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2.29.08 Issue #312 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Dental Forms
Team Motivation
Cell Phone Etiquette

Dental Forms Fast, Easy, Efficient, and Fully Customizable
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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“My practice is unique.” “We’re not like everyone else.” “We like to do things a certain way.” Indeed, dental practices are as individual as the dentists running them and the dental teams working in them. Although one aspect of running a dental practice may be universal – paperwork and lots of it – even that varies from practice to practice.

As every dental team knows all too well, before treatment can begin on any patient, reams of documentation and specific forms must be gathered. Medical history forms, informed consent, dental treatment options forms, treatment refusal forms, oral cancer screening forms, teeth whitening consent forms, refusal for X-ray forms, financial policy forms and on, and on, and on. Although many software programs give a variety of options for creating forms, I’ve found that MedicTalk DentForms, which works with most practice management software programs, provides virtually unlimited flexibility in customizing dental forms. And dental teams using the program concur.

For example, In Dr. Kenneth Pierson’s office, which is a sedation-only practice, several required forms simply weren’t available through standard software programs. Though his office could create paper forms and scan them in, there was no mechanism for actually designing specific computerized forms that would enable the practice to electronically gather and save all the necessary data his practice needs on every patient. That is, until he began working with DentForms. “It’s extremely flexible and allows you to save a lot of data and information without consuming a huge amount of your computer memory. It’s also very customizable. With most other programs, you don’t have the option to customize. It’s just take it or leave it. That’s not the case with DentForms,” says Dr. Pierson.

DentForms allows a practice to create digital reproductions of all paper forms. They can be changed, updated or modified – fully customized – based on the information needed. Forms requiring patient signatures, such as informed consent, HIPAA, medical histories and others, are stored in a digital format on the computer. No paper required. No filing necessary. No storage cabinet needed. And for those practices seeking to become truly paperless, no need to generate paper forms for the patient to complete and then scan them into the computer system. Now there’s a savings of time and money

Steve Lovotti is the business administrator in Dr. Pamela DiTomasso’s office. What he has found most beneficial with the DentForms system is that it’s not a static piece of software. “We can create any form we need and set it up exactly the way our office needs it set up. It’s become a huge time saver for us.” Among the many electronic documents that Dr. DiTomasso’s office has customized to meet the practice’s specific needs are the medical history, dental history, HIPPA, and any form that requires a patient signature. “It’s just extremely user- friendly,” adds Steve.

So, how does the patient complete the form without your practice having to print it out and hand it to them on a clipboard? This is accomplished by using a computer in the office. What about the patient’s signature? A signature device exactly like those used in virtually every grocery store allows the patients’ signature to be entered electronically on the document and is considered legal and binding. Even better, the system won’t allow a busy dental team member to overlook a required signature. To sign, the patient simply clicks the mouse and their electronically stored signature is applied to the appropriate document. The process is incredibly simple, fast and efficient for patients and the practice. As an added benefit, patients can complete forms online before their appointments if they prefer.

No more lost paperwork. No more required forms overlooked or forgotten. No more signatures required but not obtained. No more scanning documents into your system. What’s more, the program ensures that you never lose your records due to fire. They won’t fade or become damaged. They can’t be lost or misplaced and they can be backed up effortlessly.

It’s definitely the answer to the burdens of practice paperwork.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at
Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
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Want More Employee Motivation In Your Practice?
Tune Into WII-FM

Dentists often complain to me that at least one person in their office “just isn’t motivated”. I tell them that it’s not true. Everyone is motivated by something. The question is what motivates your staff?

Employees are generally more willing to do things that benefit them personally than they are wiling to do things that benefit your practice. I’m not being cynical or negative. It’s a psychological fact about human nature. If you want a higher performing staff, you’ve got to tune into WII-FM, the what’s-in-it-for-me station.

Leadership is about influence. This happens best when you connect what you want employees to do with the benefits they will gain by doing it. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to think that your employees are motivated by the same things as you are. This is rarely true. If you try to persuade your employees by what motivates you, your words will fall on deaf ears. As Aristotle said, “The fool tells me his reason; the wise man persuades me with my own.” 

You don't need to have a Ph.D. in psychology to influence others but you do need to be curious. Take an interest in your employees' comments and actions. Find ways every day to learn about each member of your team. What are the themes behind their words and behaviors? Where do their needs and your needs coincide? How can you use their natural drive to help you to reach your most important practice goals? Now that’s truly a win-win situation.

To answer these questions, temporarily set aside your own beliefs and values. Be careful to avoid being judgmental. You might not always agree with what’s important to an employee but give them the right to their own opinions. When you stay open-minded to different perspectives, you can connect with your staff on a meaningful level. Getting people to talk about what's important to them solidifies relationships. That builds trust and team cohesion.

