a period of time.  As Sally McKenzie always says, “Never make a system change if you don’t have a way to monitor the effectiveness of change.”

As I worked with Dr. Francis’ team, I could see the enthusiasm in their responses to the information I was sharing with them.  They had good attitudes and were always receptive to new ideas and system changes because it was going to improve their productivity and efficiency.

Julie, the Schedule Coordinator who had worked with Dr. Francis for over five years, came to me at the end of the first day before I left for dinner with the doctor. 

“Nancy, I so appreciate your willingness to help us but we are all afraid that he won’t change.  When we come up with a good idea and we all agree to do something – he never holds up his end of the agreement.”

Should this comment surprise me?  I knew that I was the 4th consultant that had worked with him!  Is he looking for that special consulting firm that has a magic wand that fixes everything?  Hmmm.

How discouraging this is for a team that wants to be motivated and wants to make changes for practice improvement and they can’t get the doctor on board.

At dinner, Dr. Francis shared with me his primary concerns regarding his experience with previous consultants.

  • His vision wasn’t accomplished
  • His team didn’t follow through
  • His team didn’t have the right attitude
  • His team didn’t like change

“Dr. Francis,” I interrupted, “what was YOUR attitude toward the changes and follow through?”  Amazingly, his response was, “The issues with my practice are all related to changes that need to be made at the front desk….it isn’t about me!”


Doctors, It is ALL about you!  You are the leader of the team.

Your attitude, your sincere interest and your participation in the changes that need to take place to change the course of your practice, set the tone for your employees and how well they accept and implement change.

If you aren’t present during training sessions, this sends a signal to your team that you don’t care or you don’t feel it is important enough to spend your time being there.  Failing to conduct morning huddles when your staff thinks it is a great idea tells them that you don’t care about what they think or feel.  Not having monthly meetings when they see the benefit reflects an “I am not interested in doing anything different that might help” attitude to them.

Dr. Francis was so fortunate to have such wonderful team members who truly cared about their practice and they cared about him as a dentist and as their employer.  I made it clear to him how lucky he truly was to have a dedicated support staff.  However, their candle will start to flicker and will eventually burn out if he doesn’t support them and show enthusiasm and determination in his purpose for the practice.  They can’t do it alone….and he is way too heavy to pull along!

Recommendations for Achievement:

  • Mentally prepare to accept change
  • Be inquisitive and thought-filled
  • Maintain notes and ideas
  • Participate along with your team when learning new systems
  • Remain enthusiastic and positive
  • Implement YOUR part of the system changes
  • Keep the team motivated and on track
  • Work as hard as they do in making change – you set the example
  • Stay dedicated – be a leader

Change is difficult.  Try folding your arms across your chest and then folding them again in the opposite direction.  You have to think about it because it is not “normal”.  However, if you performed the task repetitively, you will change.  The same theory holds true in your practice.

Dr. Francis is still learning to fold his arms in the opposite direction but he now has a much better attitude and is staying determined and focused, because he realizes that it is his practice and he has to work as hard as his team.  He discovered that there is no magic wand for change!

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies….. email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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Have You Registered Your NPI and Updated
Your CDT Codes?

If you haven’t had enough of OSHA and HIPAA, now there is NPI and CDT.  For those new Office Managers enrolled in training at McKenzie’s Advanced Training Center, these abbreviations are a new language of great importance.

Effective May 23, 2007, Federal Law prohibits Health Insurance Carriers from accepting certain types of electronic transactions from any health care provider unless the provider has first obtained and is using its NATIONAL PROVIDER IDENTIFIER or NPI.

What is an NPI?  It is the standard unique identifier for health care providers to use in electronic transactions.  It was mandated as part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA. After May 23, 2007, Federal regulations prohibit payers from accepting any electronic transactions submitted by you, the dentist, if you have not obtained and are not using your NPI.

Individuals will use just one unique provider number to identify themselves to all health plans through which they are employed.  You will not have to change your NPI even if you relocate or change specialties.  The positive is health plans will be able to more efficiently coordinate benefits and track transactions.  Clearinghouses are also required to be able to accept and transmit the NPI by the federal compliance deadline of May 23,2007.

If you do not submit electronic transactions governed by HIPAA, you are not required to obtain an NPI.  You should get one regardless.  Technology is a force to be reckoned with and you have to keep up with it for the value of your practice today and tomorrow.

How to apply?  The application form, available at http. //nppes.cms.hhs.gov, can be submitted free of charge either on paper or electronically.  You may apply for an NPI now, so that you will be ready to use it on all HIPAA governed transactions by the compliance date.  If there are any changes after you have been assigned an NPI, you will need to submit the new information to the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) within 30 days of the change.

Without an NPI, not only will you not be able to submit claims electronically, but you will not be able to check claim status or get online benefits or eligibility inquiries.  After obtaining your NPI, contact your software provider and ask how to load the NPI in the system.  Updated software will have a window in which you may type the NPI so that it will show on all claims going out.  You may also submit your NPI to each individual insurance carrier.  Notices have been coming in the mail with instructions of where to send your NPI.

Now for CDT.  The newest version of the ADA’s Current Dental Terminology or CDT 2007/2008 went into effect January 1, 2007.  This notice is to let dental offices know about the CDT changes and their implementations affecting claim submissions.  The CDT 2007/2008 codebook contains 23 new codes, three deleted codes and various changes to nomenclature and other text.  Two of the deletions will have an impact on many dental offices because the codes were used frequently. The frequently used codes that were deleted are D1201 Topical application of fluoride (including prophylaxis for child and D1205 Topical application of fluoride (including Prophylaxis for adult).  You must now separate these procedures by using two codes.  The code for prophylaxis D1110 adult and D120 Child and the code for fluoride D1203 and D1204 and D1206 provided on the same date of service.  For more information on these deleted codes and new nomenclature get your updated codebook today.  For efficient and speedy return on your claims it is important to keep up with the yearly changes that affect claim submission.  If a deleted code is submitted for payment it will cause the claim to be denied for payment.  This can be costly and time consuming for offices as they have to resubmit and wait again for payment.

If coding claims is confusing and you want individualized training we can customize your Advanced Business Training to answer your toughest questions about maximizing return on your claims.  Call today for more information and make this a year of prosperity for your practice.

For more information on McKenzie's Advanced Training for Front Office and Office Managers, email training@mckenziemgmt.com, call `1-877-777-6151 or visit our web-site at http://www.mckenziemgmt.com/

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