Each week over the past six years, I have written this newsletter to offer tips and guidance for you on a multitude of practice management topics. I have never requested anything in return, until now. Today I am asking you to help someone very close to me, my friend Risa Simon. Risa is in need of a kidney transplant and she’s having a difficult time finding a healthy blood type O donor. Through the power of this newsletter, I am able to reach thousands of individuals, all of us having the common bonds of dentistry and a sincere desire to help others.
Many of you may know Risa. She has spoken nationwide to dental groups throughout the country. She is one of dentistry’s leading experts on OSHA, ergonomics and operatory efficiency. Risa is a bubbly and passionate individual, and over the years we have devoted our lives to helping dentistry. We both started our consulting careers as assistants doing time and motion studies in the treatment room. While we may have begun as competitors, as our speaking engagements intertwined, we eventually met and became “sisters.”
Risa has hereditary polycystic kidney disease, which has already squelched 80% of her kidney function. This genetic disease has no treatment or cure. Only a kidney transplant or dialysis will sustain Risa's life. And while dialysis is designed to preserve life, it can be debilitating, demoralizing and extremely restrictive. Be it tethered to a machine in an outpatient setting three to four hours a day (three times a week), or exchanging fluids several times a day (every day) at home, the task is arduous to say the least. So while dialysis may seem like it's a viable option, experienced users have said that it feels like it's only postponing their death.
Right now, in addition to my friend Risa, there are more than 87,000 people waiting for a kidney. On average their wait for a deceased donor is five years. Yet almost any healthy individual can donate a kidney at any time! I am hopeful that Risa can receive a kidney transplant - before she is forced to go on dialysis. Transplant recipients can live a normal life with very few restrictions.
Will you please help me inspire good-hearted individuals who are already seeking extraordinary avenues to serve humankind to step forward on Risa's behalf? Perhaps you, personally, would like to help Risa but are concerned about the cost. I am pleased to tell you that her medical insurance will pay all medical expenses at Mayo Hospital in Phoenix, AZ.
You’ve wanted to make a powerful and profound impact on this world for many years. Learn what you can do to help Risa and others at www.kidneykinships.org, or contact me or Risa Simon directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are hundreds of thousands of people already searching for more purposeful service. Becoming a living kidney donor can be life changing for the recipient and the donor, particularly when this selfless gift can be celebrated by both parties. You can also help Risa by becoming a part of her team of advocates.
I am confident that we are just a click away from making an extraordinary difference in Risa’s condition. Please join me in forwarding this newsletter to colleagues, friends and family, and most importantly, please help me to save my friend's life. I truly believe that there is an army of angels – people just like you – who can make this happen for Risa and many, many others. Please do what you can now.
Thank you my friends,
Run This Report – It's Critical!
Dr. Jim Carrigan – Case Study #221
Your dental management software program provides you with numerous reports. This article is to teach you about one report that can make or break your Hygiene Department, which in turn, curtails the growth of your practice. This report is called the Past Due Recall Report. If you have seen this report in the past 30 days, good for you! If you haven’t, then you need to. Dr. Carrigan had never seen this report, and he was concerned because the number of new patients coming into his general family practice dropped from 35 down to 21 in one month. What he discovered was that his practice was the revolving door- new patients were coming in the top, and existing patients were dropping out the bottom.
Let’s take a look at Dr. Carrigan’s hygiene statistics:
Pre-appointing all Patients
What has just happened? Mrs. Jones now has an appointment six months from now that she probably is going to cancel, or worse, not appear and fail to cancel. Five months from now, there is a patient that wants an appointment soon but there is no place to put them, since the schedule is full with patients that scheduled six months ago, including Mrs. Jones, who said that she wasn’t sure what her schedule was. Statistically, about one-fourth to one-third of all patients that pre-schedule will either cancel or not show for their appointment! That’s 2-4 patients per day per hygienist. The problem is, you don’t know which ones it will be until you call the day before or they don’t arrive at all. At the same time – it isn’t the patients’ fault when they plainly tell you that they don’t know what their schedule will be six months from now.
The Solution: Don’t schedule those patients! Suzie would respond with, “Mrs. Jones, that is perfectly fine. I understand. The envelope that you addressed to yourself in the hygiene room will be mailed to you about a month before you are due. You can call us then and schedule your appointment at a time that is convenient for you.”
The 12-month Past Due Recall Report
Please run your Past Due Recall Report for the past 12 months. You may find that you don’t need more new patients, you just need a system to retain the ones that you already have!
Survey Says! What Patients Look For in a Dental Practice
If you haven’t surveyed your patients recently or if it has been a year or more, now is the time - before you start the New Year. The recession is still upon us, but recovery is coming and we must determine how we will greet new patient expectations. Patients will be asking for more satisfaction, and have the choice of choosing another provider if your practice does not stack up. Ask patients that come into the office if they will take a couple of minutes to answer your survey and drop the answer sheet into a “suggestion box.” The comments can be anonymous or can be signed; it is up to the patient. Or you can do a more private mail-in survey. There is a patient survey offered on the McKenzie Management website that you can customize to fit your needs. A dental practitioner recently sent me the results of his survey, and the patients in his practice listed the following attributes as most desirable for them in a dental practice:
This list of desired practice qualities should already be part of your practice - and yet from what is observed in some practices, it may be lacking in consistency. From a survey of dentists, it is noted that many dentists do post-op calls to patients in the beginning of their practice career, but later it drops off to sporadic or the task is given to a dental assistant. Some dentists are referred to as “rough” because their technique in giving injections is uncomfortable to the patient, yet little is done to improve their skill. The same goes for working in the patient’s mouth. A dental hygienist in one practice got a reputation for being rough and cutting patient’s lips with her instruments to a point that several patients asked if someone else could do their cleanings.
A patient who had received a treatment proposal was dismayed that it changed quite radically when the treatment was begun. She wasn’t informed that there was a good possibility that the two fillings she needed would turn out to be crowns, so she had sticker shock at the front desk and was not able to pay the entire amount. She told the business coordinator that she would continue there as a patient, but she would not recommend the practice to her friends or family. Often doctors want to try to be conservative knowing very well that the tooth will fracture during the preparation. It is better to prepare the patient for the worst that could happen, and then if it doesn’t happen they are happier for the cost to be less than to be more than anticipated.
With fewer people seeking regular care because of the effects of the recession, it is imperative that the dental practice provides the best customer service possible for each patient that walks through the door. If you are designing some of the questions for a patient survey, you may want to consider asking some of the following:
Building positive relationships with your patients creates trust that you are the practice where the patients want to hang their hat for a lifetime. Let the patient know that you care about what they think, and that you will listen to their request to improve your service.
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