To be a more effective leader, you may need to modify the way you engage your staff. “Telling” someone what you want them to do is very different from “selling” them on the idea. I am not suggesting that you revert to “high-pressure” sales tactics. By “selling,” I mean look for ways to get your employees emotionally committed to their responsibilities. Focus on the benefits, not the costs. This inspires buy-in rather than compliance.

Let’s take an example. Jenny is your chairside assistant. She’s pleasant. All your patients like her. She’s been with you since you started the practice. She does what you ask her. And therein lies the problem. She only does what she is asked to do. She rarely initiates any clean-up outside her immediate area...unless you ask her. She’s compliant but you want her to be motivated to go beyond her individual duties. You wish she would assume a higher level of responsibility. After all, she’s been with you for many years. But whenever she has extra time you find her up at the front desk talking with your receptionist.

What is Jenny telling you through her behavior? You might say, “She’s lazy.” If you settle for that short-sighted explanation, you’re going to miss an opportunity to learn about her. You need to look beyond your judgment of Jenny’s chattiness and be curious about what drives her.

It’s likely that Jenny is demonstrating a social nature. She values interaction with people. She’s probably an extravert. If you want her to initiate additional responsibilities on her own, assign her to activities that involve others because that’s what motivates her. Be creative. Think of your office operations and list the tasks that are interpersonally based. Jenny’s much more likely to get those things done withoutbeing asked.

Be a more inspirational leader with your team. Start by finding out what’s important to each and every one of your team. See them for who they are. Look at things fromtheir point of view. Adjust your strategy to go withnot against – their natural motivators. When you use this approach you will find that it’s easy and even fun to motivate others. You’ll be helping them get what they want while simultaneously accomplishing your own objectives. 

Tune into the WII-FM signal, and stop listening to static.

Create the right environment that sustains profitability through employee commitment and engagement.
Contact Dr. Haller at

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Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Cell Phones and the Work Place

How many times have you been in the middle of working on a somewhat relaxed patient when suddenly his/her cell phone rings? The patient jumps and you move the scaler quickly to avoid collision with the soft tissue. How many times does the patient answer the phone during the course of the treatment time? Or, how many times does the cell phone ring, the patient does not answer it and you get to enjoy the beep or whatever noise the phone makes every minute or so? This is an annoyance you don’t want when you are working to provide the patient with the quality of care necessary in the time allotted. 

How should we approach our patients when it comes to the use of the cell phone during treatment time? What exactly is the patient not saying verbally when the cell phone takes precedence over his/her scheduled appointment time?

Here are some ideas when it comes to the control and etiquette of cell phones.

  • Have a sign, visible in the reception area, requesting that cell phones be turned off while in the treatment area.
  • Establish a habit of asking the patient to turn off their cell phone after you have greeted them.

“Hello, Roy. How are you today? To give you the time that is needed to complete your treatment, we are requesting that you please turn your cell phone off during your appointment today.”

Putting the cell phone on vibrate only prevents the noise. It does not prevent the patient from being more interested in the incoming call than the education and information being presented. It is better to have the patient turn it off completely.

If the patient refuses to turn the cell phone off but agrees to set it to vibrate, this is better than being subjected to the distraction created by the ringtone.

It is not recommended to just stop everything you are doing because the patient’s cell phone rings.

If the cell phone vibrates and you are in the middle of the procedure, the best thing to do is get to a point in the treatment, when it is convenient for you, and then state, “Go ahead and see who it is. Is it an emergency?  Do you need to get that?” By asking these questions, you are informing the patient that, unless it is an emergency, it may be a good idea not to answer the phone at this time. The patient may think twice before answering if there is some resistance.

By giving the patient the opportunity to see the caller ID and decide whether it is important to take the call, the patient is more apt to stay an active participant in their dental appointment.

It is equally important, in providing great customer service, to remind the patient to turn on their cell phone when they leave the office. The office may want to have a sign at check-out reminding them to turn their cell phone on.

Once the money has been collected and the next appointment has been made, the Scheduling Coordinator may want to say, “Roy, we appreciate that you turned off your cell phone during the appointment.  If you have not turned it back on I want to remind you now.” Hearing this, other patients will be reminded to turn the cell phones off during their appointments.

What about employees and their use of cell phones? Employees should be turning their cell phones off, too. This includes checking emails, text messaging and voicemail. The doctor is not paying employees to conduct personal and other business while on the clock. They should be checking their voicemail, text messages and e-mails at lunch or at scheduled break times. The employee policy for cell phone use should be included in the Employee Policy Manual to establish consistency and cooperation.

If the employees have their cell phones in non-ring mode, they are not concentrating on the patient and work at hand. If they are sending text messages or getting emails, they will be anticipating replies rather than giving 100% to the patient and to job duties.

If you expect the patients to be committed 100% to their appointment time with you, it is only right for the team to be committed 100% to the patient’s time and the doctor’s time. This mutual value of time builds trust and respect for all parties involved in the treatment process.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email  Interested in having Jean speak to your dental society or study club Click Here.

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