Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

Sex, Drugs & Oral Cancer

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Sex, Drugs & Oral Cancer…what does this mean? Let’s take a closer look at oral cancer to see how sex and drugs play a role in the development. The risk factors for oral cancer are not only the traditional risk factors of tobacco, alcohol, and age, but now there is an increasing prevalence being caused from a sexually transmitted virus, HPV 16. With the new risk factor of HPV, oral cancer is not only affecting older patients, but now younger patients without the traditional risk factors. This means that everyone who walks into your office potentially has a significant risk factor. Just as with other cancers, early diagnosis of oral cancer provides a markedly improved prognosis for the patient. Knowing that early discovery for cancer saves lives, our goal should be to screen every patient. With the changing trends, it is important to have a tool in your arsenal for early discovery. OralID™ is the perfect solution and is being used in some of the top clinics and cancer centers across the nation.

OralID™ is an FDA Cleared medical device for oral cancer (and pre-cancer) screening. Without the need for any rinses, dyes or other consumables, OralID™ uses fluorescence technology that when shined in the mouth causes healthy tissue to fluoresce an apple-green color and suspicious tissue appears dark. If a dark lesion is found, the recommended protocol for screening is to have the patient back in two weeks to reassess the lesion. Normally these lesions will have healed in the follow-up period. If the lesion is still present, then performing an advanced cytology swab (CytID™) or a biopsy (PathID™) is recommended at that point.

In addition to the OralID™, Forward Science provides complimentary diagnostic tests designed for early discovery. The company offers an all-inclusive program, called the ID For Life Program™, that provides not only the OralID™ device for each office, but diagnostic tests, unlimited support, marketing materials, a lifetime warranty, and more. The ID For Life Program™ helps to ensure success in implementing an oral cancer screening protocol in each office.

As oral cancer has continued to rise over the past eight years along with the risk factors now affecting all demographics, we encourage you to join Forward Science and commit to screening each of your patients. By working together, we may play a crucial part in reversing oral cancer trends through early detection. Learn more by visiting www.forwardscience.com.

FSForward Science is a privately held biotechnology company based in Houston, Texas. OralID, Forward Science’s flagship product, is an award winning oral cancer screening device that allows clinicians to Shine Light. Save Lives.™ by identifying abnormalities that may not be seen under traditional white light examinations. Forward Science quickly expanded its product portfolio in efforts to provide clinicians with a complete program to battle the rising trends of oral cancer. With the launch of the ID For Life™ Program, Forward Science has evolved into the industry leader for oral oncology. The ID For Life™ Program includes the following in an effort to change the trends for oral cancer: screening device (OralID), diagnostic tests (CytID, PathID, hpvID, phID), and treatment options (SalivaMAX). SalivaMAX is Forward Science’s latest product offering, which is an FDA Cleared prescription strength rinse for all ranges of xerostomia.

A Few Thoughts on Customer Service

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Online reviews are one of the most significant factors influencing private practice dentistry today.

I don’t even remember if online reviews existed when I was in dental school (2004-2008).  If they did, they weren’t that popular.  Our training focused on diagnostic competency, the technical aspects of performing clinical dentistry, and treating human beings with dignity and compassion.  These were the standards we were held to in our training, and like many I assumed that these would be the standards I would be held to as a professional in my career.

Of course I am held to high professional and ethical standards by myself, by my peers, by board, by my associations, and by my patients. In the online review era, I am held to another standard as well.  Anyone with an Internet connection can go online, find a picture of me, say whatever they want about me, and rate my service and ability as a professional on the “star scale”.  I used to associate the “star scale” with Ed McMahon and Star Search or reading an album review in Rolling Stone magazine.  Now, when I think of the “star scale”, I think of what I do.

There’s a certain amount of indignity that comes along with a publicly available star rating system with your face next to it. It is frustrating to realize that all of my education and hard work and time and love and care in dentistry can be reduced by anyone to a star rating.  It is humiliating and can make one feel powerless.

Humiliation. Indignity. Eight years of higher education sure made me arrogant, right?  I know I’m not alone.  How do we get over ourselves and take this seriously?  By realizing that we are not powerless. By keeping customer service at the forefront of all decisions in the practice, we can take control of the online review reality and actually use it to our advantage.

