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How to ensure the entire team is on board with technology


I've said it before and I'll say it again: Keeping current with technology is like trying to walk up the "down" escalator. If you aren't making a concerted effort to keep moving, you'll be headed in the wrong direction simply by standing still.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Keeping current with technology is like trying to walk up the "down" escalator. If you aren't making a concerted effort to keep moving, you'll be headed in the wrong direction simply by standing still.

Now, I’m not advocating that you have to constantly be adding or changing things on a weekly basis, but I do feel that working to improve your practice is something that all of us should make a concerted effort towards.

How can you accomplish that goal with minimal stress and headaches? Here are some suggestions that will help make the process a little easier and hopefully a little less stressful as well.

More from Dr. Flucke: 5 technologies your practice needs to invest in now

Make a list and check it twice

It turns out that jolly old Saint Nick was onto something with that list thing. People that study human habits and behavior have said time and again that people who write down their goals are much more likely to accomplish them. It’s no different for those of us who are running a dental practice.

Take a few minutes after you’re done for the day and decompress a bit. Once you’ve had a chance to relax, think about things you would like to upgrade or improve in the practice. The change (or changes) you envision could be major. Perhaps it is finally computerizing your operatories and bringing digital radiography to the practice. Or, it could be something relatively minor such as deciding to use your (already purchased) intraoral cameras more frequently. There might be several things you’ve wanted to change or bring into the practice over the years and now you’ve finally decided to do it.

More from Dr. Flucke: How DEXIS CariVu changed his practice for the better

The important part of this is getting started. The old adage “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” definitely applies here. Take a look at your equipment, your systems and most importantly, your goals. Decide where you want to go because, just like taking a physical journey, if you don’t know where you want to go, it will be difficult to know how to get there… or know when you’ve arrived.

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Also, think about your philosophies. If you are into minimally invasive procedures, then maybe you should take a look at digital caries detection (tools such as DEXIS CariVuACTEON's SoproLIFE or SoproCARE and Air Techniques Spectra). If you are into TMD treatment, maybe you want to look at Tekscan or a CBCT (such as the i-CAT FLX). If you are into full mouth rehabilitation, maybe you should consider a digital impression system (3M True Definition Scanner3Shape TRIOS, or iTero).

No matter your interests, you should make the list based on what you love to do in our profession what you want to accomplish and how you want to get there.

At this point, I feel it is essential to bring the staff into the process. Share the list with them and get their input as to what they think is important. The staff often has a better feel for the practice and patients than the doctor does. Make sure they agree with the changes and if they don’t find out why. You may need to make some changes or alter your list based on their experience and/or suggestions.

Related reading: A change whose time has clearly come: Implementing new technology

Once you have the list, it is important to create a guide to get you there. All of my suggestions in the previous paragraph are “big picture” suggestions. To become proficient at any skill requires knowledge and repetition. The knowledge is going to come from physical or online continuing education, while the repetition is going to come from the “sweat equity” you put into the skills you’ve learned. In addition to the written list I’ve encouraged, I’ve also found it useful to create an outline with the steps that I feel I need to accomplish before taking anything “live” with patients.

In my office, the staff knows I will spend several lunch periods, as well as some after hours time, before I’m ready to “go live” with any procedure.

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Put everyone’s heads together

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been in a lot of dental practices over the years and the one critical mistake I’ve seen committed over and over again is a failure to engage and consult the staff when the doctor decides to make changes.

If you are going to make a minor change, such as increasing usage of intraoral cameras, you can bring this up at a staff meeting, discuss the positives and negatives, and set a date for implementation.

More from Dr. Flucke: The top advances in caries detection

However, if you are thinking of implementing a major change, then I would advise a half-day, all-hands staff meeting. At this meeting I would bring up the proposed changes then break the group up into departments (assistants, hygienists, admin) and then have each of those groups come up with a written list of positives and negatives of the proposed change or changes. You may find these lists come up with some things (both good and bad) that you had failed to identify.

Depending on these lists, you may want to delay or reconsider the changes. However, if the overall feeling is positive, you’ve created “buy in,” which means that everyone is on board. This will greatly enhance the overall attitude of the team regarding the changes proposed and also ensure that all team members will be working to make the changes successful

By politely asking for everyone’s input, you have guaranteed that the team feels respected and empowered to speak their minds.

You don’t want to implement some type of change that causes frustration or more work for the staff. That is a recipe for bad attitudes as well as ensure that the changes will not be adopted.

More from Dr. Flucke: CAD/CAM: Having it all ... your way

By asking for input and help with your team they will in turn feel dedicated to your success. Sometimes their recommendations may even point out something that needs improvement that the doctor isn’t even aware of.

Communication is key when it comes to getting support from your team and by including them from the ground up when you want to improve your practice, you can ensure that they will be there for you. 



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