Practice-Management Tag Archive

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The Secret to Fee Increase Acceptance

Right now most practices are taking a look at modifying their fees for 2012. Here are some  thoughts about circumstances that should cause you to think twice about raising fees at all, then about some factors to consider that might affect the amount of the increase, and finally the number one factor to consider in the fee increase equation.

Clearly, one needs to take a serious look at the state of the local and regional economy. If factories and businesses are continuing to suffer or fail in your area and/or your practice is shrinking, any kind of the fee increase would most likely be noticed, and considered by your patient base to be unfair.  If you have recently purchased a practice it might be a good idea to wait until the dust settles before instituting any change in fee structure, regardless of the fact that a new year is about to begin. Finally, if you have recently set up practice from scratch, let’s say within the past six months, you might want to wait until you have some perception that the practice has stabilized before instituting any further fee changes.

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Top 5 HR Mistakes Dentists Make

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Not knowing why “A” players should come work for you.

Start at the beginning. Why should “A” players, quality employees, come work for you? Believe me “A” players have choices. The problem now is not finding warm bodies but quality people. Write down 4 reasons why the best people in each job description should come work for you. What separates you from the dentist down the street? My dentist went through an entire re-branding process that involved outsiders including patients; giving feedback on what was working and what needed improvement. It was a good experience before and now it’s even better. He has surrounded himself with great people and as a patient I feel the difference every time I walk in. (This is no small endorsement…when asked about my biggest fear associated with going to the dentist I answered “DEATH”) Don’t waste your time and money trying to hire “A” players if your not an “A” place to work.

Hiring based on qualifications rather than behavior.

It is much easier to fix a performance problem than it is a behavior problem. Nobody has a good or bad “attitude.” Substitute the word “behavior” for “attitude” and interview for specific behavior standards proven successful in your practice. Situational questions are best…”Describe a situation when…” “Give an example of…” If applicants are grumpy or miserable in the interview just wait until you put them on payroll!

Thinking it’s going to be easy to find quality employees in this economy.

At a 9% unemployment rate you can certainly generate applicant traffic into your practice. But don’t think this will make the hiring process easier. Good people are still hard to find. Make sure you focus on those qualifications and behaviors proven successful in your practice. You will have to sort through a lot of “volume” to find that diamond in the rough.

Asking risky questions.

Do not ask questions pertaining to age, sex, race, religion, national origin or disability. Focus on behavior!

Forgetting that you hired someone.

As dumb as this sounds, it is amazing to me how many employers put so much energy in hiring and then act like it’s a surprise when they show up. “Sit with Martha, she will teach you everything she knows, takes about 5 minutes. Got any questions come see me.” Run away! Run away! Why wouldn’t the new employee start looking for another employer immediately? Make sure they have a good first day. Have the party on the first day, not the last day!
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Hunter Lott is an HR consultant dedicated to the rights of management. Check him out at www.PleaseSueMe.com or contact him directly at HRHunterLott@gmail.com and mention Net32.

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REAL Recall – Recall Systems For The Modern Practice

REAL Recall – Matching Advancements in Practice Management and Clinical Dentistry

Dentistry has been practiced since 7,000 BC and “Modern” dentistry began with the establishment of the first dental school, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, in 1840.  Since that time, now nearly 170 years later, clinical knowledge and technology have advanced considerably.

Today’s dental office is far more effective and efficient than its counterpart from one hundred years ago. Yet, many office’s business systems appear to have never evolved with their clinic. Modern dentistry is performed using drill technology that has advanced light years from its initial implementation. A dentists now also utilize air abrasion and lasers! Clinical dentistry has come “a long way baby….” as Livvie Matthews points out in her great article. And yet, the average business office that supports them still tries to operate out of a shoe box to mail announcements, reminders, and notices to patients (AND will rationalize and justify why this is a “good” thing!).

Does Patient Perception Matter?

Patient perception of how “modern” an office is – while seemingly intangible – is far more valuable than almost any other aspect of marketing and management. It directly impacts case acceptance, appointment compliance, referrals to other friends and family, and overall practice production.  Handing a person a blank card for them to hand-write their own appointment reminder TODAY is the equivalent of inviting them into a dental practice that still uses a stone-aged bow-drill….it does not inspire confidence or provide anything to brag about.

