12.21.12 Issue #563 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Sally's 7 Resolutions for a Successful New Year
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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At long last, the day has arrived. It’s December 21st, and doomsday predictors are likely to be disappointed when they wake up to a world that is still spinning and stockpiles of canned goods that will remain untouched for the foreseeable future. It’s probably fair to say that the only apocalypse you’re going to encounter is the one you’ve created for yourself, something much closer to home than a meteor from a distant galaxy. This would be the cataclysm that comes with the closing of your practice’s budget year.

Although turning over a new leaf with the start of a new calendar may not be an option for the Mayans, the good news for you is that 2013 is just days away and you will have another 365 rotations of the Earth to see to it that next year ends not with fear but with celebration. To ensure that 2013 brings you a host of new opportunities, consider implementing my Top 7 New Year’s Resolutions for the dental practice.

1. Lose Weight - Starting with the Dead Weight in your Practice
Perhaps this is the employee you inherited when you took over the practice. Or you hired her because she had “experience.” You thought she would be great. She knew how to schedule. She knew the computer system. She was going to take care of things, and she is. She’s taking care of causing trouble. She’s taking care of warming the chair and increasing overhead. She’s taking care to call in sick on more days than you can count.

Problem employees cause angst-filled days and sleepless nights. They also are a primary source of conflict among the staff, increased patient cancellations, low treatment acceptance, costly mistakes, and the list goes on. Take charge. Clearly define job responsibilities. With job descriptions, employees understand their responsibilities and your expectations. Moreover, they know who is responsible for which systems and who is accountable for those systems. Additionally, establish clear standards for professional office conduct. Do not tolerate poor attitudes or destructive behaviors among employees. Take a close look at your own personality and make a conscious effort to expand communication with your staff. If they are working against each other and exhibiting poor attitudes and poor performance, they may not be getting enough direction and feedback from you, the doctor.

2. Reduce Debt
Take a close look at production, starting with your hygiene department. It should account for 33% of your total practice production. If the hygienists receive guaranteed salaries regardless of their production, the expectation must be that they produce three times their salaries. To determine how much the hygienist is producing, divide the hygiene salary for the past year by her/his production. If production is falling short, take a careful look at the schedule. The hygienist must be scheduled to produce at 3x her/his daily wage. Achieving that requires you adjust your supply to meet demand and allot the right number of hygiene days - enough to keep patients happy and not having to wait an inordinate amount of time for an appointment, yet not so many that the schedule is riddled with holes and hygiene salaries tip above the 33% benchmark.

3. Spend Less Time Working
Too often dentists and their teams are stealing minutes here, working on borrowed time there, and feeling that achieving the work/life balance is a virtually impossible tightrope trick. Do this: First, consider what the practice needs to produce to meet your financial goals and obligations. How many hours per day and days per week do you want to work? Identifying your practice’s financial demands and the amount of time you want to spend in the office enables you and your team to understand the importance of scheduling to meet daily production goals.

Scheduling time should be communicated clearly to the scheduling coordinator. This basic yet commonly overlooked detail ensures the person in charge of making or breaking your day isn’t forced to guess how much time a procedure will require. Avoid the tendency to engage in “wishful scheduling” in which more time is reserved for the doctor’s “ideal” treatments than the practice has a history of delivering. Rather, calculate the number of crown and implant units or other procedures over the last six months and divide by the number of days worked. Then you can reserve time in the schedule based on the number of units actually performed.

Next week, Part 2 of Sally’s 7 Resolutions for a Successful New Year.

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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Gene St. Louis
VP Practice Solutions
McKenzie Management
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Taking Pride in Your Job - Time to Renew our Reasons for Working in Dentistry
By Gene St. Louis

I remember several years ago when I graduated from Dental Assisting/Administrative College (ok it was 30 years ago), feeling so proud to be in a profession that enabled me to help others and have an impact on their lives. It excited me to be involved in a practice that was like a family unit, all working together for the betterment of the patient. TEAMWORK stands out as one of the key components what was drilled in my head as a student. In addition, respect for not just the patients and other team members but for the DOCTOR.

What caused me to reminisce about the “old days” was the fact that many individuals in dentistry today have not been formally educated. “On the job” training has occurred in over 90% of employees for Dental Assisting and Administrative. According to the American Association of Dental Office Managers annual 2012 report, 56.4% of Dental Office Managers have been in the industry for 15 years or more. This number indicates typically that once we get into dentistry, we generally don’t get out. It is a pleasure to see professional organizations including ADAA, ADHA, and ADA taking pride in the careers we all have chosen. Back in the day, many of us actually took a Creed, Pledge or Oath as a class during our graduation. I suggest this would be a great start to the first team meeting of the New Year with everyone on the team reciting for their profession.

“The object of ethics is to emphasize spirit (or intent) rather than law. Dental ethics applies moral principles and virtues to the practice of dentistry.” American College of Dentists

ADAA Creed For Dental Assistants
To be loyal to my employer, my calling and myself. To develop initiative – having the courage to assume responsibility and the imagination to create ideas and develop them. To be prepared to visualize, take advantage of, and fulfill the opportunities of my calling. To be a co-worker – creating a spirit of cooperation and friendliness rather than one of fault-finding and criticism. To be enthusiastic – for therein lies the easiest way to accomplishment. To be generous, not alone of my name but of my praise and my time. To be tolerant with my associates, for at times I too make mistakes. To be friendly, realizing that friendship bestows and receives happiness. To be respectful of the other person’s viewpoint and condition. To be systematic, believing that system makes for efficiency. To know the value of time for both my employer and myself. To safeguard my health, for good health is necessary for the achievement of a successful career. To be tactful – always doing the right thing at the right time. To be courteous – for this is the badge of good breeding. To walk on the sunny side of the street, seeing the beautiful things in life rather than fearing the shadows. To keep smiling always.
Juliette A. Southard

AADOM Code of Professional Conduct for Dental Office Managers/Administrative
As members of AADOM, we are committed to a Code of Professional Conduct in order to achieve and maintain high levels of integrity, decision-making, and counsel by the members of the profession.  By holding ourselves accountable to meeting the standards stated in the Code of Professional Conduct, we enhance the dental profession’s trust on which our professional privilege is founded.    

