“Dentistry is about changing lives!” I had no idea when I chose to become a dental hygienist many years ago that I would be able to help patients live a longer and healthier life! Besides providing optimal health we also create beautiful smiles. What a rewarding career!
How does a dental office plan to create beautiful smiles, optimal patient health, be profitable and with little to no stress? The answer lies in how you begin your day. You may rush into the office at the last minute but if you take time to breathe, meet as a team for 10-15 minutes and prepare for a dream day at the office, everything else can be like the icing on the cake!
Start your day first thing at the office or the evening before you leave the office, by reviewing the patient charts. Then discuss as a team, the days patients, challenges, patients who will require pre-medication or special needs, who needs an exam, x-rays, when is emergency time available, etc. The morning team meeting is where you can create your plan for success and it is where the profitability is maximized for the practice. Talk about money: Production, collection goals and even time open on the schedule the next day or week, etc.
I talk to so many dental office managers each week who tell me that doctor doesn’t want to share the office production and collections. This is similar to having an elephant in the room! If you want to have the team on the same page, then let them know where the dental practice goals stand on a monthly basis — at least. Are you accomplishing the goals? If you answered “NO”, this is a great time to discuss as a team “why” the goals are not accomplished. Allow every person on the team to understand the “why” and “how” regarding purchasing supplies, bonuses, pay raises, etc,. etc. Allow the team members to have accountability for decreased production and also allow them to experience the bliss when there is an increase in production! Doctor, don’t hide behind the numbers.
Talking about discussions between doctor and the team, it is in all aspects of dentistry; cosmetic dentistry, and non-surgical periodontal treatment where communication is critical. With regard to cosmetic dentistry we may think the shade, size, occlusion or length of a restoration looks correct but to the patient something doesn’t feel or look good to them. Regarding our non-surgical periodontal care of patients we often neglect to reinforce the importance of regular preventive appointments. This ends up costing both the dental practice and the patient more money down the line. Questions to ask oneself are: “Did we, as a team, ask the right questions? Do we understand the emotions of this patient who is sitting in our chair today? If you answered “No” to any of these questions, there is a good chance your patient will not be satisfied with the outcome, regardless of how clinically sound the case presents. The patient may not be in the right frame of mind to hear your answers to their questions or visa versa. They may not comprehend your explanations for benefits and risk of treatment recommendations. Sit down at a team meeting and know what questions you need to be asking patients.
Treatment planning for cosmetic dentistry and all preventive treatment needs should be a group effort. This includes doctor, the entire team, the lab and even referral dentists. Your patient expectations need to be met for the entire process of communication, case acceptance and future patient relationships to continue. It is very important that patients understand the result and benefits for completing their treatment recommendations.
Sit down as a team and discover what your patients really want. Have you used a patient survey to understand what they really want from you as their dental healthcare provider? How do you measure the success of your communication and listening skills? What percentage of treatment plans are outstanding? How do you know that patients understand the benefits of treatment and do they understand why they really need the treatment completed?
“YES!” is the one word you want to hear! Know what questions to ask. Then be open to listening closely to your patients. When patients believe you have listened and their questions are answered they provide you with a “Yes!” Simply put, if a patient wants it, do whatever it takes to make them satisfied. Make it happen for your patient! When you create a plan each morning, you should be able to say “YES!” To same-day emergency appointments and– –“YES!” to many same-day procedures, for example whitening tray impressions for patients who want their teeth whitener or those who need a night guard, etc.
Can you answer a resounding “YES!” to patients requests? I’m sure you get the point.
We all know the rewards of changing someone’s life with a beautiful smile. This is pure joy to the patient and YOU– the provider! Just remember that communication, planning, and execution can go a long way when you provide optimal health and excellent cosmetic dentistry. Now we’re talking success! YES!