We are a group of Dental Consultants who offer, improved practice morale; a happier, more profitable patient base;and improved home life; increased collections. (And yes, our average is 35% in year one.)

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Team Behaviors

Dear Doctor,   
Do you ever wonder if an employees' particular behavior is truly helpful?  Using the list below you can set expectations for your team and then your job of holding them accountable becomes much easier.  Go over the list with your team and give them examples to consider for each area you feel is most important.  Stay tuned for future blogs regarding employee confidentiality and an example of a "full value" contract.
Sincerely, David Milligan


Help the Team                                                           Hinder the Team
Be on time                                                                   Lack of accountability
Participate / volunteer                                                 Resist new ideas
Engage in open, honest communication                     Uncooperative. Refuse to communicate
Build on others’ ideas                                                 “Yes, but . . .” talk
Be optimistic / positive about the team                       Being negative and critical
Criticize ideas, not team members                              Attack personality, personally           
Provide leadership when needed                                Selectively interpret ideas, events, and actions
Follow-up when promised                                          Do other distracting work / activities
Pay attention                                                               Keep up side conversations / don’t listen
Take problems seriously                                             Avoid decision making
Be courteous, honest and trusting                              Engage in name calling, being rude, refusing to trust team members.
Use “we” expressions and thoughts                           Use “you” statements
Support each other                                                     Create sub-groups
Show commitment for making it work                      Express resignation or futility
Display a sense of humor                                           Act bored, refuse to pay attention

Monday, September 15, 2014

Unused Dental Benefits

Salt Dental Practice Management

We advise our clients to notify their insured patients about their remaining benefits for the year, and to use effective communication skills to personally explain to them how to fully utilize their remaining benefits. It's called "Use it or lose it".  Those who do not have upcoming appointments, but do have treatment needs and insurance benefits left, should receive a letter and a follow up phone call.  Those who are in the office need to have this explained to them. Why?  Because we take great care of our patients and that includes helping them save money.  Many patients do not understand that if benefits are left unused they are lost.  Sadly, they paid for those benefits and they do not roll over to the next year.  Some dental professionals fear the patient may interpret this attempt to help them as being self-serving.  We think of it as a true win-win and hope you will as well.  The patient doesn't lose out on benefits they've paid for and they complete their treatment before the situation worsens and yes, you the dentist win by performing the services. 

Here are a few ideas, from consultant David Milligan, for communicating this directly to your patient.

“I noticed that you have insurance benefits left for this year.  Since you have already paid for these we can help you maximize your coverage by scheduling an appointment before the end of the year.”

“I see you have benefits remaining this year that you have already paid for.    To help you not lose that money, we should get this done for you before the end of the year.”

“Insurance companies have a “use it or lose it” mentality.  You’ve already paid for the benefits, so let’s get your work done before the end of the year so you don’t lose it.”

 “Let’s get you scheduled right away.  You have insurance benefits left this year that you have already paid for.  I wouldn't want you to lose them.”

 We find when we focus on taking great care of our patients it becomes quite easy to approach them and discuss this.  It helps to have tools such as the dialog David has listed above, as well as other practice building tips, that David has been teaching for over 14 years.  Practice saying it and then when you are comfortable with the message, add your own spin or personality to it.  We recommend you start this process right away to avoid patients waiting until the last minute and then finding your schedule is full. 

We would love to hear how you utilize this information and what your results are.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Two Types of Questions

There are two types of questions that a patient may ask. One is an information- seeking question. They are not doing this to threaten you they just want to know the answer.  The second kind of question is challenging and this type of question is usually louder, more aggressive and may be an attempt to control the situation. Again stick to the facts, why is this treatment important for them. Stick to what you know about the patient and bring it back, “Mrs. Etcheverry I know your smile is important to you because you said you want to look younger. This treatment will help rebuild the structure in your mouth so that your smile is brighter and straighter.

When you are talking about these things, focus on what you know about the patient. What is their communication style? Are they passive or aggressive? What type of personality are they? Do they talk slow and ask a lot of questions or do they talk fast and are loud? Knowing this information will help you focus the conversation on what matters most to them, which will allow you to change your communication style to better meet their needs.

In the end you are the professional and you are there to help them. Use caring and compassionate words to demonstrate how much you and the team appreciate them choosing your office. There are hundreds of dental offices that they could choose from however; they chose to be at yours.  Loyalty and trust are earned not given freely and patients have high expectations for your office, work to exceed them.

