Making sure you are up to date on cutting edge materials and technology is a must in today’s dental industry. But do you invest the same training in your team? The team needs to understand how to properly utilize the technology; otherwise you are throwing money down the drain.
Do you and your team have regular team meetings to keep you motivated and focused? I have heard many team members and doctors alike say that teams meetings are a waste of time because they get out of control and become “gripe” sessions. Sound familiar? In some cases that is true, but if you have an agenda and some structure to your meetings then this should not happen.
Team meetings don’t always have to be about sitting around and discussing what is going right or wrong in the office, it can and should be a very productive time for you and the team to work on projects or even get some additional training on systems or equipment in your practice. Having regular team meetings also helps to keep everyone on the same page.
If you are going to have a traditional team meeting, it should be run by the team and overseen by the doctor, there should be an agenda that everyone contributes to. It is important to discuss what is going right as well as what needs to be worked on. If someone has a problem they would like addressed, they must also bring along a suggested solution. One employee should be taking notes and there should be an action plan with a “by-when” date along with the name of the employee(s) who are accountable for making sure the task is completed. At the next month’s meeting, you review what tasks were supposed to be accomplished and move forward from there. If something was unable to be completed, you’ll need to find out why and decide on a new plan of action.
Another option for your team meetings is to have team training. Have you recently taken a course on a new procedure or product, implemented some new computer software or equipment? As important as it is for the doctor to understand how to use the material, do the procedure or utilize the equipment, it is just as important for the team to understand what needs to be done and for them to be properly trained. Whether you train your team or you have a representative come in to do the training, this training is vital to the success of your practice. When you have a team that is uninformed and untrained on the procedures you are doing, it ultimately hurts your bottom line. It’s costing you more to not have your team properly trained than it will to actually bring in someone to train them to do it properly and effectively.
In short, a doctor can be the best clinician around, but without a highly skilled team to support him/her the practice will not be a success. Take the time to invest in training your team in order to bring the best out of them!
As if it wasn’t hard enough for you already to get your patients to understand why it is important for you to take routine radiographs, the Yale School of Public Health threw a curve ball at you.
By now, you’ve probably read the study (http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/news/News/study-examines-possible-link-between-dental-x-rays-and-meningioma-risk), so you know the study was based on patients' memories, not on a review of patient records. You also know this study went back to an era when the dental industry was using traditional radiographs. Now, the majority of the dental offices utilize digital radiography, which greatly reduces the amount of radiation to which a patient is exposed.
You should expect that you are going to have patients asking questions, and refusing radiographs. As always, it is your ethical and moral responsibility to educate them as to why it is important for you to have these radiographs, and that you are not just taking them because their dental benefit plan “allows” you to.
So, instead of avoiding the topic, take advantage of this opportunity to open a dialogue with the patient on what you do and believe about dental radiographs. This is the perfect opportunity for you and your team to review the ADA recommendations, and discuss your own viewpoint about taking radiographs.
Let your patients know:
- you follow all guidelines to maximize their safety, utilizing the newest technology
- your equipment is properly maintained
- you are using proper shielding in order to protect the patient.
Also, inform them you utilize the ADA recommendations as a standard, but in an individual way, based on what you know about dental health and the risk for decay and gum disease. Co-diagnose the need for radiographs with the patient, based on their oral health.
Engage them in this very important discussion. By doing so you will reduce their (unwarranted) anxieties and fears, and establish a level of trust and confidence that benefits all.
What are "Gray Market" materials? They are materials that are illegally imported, counterfeit or altered in some way. The most common materials include Zirconia, Ceramic Materials, Composites and Glass Ionomers. The quality of these materials may be compromised because they are pat their expiration date, were stored improperly or handled poorly in the shipping process.
Understandably, in these economic times, dental practice owners are looking for ways to cut costs and reduce overhead. One of the things that we see happening more and more is that practices are buying products on the "Gray Market" because they are advertised at 10-50% off in some of the journals or websites.
You know the saying..."if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!" That definitely applies here. Gray market materials are usually sold at a very low price, come from an unknown distributor, and come in suspicious packaging; they are usually close to or past the expiration date or the product may have been discontinued by the manufacturer leaving you with no guarantee or warranty. You may also notice some subtle differences in packaging such as; foreign packaging, color, text size or font and spelling errors. And you don't have the relationship with the vendor to tell you if there was a product recall.
Now, let's take a look at how involved doctors are with inventory control. Many times, the doctors aren't even aware that they are using "Gray Market" materials. Who is in charge of inventory control? Is there a system and budget in place? Many times, the employee(s) in charge of inventory control are given a number as a guide to stay within and they "shop around" for the lowest price, not taking into consideration the quality or shelf life of the material. The employee thinks that they are doing something great for the practice by saving money, but in reality, it's actually costing the practice much more.
