How to Improve Case Acceptance in 2015
As you reflect on how your practice performed in 2014, you know you can do better. Strike that. You know you have to do better if you’re ever going to own a successful, profitable dental practice. One way to get there? Focus on improving case acceptance in 2015.
Improving case acceptance will do wonders for your bottom line. Not only that, your team members will be happier, you’ll be performing the dentistry you love and your patients will receive the care they need. Sound good to you? It’s going to take some work, but I know you’re up for the challenge and I intend to help you get there. Here are my tips for improving case acceptance in 2015 and beyond.
Hire a Treatment Coordinator
Now don’t take this the wrong way. Building trust and establishing a rapport with patients is vital to improving case acceptance. Patients need to know you care, and that means you should make yourself available to provide much needed education and answer any questions they have. But you’re not the one who should walk them through their treatment plan. That responsibility belongs to the Treatment Coordinator.
Hire a Treatment Coordinator with a sales background and task this person with presenting treatment plans for every producer in the practice. Your Treatment Coordinator should go over every aspect of the plan, from how much it will cost to how long it will take. This ensures every patient receives detailed information about the treatment they need to make an informed decision about their dental care.
It’s also important to set up a comfortable, private place for treatment presentations to take place. This will help put patients at ease, making them more likely to ask questions and giving your Treatment Coordinator the opportunity to address concerns and encourage patients to accept treatment.
Follow-Up with Every Patient
If no one follows-up and the patient is still on the fence about accepting treatment, you can bet that patient likely won’t call your office to schedule. But if your Treatment Coordinator follows-up, addresses concerns that were discussed during the presentation and reinforces the importance of treatment, you’ll be much more likely to turn a once hesitant patient into a patient excited to move forward.
Find Out what Motivates Them
It’s also important to know what motivates them from the start. Conduct new patient interviews to find out oral health goals, and repeat these interviews with current patients every 18 to 24 months. If you know what their goals are, you’ll have a much easier time recommending treatment they’ll want to accept.
Take the Focus off Money
Instead, focus on the benefits of treatment. Educate your patients so they understand exactly what’s going on in their mouths, and why this treatment is so important. Make sure your Treatment Coordinator goes over all the important details and answers all their questions before throwing out a large price tag. When it’s time to talk about cost, let patients know about any financing options your practice offers and remind them how much money they’ll save if they take care of the problem now, rather than waiting until they have a much worse, more costly problem on their hands down the road.
If you want your practice to thrive in 2015, you have to improve case acceptance. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to a profitable practice in the New Year.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharpening Hygiene Instruments
Recently I was asked by a doctor, “How often should a hygienist be sharpening instruments?” The doctor was concerned about time management, and if sharpening after every patient seemed excessive. I wish I could have given the doctor an industry standard. However, many factors affect how often we need to sharpen our instruments. The difficulty of the patients being seen, the amount of restorations in the mouth, how many set-ups we have, and the number of patients we see daily are just a few examples.
For many of us, it is not how often we need to sharpen our instruments, but having the time to do it as often as needed. Having sharp instruments is very important, not only when it comes to patient comfort and quality of care, but also to the comfort and long-term health of the hygienist.
When a hygienist is working in a periodontal practice, or perhaps a perio focused general practice where patients tend to have very hard and tenacious calculus, the hygienist may find the need to sharpen instruments during the periodontal maintenance appointment or root planing. Hygienists who do routine prophylaxis all day may not need to sharpen as often. If a patient has a lot of amalgam restorations, this will also cause the instruments to become dull quicker.
If a hygienist sees eight patients a day and only has five set-ups, the instruments will need to be sharpened more often than a hygienist who sees eight patients a day with ten set-ups. The hygienist with less set-ups will be using them more often. What it boils down to is, if the instrument is dull, it needs to be sharpened.
We all know the best instrument to use is one that has sharpness provided by the manufacturer. There is nothing like a cutting edge that is brand new. Having a sharp instrument reduces the amount of pressure needed to clean the tooth, and reduces the amount of strokes needed to remove the calculus.
One option is American Eagle’s XP Technology “Sharpen Free Instrument”. The XP instruments undergo a process that hardens the stainless steel and encapsulates the steel with a diamond-like layer. This makes an edge that will last months without sharpening. According to American Eagle, the stroke test shows that XP Technology handles 10 times the strokes with only 1/10th the wear.