In my practice, we talk about online reviews on a daily basis.  We ask patients to write them every day. We read them aloud at our monthly meetings and use them to educate our team.  The things people say in reviews help us to understand what matters most to our patients.  Being conscious of the experience we provide patients is no longer optional.  If we don’t provide excellent customer service experiences, none of our clinical training as dentists matters.

 

Larry Dougherty

Larry DoughertyLarry Doughtery, DDS, is a 2008 graduate of Nova Southeastern University. He has chaired a number of committees on new dentists, has taught at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Dentistry, and now owns Rolling Oaks Dental, a start-up practice in San Antonio, where he practices with his wife who is also a dentist.

Encrypting Your Patient Identity and Health Information

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Guest post by Mark Hollis, CEO of MacPractice

In 2015 alone, the identity and health information of 35% of Americans was exposed – more than 111 Million patient records. More and more, dentists and patients are becoming aware that reported breaches like this effect them directly and can have grave consequences. If you think about it, most of us know someone who has had their personal information compromised and had to spend years recovering from a loss of their identity. Your patient’s identity theft can results in:

Fraudulent charges

Empty bank account

Lost home

Stolen Social Security benefits

Bad credit

Emotional stress, divorce, loss of business, etc.

Health care providers are required by HIPAA to protect EPHI with AES encryption ‘at rest’ on the server and backups, and on a network in the office (and between offices and over the Internet if that applies). The theft and sale of EPHI (Electronic Protected Health Information) is lucrative for thousands of hackers in places like Iran, Russia and China. No one can stop the attempts, but dentists can, at a minimum, use dental software with built-in encryption that makes EPHI indecipherable to a hacker or burglar.

A startling reality is that vendors are NOT required to provide encryption in their software. Other than MacPractice, NONE of the other leading dental vendors provide encryption in their software.

Patients are starting to ask dentists how their data is protected before providing it. In a recent survey, 50% of patients said they would leave their doctor if they were notified their data was exposed, as is required by HIPAA of all doctors who do not encrypt EPHI as well as their database password. In addition, HIPAA and States can assess millions of dollars in fines for non-compliance. This is truly a national emergency.

Encrypted software helps you avoid millions in fines for non-compliance, and qualifies you for HIPAA’s Safe Harbor. In the event of a breach, Safe Harbor can exempt you from having to send first class mail to all who are affected, notify HHS and prominent media, post a notice on your home page, and more. Practices that do not encrypt their patients’ data and report a breach rarely recover.

MacPractice encourages you to learn more about this important topic and how built-in encryption can protect you and your practice. You can download our free whitepaper, register for our encryption webinar and subscribe to our HIPAA web resource page.

MarkHollis_headshot_2014

 

For more than 30 years, Mark has been helping doctors to run their practices more efficiently, first as a practice management consultant and now as CEO of MacPractice – the leading software for doctors who prefer Apple technology. Mark has spoken at seminars, trade shows, dental schools and more than 500 small business events at Apple locations. He is an established and well-respected leader on Cloud computing, dental and medical technology and Electronic Health Records.

He can be reached at markhollis@macpractice.com

Insurance “Coupons” Put Patients in the Chair

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Coupon use is growing. According to an analysis by The Neilsen Company, “more affluent households dominate coupon usage: 38% of ‘super heavy’ users and 41% of ‘enthusiasts’ come from households with incomes greater than $70,000. Households with incomes of $100,000 and up were the primary drivers of coupon growth…”

So, what does this have to do with dentistry? It is a reminder that attitudes toward money – specifically spending and saving – have changed significantly in recent years. Moreover, those most tuned into the value of the dollar – the better educated, higher income households – are also those most likely to understand the importance and value of your dental care.

However, as consumer savvy as this population may be, the majority of them don’t realize that they are likely losing $500, $250, $700 in your office. How? Many, many patients have dental insurance plans with unused benefits that are poised to go to waste come year’s end.

