Avoiding communication breakdowns in your dental practice
Communication is key to helping a dental practice opearate efficiently. Here are top communiation strategies for you and your dental team.
Everyone knows that no relationship, whether personal or business, will survive without good communication. As a dental practice, your efficiency absolutely relies on having excellent communication between the doctor(s) and team. Learning how to avoid communication breakdowns will help ensure that you are operating a well-run dental practice.
3 ways to ensure superior daily team communication
1. The daily business meeting—This 10-minute meeting is a key element of practice efficiency. There should be a 15-point agenda that includes topics such as production goal yesterday, production goal today, new patients today, emergencies today, case presentations being given today, and crunch time in the schedule today. By following this short, focused agenda every morning, you’ll answer 50% of the questions that will inevitably come up during the day. This is also the time when the doctor and team can communicate about any special cases or unique scenarios so that everyone is fully prepared.
2. Short communication—Quick communication between staff members and the doctors should take place throughout the day. Of course, team members should avoid bothering the doctor with issues that can be discussed with other team members or decided independently. However, when necessary, a quick question to a doctor or team member can often avoid breakdowns, disruption, and patient dissatisfaction. For example, the doctor and team must know when a patient has been kept waiting or if a laboratory case was not performed properly. Just be sure to communicate these issues quickly and talk in quick headlines. News headlines are crisp, brief, and to the point. Likewise, when you give an answer it should be concise. This creates a highly efficient atmosphere.
3. Monthly business review—The monthly business review is a review of performance during the month in three major steps. First, a review of all key targets and whether they were achieved for that month. This is followed by a review of 10 annual goals that every practice should establish and measure monthly. Finally, the meeting should conclude with an overview of the practice vision statement. If you don’t have a vision statement, write one. This statement briefly details where you want your practice to be in five years. The monthly business review should also include a segment on improvements that will be made in the practice during the next 30 days. Generally, practices can handle only one major change at a time, or about one per month. If you make 12 significant improvements every year in your practice, you will be far ahead of the curve.
Most offices never think about or discuss how they will communicate. Unfortunately, this leads to high levels of stress, breakdowns, and inefficiency. Think of the chaos that can result when a hygienist doesn’t know that a patient is 30 minutes past his or her appointment time. Or, if the front desk isn’t told that a patient must be rescheduled because the lab case did not come back properly. There are many versions of these issues that can happen at any time, and communication is the key to turning these problems into solutions.
Roger P. Levin, DDS,is a third-generation general dentist and the Founder and CEO of Levin Group Inc., a dental management consulting firm that has worked with more than 26,000 dentists. An internationally known speaker on dental practice management, Dr. Levin has written 65 books and more than 4,300 articles. He is also the executive founder of Dental Business Study Clubs, dentistry’s only all-business study clubs amd the next generation of dental business education. Learn more at dbsclubs.com.