The amount of time it takes the employee to "shop around" usually negates the savings. Sometimes, the use of "Gray Market" materials is not called into question until the patient or patients have to keep coming back due to sensitivity or their restoration falling out. Clearly, you would not want to compromise your patient's health because of this. You will need to train your team on this and I recommend that on a regular basis, the doctor and employee(s) in charge of inventory control meet to determine the budget, brands and quantity of materials they want to purchase and from who they will be purchasing from.
If you are aware that you are using "Gray Market" materials, then you seriously need to reconsider. Remember, the dental industry is regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to make sure that products used and placed in patient's mouths meet accepted standards. "Counterfeit materials that haven't gone through the proper protocols and testing could fail in the mouth, resulting in cracks or leaching of material in a patient's mouth", says Bennett Napier, co-executive director of the National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL).
Keep in mind, dental practices aren't the only ones purchasing "Gray Market" materials, dental laboratories are purchasing them too! We have seen many dentists having to redo crowns because of the porcelain chipping all too often these days. If you are noticing this happen, you will want to call into question the type of material being used and the integrity of the lab.
Yes, buying genuine materials may increase your supply cost initially, but long term it will save you time and the trouble associated with re-treatment or legal action.
As Chris Holde, President of Heraeus Kulzer, LLC said, "If a product is not managed through the appropriate channels it can potentially be sitting in a warehouse somewhere for years and then sold to a dentist at an extremely deep discount. As a dentist, you really don't know what you are getting or what you are placing in a patient's mouth."
If you have questions about the products you've purchased or the company in which they were purchased from you should either do some investigating of that company or contact your supply vendor. Dental manufacturers are taking steps to prevent counterfeit products and action is being taken to eliminate these companies from the market.
Reports give you the opportunity to know the strengths and weaknesses of your practice. They are a great tool to make sure you are on track with your goals. The variety of reports available in practice management software will allow you to know if you are going off track and allow you to devise a plan to make needed corrections.
According to HIPAA’s HITECH ACT, the Department of Health and Human Services is required to provide periodic audits to ensure that covered entities and business associates are complying with the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules as well as Breach Notification Standards.
Social media is a new dental marketing frontier with astonishing opportunities. Like it or not, social media is here to stay and it will continue to modernize the way people connect and do business. Think about it, over 50% of the world’s population is under 30 years old, and that generation lives and breathes technology. Today, digital reputations mean everything. Its impact on the dental industry and the dental practice in particular is still not completely understood, mainly because of a lack of data.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans consume about 24 pounds (10.9 kg) of candy a year and most of that is believed to be at Halloween. As dental professionals I know we all find this very concerning. Did you know there is a program devoted solely to promoting dental health while helping the US Troops at the same time? The program is called the Halloween Candy Buy Back Program. The win/win is that you market your practice, promote dental health and provide the feeling of “home” to the troops overseas.
All successful businesses have coaches. Accountants coach you in your tax responsibilities, lawyers coach you in your legal responsibilities and consultants coach you in the management of systems, teams and making the vision in your head become a reality with regard to your practice. Most doctors hire a dental consultant because they have a concern with what’s going on, or not going on, in their practice. Other doctors hire a dental consultant to assist with the transition of adding an associate dentist and/or creating a partnership, planning an exit strategy, buying/selling, relocating or starting their practice from day one.
Dentists go to school to learn how to do dentistry, even today; there are very few schools that have a curriculum on managing a business or managing a team. There is so much more that goes into running a dental practice than just seeing patients, and most of that is unrealized until you become the "business owner". You need to keep in mind that clinical skills alone will not bring your practice to the next level.
Being a dentist and a business owner is very different from being an associate that just goes in, produces dentistry and leaves. Business owners must be thinking about today and the future, employer compliance law, effective team and systems management, managing costs, marketing, developing a skilled team, and having a plan that supports your vision and the productivity and success of your practice going forward.
Having a coach that can show you how to make your vision a reality is now more important than ever.
As we are quickly approaching the end of the third quarter, this is the perfect time to take a look at what you have accomplished on your own so far this year. What are your plans for 2012 and what is in place to guarantee that you achieve those goals?
As consultants, these are some things that we think you should consider as you develop your plan for the upcoming year:
- Have the right coaches to make your vision a reality—add a dental consultant.
- Budget—Do you know how much it will cost to run your practice and take a paycheck both now and in 2012?
- Is your house in order? Are your systems set up and managed properly to give you the ROI you require?
- Does your team know what is expected of them and are they properly trained to support your vision?
- Does your new patient flow support your practice growth both in volume and retention?
- Do you and your team know how to analyze your reports and make the changes necessary to stay on track with your plans?
- Do you know how to protect yourself from fraud?
- Is your practice in compliance with the HIPAA HITECH Act?
If this has Tip has raised questions, or you would like to learn more, we offer a one hour, no obligation call to address your specific issues and concerns. Please call or e-mail us at 508-697-7318 or email@example.com.
It is hard to believe that in this day and age patients are still extremely uninformed about dental treatment. It is up to the dentist and team to make sure patients are educated not only on the procedures that are needed but on the practice’s protocol. In order to do this successfully, the entire team needs to be on the same page.