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February 22, 2010 | Dental Products Report Think like a ceo Launch a supercharged system The proper steps for creating successful practice protocols. by C
February 22, 2010 | Dental Products Report
Think like a ceo
Launch a supercharged system
The proper steps for creating successful practice protocols.
by Callie Haynes, Pride Institute Consultant
Photo: Medioimages/Photodisc/Getty Images
Most dentists crave systems and the predictability and results they provide for their practices, but quite often have no idea where to start or how to connect individual staff members in developing and implementing systems. Team members often crave the structure of systems too. However, if the dentist does not take the lead, staff members may create and utilize their own protocols, but without others in the office knowing what those processes are or their role in supporting them. This is why things “fall apart” when a key staff member is on vacation or medical leave.
Additionally, staff turnover can be debilitating to a practice without organized systems. In such cases,the team feels like they are back at square one, with no road map to move forward. So how can you determine when you need to revamp an existing system or develop a new one without waiting for things to fall apart?
“Successful, organized protocols lead to successful statistics that lead to increased compensation for the whole team.”
Analyzing and interpreting your practice statistics will flush out broken systems or the need to develop new ones. By educating your team on statistical analysis and interpretation, they will more likely see the need for effective processes and “buy in” to developing and implementing new systems. This is an excellent professional opportunity for them to expand their individual perspectives on their job descriptions and enable them to see how they can positively impact a new system of operation and ensure its success.
Successful, organized protocols lead to successful statistics that lead to increased compensation for the whole team-doctor included! Are you seeing how all of this is connected?
Where to begin
Once you’re have an idea about the system you need to develop or enhance, put a staff meeting on the schedule and post the agenda topic. For example, Dr. Strive wants to address creating an improved system and processes to submit, monitor and support lab cases. What prompted Dr. Strive’s need for a lab system upgrade? Ever since Tanya, the RDA, moved, there have been 2-3 patients per week who have arrived for their appointments expecting to leave with their new crowns, but the crowns were not delivered by the lab. Obviously, this created a lot of stress for all concerned. The office lost credibility with patients, damaged patient relationships, wasted potentially productive time and delayed revenue. Clearly a system was needed.
Dr. Strive started by asking for a volunteer to facilitate the meeting and keep it on track. He requested another volunteer to record action items, specifically who is responsible for each action item and their due dates for completion. The recorder then ensures that each team member gets a legible copy of the meeting notes and places the notes in a Staff Meeting binder for future reference and implementation tracking. Dr. Strive was ready to access his team’s creativity and made the decision to delegate to them the majority of the development of this new system.
How to get it done
Let’s study the cycle of creating a system by observing how his team developed one for tracking lab cases by following the systems format. Note that the italicized words indicate the steps in a system.
It was agreed that the purpose for this system is to ensure that lab cases are in the office and ready when patients arrive for their seat appointments. This will result in smooth-flowing appointments, satisfied patients who pay their balances and a happier, less stressed team.
The mechanics consist of specific steps to be completed by a named team member (who) with timed target dates (when). These were outlined by the team as follows:
Patient’s Name Type of Restoration Date of Prep Lab Used Date of Pick Up or Date Mailed Case Due Date Date Delivered and Initials of Team Member
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The next step was to develop the verbal skills for talking with or sending a letter to the patients who experienced inconvenience because of the lack of a system for lab cases.
The team agreed that patients who had already come back a second time and whose cases had been seated would get a letter using the verbal skills below, personally signed by Dr. Strive and including a gift card to the local coffee shop. Ann agreed to create a list of all patients affected and will follow up with each one accordingly and document these contacts in patients’ charts.
At a scheduled staff meeting six weeks later, the team checked on follow-up for the new system to ensure that all steps had been completed and launched. The final step was analyzing the effectiveness of their new lab case tracking system. This was easy!
There was not a single instance of a lab case not arriving on time or not being checked by Dr. Strive before patients’ seat appointments. The team had successfully created and launched a new system that improved their level of customer service to their patients, increased their patients’ level of satisfaction, ensured predictable revenue and reduced stress for all concerned. This newly confident team was already talking about developing a system for managing emergency patients. They celebrated their success with a pizza party!
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