Everything Dental Blog January 2019

PERFECTION – It’s not always desirable!

Striving for perfection can hinder performance and turn a good leader into a great procrastinator. The willingness to adapt and compromise is necessary in business and in life if you want to advance or make progress. If you want to improve and grow, you must embrace change. Sometimes we must implement a non-perfect plan to meet a deadline or meet someone’s expectations. Other times, we charge forward to fuel momentum or beat our competition. As a rule, even poor execution moves the needle better than a delay or indecision. Some business professionals create self-inflicted barriers and unwanted stress while in their quest for perfection. In many cases, this behavior is a result of fear of failure, lack of confidence or low risk tolerance.

While striving for perfection is truly a desirable attribute, it is unrealistic to assume we will always obtain it. It is the quest for excellence and improvement that speaks to a growth-oriented mission or organization. Growing sales or taking market share is about goal setting, execution and measurement. If you want to build a great brand and have continuous growth than you must support an educated and inspired workforce. It is our uniqueness as individuals and our authenticity as business people that helps us connect with customers. It is our systems, processes and customer service that gives us our competitive advantage and a respected brand.
Entrepreneurial dentists do not strive for perfection. They operate in a world where debt and risk tolerance are ever-present. Their environment is fluid and imperfect but judicious. Success is measured by specific metrics that speak to the financial strength and operational integrity of the organization. Growth minded dentists and sustainable organizations must pay attention to their brand and the customers experience. A bad review doesn’t just happen. It is usually the result of a bad experience or lousy performance. There is a reason why some offices have a great rating and others do not.

While we must deal with the normal challenges and adversity that come with operating a business, there are things we can do to enhance the patient experience and our performance. We must make our teams masterful. Every business person, student and athlete want to perform better than they did the last time their performance was measured. If you regularly review your key performance indicators, you will identify a great deal about the challenges and inconsistencies in your people and organization. By sharing specific performance analytics and other critical information with members of your team, you can help them grow. We should expect our employees to be competent in their work and we must provide education and training. The goal is to build and support a culture of MASTERY!
Mastery is not subjective like perfection.When you have mastered a task or a profession you have achieved a high level of proficiency and there is no doubt of your ability or capability. . You are amongst the best at what you do!

Dental assistants must be career minded. They should join an industry association like IgniteDA or the ADAA (American Association of Dental Assistants) and they should aspire for certification with the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). A good dental assistant can anticipate the Drs. next move. A great dental assistant attends the morning huddle and reviews that day’s patient charts. Therefore, they know what to expect and are prepared when that three-surface filling turns into a crown prep. A great dental assistant is mindful of their body language. Their engagement and enthusiasm improve patient treatment acceptance and calms a nervous patient. When an assistant has revenue producing skills (making temporary crowns, sport guards and whitening trays) and is cross trained to cover for an administrative team member, they become extremely important to the practice. If I were a dental assistant I would become an RDA (registered dental assistant) so I could be involved in Digital Dentistry with fluency in CBCT and CadCam dentistry.

Office administrators (managers) should join AADOM (American Association of Dental Office Managers) or one of the other office manager programs available through distribution. This will provide much needed education and a network of professionals to connect with. Dental office managers must be competent and focused on operational efficiency, third party financing, recovery, block scheduling, treatment coordination, dental coding, conflict resolution, and human resource administration. When an office administrator has these skills coupled with excellent phone skills, they have mastered their profession!
Hygienists are arguably, one of the busiest and most valuable team members in the dental office. Only dentists and hygienists produce revenue from their clinical production. In most cases, the new patient is seen by the hygienist first. The hygienist, with the support of the entire office, must create a great first impression! Progressive hygienists do a lot more than prophylaxis. They identify preventive, restorative and cosmetic dentistry! Over 70% of the restorative dentistry done by the dentist was identified in the hygienist’s chair! Hygienists apply sealants and fluoride treatments. They take radiographs, perform Perio charting, educate patients on clinical dentistry and oral home care. Most progressive hygienists perform visual and assisted oral-cancer screening. They take intra oral images to identify dentistry, so the dentist is alerted when they walk into the operatory to do an assessment/exam. One of the most important functions of the hygienist is to convert hygiene patients, that are at risk, to Perio patients. According to industry statistics, over 47% of adults have mild to moderate periodontal disease and the percentages go way up (approx.70%) for adults older than 65 years of age. A great hygienist believes in the oral-systemic link and is supported by a dental team that shares those values. If I was a hygienist I would get certified to deliver anesthetic injections. Once a hygienist learns how to manage their time and implement these activities on a regular basis they have mastered their profession!

Dentists wear a lot of hats and they must be competent in business as well as dentistry. We expect the dentist to be competent in the oral cavity, but many dentists lack basic leadership and business skills. All managers and bosses gain respect from their employees when they can do the tasks their employees do. You should be able to appoint a patient, send a claim, prepare a lab case and reconcile your practice management software daily/monthly. A dentist should be well informed about their business. It’s a tough job being a wet handed dentist and the CEO, COO, CFO, CMO and CIO. A great dentist that is a lousy business person will not survive in the current business environment. A decent dentist with strong business skills [good leadership and decision making] will thrive in today’s marketplace.

Even a dentist who is focused on their exit strategy will do far better if they have achieved a desirable level of mastery clinically and operationally. Great clinical skills can lead to better hourly production numbers because of competency and the scope of the work you can present. Better numbers tell the prospective buyer that your practice operates at a high level (clinically and operationally) and the production numbers enhance your EBITDA! In the past, a practices value was based on a percentage of collections but today we look at multiples of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) when we do a practice valuation.
Many dentists are using a dashboard to help them manage key performance indicators and patient statistics. Entrepreneurial dentists who operate multiple locations or operate in a multi-specialty environment will analyze provider activity, marketing performance and the AR from a cloud-based software or enterprise system. They can get their stats on any device from anywhere at any time! When a dentist has mastered the clinical and operational aspects of running a dental practice they have mastered their profession.

As a consultant and collaborator with dentists for over twenty-eight years I understand the complexities of the profession. Some dentists struggle with wanting to deliver perfect restorations and uncompromised care in an insurance driven environment. To deliver optimal care and a great patient experience we must embrace efficiencies, mastery and technology. If we run a good shop, use time saving technology, understand the limitations of dental insurace and are masters of our trade, we can meet the challenges of operational overhead and insurance participation.

Perfection is over rated and subjective.
Mastery is uncommon, always welcome and it’s obtainable!