You can and should always be working to improve the way you manage your dental practice. The best way to gauge how your practice is doing is to evaluate patient satisfaction. This will tell you how well you’re doing in the three important areas of leadership, communication and teamwork, because when these are working well, your patients will be happier.
You are the clinical expert in the office, but you are also the personality of your practice. Everyone looks to you to determine what the practice is about, and they act accordingly. As the leader, you should have two objectives: Ensure the entire staff understands your vision, and nurture them into the team members you need to make your vision reality.
A vision statement is how you define success at a particular point in time.1 Your vision might be to become a $1.5-million office in a year, or to be the most respected practice in your community within 18 months. Consider your vision carefully. Discuss it with colleagues, partners, staff and others you trust. Then make sure each team member understands the vision and its importance to their success.
You also need to create a business plan to reach your vision. Keep in mind that a dental practice is 51 percent dental health and 49 percent business.2 Include business goals in your vision plan. Remember that your practice management system is the core of your practice.3 It not only automates tasks, but it should also provide the reports you need to monitor and improve performance. Use the software to track key performance indicators, including active patients, the growth of hygiene, your production mix, accounts receivable and schedule optimization. For more information, read the article, “Master the Metrics that Matter.”4
Your vision plan should also include automation. A recent study showed that automation can improve data gathering and processing by more than 65 percent.5 When your front-office team no longer spends time mailing postcards, billing statements and insurance claims, it can use the time to build stronger relationships with patients.6
Studies show that dentistry is 90 percent communication and 10 percent clinical.7 This includes marketing to new patients, reminding patients of appointments and recare, patient education and case acceptance, as well as interactions among team members. Using your practice management system to automate that 90 percent of your business can have a huge impact on the productivity of your office.
Hold your daily huddles to ensure everyone on your staff is on board with your vision and plan. Identify patients with incomplete dentistry and family members who might not be scheduled. Use your huddle to fill any holes in the doctor’s schedule with hygiene patients who could benefit from a complete doctor checkup.
Stop talking and start listening. Too often, patient conversations are entirely social. Ask your patients what is bothering them, and listen to their answers. This is an excellent opportunity to find patient concerns and use the presentation capabilities of your practice management system to educate them. Try keeping your communications to 25 percent social and 75 percent education.
The right team members doing the right things is essential to managing your practice successfully. When you hire team members, write a clear job description that matches the needs of your vision plan. Include your staff in the hiring process. And be sure the people you hire are expert at using all aspects of your practice management system.
If everyone is doing everything, no one is responsible for anything.8 Define each team member’s role and essential job skills, and be sure they understand.
Dentistry is a service, and services thrive with happy customers. When you hone your leadership, communication and teamwork skills, your patients will be happier, and you will be closer to achieving your practice’s vision.
Don’t be afraid to change out any part of your practice that isn’t working optimally, including your practice management system and any other technology. Making changes is always difficult in the short term, but it will pay off over time. Dentrix is a fully capable solution that can help you monitor progress and make adjustments, communicate with patients during their entire patient lifecycle, and keep your team working productively.
1Creating a Company Vision, Inc., https://www.inc.com/magazine/20110201/creating-a-company-vision.html
2Dr. Gary M. DeWood, Spear Education. https://www.speareducation.com
3Dr. Larry Emmott, Emmott on Technology, https://www.drlarryemmott.com
4“Master the Metrics that Matter,” https://magazine.dentrix.com/master-the-metrics-that-matter/
5NCCI, “The Impact of Automation on Employment,” https://www.ncci.com/Articles/Pages/II_Insights_QEB_Impact-Automation-Employment-Q2-2017-Part1.aspx
6Dayna Johnson, Novonee, https://novonee.com
7Dr. David Madow and Dr. Richard Madow, Madow.com
8Linda Miles, Miles Global, https://www.dentistryiq.com/dentistry/prosthodontics-and-labratory/article/16361305/100-tips-from-100-practice-management-experts-in-100-words-or-less