business of dentistry Tag Archive

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Moving to the Right – Your Dental Journey

I got a day off today and I sat down and thought about how I’ve ‘reinvented’ myself many times over the past 15 years. Whether it’s as a dental educator or as a practicing dentist.These days when I speak it’s not so much about clinical techniques, but more about your journey. We go through 3 phases in dentistry – general dentistry, advanced dentistry, and emotional dentistry.

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Moving to the Right

Let me begin by saying there is nothing wrong in staying in the general dentistry phase. One can make a tremendous living and have great satisfaction there. But the truth is that way too many of us are stuck there and have desires and goals to be much more than that.

If you complain about your practice, dental insurance, your team members, your finances, your patients, your dentistry, etc – then you need to have a plan of action to advance yourself. You are begging for something different.

I call it ‘Moving to the Right’

Each of us are going to have a different definition of general dentistry, advanced dentistry, and emotional dentistry. It should constantly evolve as we grow. For example, I once considered a single dental implant emotional dentistry – I now consider it the overlap of general dentistry and advanced dentistry (the lightning bolt).

So how do you move to the right?

  • You invest in leadership. Leadership is about how you communicate with patients, team members, and others around you. Leadership is about leading by example.
  • You invest in technology. Technology allows you greater diagnostic and presentation skills to help your patients say yes to the best.
  • You invest in a winning team. Without a great support team who are aligned in your vision (leadership) and great with technology, it will be very difficult to move to the right. Allow and encourage your team members to move to the right in their careers as well.
  • You commit to lifelong education. What services are you able to provide your patients? Are they the same services that you’ve had in your tool belt for the last several years? No wonder you aren’t growing and aren’t moving to the right to achieve greater satisfaction.
    So make today the day you commit to moving to the right.

What’s the first step?

  • Define what it would look like for you to love going to work everyday.
  • Define what it would look like to be happy in your personal life.
  • Define what it would look like to stop stressing about finances.

Until you define the target you can’t have something to shoot for.

This year I defined getting more time with my kids as taking a week off every 6 weeks and having a family vacation. We are achieving that.

I have defined professional satisfaction as working 3 days a week after dropping my kids to school in the morning. It is further defined by making 2017 the year that I no longer do fillings and single crowns.

I have defined stopping financial stress by having a concrete plan of action to create financial freedom by age 55. What is the number? What do I have to save/invest each month to achieve that number by age 55? Take that number and make it a monthly bill that gets paid automatically.

Dentistry can afford us so many unique opportunities. Take advantage. You are in control of your own destiny!

t-bone-podcast

T-Bone Speaks is a podcast dedicated to helping you achieve clinical, financial, and personal balance. You’ll love the entertaining demeanor and down to earth approach to dentistry.

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Secure-Mail Protects Dentist-Patient Confidentiality

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Many of the work processes in dentistry are from the era of dentists meeting patients in the exam room, recording items on clipboards, and calling other dentists or doctors where necessary. Trust is and always has been a cornerstone of the dentist-patient interaction, but in the digital era, that trust goes along with a culture of data sharing.

High quality digital imaging available for consultation, patient records and doctor collaborations allows dentists to participate in the ecosystem of health data around American patients. As the oral-systemic health connection continues to be recognized, collaborative tools and demands will keep pace with technology and allow dentists to communicate patient data to interested parties.

But protecting the patient’s trust, and personal data, requires specific steps to protect and safeguard that data. Between HIPAA, HI-TECH and PIPEDA, regulations continue to develop and constrain what can be shared, and how. Many dentists do not realize that emailing referrals or images to laboratories can be illegal and break HIPAA compliance.

Software and technology have stepped into this gap. Secure email is offered by different providers to allow dentists to safely, securely share information without breaking the law or compromising patient trust. These out-of-the-box solutions offer immediate compliance and security, operating with existing clinical and practice management systems. Examples include BrightSquid’s Secure-Mail, and RecordLinc‘s referral services. Dental practices can modify behaviors and learn to operate in a HIPAA-compliant fashion, but for those short on time, a technology solution may be a faster and more realistic step.

Lessons Learned:

  • No conventional email solution is secure or compliant for transferring or accessing patient information.
  • Out-of-the-box secure communications systems can be added to existing software to meet HIPAA and patient privacy needs.
  • Collaboration and patient data sharing is likely to continue to rise.

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Clinical Excellence = Business Success? My story.

I worry about dental students, new graduates, and those in their early years of practice. Are they as naïve nowadays as was I a few decades ago?  I hope not, but chances are that many will have difficulty finding their way in the first few years (perhaps much longer) for lack of business knowhow.  I wonder how other dentists with extensive practice experience, looking back, would rate their preparedness for the real world of dentistry upon graduation.

When I was going to dental school, academic and clinical demands precluded even the slightest thought about the business of dentistry. It was only when graduation was approaching that I started to think about my future, but in kind of an indirect fashion, in the context of what clinical situation was I going to place myself in – associateship, partnership, or solo practice?  My perspective was 100% clinical, which is no big surprise when you consider that no family member, relative, or personal acquaintance owned a business, dental or otherwise.  The business blind spot had in no way been addressed in dental school. In four years of training not a single course, instructor or guest speaker had dealt with how to set up the business structure or run a dental practice as a business entity. I had filled the void by becoming a passionate clinical perfectionist, but I was unprepared for the world of business challenges that I was about to enter.

The only business advice I got in my first four years of practice was from an accountant. No offense to accountants. They do have an important role to play. However, for someone who had a complete void of business knowledge, an accountant could never fill that void adequately. There were matters of leadership, management, acquiring and training staff, personal development, etc., all of which were critically important in building a successful practice.  I simply didn’t know to look for help, and my only hope defaulted to doing perfect dentistry and praying that alone would lead to success. Didn’t happen. I learned the hard way that clinical excellence did not equal business success, except of course for the very few dental savants out there who were so good that movie stars, the wealthy, and dentists themselves, flocked to them for care and clinical training.

Looking back it seems to me that any one of the following could have provided a healthier, more certain, and shorter path to practice success.

  1. Having business in my family tree.
  2. Taking business, management, and leadership courses pre-dental.
  3. Dental school bringing in practicing dentists (preferably non-faculty) to discuss the business of dentistry.
  4. Seeking out a dentist business mentor while in dental school.
  5. Seeking out a dentist business mentor in the early years after dental school and beyond.
  6. Undertaking personal development training early in my career, learning more about human nature, and becoming a more powerful person so I could be a more powerful dentist leader.
  7. Getting in front of world class leaders.
  8. Reading many books throughout the early years about leadership, management, marketing, advertising, innovation, personal development, etc.

Recently, I met a newly graduated dentist who related that she learned nothing about the business of dentistry during dental school. The guest speakers were all non-dentists with a personal agenda to sell the graduating students a service or a product, and she felt completely confused about how to weigh the practice options in front of her. Guess the same problems do persist today.

What was your experience in the years following graduation? Smooth sailing or rough waters? How prepared were you for the business of dentistry? What were your biggest setbacks and how could they have been avoided. What would you recommend to dentists to help them navigate their early years? What can we do as a profession to help those new to our profession?

I am particularly interested in pursuing the idea of approaching dental schools with a view to pair up experienced dentists as mentors for those students that are interested in having a coach as they begin their careers.

Dentistry has been very kind to me and many others. However today, according to a recent ADA article, dental students graduate with student loans averaging over $200,000, the same individuals who will step out into a business world that many are ill prepared for.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to support these young colleagues as they start their careers in our chosen profession?

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