Practice-Management Tag Archive

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Secure-Mail Protects Dentist-Patient Confidentiality


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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Supporting career growth for your staff

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Excitement of the New and Unknown

Supporting career growth for your staff

Supporting career growth for your staff.

Food for Thought is our way of sharing interesting concepts on corporate leadership and management with others who might find it useful. The thoughts offered are intended to be controversial and thought provoking. They always follow our motto of helping develop logical leadership. This article is, in part, a farewell to Gwen Hickmond, a forward look at the new person we will be hiring to replace Gwen, and a reiteration of a leadership tool called Personal Assets and Liabilities.

We have written on related topics in the past, for example, see Time to Prepare Three Envelopes.

Many of you know Gwen Hickmond, who was with LogiStyle for 2 ½ years. You might have met her at one of our workshops or spoken to her on the phone. She has moved on to her next rung in her career, a wonderful marketing opportunity with JBA Consulting Engineers. With this Food for Thought article, we celebrate her move to the next chapter of her career and wish her success. Our excitement and joy probably needs explanation. Why is an employer happy to see their employee move on to the next job?

At LogiStyle, we hire recent college graduates, usually with little or no work experience, offer them a great opportunity to learn about marketing, event planning and leadership, and give them an opportunity to interact with accomplished corporate executives and CEOs at our workshops. While it is a great job for a recent college graduate, there is little growth opportunity within our small company.

So we tell them at the time of hiring that this job is good for about three years. They should use it as a stepping stone for their next career move. We help them through that process by forcing the conversation at each of their monthly, 1-1 meetings with me. From day 1 on the job, they are required to articulate their career interests, do research on where and how they could fulfill those aspirations, take active steps to explore those possibilities, and in two to three years settle on the right opportunity and move forward. In our short history of six years, Stefanie Call, Emily Meath and Courtney Brinkhoff have moved on. Now, it is Gwen Hickmond’s turn.

Interestingly enough, Gwen was recruited by one of our clients. Dwayne Miller, CEO of JBA Consulting Engineers, had met Gwen and spent three days with her at one of our L3 workshops, where Gwen was responsible for the entire event – the selection of the location, the negotiation with the hotel to draft a contract, the marketing of the event, registration of participants, all of the arrangements for the event, and orchestration of the event on-site. When Dwayne heard of our transition policy, he asked us if he could consider her for a position in his company. Then in the most professional way, he handed over the opportunity to one of his managers, who had an open position and let that manager consider Gwen on his own terms.

Of course, we celebrate Gwen’s transition with mixed emotions. Gwen contributed greatly to LogiStyle. She was very comfortable here. The staff referred to her as the Boss, since I was always traveling and seldom in the office. But imagine Gwen’s excitement – and, discomfort – this week, starting a new job. Everything is new and different. Nothing is familiar. A great opportunity in front of her. How she presents herself, deals with situations, interacts with people, etc., in the next six months, will shape her capacity to influence and contribute in this new position. She is probably excited and she is probably nervous. There is excitement in the new and unknown. There is power in that excitement.Ask yourself how many of your employees have that excitement they had in their first six months.

Chances are you are listing the employees that joined in the last six months. What are you doing to maintain that excitement? What are you doing to keep them from getting comfortable? Is being comfortable in a job a good thing? Or, does it lead to complacency and stagnation? Would you rather have somebody still growing into the job or would you prefer somebody who already knows everything about the job? In which situation is more value being created, for the employer and the employee, both individually and collectively? How comfortable are your employees?

We have maintained that when an employee leaves a company and returns after a few years, the success of that re-hire is likely to be less than if you had made a brand new hire. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, as admitted in that article. One of the drawbacks of a returning hire is that they don’t have that same sense of excitement. They are likely to be more comfortable than a brand new hire. You want your new employee to have that sense of excitement and discomfort.

We will soon be hiring a new employee to replace Gwen. We are looking forward to the excitement, ideas, enthusiasm, and untainted perspective that this new person will bring us. Is that worth the cost of training the new person into the new job? Absolutely!

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e-Reminders Reduce Missed Appointments

No one needs to tell you that time is money and nothing undermines your practice productivity more than missed appointments. The good news here is that technology, when properly implemented, can reduce your practice no-shows substantially. E-reminders, that is reminders sent via email and/or text message, are much more effective and less costly than postcards and phone calls. Furthermore, most patients actually prefer electronic reminder to phone calls.

How does an e-reminder system work?

There are a multitude of solutions providers to help your practice implement e-reminders, but here is a typical process with recall appointments.

