7.28.17 Issue #803 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

What to Consider Before Hiring an Associate
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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It seems like your practice just keeps getting busier. You struggle to keep up with your schedule most days and you’re constantly stressed out. To you, the solution is clear: It’s time to hire an associate. In fact, the thought of bringing someone else on is making you feel calmer already, and you can’t help but daydream about what you’re going to do with all the extra time you’ll suddenly have. 

Not so fast. Hiring an associate is one of the most important career choices you’ll ever make. It really is unlike any other practice hire, and certainly isn’t an arrangement you should enter into lightly. Keep in mind the person you hire might become your partner someday. Before you start handing out job offers, it’s important to first make sure you really need an associate, and then take the proper steps to help ensure the arrangement will be successful.

Here are three tips to help get you started:

1. Make sure you have enough patients of record to support a second dentist.
If you don’t, hiring an associate will do you more harm than good. So how do you know? According to industry data, a healthy solo practice sees 25 new patients a month, with 85% of those patients accepting treatment. That means if you want to hire an associate, you need to attract between 30 and 35 new patients to your practice each month.

2. Take a look at your systems.  
There’s no doubt you’re busy, but is it because your systems are a mess or because you have too many patients to treat on your own? If you’re neglecting any of the 22 practice systems, it can create chaos in your practice – making it look like you need an associate to help handle the patient demand when that isn’t the case at all.

My advice? Take a step back and really look at your systems. What problems do you see? Ask your team members for input as well. From there, make any necessary changes. You’ll soon notice you have a more efficient, streamlined practice, and might not actually need to add another dentist. 

3. Be realistic.  
Once you’ve determined that you do, indeed, need to hire another associate, set realistic expectations and go through the proper hiring process. As tempting as it might be to add that new producer as soon as possible, don’t hire the first dentist who has an impressive resume. Spend time finding the best fit for your practice. Look for someone who shares your philosophy of care. You want an associate you can bounce ideas off of, and who is eager to learn and do his or her part to move the practice forward.

The thought of hiring an associate can be pretty exciting, but unfortunately, these relationships often don’t work out. Why? Typically, unclear or mismatched needs and expectations are the culprit. Here’s what I mean by that. Hiring dentists usually see the associate as an extension of themselves. They want them to start producing quickly, and to fix any problems that are holding the practice back. That’s a tall order, and typically isn’t how it works.

Put yourself in an associate’s place. These young dentists likely have close to $300,000 in dental school debt that still needs to be paid off. They want to work in a stable practice where they can learn from the owner clinician. They’re eager to gain experience, not spend all day taking on the procedures you don’t care for or putting out fires caused by broken systems. Your associate will be miserable with that kind of arrangement, and won’t have much time to actually help you boost practice productivity.

Before you hire an associate, it’s important to have a conversation making sure you’re on the same page. Talk about your individual goals and expectations. Trust me, this will help you avoid a lot of frustration and hard feelings down the road.

Think of hiring an associate as a marriage. After all, this person could become your partner someday. That’s why it’s so important to share a similar philosophy of care and understand each other’s goals and expectations from the very beginning. This will help ensure you find the right person who will help your practice meet its full potential, while the associate experiences true growth.

Still not sure if you actually need an associate, or how to go about finding the perfect match? Feel free to give me a call. I’m happy to help you get started.

Next week: Thinking about becoming an associate? Here’s what you should know.

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Interested in having McKenzie Management Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Placing Priority on Front Desk Business Skills
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Statistically, dental front office personnel are the least certified, licensed or degreed dental employees in a typical general solo or small group dental practice. For years, specialized training for the most critical position in the practice has been limited to an occasional seminar, free webinar, podcast or software training class. Why anyone would consider continual education and training not necessary for this position is beyond comprehension.

Until technology takes us to the day when there are no humans at the desk answering the phone, making appointments, explaining and filing dental insurance, presenting treatment and solving staffing conflicts, I will maintain the same position that I have held for decades: Professional training and coaching are necessary to create an effective front office management team.

Dental consultants understand that analyzing and presenting solutions to the dental practice to improve production and collection must be executed by the dental team to realize practice growth and profit. Getting the doctor or manager to lead the entire team toward moving the practice forward marks the success of a great consultant.

Dental business training is an integral part of a dental consultant’s toolbox, as it is a necessary system to ensure success of the practice. At McKenzie Management, we offer hands-on courses that address the needs of your practice. These courses maximize time and jumpstart the practice in the right direction immediately.

Ongoing practice management training should be required for dental business personnel. To build on existing skills, a suggestion would be to take home-study courses such as those offered by Homestead Schools, Inc. These courses are individual and can be completed in 1-5 hours, offering those with certificates or licenses 2-6 hours of CE after completion of a testing unit in the back of the course. For those unlicensed or certified, the education is invaluable to gain knowledge and improve professional skills. Courses such as Ethics and Jurisprudence, Medication Errors, and Patient Anxiety and Phobia are a few examples of courses that can improve knowledge and thus enhance communication skills with patients and staff. Another great resource is Sally McKenzie’s Webinars, over 30+ dental practice management courses all free.

The American Academy of Dental Office Managers (AADOM) is another terrific source of training and networking among dental business staff who seek more knowledge and growth within the business.

Make time in the day, week or month for continuing education that will improve your practice performance and growth. Keeping abreast of the current trends in dentistry can also act as insurance that your practice is doing things the right way.

Recently, attention has been drawn to dental insurance fraud as a problem in many offices. Untrained dental business personnel are unwittingly committing fraudulent billings that are resulting in dental insurance companies calling more audits and “red flagging” claims to be scrutinized by agents of the insurance companies. There can be severe penalties resulting from the following examples:

Dental Insurance Fraud 

Performing services not clinically necessary or justified (no clinical notes to support)
Waiver of copayment or deductible - results in a change in fees charged by the dentist, inconsistent with what the insurance carrier believes is being charged (charging the insurance company more than the patient)
Unlicensed personnel performing procedures (assistants, hygienists, etc.) - this includes using the NPI of a credentialed dentist because the dentist who performed the services is not credentialed
Unbundling of claims - submitting several procedures separately to receive higher reimbursement
Billing for services not performed or not completed (SCRP, root canal therapy, crowns)
Altering records or claims to enhance getting paid (falsifying records)
Misrepresentation of services (performing a cosmetic service but billing for a covered service)
Misrepresentation of dates of service (changing date to get the claim paid)
Upcoding of dental procedures - submitting a claim for a procedure that is more complex than the one performed
Patients or dental offices that conceal other insurance coverage for higher reimbursement

Want to make sure your staff is trained properly in the systems necessary to manage a profitable and ethical dental practice? Call today and enroll in one of McKenzie Management’s 2-day dental business training courses.

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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