3.26.10 Issue #420 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Are You Getting Your Monies Worth?
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Doctor, are you getting your monies worth out of your practice these days? I know we’ve seen some challenging economic times. But the signs of improvement become more evident every day, and your practice is likely at a crossroads. As the recovery slowly unfolds, will your dreams remain locked in the nightmare that was the Great Recession or are you ready to reclaim your professional ambitions?

What if I told you that if you make a single management system change in your practice, from here on out there will be a check worth $8,500 waiting for you at the end of every month – an extra $102,000 a year? Would you be interested in learning more? What if instead of $8,500 per month, it nearly quadrupled to $32,000 per month for a nice $384,000 extra a year? And for as long as you are in practice, no one could take that money away from you. Might you be willing to sit down and seriously think about what I have to say?

Would you stop and take notice? Would you say, “Yes! Tell me what I need to do to make that happen now!” Or would your response be, “Oh Sally, that sounds really interesting, but we’re doing our best to keep the schedule full, to collect from patients, to keep peace among my stressed out team, to figure out where the money’s coming from for the next expensive marketing campaign, and do the dentistry as time allows. I’d really rather be sick with worry, and regret the day I ever set foot in dental school, than make any change in the way we do things.”

Sound familiar? I never cease to marvel at what dentists will put themselves through. Doctor after doctor is virtually buried under the weight of unnecessary stress and anxiety, telling themselves all the while that “this is just the way dentistry is.” No it is not. This is the way you choose to spend your career - and why? Because you are afraid to spend a few days and a few dollars and make the changes necessary to improve the systems that will turn your practice and your life around. I suggest you explore a different path.

The figures in the second paragraph are real - $102,000, $384,000. They are an example of what McKenzie Management consultants recently were able to do in 90 days in just a few practices - extra income on top of what the practices were already bringing in. For every dollar these practices invested with McKenzie Management, they made up to $3.50. And that’s only the monetary return. Where else can you get that kind of a return on an investment?

The dollar figures alone don’t begin to account for the huge improvement in your quality of life: less stress, more enjoyment, retirement savings, a team that respects and works well together for the betterment of the practice, individual staff who understand their roles and are ready to deliver not 40% or 80% of the time but 100%. And it doesn’t stop there, it carries over to your patients who are educated to understand what dentistry has to offer and appreciate the care that you deliver.

Still, for some doctors the logic, the numbers and the results simply cannot overcome the misinformation that all they have to do is launch an expensive marketing campaign, bring in a few more new patients, and everything will be just fine. I can hear it now: “The last campaign only cost me $20,000. I had tons of calls. The phones were ringing off the hook. I got 20 new patients. Ten of them haven’t been back since the initial offer and I think I might need to invest another $15K as a refresher. But hey, it was worth it.” Swishhhhhhh a fortune down the drain. And for what? These doctors are happy for a while, feeling successful for today, but it simply doesn’t last because the internal systems are crippled. 

The choice is yours. You can keep throwing money away on old ideas and broken systems that continually fail – regardless of the economy. Or you can increase your practice revenues and enjoy the ongoing payoff of proven strategies that have worked consistently for nearly 30 years.

Are you ready to get your monies worth out of your practice? If so, call me at 877-777-6151.

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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Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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The New Patient In The Office

The phone rings and the front office person answers the phone, “Good Morning Dr. Nike’s office, this is Jean how may I help you?” The patient begins to explain that they would like to make an appointment to see the doctor. The person on the phone is a new patient, the future of your practice, and they would like to make an appointment with the doctor. This is the first impression that is going to be set with this new patient. Remember, we are not only a health care profession, we are a service oriented business. Doing what all the other offices do, or what the patient expects your office to do, is not going to make your office out-shine the other offices in the area.

The less work put on the patient, the more impressed they will be with your office. This also enables the office to stay in control when it comes to making sure all the information needed is at the office by the time of the appointment. Having a patient show up and not be able to proceed with the appointment because the x-rays were not requested or the patient isn’t able to use their insurance in your office is counterproductive.  Collecting the correct information before the patient even enters the office will make the actual office visit go that much smoother and add a WOW factor to the professionalism and organization that exists in your office.

Here are some of the questions your office may want to find out from a new patient: who you can thank for referring them, patient date of birth, phone number home, cell, and work, e-mail address, home address, patient’s chief concern, pre-med needed, artificial joint, when placed, orthopedic surgeon’s name, allergies, pharmacy phone number, previous dentist, permission to request records, insurance information, subscriber name, insurance id number, employer, group number, insurance 800 number, insurance name, and any additional information they are willing to provide you. Notes should be made and placed in the chart area where everybody knows where to find them.

With more and more offices going paperless, a lot of this information may be done via the fax machine, e-mail, or the patient may even be able to download the health history and HIPAA forms for your office and return them immediately. Then you don’t have to worry about paperwork being filled out last minute by the patient because they forgot it on the desk at home. You want to avoid causing a rushed first appointment by not spending the first fifteen minutes of the initial exam in the reception room while the patient fills out paperwork.

Now the office needs to contact the previous dentist. This phone call and the information gathered here is equally important. Yes, you could wait and interview the patient when you do the medical and dental history, but all of the dates are going to be guessed and we all know that many times the patient doesn’t know when their last dental appointment was. Time has a way of going faster than people think when it comes to their last dental appointment.