Dental insurance companies make millions of dollars off of patients who never use their insurance benefits because unbeknownst to the consumer, many of these plans provide coverage up to a certain dollar amount annually. Insurance companies aren’t going to encourage customers to use benefits, and it is rare that patients actually know what they have left in benefits. Most are too busy to sift through their policies to determine what might remain on them, which makes informing them about the benefit an excellent win-win opportunity for patients and dental practices.

Take these steps:

1.  Generate an “unscheduled treatment plan report.”
2.  Identify those patients who still have unused insurance benefits.
3.  Prepare and send a special letter to each patient.  ( I have templates for this if you or your office needs assistance)
4. Add a P.S. that says, “Take your insurance dollars further with interest-free patient financing. Ask ‘Jessica’ in my office for all the details.”

I can virtually guarantee that every patient you notify will thank you for calling this to their attention. Whether they take advantage of the opportunity or not, they will appreciate the fact that you took the time to educate them on this important insurance detail.

 

 

4 Reasons Patients No Show

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Broken appointments cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue every year. While you’re never going to completely eliminate cancellations and no-shows in your practice, you can significantly reduce them. How? First you have to understand why patients don’t show up.  Here are four reasons patients don’t make dental appointments a priority, and what you can do to change that at your practice:

1. They Don’t See the Value of Dentistry – When patients don’t understand the importance of maintaining their oral health, they’re much more likely to skip out on their appointment times. That’s why education is so important, and should be part of every patient interaction.

 

2. You Don’t Create a Sense of Urgency – When you recommend treatment to patients, you have to stress the importance of going forward with that treatment. Make sure patients understand the possible consequences of ignoring the problem, and the benefits of maintaining their oral health. Never leave them with the impression that there’s no hurry to pursue the treatment you’re recommending. After all, if you aren’t worried about it, why should they be?

 

3. You Don’t Always Confirm Appointments – Your patients are busy people with many responsibilities, so they might not remember making an appointment with your office. This is especially true if they made that appointment six months ago. That’s why you have to make sure your Scheduling Coordinator and/or your patient communication system confirms every appointment with every patient two days in advance (via their preferred method of contact).

 

4. You Don’t Have a Cancellation Policy –  When you have a cancellation policy and communicate that policy with patients, it helps them to see the importance of showing up for their appointment. If you don’t have a cancellation policy, develop one now and make sure you let both new and current patients know it exists. Remind patients about the policy when they schedule their appointments. Ask them to give your office at least two days’ notice if they can’t make their appointment so another patient can see the doctor.

 

Broken appointments wreak havoc on your day and cost you time and money. If you follow these tips, you’ll see a huge reduction in the number of cancellations and no-shows your practice has to deal with each week, and that, doctor, will do wonders for reducing stress levels while also growing your productivity numbers and your bottom line.

To read this article in it’s entirety CLICK HERE

Hygiene Schedule during Spring Break

Friday, March 20th, 2015

It’s Spring Break season and while some students and families are off vacationing at Disney others are busy making plans to do things they cannot normally fit into their busy schedules; such as taking that much needed overdue trip to the dentist. Having a plan in place to manage last minute cancellations and spur of the moment appointment requests will go a long way for your team to be ready to remain productive and keep your patients and staff happy during the holiday.

First, to be ready for cancellations you will need a list of patients with unscheduled treatment. To get started, run a report showing patient treatment identified but not yet completed. Then assign a staff member to look into each instance. Compose a letter (with empty spacing that can be filled in with personal information and needed treatment) and you as the dentist signs it personally. Follow up with a phone call asking that the patient set up an appointment.

Sample:

Dear Mrs. June Smith,

I hope that you are well and looking forward to a healthy 2015. As your dentist, I am sending you this letter to let you know that you still need to have (a crown on your top left molar) completed. This was treatment that we identified for you last year, but did not accomplish. I don’t want to let a manageable problem become a large, difficult problem for you. In addition, your insurance coverage starts over at the beginning of a year. You and/or your employer are already paying for a good share of your needed treatment!

Call our office at your earliest convenience and we will be glad to set up a time so we can get started on what you need.

