8 of the best communication tips from dental experts

March 15, 2013
As part of the 100 more tips from 100 practice management experts in 100 words or less, here are 8 tips on communication in the dental practice.
Clinical | Communication | Financial| Front Office | Having a Vision | Leadership Marketing | Patient Relationships | Practice Management | Scheduling| The Team
Morning huddles are a way for everyone to participate and create a great day. It’s not just to talk about who’s coming in, but rather to take a quick pulse of the day. Look at each chart prior to the huddle. Some topics that should be discussed are: What went great yesterday and what could have been better? Was your production and collection goal met yesterday, and will you meet it today? Pinpoint open times and emergency time, look for outstanding treatment, and talk about the new patients and their needs. Most of all – make it a productive day!
-Tina Brown, Kimball Consulting, Inc.

Here are the three most valuable tips I have learned and applied from the Dale Carnegie Organization in Nurturing Relationships and Team building:

  1. Using the three C’s, do not criticize, condemn or complain. When someone has criticized your efforts, how has it made you feel? Catch someone doing something right – it is so much more effective.
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  3. Become genuinely interested in other people.

-Tina Calloway, [email protected]

If you’re wondering why your practice isn’t producing consistent results, you should consider a new morning huddle. Inspire, set the tone for the day, and establish daily performance outcomes for the entire team with the “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” format:

  • Yesterday: What worked compared to opportunities for improvement
  • Today: Scheduled appointments compared to daily primary outcomes, potential opportunities, emergencies, special needs, and referrals
  • Tomorrow: Opportunities to avoid scheduling gaps

Complete the huddle by sharing your gratitude for the day. Investing in a simple 15-minute huddle is the best way to ensure better results.
-Gary Kadi, NextLevel Practice

Many of us fear conflict resolution when it really is just a conversation. The conversation starts out by going directly to the person with whom you have the conflict. Approach them with an attitude of care and concern instead of judgment and criticism. Ask enough questions to understand why there is a conflict to begin with. Share how you feel and why. Brainstorm together on a solution that will be in the best interests of the patients and the practice, and not either one of you. Agree on the solution and hold each other accountable in a supportive manner. Conflict resolved!
-Judy Kay Mausolf, Practice Solutions
While most practices are concerned about attracting new patients, the best way to grow a dental practice is through existing patients. Reviewing key metrics from yesterday, today, and the remainder of the month is a great way to start a 10- to 15-minute daily huddle. Patient information to review includes: outstanding treatment plans, overdue continuing care, unpaid balances, lab cases, upcoming birthdays, email addresses, insurance eligibilities, patient referrals, and more. These are great conversations to have face-to-face during the patient’s visit. An effective daily huddle positively impacts the health of dental practices, while also increasing the health of patients.
-Tammy McHood, Henry Schein Practice SolutionsAfter each practice management workshop and or even your own team meetings, encourage the recorder to have the minutes written in a benefit statement format. This helps tremendously when a team member is not present during these meetings. The team member can review the minutes with good clarification and understanding. Example: So that Suzanne has an opportunity to work on overdue 90 day account balances – Suzanne will work one hour uninterrupted in the consult room immediately following the morning huddle each working day until our 90 day account receivables is healthier.
-Adele Reische, Allana Smiles Foundation
A great morning huddle is made great by preparation. Administrative time the day prior is the solution. Setting aside 30 minutes when the entire team can prepare by reviewing patient records, looking for uncompleted treatment and determining new approaches to patients to gain case acceptance, is the main emphasis. The team is communicating with each other not only on clinical aspects, but on financial concerns, scheduling issues, lab cases due – all in an effort to be 100% ready for the next day and not starting your huddle with “hair on fire” issues, but ready to seize the day!
-Mary Lynn Wheaton, Pride Institute

One of the most important elements of the morning huddle is the look back at the previous day. This allows the team an opportunity to reflect and learn. Good questions are:

  • What key lessons did we learn?
  • What do we want to celebrate about yesterday?
  • Was it balanced and productive?
  • Did we reach our production and collection goals?
  • Did anyone scheduled for a pre-block appointment cancel or delay?

These opening questions focus the team on becoming a true learning organization and enable everyone to get the pulse of the practice.
-Sharyn Weiss, Pride Institute

Lauren Burns is the editor of Proofs magazine and the email newsletters RDH Graduate and Proofs. She is currently based out of New York City. Follow her on Twitter: @ellekeid.