Some of the questions you will want to ask the previous dentists are: when were the last bitewings and full mouth series? If they are current, request a copy be mailed or emailed to your office. Has the patient been root planed? When was the last root planing? Were they being seen as a periodontal maintenance? When was their last prophylaxis or periodontal maintenance appointment? Request a copy of probing and periodontal surgery. Are they under the care of a periodontist? If so, who? With many insurance companies, it does not matter where the root planing was done just as long as they have a past record of it. There are a few insurance companies that require the patient to have root planing every 2 years in order to remain as a periodontal maintenance recall. So, if the patient has a history of root planing or surgery, this person may need to be referred to a periodontist, be root planed, or go into your recall as a periodontal maintenance, not prophylaxis.

The insurance company may provide a lot of this information, but if it is a new insurance company, then they will not have accurate dates like the previous dentist or periodontist will. This also enables your office to have a record of treatment prior to the patient entering your office. Let’s call it the baseline of the patients existing conditions before entering your office.

The person that answers the phone should have good verbal skills and sound happy. Having a smile on their face when they answer the phone will help. This phone call should not sound rushed or be rushed because of what is going on in the office that the patient on the phone cannot see. This is where the voice levels of the staff member may make a patient have a positive or negative opinion of the office before they even enter.

You may be the best dentist or hygienist in the world, but if the patient never makes it into the office because of the initial contact, it just doesn’t matter how good your dentistry is.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

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Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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3 Steps to Warming Up Your Practice Climate

Workplace climate is the atmosphere that employees and patients experience when they are in your office. Research across all industries indicates that a positive work climate can account for a nearly 30% increase in financial results. It also has been found that 50-70% of work climate is determined by the style of the leader. In other words, you have a HUGE impact on the workplace environment.

How would you categorize the climate in your practice these days?

  • Warfare
  • Peaceful Co-Existence
  • Active Mutual Support

If warfare, you’re in serious trouble. Conflict will drain productivity and cripple your practice. Wishing and hoping that it will go away is fantasy-thinking. Unaddressed conflict only increases in intensity. It results in marginal performance, creates poor patient service and ultimately drives out good employees. Workplace climate has been shown to be the single most important factor influencing employee well-being.

If your practice is experiencing negativity, stress, and poor employee attitudes you’ve been negligent. Either you’re aggressive and model bad behavior, or you’ve stuck your head in the sand and allowed problems to fester and grow. The remedy is basic. Get to the root cause and ensure that all staff can work with dignity and respect in order to have a positive workplace experience.

Peaceful co-existence is better than warfare, but you still need to step up to the leadership plate. You’re getting less than optimal performance from your staff. Granted, the back-biting and snipping are absent and that’s a good thing. However, if your employees are merely ‘co-existing’ that means they’re doing just enough to get by. They’re watching the clock. They’re likely to be taking care of personal business on company time. Employees who co-exist don’t go the extra mile, for one another or for patients… or for you. They hold back the extra effort they could bring to their jobs.

If your practice climate is one of active mutual support, congratulations! You’ve enabled your employees to move from merely “doing tasks” to true “engagement.” The benefits of office unity are plentiful - improved patient care and service, increased job satisfaction and employee loyalty, stimulated creativity and profitability. Happy employees are more likely to accept ownership of their responsibilities, and much more inclined to do whatever it takes. Attracting patients is easier in an environment of hospitality.

The good news is that creating this kind of positive, enthusiastic climate is within your grasp. It takes strong leadership and a willingness to modify your actions as follows.

1. Accept Responsibility For The Climate In Which You Ask People To Work
Each day before you walk in the door, check your mood. If it’s anything short of positive, take a minute to shift gears. Deep breathing helps to clear the mind. Get an image of what it feels like when things go smoothly and successfully through the day. Be intentional and model the kind of behavior you want from employees and patients. As the leader of the practice, you set the tone. And whether you realize it or not, employees and patients are watching you. They take their cue from you. If you’ve shown bad behavior, apologize and strive to do better in the future. Seek peer or professional support.

2. Get Engaged With Your Employees
This doesn’t mean that you need to befriend everyone in your office but you do need to schedule time for employee management. I recommend 30 minutes a day. Your first reaction is likely, “Are you nuts? You want me to give up 2.5 billable hours a week to do what?” No, I’m not kidding and I guarantee that you’ll get some pretty immediate returns on your investment of time. By devoting as few as 30 minutes a day to talking with, observing, and training employees there will be fewer errors and interruptions, increased billings, and higher productivity overall.

When you engage with your employees, encourage them to share ideas, information, reactions and perspectives. Listen to them and involve them in decision making. Build consensus. Set clear goals for each individual employee. In doing so you demonstrate respect for what people think, you keep disagreements constructive and you create urgency about action.  

3. Have Conversations That You’ve Been Avoiding
Team meetings are no substitute for one-on-one talks. A blanket statement about the importance of showing up to work on time is rarely heard by the one person who is chronically late. If you need to address an issue with an employee, schedule a 15 minute conversation with him/her. Of course you will prepare in advance and even have some notes about what you want to say. Focus on performance not personality. Give specific behavioral examples of what and how you want him/her to do things differently. Agree to talk again in 1-2 weeks as follow-up.

These are the basic premises that foster extraordinary performance. By committing to follow these three steps, your office will experience global warming in the most positive sense.

Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at coach@mckenziemgmt.com

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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