1 - Participate in the development and in the advancement of our profession.
2 - Act in ways that bring credit to our profession while demonstrating respect for other colleagues in dentistry.
3 - Promote a positive image for our profession. 
4 - Encourage the highest standard of personal conduct and integrity.  
5 - Always strive to be fair and objective. We are never influenced by issues of gender, race, creed, color, age or personal disability.
6 - Treat all members, vendors and employees with respect at all times. 
7 - Continually strive for knowledge, personal and professional growth.
8 - Develop collaborative professional relationships and exchange knowledge to enhance our own life-long professional development.
9 - Promote ethical behavior and high standards of care in the dental profession.
10 - Develop professional relationships based on truth, honesty, responsibility and accountability. 

Dental Hygiene Oath for Hygienist
In my practice as a dental hygienist, I affirm my personal and professional commitment to improve the oral health of the public, to advance the art and science of dental hygiene, and to promote high standards of quality care. I pledge continually to improve my professional knowledge and skills, to render a full measure of service to each patient entrusted in my care, and to uphold the highest standards of professional competence and personal conduct in the interests of the dental hygiene profession and the public it serves.

American College of Dentists, Dentists’ Pledge
I, as a member of the dental profession, shall keep this pledge and these stipulations. I understand and accept that my primary responsibility is to my patients, and I shall dedicate myself to render, to the best of my ability, the highest standard of oral health care and to maintain a relationship of respect and confidence. Therefore, let all come to me safe in the knowledge that their total health and well-being are my first considerations.

I shall accept the responsibility that, as a professional, my competence rests on continuing the attainment of knowledge and skill in the arts and sciences of dentistry. I acknowledge my obligations to support and sustain the honor and integrity of the profession and to conduct myself in all endeavors such that I shall merit the respect of my patients, colleagues and my community.

I further commit myself to the betterment of my community for the benefit of all society.  I shall faithfully observe the Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct set forth by the profession. All this I pledge with pride in my commitment to the profession and public it serves.

Interested in speaking to Gene about your practice concerns? Email gene@mckenziemgmt.com

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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Paying the Dental Bill - Who is Responsible?
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Dentistry is a people business, and because of that we want warm and friendly people answering the phones and scheduling appointments. Extroverted, feeling type temperaments are great for building practices and making patients feel cared for and appreciated. The down side to these temperaments is that the accounts receivables go up along with the failure to secure written and signed financial agreements prior to delivering dental care. The ability to be warm and friendly yet firm and systematic is an acquired skill that must be taught and coached. Having a written payment policy in place is the first step in the process of learning sound collection tactics. Presenting payment options on a document that clearly defines the patient’s responsibility to pay opens the conversation as to who will pay, when they will pay, and how they will pay. All of these questions must be answered before treatment is rendered. Let me illustrate in two different scenarios:

Case 101: Twenty-one year old Susie Q calls the dental office with a toothache and is appointed that day for an emergency visit. Fees are not quoted and Susie did not ask. When she is brought to the desk and quoted $125 by Berta the Scheduling Coordinator for the visit, she announces that her father, who lives in another state, is responsible for her payment. Her parents are divorced and she lives with her mother in town. The father is billed and Susie makes a follow-up appointment for a root canal, build-up and crown. Susie comes back two days later and is treated in full for the amount of $2300 to add to the existing bill. She has signed nothing. Her father is again billed. At the end of the month, Berta notices that the bill has not been paid and sends another statement to Susie Q’s father. When the bill is over 60 days, Berta calls the father, only to be told that he did not give Susie permission to incur this debt and he is not legally responsible to pay it. No one obtained a written agreement with him nor did Susie call him. Now Berta has to phone Susie Q and try to get her to speak to her father to work out the payment. 

This common scenario takes a lot of time on the phone and written communication. Who is responsible for payment of this account? Consumer credit laws change from state to state, so it is important for anyone who presents financial options in the practice to understand these laws. In general, Susie Q is twenty-one and is responsible for debts she has incurred. If there is a legal document on file regarding child support stating that her father is to cover her dental expenses until she has graduated from college or has reached a certain age, the dental office has no way of knowing that fact. Susie Q does not have any income, so collecting the monies from her are going to be next to impossible, even with the threat of ruining her credit by sending the account to collections. 

Case 102: Eighty-five year old Henrietta calls the dental office because her denture has broken. She is appointed that day. She is a new patient and Dr. T says that the denture cannot be repaired and must be replaced for the fee of $1500, or $2000 if she wants custom teeth. Henrietta wants the custom teeth and impressions are taken that day. She signs an informed consent and a computer generated treatment plan. She is told to pay half at her next appointment in two weeks.

The next day, her daughter Marge calls to complain that her mother is being taken advantage of and demands the treatment be halted as she is the appointed executor of her mother’s estate and must give permission before any work is started. This is another scenario that is becoming more common, as people are living longer yet have to relinquish certain responsibilities such as management of personal and financial affairs to family, attorneys or other legal entities.

By using the WHO, WHEN, and HOW formula along with a written treatment estimate, an informed consent and a financial agreement form, both scenarios would have ended favorably with the practice being paid and the patients and their families pleased with the professional treatment in the practice.

Want to learn more about the professional management of your practice? Call McKenzie Management today to attend a Dental Business Manager course or the Front Office Training course.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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