Archive for the ‘Management’ Category

Why I Look for a “Cultural Fit” in Employees and Contractors

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

By James V. Anderson, DMD, CEO founder eAssist Dental Solutions

Cultural fit is the likelihood that a job candidate will be able to conform and adapt to the core values and collective behaviors that make up an organization.

To date, there are about five hundred people working for eAssist Dental Solutions as independent contractors and employees in various departments and job duties.  One thing they all have in common is that they understand and embrace the culture of eAssist Dental Solutions.

Sure, I look for certain minimum requirements in my dental billers such as:

Years of dental front office management experience and knowledge

The ability and desire to set your own schedule and work remotely from your home

Self-motivated to achieve goals without being managed

Friendly and professional phone skills

Computer skills and applicable knowledge of the internet environment

Core values define what your organization believes and how you want your organization resonating with and appealing to employees and the external world. The core values should be so integrated with your employees and their belief systems and actions that clients, customers, and vendors see the values in action.

Our core values start with being proactive about your life and being accountable for your actions. Believing that your life doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you. The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness. You choose sadness. You choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence. You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.

Proactive people recognize that they are “response-able.” They don’t blame genetics, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. They know they choose their behavior. A proactive person uses proactive language–I can, I will, I prefer, etc. A reactive person uses reactive language–I can’t, I have to, if only. Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say and do–they have no choice.

For me, cultural fit is the bigger picture, more than job skills or work experience.  Some things like skills can be taught, but values come from within the person.  Someone who shares your core values by living them instinctively knows what you want and what the business needs to succeed.

Dr. Anderson headshotJames V. Anderson DMD is a practicing dentist in Syracuse, Utah and is the CEO/Founder of eAssist Dental Solutions, the largest national dental insurance billing company (www.dentalbilling.com) in the U.S.    

Dr. Anderson understands the challenges facing today’s dental teams and since 2009 has been providing proven solutions to dental/medical insurance billing, patient portion billing, accounting for dentists and related management services.  He can be reached at james.anderson@eassist.me

Are You Ready For A Second Location?

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

By Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

After reviewing another month of stellar reports, you are feeling confident that your patient-focused style, team, and community presence have rounded up the best patients around. Adding an associate or two is sounding more and more like a great idea. You are confident that you have the know-how for business that is required for taking on the challenges with this type of expansion. Hopefully, there will be a doubling of profits in this venture – but watch closely for the doubling of risks too!

Just like in real estate, consider the location of the practice first. Is the community able to support another dental practice? Preferably, it’s one with a growing population of families. It’s worth considering buying an existing practice in a nearby area, because they already have a patient base established, and negotiations can include the selling dentist staying on for a few weeks to transition the practice. This can prevent a mass exodus of patients from the practice, while the new team is settling in.

When considering associate doctors to expand the new care team, word-of mouth recommendations are a great starting point. Dental school alumni and study club groups can provide some direction on potential candidates. Perhaps adding a specialist to your team and providing a wider range of services will be just the competitive edge your practices need. Don’t rush this part of the process. It will likely take multiple meetings and interviews to realize a good fit. You will want someone with a similar drive to grow the practice, and similar views on the best way to care for patients.

What about software? We would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the heart of the practice’s organizational structure, claims management, and record-keeping. There is a misconception that, if you have more than one location, you must have cloud-based software. This is not the case. XLDent offers a solution called “replication”, in which multiple offices are running instances of the database locally, as well as writing to each other database instantaneously. Staff has access to all records, patients can move freely between locations, and business operations can be done on an organizational level. This helps streamline day-to-day processes and can be especially helpful if your associate is on call for the weekend and needs to see the chart and x-rays for an emergency patient at the opposite office from where they usually go for treatment.

Goals for expansion can certainly be achieved with careful planning, management of risks, and an outstanding team beside you. Choosing a location, team, and business software to meet your needs will give your practice a strong foundation for growth in any direction.

To connect with 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.

Leading Your Team Involves Developing Emotional Intelligence

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

By James V. Anderson, DMD, CEO/Founder eAssist Dental Solutions

When you first open a dental practice, you may not have what you consider a “team” of people.  There may be you and one other person that helps at the chair and at the front desk.  Even so, developing emotional intelligence is critical to communicating with your employee(s) and your patients.  “Emotional Intelligence” simply put is the ability to handle even the most awkward social situations with aplomb and make others feel at ease.

I know, they don’t teach this in dental school and I wish that they did.  When you open a new practice or buy an existing one there will be days when you are pushed to your limit and keeping your cool under pressure is slipping through your fingers.  Recognizing and understanding your own emotions is a critical part of emotional intelligence.  To become self-aware, you should be capable of monitoring your own emotions and how you are perceived by others.  Self-regulation requires that you manage your emotional response in a proper fashion.  When communicating with staff or patients there is the right time and the right place to express your emotions.  Learning important social skills that include active listening, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, leadership, empathy and persuasiveness is vital to building your reputation as a caring clinician.

One of the most important skills you can learn is that of empathy.  Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes for even just a moment will help you to communicate with care.  Patients will present you with their dental needs and at the same time, with empathy, you will be able to sense when they are feeling sad, angry or depressed.  Understanding your patient’s state of mind is key to emotional intelligence.

Motivating your staff to improve their skills and be accountable for doing great work is a key component of emotional intelligence.  Some people are not motivated by money and rewards, but have a passion that goes beyond the external.  Being attuned to this type of behavior will help you show your commitment to their development.

