Archive for the ‘Staffing’ Category

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

 

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.  

4 Ways Dentists Will Grow Their Practice in 2018

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Guest post by Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

I have to imagine that most every practice has a 2018 goal of growth. Now it’s time to start implementing your plans so changes can take hold and start producing results. Goals are a means to keep everyone motivated and pushing for excellence. Investing in new technology can certainly provide advantages that make you stand out from the crowd, and get new patients coming in your door. Current patients will take notice too, and feel confident that they made the right choice entrusting you with their family’s dental care.

Let’s first talk about recall. Maybe it’s not your strong suit, but it needs to be! Seventy-five percent of your revenue comes in through your hygienists, and getting people scheduled is the first major hurdle to making that happen. There are many ways to improve what you are already doing to reach patients, but perhaps you would rather this particular problem would solve itself? Automated patient communications are the answer to the time-consuming and challenging task of reactivating dormant patients and reminding scheduled ones to come in. Using a customizable combination of phone calls, emails, and texts, front desk staff can better utilize their time interacting with patients and focus on patient experience.

Many offices gain or lose staff after the holidays. Either way, the start of a fresh year is a chance to review standard operating procedures, especially if they haven’t been updated in a while. SOPs provide guidance to each member of your team, so they always know what part of the workflow is whose responsibility. Better to lay out practice expectations at the beginning, so that your new, or re-assigned, team member fits into your practice like a puzzle piece from the start.

Faster and mXLDent.Blog.1.21.18 (002)ore accurate payment processing, clearer insurance benefit coverage, and electronic insurance payments (EFT) are a few focus areas for those looking to streamline payer and insurance services. To maximize these options, integration of the service is a must. XLDent’s integrated ERA solution not only auto-populates the payment amount during the posting process, but also the contractual adjustments from Electronic Remittance Advice.

One of the best things to do when there is a slow-down and the winter doldrums set in is to retrain or “tune up” your team. Webinars are a great way to kick this off, but on-site and live web training are important options to consider as well. They give you a more hands-on training that isn’t quite the same as watching a video. Whether it’s appointment reminder automation or staff education, this year, set out with your best foot forward for growth!

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.

 

Careers with Purpose in the Beautiful Great Plains

Friday, April 29th, 2016

IHS_DEN_Blog_614x215_ScottsBluffNB_APR_NewDentistIf stress, traffic and high living expenses are getting you down, consider a career move to the Great Plains.

The Indian Health Service (IHS) offers dental health professionals extraordinary opportunities to provide comprehensive care to American Indians and Alaska Natives in hospitals, clinics and outreach programs throughout the Great Plains Area, which covers North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.

The Great Plains Area Office in Aberdeen, SD, works in conjunction with its 19 Indian Health Service Units and Tribal-managed Service Units to provide health care to approximately 122,000 Native Americans in the four-state Area. Area service units include seven hospitals, eight health centers, and several smaller health stations and satellite clinics.

The dedicated providers at the IHS Division of Oral Health enjoy a work-life balance that offers ample time for recreational pursuits. Known for its awe-inspiring natural attractions and landmarks, the Great Plains Area boasts world-class fishing, hiking, hunting, skiing and more.

And the financial incentives can’t be beat. As an IHS clinician, you’re eligible to apply for up to $20,000 a year in loan repayment to fund your qualified health profession education loans.

You can choose from three distinct career paths — working in the civil service, in a Tribal/Urban Indian Program, or as an officer with the US Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps.

Applicants are subject to a pre-employment background check, including a fingerprint analysis, and must be US citizens. Male applicants must be registered for the selective service. Veterans and American Indians and Alaska Natives are encouraged to apply and receive hiring preference.

Applicants for civil service and USPHS Commissioned Corps positions must submit their materials through www.usajobs.gov. Tribal hire applicants must apply directly through the Tribe with whom they are seeking employment.