For more information please visit us at www.saltdpm.com and follow our blog at http://saltdentalpracticemanagement.blogspot.com/

Monday, August 25, 2014

Patient Dialogue

Practicing specific dialogue for potential situations can help make the situation less stressful. An example dialogue may be, you have a new whitening system that you want patients to try out. You say to Mrs. Jones. “Good morning, how are you?”
Mrs. Jones: “Fine.”
You: “Would you like to try our whitening system?”
Mrs. Jones: “Why? Are you saying my teeth are stained?”

Now what? Of course you are not saying that, you are simply offering a fantastic product to a patient who you think may need or want it. The next words you say are going to determine where this conversation goes from here. Use dialogue like, “we believe”, “I find”, and back up what you are saying with facts this will help the conversation.  As a team member in the practice your word, experience and expertise is going to go along way.

Some patients will question your treatment. They may say that their mom or sister went to a dentist and that dentist told them that extracting teeth is better than getting dentures. Focus on the facts; you can’t refute what another dentist said. You don’t know all the facts of that situation. So, focus on what you do know. Why is it important for this patient sitting in your chair right now to embark on this treatment? How is this course of action going to change their life? Or how is it going to give them the smile they want. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Great patients make great referrals

While your discussing concerns or questions with patients your body should be upright. You might want to lean forward a little to show you are listening. Be careful not to turn your body away from the patient while they are discussing their concerns. When a patient is talking to you this is the time you want to be focused and in tune with their needs.  

At times you will work with a patient that is refusing treatment, doesn’t understand the recommended treatment or has an issue with billing practices. You may become the target of their anger and frustration. In these times, remain calm. Refrain from blaming a co-worker for a mistake. This is not going to help the patient. Work to calm down the patient, through your listening skills. Make sure you first understand what the problem is. Let them vent for a short time, but don’t let it over power why you are there.  Ask clarifying questions. Once the patient is done explaining their side, they are waiting for you to fix it. Quickly and efficiently find a way to resolve the problem or let the patient know what steps you are going to take to fix the problem. These types of conversations can become a circular argument of misunderstanding, so practice some dialogue before you are in front of patients.

Do not get into an argument with a patient. If they tell you that your front office messed up the billing, it isn’t going to create a better situation if you tell them billing never makes mistakes. Take a step back, tell them you are sorry they are having trouble and that you will be happy to look into it or discuss it with your front office team member. 

Great communication takes time and great teams. For more information contact Salt.
Salt Dental Practice Management
Article was first published by Tri-County Dental Society

Monday, August 18, 2014

Past the pleasantries, now what?

You have moved past the pleasantries, it is recommended that you now ask the patient specific questions about any concerns or problems they may be experiencing. Empathetic listening at this stage is very important. You want to paraphrase to make sure you understand what the patient is saying, ask clarifying questions to better understand the problem, look them in the eye and nod to show understanding.  

Empathetic listening is the art of hearing what the person is saying and showing that you care through listening. Leaning in towards the patient and nodding your head demonstrates that you care about what they are saying. This is a critical step that is often overlooked by teams because they are busy. However, taking the few extra minutes to do this correctly can increase your relationship with patients.

 Once you and the patient have had the important conversation, relay this information to the doctor in front of the patient. You do not want to isolate the patient at any time. Your dialogue may go something like, “Mrs. Jones is having sensitivity on the left side. She notices it more when she is drinking cold drinks than hot.” Once you have informed the doctor of the situation, ask the patient if there is anything else they want the doctor to know.  

Great communication is not built over night. Practice this simple technique to improve. 
Great communication takes time and great teams. For more information contact Salt.
Salt Dental Practice Management
Article was first published by Tri-County Dental Society

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Your Conversation Matters

When a patient first comes in the room and sits down in the chair, conversation matters. Ask the patient in a caring voice how their day is going. Sit directly in front of them and look them in the eye, knee-to-knee, eye-to-eye. This gives a sense they are important and that you are focused on them. Be aware of how you sound. Zone in on your tone to make sure you are using a calm and supportive pitch. Your non-verbals will speak louder than the words you use.

Often times when a patient first enters the room, you may be busy continuing to set up the tray or get ready to take x-rays. However, it is beneficial to the relationship to take time to focus on the patient only. Leave the other for later.  A patient needs to feel in that moment that they are the most important person in the room.  This few minutes will also give you the time to discuss any concerns the patient has before the doctor enters the room.  

Great communication takes time and great teams. For more information contact Salt.
Salt Dental Practice Management
Article was first published by Tri-County Dental Society