5.17.13 Issue #584 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

7 Strategies for a Successful Practice
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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1. Emphasize the Value
At every visit, stress the value of care and spell out for patients in writing exactly what services and products you and your team provided. Remember, just like retail customers who shop for goods and services, patients are still investing in dental treatment; the difference is that today’s consumers are spending their dollars more cautiously. But just like food, gas, and clothing, oral health care is a necessity, not a luxury. mailto:info@mckenziemgmt.com

2. Pan the Punitive Policies and Procedures
Are your “routine policies” creating barriers for new patients? There are still many practices that don’t answer the phone over the lunch hour. This may be the only time prospective patients have to take care of personal business, but they cannot even schedule an appointment. New patients want to talk to a real person right now; they don’t want to leave a message. Stagger the lunch breaks, and answer the phone during regular business hours.

3. Make Yours a Fee-Friendly Practice
Establish a solid fee for each service. Study fees of other area dentists and income demographics of your patients. Base your fees on the quality of your work and the quality of your team. Use fee psychology. Patients are more accepting of fees ending with $1, $2, $3, $4, $6, $7, and $8. Provide treatment financing, such as CareCredit.

4. Hiring? Ensure New Employee Success
Update or write a job description for the position and tailor it to attract the employee you need. This is a critical tool in the hiring process. It clarifies what skills the applicant must possess, explains what duties they will perform, and it assures that you will have a clear objective when considering each candidate’s credentials. If you know exactly what you’re looking for, you’re less likely to settle for “good enough.”

To help ensure employee success long after the hire, provide some form of personnel policy manual that spells out the office code of conduct, dress code, policies regarding tardiness, overtime, sick leave, office policies and procedures. All employees deserve to know the rules of the game and what they need to do to continue playing. Give direction and constructive feedback often, particularly to new employees. Your team will enjoy far greater success if you offer feedback frequently.

5. Script Your Success
Scripts ensure that when it comes to day-to-day patient communication, everyone on the team conveys the same message. When new patients call the practice, a script ensures that whoever takes the call is prepared to gather necessary information. A script allows clinical team members to consistently reinforce the value of each visit to patients.

Scripts are especially valuable when discussing matters involving money. When it comes to collections, a script enables even the most reticent to effectively request payment from patients. They enable staff to expertly address issues involving insurance, and a well prepared insurance script enables you to educate patients about insurance limitations. Without education, patients rarely understand that while standards of dental care have improved dramatically in the last 25 years, dental insurance coverage remains virtually unchanged. Yet with a carefully developed script, the practice financial coordinator can sit down with the patient and review what’s covered in their dental plan. Discuss the calendar year cap, deductibles, co-pays, coverage for preventive care, etc.

6. Meetings - Agenda for Success
Every staff meeting must have an agenda that includes standard items the practice is continuously monitoring. One person – not the doctor – is responsible for compiling and distributing the agenda. Post it where staff will see it and can add items as they come up during the month. Issues that present themselves regularly but require more involved discussion should be put on the monthly meeting agenda. List the most critical issues highest.

7. Texting Keeps Schedule Full
If your practice has large numbers of working professionals, it’s virtually guaranteed that the vast majority prefer communicating using email or text messaging. Moreover, most working professionals keep their calendars on their computers, iPhones, and Androids. They’ll know immediately if they can keep that appointment and so can your practice. Use text messaging and email to remind busy patients of their appointments. Confirm appointments and fill holes in a matter of minutes.

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
Interested in having Sally McKenzie Seminars 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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Chartless Decisions
By Jean Gallienne, RDH BS

Once you have decided to go chartless, there are many decisions that need to be made. The following are some points you may want to consider when it comes to what you want to keep in the existing patient’s original hard copy, and what you want to input or scan into the computer. Remember, a lot of space is used when scanning in paperwork that may never be looked at again, and if you really need to look at it you can always pull the hard chart. There are also items that are just easier, in the long run, to input into the proper place instead of scanning the information into the patient’s chart.

First, do you input all of the existing patients’ information, or put the information into the computer as the patients return to the practice? By only inputting the information into the computer of the patients that are being actively seen in your practice, not only do you save time, you save money and hard drive space. You may also be surprised at the amount of patient retention you have. The hard chart can always be retained in the practice for future input.

When it comes to periodontal charting, one of the questions you should ask yourself is, what do we really need? Do you only want the original baseline probings that were taken when the patient first entered your practice? Do you want the last probings that were done on the hard copy of the periodontal chart? Do you want both? By putting in the last full mouth probings only, you will need to pull the chart in order to compare the patient's baseline, unless the probings have not changed since their first visit. You really need to consider putting in at least the last probings or the original probings from when the patient entered the practice, so you will have them readily available to compare to the newest probings. Existing fillings done by other dental offices should also be entered, and any treatment you have done in the patient’s mouth should be accurate and up to date also.