I appreciate being your dentist, and look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

Dr. Mike Jones

It is best if the section where the personal treatment is listed does not look like a mass produced “fill-in-the-blank”. That can negate the effect of a “personal” letter! Also, if the patient needs quite a bit of care, don’t try to put it all in. Instead, choose the most pressing issue. These letters do not have to be a “clerical only” duty. Your hygienist or dental assistant can work on them as well.

Regardless of the method used, it is essential to be prepared to address and fill last minute cancellations especially during the holidays when more changes are expected to occur.
Wishing you a wonderful Spring Break and a productive month ahead!
__________

Need more help with your Hygiene Dept? Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com

Common Scheduling Mistakes ( 1 of 3)

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Maintaining a productive schedule isn’t easy. It takes commitment and the willingness to implement measurable systems that will bring about real change in your practice. The person in charge of your schedule must be properly trained and have a clear understanding of the difference between scheduling to keep the team busy, and scheduling to keep the team productive.

When you finally start scheduling to meet productivity objectives rather than just to fill the day, you’ll notice a huge difference in your practice, as will your patients. Stress levels will go down, patients won’t wait as long to see you, and instead of just reacting to what’s thrown your direction, you will be prepared for every appointment. All this, plus you’ll start meeting your practice’s financial goals.

Yes, managing the schedule can be tricky business, but it’s vital to your practice’s success. You may be overwhelmed by the thought of nixing your old system and designing one that actually works, but I’m here to help you through it. I’m about to share with you three of the most common scheduling mistakes dental practices make, along with tips on how you can avoid them. Read on, then start making the necessary changes.

Mistake #1:
You’re Not Communicating with your Scheduling Coordinator
You expect your coordinator to fill in procedure times but are you communicating how long the procedures take? Instead of making your coordinator play the guessing game, let him or her know exactly how long it will take you to perform a scheduled procedure, as well as how long it will take the assistant. The coordinator should then mark the times in different colors on the schedule. Just like that, you’ve saved yourself and your team some unnecessary frustration and aggravation, and you’ve ensured you’re not double-booked.

Whether it comes directly from you or from a hygienist after you’ve provided the time break down, I can’t stress enough how important it is to clearly communicate procedure times with your scheduling coordinator.

Controlling the schedule is vital to your practice’s success. The schedule determines the level of care you provide, how stressful your day is and how much money you bring in. Avoiding these common pitfalls and making a commitment to properly manage the schedule will help ensure that you meet daily production objectives, allowing you and your team to focus on what’s most important—providing the best patient care possible.

Fee Increase? Know Where Yours Stand First

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

The price of gas is going up again with $4.30/gallon in some parts of the country. Perhaps It feels like the latest volley in the seemingly never-ending match between economic recovery and continued uncertainty. The good news – it doesn’t appear that the upsurge is having a detrimental impact on overall inflation.
 
For dental practices that are seeing improvements in new patient numbers, patient retention, and treatment acceptance, there can be a general sense that the time is right for an increase in their own fees. Certainly, many practices have made a concerted effort to keep the cost of treatment in check the last few years. And as a result, some practice owners may feel it’s time for an economic adjustment.
 
However, with such jolts to the wallet as $4 gas prices, dentists must continue to be cautious about fees and think carefully about how they can best compete in today’s marketplace. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Tom Limoli, Jr. He is a noted expert on proper coding and administration of dental insurance benefit claims, and he serves as president of Limoli and Associates, which assists dental offices in establishing fee schedules and managing insurance reimbursement. Tom has watched the business of dentistry for many years. The common practice in the past for practices was to increase fees 3-5% annually. It was a widely accepted standard in the industry. Today’s dentists, however, are encouraged to take a different approach and base fees on true overhead. In other words, what it is costing them to actually deliver the dentistry.
 
In setting fees, Tom notes that dentists need to be very aware of where fees stand in the area that they are practicing. It would not be advisable for a dentist to set fees that are at or exceed the marketplace. “Don’t establish your fees based on the dentist down the hall or across the street. Your fees should be based on your overhead, expenses, patient base, your individual level of professional expertise, and debt,” notes Tom. In addition, dentists should be wary of creating a fee schedule that is too high or too low because it is based on third-party reimbursement rates. “You don’t want to trap yourself by attempting to establish your office fee schedule based on what some third-party payer reimburses at 65% of the 85th percentile,” he explains.
 
