Want fewer problems in your dental office? Try this

Jan. 16, 2014
Having a positive attitude helps you accomplish more in the dental office

Reprinted with permission from Sally McKenzie and McKenzie Management.

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Doctors and dental teams would do well to post those words where they can be reminded of their wisdom daily. We see dentists and staff expending a lot of energy on wishing. They wish they could curb appointment failures. They dream about treatment acceptance. They long for less drama and more collaboration. They yearn for fewer problems in the practice.

Yet they scramble through their days. They huff and they puff in frustration. They go home exhausted and return the next day to battle through it all again, running and reacting to whatever comes their way. What’s the return on this investment of aggravation — weak profits, high overhead, employee turnover, costly patient attrition, and endless stress.

Wishing doesn’t yield much in the results column. Stop longing for things to be different and start planning to create the change you want to see, beginning with your attitude. The difference between those who are successful and those who are average is how they see themselves. Do you see yourself and your team as high capacity players who consistently deliver excellence? Do you see your practice among the very best in your community? How do you talk to yourself and your team? Are you negative, condescending, and destructive, or are you encouraging, positive, and helpful? I guarantee that how you see yourself and your team and how you talk to yourself and your employees directly affects your success.

There is a fundamental reality in the workplace — happy employees produce. Doctors who enjoy coming to work are far more successful than those who’ve lost their passion. But what does all this talk about success and happiness have to do with expending energy on planning? Happy and successful people plan. They aren’t in a perpetual cycle of reacting to what is happening to them, rather they are creating their reality through their deliberate actions every day.

In the dental practice, the most effective, accomplished, and content teams meet regularly to plan their success. Yes, the humble meeting is a cornerstone in the happy, productive, and successful practice. But it’s not just a matter of gathering everyone in a room and talking. Effective meetings follow a plan, naturally.

There are two types of meetings practices need to find the time — the daily meeting and the monthly meeting. The daily meeting is brief and to the point. This is a summary meeting that lasts 15 to 20 minutes and takes place before the first patient arrives. The objective of the daily meeting, which is led by a designated employee, is to discuss the day’s schedule as well as recap yesterday’s highlights and what’s on tap for tomorrow.

You want to determine where emergencies should be placed. Additionally, clinical staff should review patient records before the meeting. If Mrs. Smith is coming in for her professional dental cleaning, and she has a cracked tooth that she has not scheduled for treatment, this is the opportunity to emphasize to her the importance of addressing dental needs before they become dental emergencies.

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Additionally, if Mrs. Smith has $1,000 in unused dental insurance benefits, it’s a good opportunity to remind her that if those benefits are not used, she will lose them, which brings me to my next point. It’s imperative that the business/financial coordinator reviews the patients’ account balances. If Mr. Jones is coming in and he’s carrying a large account balance, the doctor will want to think twice before he or she recommends additional elective treatment. This is also the business coordinator’s opportunity to make sure the team is aware of the amount of scheduled production as compared to the daily production goal.

Finally, daily meetings provide an excellent opportunity for clinical assistants to consider where the doctor is most likely to get backed up and cause the schedule to run behind. Therefore they can determine if additional assistance will be needed to prep for a particular procedure, or if hygiene checks need to be adjusted to ensure smooth patient flow throughout the day. A mere 15 minutes a day will go a long way in helping the team plan to succeed.

Sally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, a nationwide dental management, practice development, and educational consulting firm. Working on-site with dentists since 1980, McKenzie Management provides knowledge, guidance, and personalized solutions that have propelled thousands of general and specialty practices to realize their potential. She can be reached at 877-777-6151 or [email protected].