Archive for the ‘Management’ Category

Do You Have a Disaster Plan?

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Guest post by Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

Every day, news reports show us the devastation that can be brought to any doorstep by Mother Nature or other unplanned situation. Our best defense against this is to ask ourselves, what is our plan if such a thing were to happen to our dental practice?disaster plan checklist (002)

Your answer should be a disaster plan. This is something that should be in writing, reviewed at least annually, naming a specific person (such as your Office Manager or another person) entrusted with following the practice owner’s wishes, bringing some semblance of order to the chaos to come.

There are many examples of disaster that can throw your practice into a tailspin.

Fire, flood, or other natural disaster:

  1. Make sure dental staff members are accounted for and safe. Have a designated staff member (and a back-up person) activate your prepared, written Emergency Action Plan with appropriate contact information for the office team and patients.
  2. If you are aiding in the cleanup process, be sure to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against water-borne illnesses and aspiration of materials.
  3. If possible, make arrangements to pay staff right away to help them cover basic needs for food, shelter, and any medical treatment they may need.

Theft or embezzlement:

  1. Review protocols surrounding passwords and security. Every staff member should have their own login credential assigned and known only to them. For example, XLDent practice management software recommends security groups which clearly identify staff members and access permissions.
  2. Review security logs. This is where you will find record of every transaction performed for each staff member’s login. It’s good practice to periodically review these for inconsistencies.

Unexpected illness or death:

  1. Make sure Standard Operating Procedures are written and up-to-date. They may be needed in the event a staff member’s duties are to be completed by another member or even by a temporary replacement hired from an outside agency. Be familiar with local dental staffing agencies that may be a resource for temporary administrative and clinical employees.
  2. Know who is designated to handle the estate of the doctor and if there is a document (such as a will) to provide a path for transfer of ownership.

One area not yet discussed is your practice data. Your disaster plan should include a data recovery section. Data recovery is critical to keep your business going after a disaster event has occurred. In many of the examples, office computers and equipment may be damaged or lost. Knowing your data is safe and secure is peace of mind you don’t want to risk. A reliable managed data backup option is XLDent’s XLBackup.

In all cases, remember your best bet is to be prepared. With a proper disaster plan, an unplanned sequence of events can quickly be turned into a planned response for you and your team.

To connect with XLDent, call 800-328-2925 or email xldentinfo@xldent.comDawn

Dawn Christodoulou is the President/Owner of XLDent. She has more than 25 years of experience computerizing dental offices and helping both new and established practices streamline electronic workflows for increased efficiency, improve patient engagement, and achieve maximum profitability. Dawn is also a member of ADA SCDI Working Groups 11.1 Standard Clinical Architecture and 11.9 Core Reference Data Set.

Nice Guys Don’t Get Sued

Friday, April 20th, 2018

Guest post by Aaron M. Layton DDS

Three years ago I purchased my practice. A nice, modern practice with a solid patient base and long-term employees – everything I dreamed of. But it wasn’t more than a few months before I knew managing a team was going to be my most difficult task to date. (You think Boards were tough…ha-ha-ha.)

I dove into every HR book in the Barnes and Noble business section and any Webinar associated with keeping a team happy. One thing stuck out: You are more likely to be sued by an employee than a patient. This bothered me, so I armed myself with the best possible thing I could imagine, KINDNESS.

I’m a nice guy. I made accommodations for employee medical appointments and vacations. I increased benefits and salaries. I was the nicest guy around. Who would ever sue the nice guy?  But I was wrong – very wrong in fact.

On my birthday of 2016 I was sent a letter from my State Legal Board saying a former employee was claiming she was terminated because of her mental health which made her disabled. I had wrongly let someone go who was disabled? After the shock and a few pieces of birthday cake, I located an attorney and began the process of disputing the claim.

As of today, I spent $6000 dollars, one appeal, and countless hours worrying about what could happen.  In the end, the claim was dropped with no marks on my record and all I lost was sleep and money.

From this recent experience I learned two important lessons.

1) Nice guys do get sued, and actually more often. When you’re the nice guy you often provide everything your employees want.  You make sacrifices and adjustments – in fact, you’re better than Santa Claus. If things don’t work out, these employees just want to keep getting at any cost. Keep an employee manual and stick to it. If someone breaks an agreement, hold them accountable. It doesn’t hurt to be a nice guy, just be a nice guy who follows all the rules. It’s good to be nice, but more important to be fair.

