By Roy Spence
Co-Founder & Chariman, GSD&M/Co-Founder & CEO, The Purpose Institute
Aristotle once said the purpose of life is to do good and be happy. It’s so simple yet so powerful, and it’s a thought that has shaped my thinking around the idea of “purpose.”
Defined simply, purpose is the reason why you exist and should be what drives you towards all your goals in life. It’s a concept that starts at home; essentially, stop asking your kids what they want to do and instead ask them what they love to do. And wouldn’t be great if schools put more emphasis on developing a sense of purpose and talent in students rather than simply passing tests? Once you have established your purpose, it will influence every aspect of your life.
I highly encourage individuals to find their purpose, but it’s an idea that easily translates to business as well. A practice’s purpose differs from its mission in that purpose is the practice’s “why” and mission is its “how.” Why does your practice exist? To provide every patient with a beautiful, healthy smile. How will your practice accomplish that? By delivering exceptional patient care. Vision, by the way, is how you see the world when you’re fulfilling your purpose, i.e., your practice can see a time when everyone will have access to great oral health care. It’s so important that practices clearly establish their purpose and rally their team around it. It’s the difference between waking up in the morning and thinking, “Today, I have to take 10 X-rays, perform 15 prophies, do two extractions…” and “Today, I get to make a difference in a patient’s life!” A practice’s purpose is a higher calling that motivates and encourages engagement. Continue reading
In oral healthcare, clinical expertise and experience should count for more than technology—but the truth is that patients do judge their doctors by the technology they use. It can take as many as 25 years to become a great dentist or specialist, but these days it only take 25 minutes to look the part, especially when leveraging technology at a higher level. Patients often judge practices by their technological expertise and their perception may even start when looking at your Internet presence (website, reviews, etc.) From there, it continues with their interaction with the front desk staff all the way throughout their clinical exam. For this reason, it’s imperative that the impression you make with your technology is a good one from the start.
Keeping your patients happy has a direct impact on your bottom line, which includes:
- Attracting new quality patients
- Increasing treatment acceptance
- Retaining patients and decreasing patient turnover
The following chart also demonstrates how technological competency plays a role in improving the patient experience.
||How It Helps Patients
||How It Helps You
|Instant Access to Images
||Patients these days are busy. Whether a parent has taken his or her child out of school for an ortho records appointment or your patient is missing work for dental restorative appointment, reducing the length of patient visits is important. With fast image acquisitions and efficient access to historical image data, you can get patients in and out in a timely manner without them feeling rushed.
- Digital technology produces images instantly—without the delays caused by processing film.
- By capturing images with digital technology—such as direct digital sensors or phosphor plates—you no longer have to purchase expensive consumables, such as film or chemistry.
||Patients want to feel in charge of their health. By “co-discovering” problem areas with you via a monitor, you give them the opportunity to play an active role in their oral health.
- Allowing patients to co-discover problems with you improves understanding and increases case acceptance.
- Patients who are satisfied with their care are more likely to return and also recommend your practice to their friends and family.
||Some dental symptoms are asymptomatic, so patients aren’t often aware that a problem exists. By putting an image on the monitor, patients receive visual cues about the treatment needs that must be addressed.
- When patients are able to visualize the problem, they are more likely to accept your treatment recommendation.
- Digital images are usually displayed larger than those captured with film, which allows patients to participate more than before.
Patients are more likely to refer others to you if they feel safe and if they believe that you’re investing in your practice. You show them how much you care when investing in technology that aids in efficiency and raises your diagnostic accuracy.
Updating your technology will not only have an impact on your existing patients but it can also impress prospective patients as well. Featuring technology as an important part of your treatment philosophy enables you to stand apart from other practices in the community and allows your philosophy of technological competency to ring out loud.
Have you found that your patients judge your practice based on your technology? How has it affected your practice?
Today, there are very few dental practices that do not have a practice management system installed. The days of front office staff flicking through a paper diary and shuffling notes from dentist to hygienist are long gone for most. Owners and practice managers spend hours researching the best system to suit their practice’s needs; perhaps they are a multi-site practice and so need a system that can cope with different locations, or maybe they require a piece of their existing equipment to integrate seamlessly with the software. The decision is an important one, as a lot of time and money is being invested. Sometimes, the area that can get overlooked due to resource constraints is the dental team’s involvement. Their inclusion and motivation for the practice management system is essential in its long-term success and full utilization.
Training the Team
If you are about to install a new system—or you are changing to alternative software—the initial training and ongoing support of the whole dental team is pivotal in its success. Even if there are members of the team who will use it to a lesser degree than others, their understanding of how the program works and where they can find certain information might prove beneficial in the future. Suppliers of practice management systems should offer comprehensive guidance and support for all members of staff; this should also be part of the decision maker’s criteria when assessing which system to purchase. Often, the training provided is an assortment of face-to-face teaching, self paced online training and written instructions, and then—when needed post-launch—webinars, telephone interactions and online forum support as appropriate. Continue reading
By Dr. Bethany Valachi, PT, DPT, MS, CEAS
Imagine spending $1,500 on new loupes and then developing neck pain—or your existing neck pain worsens. This is an all-too-common problem that I frequently encounter in my dental ergonomic consultations and among my dental students. On the other hand, I have repeatedly seen well-designed ergonomic loupes that improve or completely resolve neck pain. So how do you know if your loupes are improving or worsening your health?