Additionally, dentists need to recognize where they are on the skill continuum. For example, newer dentists do not perform dentistry at the same speed as more experienced doctors. For these doctors, what they don’t have in speed they can make up in relationship building. Similarly, for dentists establishing new practices it can be particularly beneficial to hold off on hiring a hygienist right away. It allows the dentist to focus on building one-on-one relationships with patients and will help keep overhead down until production increases and it makes financial sense to add a hygienist to the payroll. As Tom emphasizes, when patients have a relationship with their dentist, they don’t question the fee. Building good relationships with patients has never been more important.
 
Dentists also need to be cautious about setting fees too low for some services and too high for others. In the past, it was not uncommon for dentists to keep hygiene fees unrealistically low, and then make it up with much higher fees for other procedures, such as crowns.
 
In many areas of the country we are seeing smaller treatment plans, and that is translating into steady production and financial success for some practices. Regardless of practice location, what is imperative for every dentist in today’s marketplace is paying close attention to what the patients want and why they are coming into the practice. Addressing the smaller issues and offering more conservative restoration options, provided they are in the patient’s best oral health interest, can be absolutely critical in some situations before recommending larger, more extensive alternatives.
 
One thing is true across the board – the doctors who are successful in today’s economy have a relationship with their patients. They are focused on providing the level of dentistry that achieves the greatest return for the patient. After all, patients are no different than the rest of us. They want to know they are getting the most value for every dollar they spend, be it at the gas pump or in the dental practice.
 

Valuable Associates Reactivate Patients

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Busy practices that may be the right fit for you to join usually have a patient retention problem. Ideally a patient reactivation program should be implemented to coincide with your joining the practice. This allows the practice to reactivate patients that have not been seen on a regular basis in hygiene. This is often the case in offices that have more than enough patients; however, there is not enough capacity for one doctor to handle the entire patient base. Your joining the practice is the perfect opportunity to solve that problem.

 

When patients are reactivated, they should be scheduled for a hygiene appointment with the associate. The hygiene appointment is probably the most non-threatening appointment in the dental practice, making it the ideal way for you, the associate, to get to know several of the patients. It also allows patients an opportunity to get to know you, and hopefully you will form a long-term dentist/patient bond with all of them.

 

Once you’ve completed their reactivation hygiene appointment, future hygiene appointments should be schedule with the practice’s hygienists. Your employer should schedule you for no more than four reactivation patients a day so that you have time to perform other clinical procedures.

Crack the No-Show Code

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

The clock on the wall says 2:10. The patient was scheduled for a 2 p.m. appointment. It’s “dead time” in the dental office. Mid-afternoon for many practices sees production slow to a trickle. These tend to be some of the most difficult times to fill and the most likely to generate no-shows and cancellations.

 

Take steps to keep the schedule full and patients in the chair. Educate patients about the impact on the practice of last minute cancellations and no-shows. Many are completely oblivious to the fact that the appointment time has been set aside specifically for them, or that the doctor and/or the hygienist have prepared specifically for this patient’s procedure, and that someone else also in need of dental care could have taken advantage of that appointment, if they had been given the opportunity.

 

In addition, politely remind patients of the practice’s cancellation policy on a regular basis. It should be printed on appointment cards, mentioned in conversations, as well as included in text messages and emails. And patients who are 10 minutes late for their scheduled appointment should be called promptly to confirm that they are on their way.

 

You might say for example: “Hello Mr. Frank. This is Abigail from Dr. Adams’ office. We were expecting you for your appointment at 2:00, and I was concerned because you had not arrived yet.” Listen carefully to the patient’s response. He may be on the way and stuck in traffic. He might have had a legitimate emergency arise. Life does happen, and it’s important for staff to be sensitive to that when contacting patients. However, it’s also critical to document all no-shows and last minute cancellations into the patient’s record to track if situations such as this are occasional or common.

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HEY! Have you had some really crazy excuses from late patients? Have you forgotten to call your patients? Feel free to share your experience right here on our blog! We do have hundreds of visitors who may want to hear from you too!