2) Everyone needs an Employment Attorney. I thought an attorney was only needed when problems arise, but just like in dentistry, a good Employment Attorney can provide preventative care to keep you out of trouble. A wise old dentist once told me, “When things don’t work out, just call it education.” This past year, with my education budget I got a live course in employment, handbooks, and dealing with disgruntled employees.

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Aaron Layton, DDS, is a 2010 graduate of Indiana University. He completed three years working at a large group practice in Vermont before buying his own practice in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he currently works and resides with his wife and their four children.  

What New Dentists Can Gain from Losing

Friday, April 6th, 2018

Guest post by Nelson Kanning, DDS

Why would anyone boast about being a loser, especially if losing involved money? Who in their right mind would consider losing money a gift? Most dental practice owners and even associates would throw a fit at the idea of setting a goal to lose money. But, I’m proposing being a loser can make sense, particularly if you’re a new dentist.

Until recently it was hard to admit that being a loser is one of my greatest gifts. The majority of my experience with teams has been as a loser. High school football; we lost. I played for a Division I football team that was bowl champ the year prior to me joining. Then, we lost. Losing used to be tough. However, now I’m finding being a loser is a joy.

I’d say this revelation happened about six years ago. I was sitting in the audience at the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s (AACD) annual scientific session in Seattle. During one of the opening sessions, I became curious about the awards being given to offices who participated in their Whitening Challenge. Offices who participate in the AACD Charitable Foundation’s Whitening Challenge agree to donate a portion of profits from their whitening to the Give Back a Smile program, which restores the smiles of survivors of domestic violence. And one office received the award for donating the most profit from whitening to the AACD. That office’s benevolence inspired me. Their team was excited about the program. The doctors felt good about the service to their patients and to a much greater cause. That day, I realized that program had to be part of my practice.

It seems fit, here, to reveal that dentistry is my second career. Through my twenties, I made a living as a professional fundraiser asking people to donate money to leadership programs, support scholarships, and buildings for a private liberal arts college. During that time, I was always fascinated by the joy the donor received knowing their money was making an impact for someone deserving. The Whitening Challenge has given me that same feeling of joy. It is a whole lot more fun to give money away freely than it ever was to ask for money.

Does donating increase my bottom line? Who knows. But ultimately, who cares. You’re not a dentist solely for the profit. Remember, you said it yourself in your interview: “I really want to help people and make a difference.” Boom, here is your chance. Finding a cause for your practice, like the Whitening Challenge, can make instant connections with skeptical patients as well as entice new patients into our chairs. It has given my team a cause they are proud to stand behind and excited to share with our community. However, it mostly reminds me that when you do the right thing, despite your overhead, your monster loans, and your financial ambition, being a loser just feels good.

AACD.Blog.4.7.18.Kanning (002)Nelson earned a BS at William Jewell College, with an emphasis in Leadership and Biology. After graduating, he served two years as a leadership trainer and capital campaign consultant for Sigma Nu fraternity. Although he enjoyed his mission-driven work in the non-profit sector, Nelson decided to pursue his original desire for a career as a dentist.

Dr. Kanning served on the AACD Charitable Foundation Board of Trustees from 2015 to 2017 and served as the chair from 2016-2017. His office has participated in the Whitening Challenge since 2013 and won the Bright White award in 2014 for donating the most whitening proceeds of all participating practices in that year. Since his office has started participating in the Whitening Challenge, they have donated nearly $25,000 in whitening proceeds.

 

Getting Patients in the Door for a New Startup

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

Guest post by Brian Baliwas, DDS

Four years ago, I took a risk as a new grad and joined a group practice in San Francisco to try and build a patient base of my own. A few trusted mentors supported the idea and gave me the confidence that building something for myself straight out of school was a good idea.

I saw a staggering FIVE patients in my first week. My days were full of hygiene and down time, but I kept a positive outlook throughout it all. I knew that if I did good work and treated people like family, this slow start and double-digit patient count would be temporary.

Like any dental startup, the priority was getting patients in the door. When I wasn’t with patients, I brainstormed different ways to market my practice with a limited marketing budget. Today, my patient count is in the quadruple digits, and I believe social media has played a significant role in that growth.

Social media gives dentists an opportunity to show potential patients something no other type of marketing can: a glimpse of who they are behind the mask. Dentists who treat social media like traditional advertising and post about whitening specials and Invisalign discounts miss out on the opportunity to really convey their personality and practice philosophy.

