1. Management of endodontic scheduling
You must have control of your schedule and maximize your time in the practice. These are items to consider as you stay focused on managing that schedule.
· Utilize a great management software program for your practice. You should be able to keep your practice filled with minimal paper and maximum efficiency. Don't waste time shuffling papers.
· Scheduling to a production goal should be the focus. Working toward a monthly goal is imperative. It is easy for the schedule to get filled with non-productive appointments; if you don't focus on maximizing your treatment rooms, you will fall short at the end of the day – and the end of each month.
· Scheduling doctor and assistant time and dovetailing your appointments is not only possible, it is valuable. For you to maximize your treatment in the day you must dovetail your appointments as much as possible.
· Pre-blocking the schedule is important to make certain that you have room for your emergency patients who call in and for your high production or primary appointments.
· Emergency time must be saved for each day. An emergency appointment should be for a patient who calls in that day and needs help or relief. You have patients who will come to you on their own from external marketing efforts and patients who come to you through referring dentists and doctors. You must be able to take care of these patients in a timely fashion and build a tight relationship so that they will refer others to you. You must not squeeze these patients into an already tight schedule. Place these emergency patients strategically into your schedule for maximum results.
2. Building your business through promotion
As an endodontist and specialist, you are relying on other dentists to refer patients to you for endodontic treatment. You rely on other dentists to get your business up and running and to keep your endodontic practice successful. This means that you must actively market and promote your practice. There is no room for laziness or shyness.
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It is necessary that you knock on the doors of general dentists in your area. There is nothing better than a face-to-face connection. You can begin with scheduling meetings in those offices so you can meet the general dentists and team members. Remember, the doctor is not the only one who sends patients in your direction – the team has some influence as well.
You’ll need to integrate a marketing coordinator role into your practice. Initially, you will likely have to play this role entirely. As you get busier as a clinician, you will find it is impossible to do the treatment and the marketing in your practice on a consistent basis. One of the team positions needs to be the marketing coordinator to be responsible for co-developing and running the marketing plan. A person in this role cannot be afraid to step out and market your practice. Once you connect with a dentist and they begin to send patients to you, there is no guarantee they will continue to do that. Regular gifts and thank-you gestures need to be sent their way. New business cards, brochures, and referral slips will need to be dropped off, and that is a great time to refresh your relationship with that practice. Keep your referring dentists in the know about any new products or procedures that you are using in your practice. Let them see you are the expert in your specialty and they’ll start to feel confident in sending their patients to you.
3. Excellent phone skills
Your phone is truly the window into your practice and warrants another article completely. However, here are three important considerations for you to implement to ensure your phone is a strong tool in your practice, not a downfall.
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· The person answering the phone must be the best concierge you can find and train. A person who doesn't answer the phone with a positive, helpful attitude (evident in his or her voice) and in-depth knowledge of the potential treatment will limit your practice. This person must know how to pleasantly and concisely gather the information from the patient or the referring practice.
· Enhance your on-hold message. Don't miss out on promoting your practice with your on-hold system. This is a fantastic addition to your phone system. When a referring dental office or patient is on hold, the patient should be listening to a clear and informative message about your practice and services. On-hold services will have a program you can purchase that will include several messages with music, as well as options to update those messages through your contract.
· Ensure that your patients feel well taken care of when it comes to what they feel is an emergency. You will have patients and dental practices that call after hours, on weekends, or even lunch breaks. It may be beneficial for you to have a cell phone that can be used as the emergency line. Many dental teams will share the after-hours obligation (and of course, they’re paid for the work). This will allow you to catch every potential patient who has a need for endodontic care. You should, of course, have an answering system that will pick up messages at the office and you must have someone checking those messages periodically so that all patients and potential patients can be taken care of expediently.
4. Above and beyond customer service
Patients must have treatment that is comfortable both financially and physically. Patients don't judge your good endodontic treatment on how clinically correct the treatment looks on the radiograph. Patients judge your treatment by how they are cared for from the beginning of their first contact with you and your team to the end of their return visit for evaluation. You must take time to get to know each patient and understand what that patient needs to make the appointment comfortable. Many patients have not spent much time at a specialist's office and will be uneasy. You need to have your facility feel like an extension of their general dental practice. You need to have your team and your care feel that same way. Feeling as though they are taken care of at the same level or better, the patient will go back to their general dental office and share that information. Take a moment to brag to the patient about the dental treatment and care that their general dentist has provided for them.
5. Proactive and positive financial arrangements
You will have some returning patients, but for the most part, you will have patients who come to you for one or two appointments. They will return to their general dental home and either brag on you and your care – or do the opposite. The general dentists will ask them and they will say nothing or, worst of all, they will complain about their appointments with you and your team. One of the main reasons referrals will quit coming your way will be due to poor reviews. Those poor reviews are typically focused around fees and financial arrangements.
Focus on these five focus points and you will find your endodontic practice moving onward and upward. Surveys are easily accessible and should be completed by patients so those positive answers and testimonials can be shared on your website, with your referral sources, and with your patients. Continue to develop your practice and find new ways to improve your practice.
Dru Halverson, RDH, has been coaching with Jameson Management, Inc., since her days practicing as hygienist in Dr. John H. Jameson’s practice decades ago. Visit www.JamesonManagement.com or call 877-369-5558 to learn more about Dru and the team of advisors improving the lives of dental professionals worldwide through consulting, marketing, and more.