Practice Management
Practice Management
Practice Management
Practice Management
Practice Management

9 practice management tips from dental industry experts

March 18, 2013
As part of the 100 words from 100 dental practice management experts in 100 words or less, dental practice management experts share their practice management tips.

By Lauren Burns, Associate Editor
March 18, 2013

Are you looking to grow your practice in 2013? It can be done with four items: A digital camera, a sharpie, paper, and a printer.

  1. Commit to take digital photos on every patient in the practice (arches, smile, retracted smile, and full face).
  2. Print the photos that apply to their needs on copy paper.
  3. Use black sharpie to circle areas discussed (use common words to describe the problems).
  4. Send photos home with the patients.
  5. Repeat at every visit.

If you do not have computers in your treatment rooms, it shouldn't stop you from taking and printing photos. The old saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" has much truth to it.
-Hollie Bryant, Bryant Dental Consultants

Dentists are respected as professionals, but we are not loved for particular procedures we perform, particularly root canals. Think of the expression “I’d rather have a root canal than go through natural childbirth/have an ingrown toenail treated.” Finally, we have been toppled from the top of list of things the public likes least. And who has saved us? The 112th Congress. The next time someone says something snarky about dentistry, you might reply, “At least the public views dentistry more favorably than Congress, and I am whole lot cheaper and more efficient!” Either you will be viewed as nutcase or a serious student of public polling policy, and then the conversation can move on to more serious matters like the Super Bowl, reality shows or the Oscars.
-Alan Goldstein, Laser Dental Care
As dentistry faces the challenge from insurance companies and corporate entities to commoditize our care, we must learn to differentiate each of our practices from all others. There is a natural similarity in what we do in our practices and how we do it. Because our patients are not inspired by treatment plans, but rather by what we believe in, it is imperative that we develop a strong relationship and a far greater level of understanding. It is the culture of our practices and the perceived level of our leadership that will inspire our patients to elect to pursue care independent of insurance coverage. When our teams believe in our vision and reinforce a positive culture, patients feel the positivity and more eagerly pursue comprehensive and elective treatment.
-Dr. Steven M. Katz, Smile Potential Dental Practice CoachingIn my recent experiences in my own practice and businesses, I think the most important question to answer is, “Why?” Simon Sinek addressed this issue in his book and TED video. The message is people don’t buy what you do, they buy “why” you do it. If a patient connects with your practice on your “why,” the “what” and the “how” are just details. So practices would be wise to explore and answer why they exist as an organization, why they come to work on Mondays, and why what they do matters.
-Dr. Kim Kutsch, Kutsch & Renyer Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
The biggest piece of advice I give dental professionals is to add new services to your dental practice, something I call “line extensions.” Every business grows by offering a new service that is valuable to their existing and recurring customers (in our case, patients), since these people are the ones that are loyal and keep coming back – but in most dental offices, there is nothing else to offer these patients once you have done everything already. What should you start offering? Start with services they want – facial esthetics, including Botox and dermal fillers. Then add something that patients really need, and that is reversible, minimally invasive frontline TMJ/myofascial pain treatment that is easy for dental professionals to accomplish. Add line extensions to your office and watch it grow!
-Dr. Louis Malcmacher, Malcmacher Common Sense Dentistry, American Academy of Facial Esthetics
Every time I go to another health facility I look for ideas that I can use in my dental practice. Recently, I had minor eye surgery and noticed that the assistants were placing colored stickers on the patient or in that operatory. Although I hate to admit it, a couple of times I have started to work on the wrong side of the mouth or the wrong tooth. Since seeing color-coding during my eye surgery, I’ve started using stickers in my exam rooms. Now all procedures and trays are color-coded. So when I enter a room, blue tells me that it is C&B and the yellow tells me it is fillings. Also, if any injection is needed, the color coded sticker is placed on the correct side.
-Dr. William “Woody” Oakes, Excellence in DentistryYour clinical record is a living legal document that has a voice and can testify for or against you should your treatment ever be brought into question. Never underestimate its importance. That clinical record can communicate in a way that contains and conveys essential information to anyone and everyone who reviews it. In short, it can testify for you, about what you said, what you heard, what was done, why it was done, as well as the expectations of the patient and the treatment team. Understand if it is not in your clinical record, it doesn’t exist from a legal perspective.
-Dr. Roy S. Shelburne, Roy S. Shelburne, DDS

The lack of business education leaves many dentists vulnerable to estrangement from their staff and patients, erosion of their enthusiasm for dentistry, and, ultimately, economic loss. Straine services are specifically designed to close the gap in their education by assisting them to:

  • Establish the clinical standards of their practice
  • Define the clinical and administrative operating policies that their staff will follow
  • Develop a training protocol to integrate the operating policies and job descriptions into a predictable process
  • Establish economic goals with quantifiable performance expectations linked to the operating polices

-Olivia and Kerry Straine, Straine Dental Consulting

In 2012, we interviewed 12,410 dental patients. These were the top five answers patients gave us for how practices could improve:

  • The receptionist should be a hostess and helper.
  • [The practice had] poor public relations and it was obvious that they were money-hungry.
  • The staff should do less, and doctors should do more.
  • Doctors should be on time.
  • The doctor shouldn’t talk and repeat himself so much.

These comments should prompt discussion and evaluation among your staff. Look at your practice – other people do!
-Larry Wintersteen, Wintersteen & Associates

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.