In addition to growing my practice, social media has allowed me to connect with people I may have never met. Aside from patients, I’ve met other dentists, specialists, dental students, laboratory techs, and dental product reps. I use it to stay connected with people I meet at conferences. I even met the person mentoring me towards AACD accreditation, Dr. Adamo Notarantonio (@adamoelvis), through Instagram!

The question you must ask yourself when starting a dental social media account is: what do you want to share and who are you targeting?

If growing a practice is your goal, don’t get caught up focusing on irrelevant numbers. Patients don’t (directly) care about your follower count, follower to following ratios, how many likes you received, or other meaningless social media statistics. Focus on content and providing information they would find valuable. Nothing else matters.

If you have a great personality and provide honest dental care, your future patients deserve to know! Take pictures of your office, staff, patients and dental work (with permission), volunteering, CE courses, hobbies, humor, family, and individuality. Share who you are… and then share some more.

AACD.BLOG.3.7.18.BrianBaliwas.photo (002)Brian Baliwas (@sfdentalnerd) received his DDS degree from the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, where he graduated with high honors and was elected to join both Omicron Kappa Upsilon and Tau Kappa Omega dental honor societies. He is an active member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the Academy of General Dentistry, and maintains a fee-for-service private practice in San Francisco, California, with two locations near Union Square and the Marina district.

His practice philosophy is centered on conservative, highly esthetic, comprehensive dentistry that utilizes modern technology and techniques. Dr. Baliwas also teaches part-time at UOP in the Department of Integrated Reconstructive Dental Sciences.

 

 

Strength in Numbers

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Guest post by Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

The modern dental office is becoming fully integrated into the digital age, with the ability to capture and analyze much of the data it generates on a weekly basis. Close monitoring can guide the Practice Owner to reflect on which marketing methods are generating the most leads, how successful collection efforts are, and production trends.

In a matter of seconds, a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) should tell you whether your practice is growing, maintaining, or starting to decline. XLDent offers a brand new KPI Dashboard feature to help you gather this data quickly, and formXLDent.TND.Blog.Dec.2017.Dashboard2 (002)at it into easy-to-read graphs, giving you a window to the health of your dental practice. This Dashboard is mobile-friendly and accessible from anywhere, anytime.

An analysis of your Clinical team can tell you several things:

-Production is the most basic building block of your business, so these daily, weekly, and monthly totals are a great place to start looking for trends, peaks and valleys. They can be useful to determine whether you should think about adding more staff to manage your patient care without delays or protracted schedules.

-Is the hygiene team making sure to schedule the next recall appointment with the patients before they leave the treatment room? Recall metrics need to be clearly visible, concise, and up to date.

-Are your recommended treatment plans being accepted, scheduled, and followed through or are patients not feeling confident in your team? Perhaps you will need to add education for patients who are unsure if planned treatment is truly needed.

-Are overhead costs crippling your ability to run a successful business? The materials and equipment you choose (and the method they are deployed) should be reviewed periodically, so that modifications can be made, where appropriate.

An analysis of your Administrative Team will point out the following areas:

-The number of new patients coming into the practice each month. Are they referred from satisfied patients, calling you because of a successful marketing campaign, and is your office creating the best experience once they come in?

-Are your Collections being handled in a timely manner? Not everyone is comfortable asking patients to pay their balances, so it’s a good idea to seek out the right staff person to tackle this roll.

With all this information at your fingertips, performance goals can be set and achieved. Practice growth decisions should include clear expectations of what your team is capable of, and what systems and positions may need to be modified going forward. Keeping track of your practice’s growth, and potential, doesn’t need to be a major time commitment. The new XLDent KPI Dashboard can provide a window into where you’re headed in just minutes.

To connect with XLDent, call 800-328-2925 or email xldentinfo@xldent.comDawn

Dawn Christodoulou is the President/Owner of XLDent. She has more than 25 years of experience computerizing dental offices and helping both new and established practices streamline electronic workflows for increased efficiency, improve patient engagement, and achieve maximum profitability. Dawn is also a member of ADA SCDI Working Groups 11.1 Standard Clinical Architecture and 11.9 Core Reference Data Set.

A Smart Start to Practice Growth

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Guest post by Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

As the owner of a practice starting out or a stagnant one trying to grow, you are faced with figuring out what impacts practice growth the most. When properly planned, three areas can help to maximize growth from day one.

  1. Systems

You’re likely not thinking about efficiency or productivity during your first days or weeks in business. With a handful of patients each day, you’re not faced with bottlenecks, communication gaps, or duplication of processes. Alas, you soon will be. Systems minimize gaps or overlaps in your daily processes. They are needed for productive workflows and profitability.