From my experience, getting coaching in this area from the very beginning of your practice development will help you create an environment where your patients and employees will want to stay, be loyal and promote you to the community.

Sources to help in your quest to improve emotional intelligence:

Goleman, D. (1998) Working with Emotional Intelligence. New York Bantam

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry

 

James V. AndDr. Anderson headshoterson DMD is a practicing dentist in Syracuse, Utah and is the CEO/Founder of eAssist Dental Solutions, the largest national dental insurance billing company (www.dentalbilling.com) in the U.S. 

Dr. Anderson understands the challenges facing today’s dental teams and since 2009 has been providing proven solutions to dental/medical insurance billing, patient portion billing, accounting for dentists and related services for management of the accounts receivables.  He can be reached at james.anderson@eassist.me

 

3 Types of Problem Patients Who Are Actually Hurting Your Practice

Monday, August 13th, 2018

By Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management

Attracting and keeping patients is a vital part of any dentist’s success. It doesn’t matter how talented you are clinically if you don’t have any patients to treat. To meet your financial goals, you must build a strong base of loyal patients—but you also need to attract the right kind of patients.

Unfortunately, there are some patients who actually hurt your practice. Here are three types of patients who often end up doing more harm than good, and the changes you can make to help them become the type of patients every dentist wants in their practice.

1. Patients who are always late on their payments. Patients accept treatment, then forget they actually need to pay. They usually pay eventually, but only after team members spend valuable time sending reminders and calling them on the phone.

How can you get patients to start paying on time? First, establish a clear financial policy. When patients make an appointment, make sure they understand when payment is expected. Don’t leave any room for confusion. I also recommend offering third party financing from a company like CareCredit. This enables patients to pay in small chunks each month, making the cost of dentistry much more manageable. You get paid on time, and patients are also more likely to go forward with treatment they otherwise couldn’t afford.

2. Patients who don’t value the dentistry you provide. When patients don’t value dentistry, they don’t make it a priority. So if something else comes up that conflicts with their scheduled appointment time, they don’t feel bad about canceling at the last minute or simply not showing up at all. These broken appointments bring chaos to your day and often keep you from meeting production goals.

Spend time educating patients about the value of the services you provide. This education can come in the form of images from an intraoral camera, radiographs, videos and even brochures. Make sure patients understand why maintaining their oral health is important to their overall health, and the possible consequences of not going forward with recommended treatment. I also suggest confirming with patients two days ahead of their visit, giving you time to fill open slots if they have to cancel.

3. Patients who show up once never to be seen again. Patients come in for their new patient appointment, you think the visit goes great, but you never hear anything from the patient again—and you have no idea why. Patients don’t come back simply because they didn’t have a good experience. Once patients are in the chair, focus on building a rapport. Ask them about their families, their jobs and their oral health goals.

Patients are the lifeblood of your practice, but sometimes they can actually cost you money and create extra stress. Making the necessary changes will help turn these problem patients into the loyal patients your practice needs to thrive.

Sally

 

Sally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, www.mckenziemgmt.com, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.

 

 

Want Things to Change? Start the Conversation!

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Guest post by James V. Anderson, DMD, CEO Founder eAssist Dental Solutions

Listening to colleagues belabor the management of their new front desk, it makes me wonder what is going on in their practices.

When I started my first dental practice, I know I made mistakes and some were because I trusted too much. You trust when you don’t know enough and the person in charge of collecting your money knows more than you do.

The dentist most often has the vision but not the business knowledge.  Dentist’s look to their front office person or people to get the practice running profitably.  When there is chaos, unaccountability and poor cash flow, trust becomes a distant memory.

The way to get around this predicament is to start the conversation.

List the most important things you would like to see change, with examples of workable solutions. This conversation should be synchronized with the give and take of ideas.  Approach the conversation with what is working before you talk about what needs improvement and change.

As the Dentist CEO, you should recognize that certain things might be hindering the ability to grow the business.  Sometimes staff are aware of these problems but often try to shield you from them or cover them up.  Require transparency, as all of you are components in accomplishing these goals.

Ideas to Start the Conversation

● “Our goals for the practice this year are _______, and are we on target?”

● “What goals do you feel we need to pay more attention to?”

● “Where do you want to focus our efforts to reach one or more of these goals?”

● “I need your help in getting the office to head in that direction.”

● “Do you have feedback for me about ways you can improve? How can I improve?”

● “What changes would you like the office to make to move toward these goals?”

● “How can I help you make these changes?”

The team needs to recognize that they play a significant role in helping achieve practice goals and to bring solutions for change.

Meeting Goals

● Focus on one or two things you’re going to accomplish now

● Have a Plan of Action for when and how you will complete the goals

● Set up future meetings to discuss progress on projects and innovative ideas

● Give praise and thanks for all the excellent work accomplished

 

Dr. Anderson headshotJames V. Anderson DMD is a practicing dentist in Syracuse, Utah and is the CEO/Founder of eAssist Dental Solutions, the largest national dental insurance billing company (www.dentalbilling.com) in the U.S. 

Dr. Anderson understands the challenges facing today’s dental teams and since 2009 has been providing proven solutions to dental/medical insurance billing, patient portion billing, accounting for dentists and related services for management of the accounts receivables.  He can be reached at james.anderson@eassist.me

 

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.

AaronLayton_profileimages (002)

 

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.