Of all the criteria for selecting loupes (working distance, frame size, scope position, declination angle, co-axial adjustment), declination angle is the most important ergonomic factor that can make or break your health.
Studies show that working with the neck flexed forward only 20 degrees or more for 70 percent of the working time has been associated with neck pain. While no loupe systems provide completely neutral head posture (ear-over-shoulder), loupes with a steep declination angle may significantly improve operator working postures in dentistry, thereby lessening risk of musculoskeletal disorders and improving clinician comfort. Therefore, to prevent musculoskeletal injury, loupes should enable you to work with less than 20 degrees of neck flexion.
By William J. Moorhead, D.M.D.
To some people, “time-out” implies “sporting event.” To others, it means “parenting strategy.”
Time-outs have been used in medicine for several years. In surgery with the surgical team, time-outs verify such areas as:
- Patient’s name
- Date of birth
- Consent form had been signed
- Drug allergies
- The kind of surgery being performed
In our practice, we use time-outs as a planned pause before the start of treatment to focus on safety and patient communication. Continue reading
By William J. Moorhead, D.M.D.
Can the design of your medical and dental history forms affect efficiency? Yes, definitely. In fact, a well designed form not only saves time, it can facilitate diagnosis and motivate your patients.
Today, most practice management systems have online forms, which enable patients to register and complete their medical and dental history in advance. This can streamline the appointment—but only if the forms are designed with the patient in mind. If you discover that patients are filling out the forms incorrectly or if they are omitting information, it’s likely time to rethink your forms.
When you develop the medical and dental history section of your forms, develop questions so that a “yes” answer requires the doctor’s attention. For example, change the question “are you satisfied with the color of your teeth?” to “would you like whiter teeth?” This approach can speed your review process, because you can quickly decipher where to focus your attention. Continue reading
By William J. Moorhead, D.M.D.
Looking for ways to systematize your dental office? In the book “The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande, M.D., Dr. Gawande talks about the advantages of using discipline in our work day. Let’s face it, we’re human and prone to mistakes. Gawande reveals how systems and checklists can decrease mistakes, boost efficiency and reduce stress.
Even the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) agrees. In an article published in August 2010, Harold M. Pinsky, D.D.S., a part-time dentist and part-time pilot, states, “To enhance safety, practitioners must implement forward-thinking strategies. Because human error is inevitable, threat and error management techniques are needed to help identify and trap error before it develops into unexpected outcomes. Risk analysis heightens situational awareness for possible dental error. Efficiency increases with early error detection.” Continue reading
by Dr. Mark Hyman
A young dental student was working with me in my office years ago. All day long, he repeatedly said, “How can your team get patients to say yes to so many cases? What’s the secret sauce?”
His questions astonished me until I realized this: what is obvious to me isn’t obvious to everyone. My way of practicing dentistry involves the use of fundamental human relations principles, and a lot of practitioners out there just don’t realize the importance of this. Here’s the premise: Stop telling people what they need; instead, listen to what they want.
We try to never use the word need in our practice. You need a crown; you need to floss; you need to stop smoking. Need is punitive. Let’s face it: for the most part, dentistry is elective. The better four-letter word is want. After all, it’s not enough to buy CBCT systems, or digital sensors or intraoral scanners. What good is that state-of-the-art technology if your patients don’t want you to use them? Continue reading
by Eva Grayzel
What new tool can you use to market your business, or articulate what makes you stand out among the competition? TELL A STORY!
In business across the board, story is a buzz word. People don’t buy products; they buy stories—and emotional connections. Storytellers who can share their narrative in an engaging way have a leg up on the competition.
In the program I am presenting at the Global Oral Health Summit this November in Orlando, Fla., I will inspire you to understand the value of a great story: how to find the story that you—and you alone—are meant to tell and how to craft that story to build rapport and instill trust.
You can build relationships by tapping the power of story to evoke a connection and foster patient loyalty. Find the story that exemplifies your values and differentiates you from the practice around the corner. Continue reading
By Dr. Leon Klempner
No matter where people go these days, their mobile devices bring the power of the internet with them. What does this mean for you, the practitioner? You have an open-ended opportunity for making an impression.
Imagine converting patients while they stand in line at the grocery store or while having brunch with friends. Why should they choose your practice? If your services are not the least expensive, why would they pay more?
Our marketing consultancy, People & Practice, has helped doctors across the country take advantage of digital media to grab the attention of potential patients at these very moments. We do it with a mix of marketing strategies that include reputation management, social media engagement and Facebook advertising. Our focus is positioning your practice to compete on value, not cost.
When a Google search for local orthodontists/dentists reveals your website, you’re only halfway there. What actually entices a user to click on your practice over another? Google search results that include your business listing with five-star reviews and positive comments. That’s the kind of exposure that makes all the difference. A reputation management system can help capture positive reviews as well as intercept possible negative experiences before they end up online for all to see. Continue reading