Create standard operating procedures (SOPs) early on. Doing so sets the stage for staff expectations, accountability measures, and helps you measure areas of success or needs for improvement. Early on, you are likely running your practice without a full team. You have an assistant also taking on the front desk role, because you’re simply not busy enough yet to hire a full-time admin team member. As you bring on new staff, a written set of SOPs will ensure each team member is prepared and knows their responsibilities. Systems should be created knowing they will evolve as your practice grows and staff roles change. XLDent provides each practice, whether just starting out or transitioning from another PMS, a core set of SOPs to start with. They are a fantastic starting point for those new to establishing systems, and are customized by each practice as needed.

  1. XLDent blog photo Mockup-12-19-16Reviews and Referrals

I doubt there’s a practice starting out today that doesn’t have an online presence from day one. From the day you open your doors, focus on creating a process for reviews and referrals. Nothing attracts new patients more than a healthy online rating and patients who aren’t afraid to tell others about their great experience. After a visit, ask your patient if they were happy with their experience and funnel them right over to do that 5-star review. Lighthouse 360 helps you automate this. Emails. are automatically sent post-visit, and good reviews are posted right to your website and social media pages.

  1.  Patient Experience

It’s no surprise that convenience and consumer experience are priorities when a new patient chooses a dentist. They are especially significant in gaining one who is loyal. Don’t discount the importance of electronic reminders, online access, and paperless forms, to a patient. A busy mom doesn’t want to be faced with a stack of forms to complete that you’re going to scan and shred anyway. Consider a system that embraces all aspects of a streamlined paperless system, so you’re not left with the task of finding disconnected solutions that leave you with clumsy systems.

To connect with someone from XLDent, call 800-328-2925 or email xldentinfo@xldent.com

DawnDawn Christodoulou is the President/Owner of XLDent. She has more than 25 years of experience computerizing dental offices and helping both new and established practices streamline electronic workflows for increased efficiency, improve patient engagement, and achieve maximum profitability. Dawn is also a member of ADA SCDI Working Groups 11.1 Standard Clinical Architecture and 11.9 Core Reference Data Set.

 

How To Fight Off Burnout by Investing in Yourself (It Might Seem Crazy, But It’s Worth It!)

Monday, May 1st, 2017

By Courtney L. Lavigne, DMD

Graduating dental school with today’s student debt burden is overwhelming. It can be even more stressful to finally finish school and realize how little you know, how inundated dentistry can make you feel, and how difficult it can be to find the path to do the dentistry you always dreamed of doing. Three years out of dental school, I found myself burning out—feeling overworked and underpaid.

In that situation, it’s hard to imagine spending any more money, but in my experience, it’s a necessity to advance your potential clinically, which will in turn increase the satisfaction you gain from the profession.

One of the ways I found my path out of burnout and into a real passion for the profession was through the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). It was through this association that I found mentors who taught me how to decrease the number of patients I see per day, increase my clinical ability and the complexity of the dental work I’m doing, and find greater financial and personal rewards in the process.

It can be intimidating to attend an annual meeting when you are flying out of town, staying at a hotel by yourself, questioning how to dress, and realizing you don’t know anyone. The AACD’s annual meeting made it easy to enter the world of cosmetic dentistry because they find mentors to reach out to first-time attendees. At my first meeting, I met my mentor, and we’ve become good friends since. The lectures and hands-on workshops at their annual meeting are, in my opinion, the best bang-for-your-buck available in dentistry today. Over the course of a three-day period, you can learn from some of the best lecturers in the world, and take home pearls you can put into practice the next time you’re in the office.

I’ve attended the conference every year since my first, and I take Newton Fahl’s hands-on workshop multiple times at every conference. In addition to the educational material, I always look forward to the evening events which are not only fun, but allow you to network with some of dentistry’s best and brightest. I’ve made some of my closest friends in dentistry this way.

This year at the annual meeting in Las Vegas, I was honored to be on the other side, lecturing for the first time. A few years ago, I would have never imagined I could have knowledge others would benefit from. But today, I’m enjoying sharing the knowledge, tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way, alongside others striving to do the same.

It’s hard to swallow the expenses of some of this continuing education as a new graduate, but the return on your investment will truly be priceless.

AACDBlogPicCourtney Lavigne received her undergraduate degree at Creighton University and her doctorate at the University of Connecticut. She maintains a private fee-for-service practice in the Boston suburbs with a focus on cosmetic dentistry. She started her practice from scratch in 2013.