Since the clinical team has the technology chair-side to impress the patient with Jedi skills (which, unfortunately, most patients often fail to notice), should not the main stage also be set with identical capabilities?  Luke Skywalker did not ONLY have a light saber that was rarely used…..he had both C-3PO and R2-D2 beside him providing him with information AND doing a great deal of work autonomously!   Every modern dental office today can and should have the same level of artificial intelligence working in the office – 24 x 7 – 365 days a year

Get Ready, Here Comes the Future of Dental Recall Systems!

Each patient is unique in their dental needs and challenges. While the advertising industry has imprinted everyone with the concept “Visit your dentist twice a year”, we all know that patients may actually require a different visit frequency. This schedule is normally determined and documented in the practice management system (PMS) used by your clinical team.  This key information, along with the date of last cleaning (not to be confused with the date of  last visit) is vital to know when a patient is “due” to visit the office again – for an actual cleaning.  At each patient’s visit, they may choose to commit to a future appointment (that they may or may not keep…) or they may choose to wait to make an appointment until the time gets nearer.   Either decision creates a bunch of “future work” for the office, that either can be handled as best as possible (i.e. inefficiently with all of the normal day to day transactions), or can be given to the artificial intelligence to handle flawlessly.

For the patient that DID make an appointment 6 months from now:

Manual Approach: The current manual challenge is to correctly write up and hand patients a little appointment card (that will be lost somewhere between the front desk and the parking lot…) and then wait.   Hopefully, anywhere between 4 to 6 months from now, a staff member will have the time to generate printed reminder cards (if the office is semi-modern) or alternatively pull hand written cards (of which many no longer are relevant) and get them into the mail with the hope that the patient will arrive at the appointment made 6 months ago.

Automated Approach: If an “artificial intelligence” is given the job, the dedication to detail is far greater and provides the patient with a “wow” factor that they will share with their friends.   As the patient is checking out from the current cleaning appointment, and commits to that time 6 months in the future – they will receive a “Save the Date” email that will meet them when they get to their office / home where it will have a much greater probability of being added to their “official” calendar and remembered. As the actual appointment draws nearer, the computer (with no need for human intervention to run reports, start tasks, etc) will know when to start “reminding” patients that they have an appointment – and will do this using a variety of tools  including e-mail, text-messaging, automated phone call, and yes – even a postcard (you want to have a 100% solution).    On the day of the appointment, the computer can (and will) send reminder text messages to make sure that last minute distractions do not result in an idle chair, a bored hygienist, and a frantic conversation with the patient 10 minutes after their appointment start time.

For the patient that did NOT make an appointment for 6 months from now:

Yes, I am one of those (And yes there are many more like me. How do I know what will happen six months from now?)  who checkout and will “call back” to make an appointment 6 months from now. Better yet, I’ll just “wait for the notice” to arrive in the mail?

Manual approach: The current manual challenge is to keep up with all of these “patients of record – but not on the book” people to try to get them converted back to actual made appointments (which then must be cared for in the same manner above!).  Hopefully with the help of a practice management system – some team member, when they have the time, will run the necessary reports on a regular enough schedule to identify a bunch of patients that need to be “worked on”.  This work would be phone calling or loading cards into a printer to print / stamp / mail. The importance of this task is critical, yet it relies on many faulty components – starting with the practice management system (of which many do NOT accurately identify patients that need to be contacted), the knowledge of the tasks and systems by ever changing staff members, and the actual time available to DO the work.

Automated Approach: When an “artificial intelligence” (Again, think R2D2 and C3PO here) takes on this critical job in real time, it is analyzing every patient and appointment to know WHO is on recall but not currently scheduled for a recall appointment.  The computer will then use all of the tools mentioned above to insure the correct message is sent at the correct time resulting in an appointment being made (and then doing everything mentioned above to make sure the appointment is kept).   If the patient is non-responsive to every “touch” (e-mail, text, postcard, etc.) the computer will NOT allow the patient to fall through the crack and will continue to contact patients that are past-due AND will send notices to the office staff for occasional assistance (so a person can talk to them when it is actually needed).   This will provide the office with the double benefit of KNOWING a critical aspect of the office is covered (no vacations, no sick days, no holidays) and more “found time” is now  available for staff members to focus on items that require a personal touch.