  1. When your patient checks out for their current cleaning appointment and schedules their 6 month recall, they will receive a “Save the Date” email immediately. This email increases the probability of the patient adding the appointment to their personal calendar.
  2. A week before the appointment, the patient will get an automatic email reminder and/or text message reminder.
  3. The day before the appointment, the patient will get an automatic email reminder and/or text message reminder.
  4. The day of the appointment, the patient will get a final text message reminder.

Naturally, most systems allow you to customize the time-frame parameters and frequency of e-reminders as well as default to a phone call system when you do not have the patient’s email address or a phone number that accepts text messages. The biggest advantage of most of these systems is they are implemented automatically by your service provider. That means that your staff will not need to spend time running reports, making phone calls or printing reminder cards and can focus on tasks that require their personal touch.  Not only are e-reminder systems more effective than phone calls, they are much less costly.

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Is Your Dental Website Getting Results?


I’m amazed at the hundreds of dental websites I have looked at that are difficult to navigate, make me work to take action, and are basically wasting air space on the Internet.

If you have a website already, I want you to really take a look at its EVERY page, and ask yourself this question. “What’s the goal of this page, and am I making it easy for visitors to take action”.

When you take this approach to your dental website, you’ll have an awakening. You’ll soon realize there is a ton of room for improvement, which is a good thing, as it means with some changes you’ll get more responses.

What’s Your Main Goal

If you’re like all the dental clients I work with, you want your phone ringing correct? If so, does your website make it easy for a visitor to contact your office?

You may think it is, but I’ll bet you it’s not. You see…most of the dental sites I review do not have a prominent phone number. And worse off, many pages don’t have it at all! This makes your dental site a complete waste!

With any marketing, you are paying to get more patients, and that is the same goal of your dental website.

The Second Goal Is…

When someone is looking for a dentist, they want to know how to contact you (phone number), and where are you located (address and map).

With that in mind, you MUST have a map on your dental website! There’s no negotiating on this one! If you don’t make it easy for visitor to see where you’re located, you’re dead in the water. Toast!

I would say of all the dental websites I review, 80% of them do not have a map.

If you don’t, I want you to contact your webmaster right now and get a map put on your homepage ASAP! Don’t put this off! Get it up there and you’ll see a boost in the number of phone calls you get.

So if and when you decide to update/redesign your dental website, don’t go for pretty, go for functional. Make it easy for people to call you and find out where you’re located. Do this and your practice with prosper.

I hope this article has opened your eyes to what your website should accomplish.

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Firing Strategy…


Do you have employees you’re not proud of? Then deal with it!

The “how” of firing is typically not the problem. It’s the “who” and “when” that gets in the way. Business decision makers will tell me about a problem employee and how he/she is a poison to the operation and not living up to minimum performance or behavior standards. They will remind me that they are in an “at-will” state and can fire anyone they want, whenever they want. My response is “OK, what’s stopping you? No, seriously just terminate. Montana is the only state that limits the “at-will” rights of a private, non-union employer, so go ahead.” Apparently the decision maker is taken aback when the HR guy doesn’t start screaming about morale or citing a violation of some regulation that will insure costly litigation. In fact, the numbers show the odds of an employer getting involved in a discrimination case over a firing are pretty slim. Last year EEOC handled 99,412 charges, dropped 67.9% and only filed 122 merit suits.

I can hear a decision maker’s rant on an employee’s poor behavior or read a bad performance evaluation and determine that this employee should be gone. It’s easy for me, or any outsider, because we are not emotionally involved. I did not hire this guy. My kids don’t go to school with this woman’s kids. I don’t go to church with this employee. I’m not going to have to explain the whereabouts of this employee to patients. The problem is not legal…it is emotional. Decision makers do not want to fire.

Firing is something all business decision makers should be good at, but not comfortable with. Good people know who the bad ones are. They know we know and expect us to do something about it. Firing for bad behavior or performance rewards good behavior and performance.

You can feel it. When I meet miserable, grumpy, disengaged employees I don’t blame them. I blame their bosses. I come away determined not to go back and thankful that I don’t have to work around those people every day.

Strategically the “who” is any employee who has fallen below minimum performance or behavior expectations. The “when” is as soon as possible. You may decide that you want to salvage and give the employee a reasonable chance to improve. Just don’t count on the problem to go away by  itself. You’ll know it’s time when your good employees and patients start leaving because they think you don’t care.

It’s not always about performance. The problem may be behavior. You do not have to wait until their behavior affects their performance. Adopt a behavior standard as part of your corporate culture.

Now, do not go back to work and start firing people today. I have a Master’s Degree in Employment Law and I have trained thousands of managers but I am NOT an attorney and do NOT give out legal advice. Part of your decision making process should be to review the situation and any documentation with HR and local legal counsel. You can contact me at and check out my website

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