Professionally rewarding and personally fulfilling — explore a world of opportunities at ihs.gov/dentistry or contact a recruiter and upload a resume here. Applicants must be U.S. citizens.

The policy of IHS is to provide absolute preference to qualified Indian applicants and employees who are suitable for federal employment in filling vacancies in the IHS. IHS is an equal opportunity employer.

INDIAN HEALTH CAREERS — Opportunity. Adventure. Purpose.

Employee Recognition and Rewards Programs

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

 

In our last blog, Summer is mentioned as the ideal time to begin your employee rewards program to keep the momentum going.  What are you doing so far to keep your top players?

As you get started, keep in mind that while it may be easy, a one-size-fits-all approach to recognition and appreciation is ineffective. People respond differently to different forms of appreciation. One employee will beam in the spotlight when he/she is recognized in a staff meeting, while another will shun the individual attention. There is no substitute for genuine displays of thanks and appreciation.  Of course, if you tell everyone that they are “the best,” your words eventually become hollow. So, keep it real. Keep it sincere.

Screenshot 2015-07-07 13.44.50

Invest in your team. When it comes to rewarding high performing employees, continuing education opportunities are a commonly preferred perk. What’s more, CE can benefit the entire practice. If employees are learning new skills that energize them, they will be eager to put them into practice – resulting in improved systems, better patient education, and increased treatment acceptance.

While you’re at it, don’t overlook the immediate and obvious benefits of catching employees at their best. On the spot rewards in the form of gift cards – $5 to a favorite coffee shop, $10 for a nearby lunch spot, or $20 for Amazon.com – can be ideal for recognizing excellence immediately. The program should be flexible, so that bigger rewards can be tailored toward the specific interests of the employee(s) recognized.

Ensuring that your employees feel appreciated and valued will ensure that the program achieves its intended purpose – motivation, recognition, and achievement of overall practice goals. 

Having a rewards program in place recognizes your top performance and reinforces the goals you are all working towards.  If you cannot afford the gift cards, appreciation is your best form of reward to keep your team headed in the right direction to a time when you will be able to afford it.

 

 

Employee Satisfaction Is Up, But Employees Are Out

Monday, June 15th, 2015

images Help wanted

According to the latest SHRM survey, overall, employees are reporting that they are much more content in their current jobs. “86 percent of U.S. employees reported overall satisfaction with their job in 2014” – an improvement of five percentage points over the year before.”

Although they are generally happier in their jobs, a recent Salary.com survey reported 83% of the 1,200 employees surveyed are scanning the marketplace for new employment opportunities.

The obvious question is, what are you doing to keep your top players? After all, you have far more control over your employment rolls than many of you realize, starting with the least expensive and most effective employee retention tool in your toolbox: appreciation.

In general, dentists, like many employers, tend to think about thanking and recognizing their employees around the holidays.  The gifts, the parties, the bonuses are doled out. Everyone celebrates and then the doctor withdraws to the treatment rooms and the employees resume their respective positions around the office. Keep the momentum of good cheer and goodwill going throughout the year and it will pay huge dividends in retaining quality staff.

Summer is an excellent time to rev up your rewards program. If you don’t have one, this is the perfect opportunity to establish it. Keep in mind, a well-constructed rewards program has specific criteria and objectives.

Ultimately, the program should be designed to work for the good of the practice and to help move the practice and the team toward established goals. Be sure to ask for input from the team and involve them in designing the program. You want to know what motivates them to excel. If they are instrumental in creating the program, they will appreciate the recognition all the more. Additionally, it’s important to establish a budget. This encourages creativity and underscores the fact that recognition need not be synonymous with bonuses or high-dollar gifts.

 

See more at:

http://www.shrm.org/about/pressroom/pressreleases/pages/2015-employee-job-satisfaction-survey.aspx#sthash.AjVCLvWI.dpuf

http://www.mckenziemgmt.com/ss-teamrewards.php “How to Reward Your Dental Team,” a well-constructed rewards program with specific criteria and objectives.