Once the artificial intelligence is turned on in the office and the key tasks are taken care of, there are many other items that can be added to the chore list:

–        Chart Audit / Reactivation (done daily instead whenever….)
–        Morning Huddle Report (review of yesterday, today and tomorrow)
–        Remote Access to office from smart phones and other devices
–        Confirmation calling and texting (what more people are expecting)
–        Statistical analysis and review of office activities and status

Most modern practices today can enable these automated systems for pennies a day. This addition to your practice management system will help your practice be perceived as a  modern, “leading edge” healthcare provider. Just as Luke Skywalker had his choice of robots, you have a variety of choices for automated practice management services.  A dental appointment book and dental patients is very special and has many subtle nuances (like differentiating between a cleaning visit versus a restorative visit or knowing the cleaning interval of each specific patient) that you want to make sure the artificial intelligence you “hire” (they are just a robot applying for a job) is aware of.    Lastly, which ever artificial intelligence you hire should be expected to show up and work each day – with no contract required.   As long as they are meeting your needs, you will continue to use them for everyone’s benefit.   If they cannot perform the job as you expect – or someone better comes along – you should NOT be forced to continue doing business with them because of a contract……unless you are getting the same contractual commitment from your patients?

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Allen Jorgensen is a front office manager for his wife’s practice started from scratch in 1994 as an all digital and chartless practice.   Over the years he has applied his 30+ years of commercial data processing experience to automate every aspect of a traditional dental office.    North Gwinnett Dental Care is located in Sugar Hill Georgia and continues to host office tours for anyone interested in seeing how a 15+ year digital office operates.   Allen is also the CFO of Lighthouse Practice Management Group which provides automation solutions to dental offices around the world.   For more information visit www.lpmg360.com or call 888-427-5454 x 88

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9 Top Areas To Address In Your Social Media Policy

I could hardly believe my eyes! I’d read about it, discussed it, reviewed it, even posted about it, but I had never actually seen it… An apparent staff member posting a negative post about their position in their dental office…while at their office!!

Social media is here and whether you are utilizing social media in your practice/business or not, your employees are! It would be great if you could depend on posts being all positive and upbeat, but we know that’s not reality.

You know Social Media and its implications to your business or practice. You know the importance of having some type of Social Media Policy in place for your practice/business, but…. what areas need to be addressed?

The top 9 areas to address in your Social Media Policy:

  1. Policy Statement: This is a generalized statement about participating in social media. Tie it in with your Office Manual and Personal Conduct. Also acknowledge that what’s done on their time is their business. However, certain activities at work or outside work that could affect job
    performance, theirs or another employee’s, or the practice’s interests are a proper focus for policy.
  2. Definitions: Reference the Social Media Channels and Social Media Networks you are referring to in your policy. For example, blogs, micro-blogs, social networks, social bookmarking, sharing platforms, etc. Also reference how these might be addressed. For example, internet, mobile, text, email, etc. Also reference Social Media Accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blogs, and any other Social Media Channels.
  3. Objectives: Establish and include guidelines that employees adhere to and why you are initiating the Social Media Policy.
  4. Guiding Principles: Address how you expect employees to use social media at work and outside work. Who can “speak” on behalf of the practice/business. What can and cannot be discussed while at work or on their own time. Assure online activities don’t interfere with job requirements or commitment to patients/clients.
  5. Respectfulness: Keep interaction online (at work or on their time), always careful of what’s posted. For example, don’t say or post anything you wouldn’t want seen on the front page of the local newspaper or want your Grandmother to read!
  6. Disclosure and Transparency: Social media is all about trust and building relationships. Be aware of what you are posting, be honest, and disclose your true identity. Transparency and Authenticity (open and genuine) are the two key elements in Social Media.
  7. Privacy: Address you, the Employers, right to privacy and Employees right to privacy. As such employers and employees have the right to keep personal opinions, thoughts, beliefs, and emotions private and employees are prohibited from violating another employee or their employer’s right to privacy.
  8. Confidentiality: Effectively managing and protecting confidential information is critical. Failure to manage and protect confidential information correctly and what that could result in. ALSO Employees can disagree but external blogs or other online social media channels are not to be used to air employee disagreements. Note: Again, be careful of what’s posted. It’s going to be on the social networks for a long time. If in doubt, don’t post it!!
  9. Penalties: Failure to comply with these Social Media Policies may result in: List what could happen if an employee does not comply. They could include: Warnings, No longer have access to certain information, Disciplinary action, up to and including termination, even Civil or criminal penalties as provided by law (depending on the situation).

