Everything Dental Blog April 2019

Earlier in my career, I was unaware of the complexity in diagnosis and treatment for certain dental procedures. Like most people, my dental experience began and ended in the treatment room. I assumed the heavy lifting was done by the dentist who was drilling away at my teeth. I now know, that one hour or that fifteen-minute appointment was the result of hard work by several different people.

Three months ago, Susan, the office administrator at my dentist’s office, checked me out of my hygiene appointment. At that time, she also appointed me for my six-month re-care appointment and today’s fifteen-minute restorative appointment. Donna my hygienist, identified a small cavity during my last visit. Behind the scenes Ericka the insurance coordinator, was busy verifying my insurance and later submitted my bill electronically to the insurance company. A few days later, Ericka entered the insurance company’s payment and reconciled my account. Did you notice that I didn’t even mention the assistant, who sterilized the instruments and set up todays clinical tray, or the doctor who did my procedure? While I was only in the dental chair for a fifteen minute procedure, it took five different people and forty minutes to prepare, manage, bill and reconcile my account.

Dentistry is a team sport. Each member of the team plays an integral role in delivering a great customer experience. When the administrative and clinical teams communicate and respect one another, you have a recipe for greatness. When your clinical and operational systems are effective and efficient, magic happens!

Is your office as effective as the one above? It’s important to recognize how efficiency impacts profitability. We know how busy it can get in the office and we know it’s easy to get distracted from the task at hand. When this happens, your business suffers, and your profitability takes a hit. If distraction is the rule and not the exception, it is generally a cultural and leadership issue.

I have learned that only a handful of things enhance profitability. You can increase production (revenue). You can reduce expenses and adjust buying habits. You can improve efficiency (streamline processes and work flow) and you can invest in technology (expanded capability and increased speed). Most dentists are looking for that magic bullet, that one thing that will increase cash flow and improve profitability. My experience suggests that you focus on the little things to achieve the bigger things (strategic goals). Incorporate little improvements on operational and clinical processes that are easy to implement and measure. Learn to harness the power of people and processes. This will allow you to focus on more complex projects like growing your hygiene and Perio department or increasing clear aligner and minor Ortho production. For others, focusing on training, recruitment and mergers or acquisitions should be a priority!