This is a great option to help cut back on the amount of time spent sharpening. If hygienists are running late because they are taking time between patients to sharpen instruments, this does not help patient retention. In addition, an office with multiple hygienists may not need to purchase as many set-ups because there won’t be multiple hygienists sharpening instruments differently. Eliminating the need for sharpening allows hygienists’ time to be used more productively and helps with time management.
A couple more advantages of XP Technology is that the instruments are thinner right from the start, and sharper. The instrument is thinner initially because there is no need for a thick blade to compensate for removal of material due to sharpening. This makes it easier to get into the base of the pockets in patients’ mouths. It also reduces the amount of pressure and strokes used, helping to reduce hand fatigue and creating a more comfortable experience for your patients.
It is recommended that the office keep additional brand new set-ups on hand. This allows you to compare instruments to determine when they need to be replaced, and eliminates wait time when they do. There is nothing worse than having an instrument that is not long enough or sharp enough to reach the base of the pocket or the interproximal space.
Patient comfort is a very important concern. If patients feel comfortable and receive quality of care, they are more likely to continue to return to your practice for hygiene appointments at the recommended interval.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email email@example.com and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
Leadership Lessons from Scrooge
Ebenezer Scrooge is the miserly owner of an accounting firm in Charles Dickens’ classic tale, A Christmas Carol. You may remember that he was a cold-hearted micro-manager who forced his devoted clerk, Bob Cratchit, to work grueling hours for low pay. He starts out hating Christmas but is scared straight by the Ghost of Christmas Future. He then transforms himself into a person with empathy and gratefulness.
While this may be the season of cheer and goodwill, we all can grumble and complain, becoming cold and cynical about what we see around us. Peace on earth, goodwill to men. Really? Bah, humbug! Our lives are so full and empty of time. Promises. Obligations. Expectations. If you aren’t paying attention you might be a Scrooge and find out the hard way. The story of Scrooge is an entertaining and educational tale. Here are some positive leadership lessons we can all learn from Ebenezer.
To stay in business, you need to make money. It’s important to question whether or not it’s worth doing something if it doesn’t contribute to how you earn your revenue. While I’m not advocating for how he earned his money or his attitude toward it, Scrooge was disciplined. He had the dedication to work through obstacles. Nothing stood in his way to succeed. He was a resilient self-starter who achieved his goals. Be sure that your bottom line is healthy before expanding, hiring another employee, or investing in expensive new equipment.
Treat others as you wish to be treated. The ‘Golden Rule’ applies to your employees and your patients. Although Scrooge ultimately gives his employee the day off to spend Christmas with family, his perfectionistic expectations can never be met. No matter how loyal and dedicated Bob Cratchit is, he can never please Ebenezer. Although it’s important to be productive and results-driven, remember that your employees and your patients can go elsewhere. Unfortunately many dental leaders still believe that a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work is sufficient. While this approach makes for an adequate practice, it is unlikely to inspire your employees to give more than minimal service. In leadership the bottom line is not money, it’s people.
Provide outstanding service. Is your practice successful because you pinch every penny like Scrooge, or because you delight patients and keep them coming back? Cutting your fees while offering no-frills care only fills the schedule until another office offers a better deal. Partner with your patients and let them know you are committed to their long-term health. Convey how much you value them and appreciate their trust in you. Ask about their wishes and concerns, and collaborate on future treatment options. Build a partnership with patients and they will reward you with their loyalty.
Be open-minded. Despite all of Ebenezer’s dastardly deeds, he ultimately takes accountability to become a better person. Scrooge found enlightenment and re-engaged with the world in an authentic and compelling way. Leadership at its best is motivated by causes greater than oneself. A wake-up call or good cause can be the catalyst for changing a business strategy or management style. As Scrooge has shown us, it's never too late to change. There comes a time in the life of every leader to reflect on who you are, where you are, and to reconnect with your purpose. Your epiphany may prompt you to make some major changes in your life, or it may reaffirm the course you are already on. But regardless, pay attention and heed the warnings.
The ultimate lesson we can all learn from Ebenezer is to open our hearts. Take time to be in your spiritual home, whether it’s Church, Synagogue, Mosque, Temple, in nature, meditation, organized or not. Here’s wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah (yes, I know it’s over), Merry Christmas, Joyful Kwanzaa, and many blessings in the coming New Year!
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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