Once printed, make copies for each employee. Then have a staff meeting introducing and going over the social media policies of the office. Then have each employee sign that they understand and have received a copy.

This is not an all inclusive list nor do all of these have to be addressed. Your practice or business will determine how involved you need to be with your social media policy.

However, whether your practice is actually using social media should not be the determining factor for whether or not you need a social media policy. The fact that your employees ARE using social media makes having your social media policies in place…critical!

If you have your social media policies in place, what areas did you address not listed here?

***NOTE: This is not meant to be legal advice and I am not an attorney.

 

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Livvie Matthews, Dental Social Media Consultant and Coach, provides “how to’s” on Internet marketing and social media networking for dental professionals who want to keep it simple and easy to understand. Free 8 day Social Media eCourse delivered immediately to your inbox http://bit.ly/dQEZof Visit http://www.SimpleSocialMedia.TV Contact Livvie: Livvie@simplesocialmedia.tv

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7 Marketing Strategies: Then and Now

In the late ’60s, Virginia Slim cigarette ads used the saying: “You’ve come a long way, baby!” I don’t think there’s a more targeted saying that could be used to describe marketing as we know it today….from even just a few years ago.

Traditional marketing meant direct mailers, print ads in magazines and telephone books, radio and TV ads, even billboards to reach viewers and potential new patients. But the problem with traditional marketing is as people have become better at blocking these traditional messages, traditional marketing has become less effective.
Let’s take a walk back in time a few years ago to get a better picture of Then and Now:

1. Then: An employer could purchase a “targeted” e-mail list of names for sending newsletters and special offers.

Now: Spam filters are used extensively plus marketer’s are limited by the National Canned Spam Act from sending “unsolicited messages”

2. Then: Sending out direct mailers to large lists of purchased names for a specific area

Now: Peoples mail boxes are full of junk mail and the mailers rarely make it past the trash can

3. Then: Specific trade publications had a large subscriber readership for reading your ad

Now: Publications are losing subscribers, laying off staff , and in some cases have stopped publication or scaled back their issues

4. Then: Businesses hired telemarketing firms for business solicitation

Now: Caller ID has become a standard feature on home, work, and even cell phones plus more and more people are adding their numbers to the national Do Not Call Registry making it more and more difficult for even the best of trained telesales reps.

5. Then: Radio and TV advertisements in cars and homes were almost guaranteed to generate results

Now: Commercial free channels and programs like Sirius radio, DVR’s and TiVo, DVD’s, MP3, iPods and iTunes has dramatically limited radio and TV effectiveness in advertising.

6. Then: Trade Shows were great for reaching the business audience and came with high “booth” rental fees

Now: Trade shows today have seen a huge decline in their attendees due to airline and hotel fees and lost production if the practice or business had to close while attending the trade show, causing many shows to scale back or to go out of business.

7. Then: The effectiveness of your marketing for the most part was measured by the amount of money you were able to afford to spend on your advertising budget. But even the “big guys” ads were static in nature, meaning no contact, no engaging, no information exchanged, and no relationship formed. Once placed they just sat there until they expired or they were renewed.

Now: Today people are tired of the barrage of marketing messages and are very good at deleting, trashing, and blocking traditional marketing, which is also changing. However, with social media marketing you no longer have to spend vast amounts of money for advertising to reach your target market. With social media, you build your online communities, you build relationships with your followers, and there IS contact and engaging conversation, information IS exchanged, and relationships ARE formed and the good part is….it’s working for you and your business 24/7 – 365! You really have come a long way, baby!

Consumer shopping has totally changed from Then! Is your marketing ready for social media Now?
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Livvie Matthews, Dental Social Media Consultant and Coach, provides “how to’s” on Internet marketing and social media networking for dental professionals who want to keep it simple and easy to understand. Free 8 day Social Media eCourse delivered immediately to your inbox http://bit.ly/dQEZof Visit http://www.SimpleSocialMedia.TV Contact Livvie: Livvie@simplesocialmedia.tv

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