Dr. Lavigne is a fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry, the Pierre Fauchard Academy, visiting faculty and online author for Spear Education, and working towards accreditation through the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

Understanding Risk from a Clinical Perspective

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Guest post by Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

Whether you’re just getting started or a seasoned vet, every dentist has heard the phrase “If it’s not in the chart, it didn’t happen.” And, even though we’ve all heard it before, many dentists continue to repeat the bad habits of their predecessors, leaving themselves at risk for malpractice lawsuits and fraud.

The Dental Chart

In order for the dental chart, or electronic dental record, to be defensible in a court of law, it needs to provide a consistent and detailed account of events.

Health History

While most practices are good about obtaining health history information at the time of a patient’s initial visit, many fail to maintain consistency when it comes to updating information. With a lot of dentists counting on hygienists and assistants to update health history information, it’s easy to get lazy with your review of this information. Make it a habit to review the information in your electronic dental record prior to each patient encounter and document this in your clinical progress note. The recent addition of the Medical Tab in the XLDent chart helps clinicians view and update medical conditions and medications easily.

Pre-Treatment Diagnosis

Failure to document a definitive diagnosis is a common weakness to the electronic dental record in many practices. The clinical progress note should reflect your diagnosis and the findings that led to your diagnosis. Supporting items, like radiographs and treatment plans, will also help strengthen and validate your progress note. Your documentation must reflect the treatment options that were recommended and alternatives that were discussed with the patient.

Informed Consent

Prior to treatment, the dentist bears the responsibility of obtaining informed consent from the patient to perform the procedures that were diagnosed. For most, the process to obtain consent involves a conversation with the patient that results in patient understanding and acceptance of the treatment that will be provided. When it comes to malpractice claims, lack of consent is frequently cited. The clinical progress note should reference the process used to obtain consent and that the patient consented to treatment provided. For riskier procedures, consider obtaining consent in writing to help support your clinical note. One method is clinical consent forms that are signed on the tablet pc when using XLDent’s Ink Forms.

Medications

Even in 2017, many prescribers will be the victim of prescription theft or tampering. Sending prescriptions to the pharmacy electronically offers greater protection for the prescriber, reducing the risk of fraud. Additionally, ePrescribing software offers safety measures for the patient.

We hope these recommendations will help you minimize the risk of fraud or error in your clinical settings.

To connect with someone from XLDent, please call 800-328-2925 or email xldentinfo@xldent.com.

Dawn

Dawn Christodoulou is the President/Owner of XLDent. She has more than 25 years of experience computerizing dental offices and helping both new and established practices streamline electronic workflows for increased efficiency, improve patient engagement, and achieve maximum profitability. Dawn is also a member of ADA SCDI Working Groups 11.1 Standard Clinical Architecture and 11.9 Core Reference Data Set.

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.

Additional Tips for Increasing your Production

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

In the last post addressing change for the new year and goal setting, we discussed a few simple steps on what you can do to increase your production. The example that was given was to implement new procedures for your practice, making sure to talk to the staff and educate them to answer questions, informing the patients both in person, online and with printed materials available in your office. To take this one step further, let’s take a look at patient follow-up. Another area that ties to production and often is neglected or at the least could be improved.

When patients cancel appointments and say they will call back to reschedule, give them a reasonable amount of time to do so; however, if they do not reschedule within a few days, they should be contacted. Your concern is the patient’s welfare. It is in their best interest to receive treatment.

One way to relay the importance of a patient keeping or scheduling their appointment is to ensure that patient education is taking place in the process. Remember that in the dental practice, marketing is patient education; it’s not high pressure sales. It’s your responsibility to educate patients on the necessity and value of dental care. If the team isn’t sure how to educate patients effectively, train them. Conduct mini-clinics during staff meetings to share key benefits of new/existing treatments the practice offers. Draft question/answer sheets on the most common questions patients ask about specific procedures so everyone is prepared to answer the fundamental inquiries.

In addition to improving treatment education and follow-up, take three more steps to increase production in the New Year:
1. Establish daily production goals and schedule to meet those goals.
2. Implement an interceptive periodontal therapy program.
3. Provide superior customer service that will encourage patients to refer friends and family.

Take confidence in the success we have seen taking these very steps to help dentists across the country to improve their practices. Let me hear your success stories or failures!
Feel free to leave your comments below or contact me directly at sally@thenewdentistnet.

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Looking for additional resources for your practice or wish to start a practice? Check out the available resources to you on The New Dentist Website at www.thenewdentist.net/resources.htm