 What x-rays will you want to scan in? At the least, you will want the last full mouth series and the last set of individual bite wing x-rays. Again, this is to enable you to compare old x-rays with current x-rays. If you are lucky enough that your bitewing x-rays were mounted in a progressive mount, then go ahead and scan in the entire mount. If you need to look at any x-rays further back, you can always pull the chart.

Will you use templates to create your clinical notes? Do you want to create your own templates so the hygienist is recording all of the information that you want noted in the chart? Where do you want specific notes to go? The entire staff needs to write any notes in the same area. This way everybody knows exactly where to go if they have any questions. 

When putting in treatment plans that come out of the hygiene department, are you going to scan a written treatment plan in? Are you going to have a place where you can enter why the tooth needs the treatment written down? Doing this enables the hygienist to support the treatment plan and talk to the patient about what is going on with the specific tooth.

Do you want to scan all the health histories in or do you want to update everybody’s health history? If you decide to update every patient's health history and input it into the computer directly or scan it in, then you need to realize that every time your patients need to update their health history according to office policy, you will have to do the majority of the practice every time.

When deciding to go chartless, you do not need to reinvent the wheel. When it comes to the information you are going to input and where it is going to go in the clinical side of the chart, it is best to set it up just like the paper chart you have been using for years.

Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151

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Nancy Haller, Ph.D.
Leadership Coach
McKenzie Management
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Busy or Effective?
By Nancy Haller, Ph.D.

When we're busy, we can easily trick ourselves into thinking all of that activity really matters and we are using our time meaningfully. But we only have so much time and energy to give, and when we spread ourselves too thin, we don’t do anything well. Instead, we just do many things poorly. At the beginning of a day, it’s easy to assume you’ll get the important things done at some point. But you know how one distraction leads to the next and the entire day is gone in the blink of an eye. Don’t confuse busy with being effective. Activity is not the same as productivity.  

There are only two ways to spend time…wisely or not so wisely. How much of your time are you spending foolishly? For simplicity sake, let’s say you earn $100,000 per year and work an average of 40 hours per week for 48 weeks. That amounts to 86 cents a minute. Rounding that up to an even dollar, that’s $5 for 5 minutes. Now, ask yourself, how many 5 minute sections of your daily activities are worth that kind of investment?

Keep a time log for one week. In your time log, look at each work activity and decide objectively how much time each was worth to you, and compare that with the time you actually spent on it. An afternoon spent polishing an internal memo into a Pulitzer prize winning piece of provocative prose is waste; an hour spent debating the goodbye gift to a colleague is a waste; a minute spent sorting out the paper-clips is waste (unless it’s relaxation). Don’t allocate time to the trivial. More importantly, if you have a task to do, decide beforehand how long it should take and work to that deadline, then move on to the next task.

 Stop Doing Your Staff’s Work. Having considered what is a complete waste, turn your attention to what is merely inefficient. You say it’s often easier to do the job yourself. You think that putting postage on outgoing mail ensures that bills will be sent that day. Writing the progress report that your dental assistant missed is more pleasant than sending it back. Nonsense!

Large gains can be made by assigning duties to your team. Invest time in clarifying job responsibilities. Give feedback when they do not meet agreed-upon expectations. If you have a task that could be done by an employee, use the next occasion to start training him/her to do it instead of doing it yourself. You will need to spend some time monitoring the task thereafter, but far less that in doing it yourself. 

Prioritize. Use the 80-20 Rule originally stated by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who noted that 80 percent of the reward comes from 20 percent of the effort. The trick to prioritizing is to isolate and identify that valuable 20 percent. Once identified, prioritize time to concentrate your work on those items with the greatest reward.
Eliminate the Urgent. Urgent tasks have short-term consequences, while important tasks are those with long-term, goal-related implications. Work towards reducing the urgent things you must do so you'll have time for your important priorities. Flagging or highlighting items on your To Do list or attaching a deadline to each item may help keep important items from becoming urgent emergencies.

Consider Your Biological Clock. Our bodies have more than 100 circadian rhythms. Each unique 24-hour cycle influences an aspect of functioning, including body temperature, hormone levels, heart rate, blood pressure - even pain threshold. Understanding how these cycles interplay is fascinating. Pay attention to what time of day you are at your best. Are you a morning person, a night owl, or a late afternoon whiz? Knowing when your best time is and planning to use that time of day for your greatest priorities is effective time management.

We worship busy-ness in our culture, but that’s where the problem begins. We use “being busy” as an excuse to neglect what’s really important. Success does not come from merely filling time, but from filling our time meaningfully. I challenge you to evaluate how you are spending your time.

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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