What your dental team can learn from the San Antonio Spurs about teamwork

June 19, 2014

We’ve all heard the quote, “There is no I in team,” yet all we heard leading up to the recent NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs was how it would be up to LeBron James to get the win for the Heat. The last time I checked, basketball is a team sport. The Heat have four other players on the court and several more on the bench, so why is up to one person to win the game?

Enter the Spurs, with no superstar and no one person that the world expected to “get the win.” In fact, every night had a different player who would finish the game with the most productive statistical outing. Even if you are not a basketball fan, the game that the Spurs played was truly fun to watch because they epitomized the meaning of TEAM. The overall stats for the series had LeBron with the most points, followed by seven Spurs players (of which the top three were not their “Big 3” but rather bench players). LeBron is thought to be the best basketball player on earth, but, during this series, the Spurs were definitely the best basketball team in the world.

What does this have to do with dentistry? Besides the fact that I am from San Antonio and a fanatical Spurs fan, I am also a huge proponent that it takes a true team to have an outstanding, productive, and successful dental office. The practices that we see with full schedules all the time, patients who accept treatment, and recall patients who will not miss their appointments because they understand “it’s that important,” are the practices that consistently take the team approach.

Everyone is asking for referrals, which keeps the new patient stats popping. “Mrs. Jones, here are two business cards – one with our number in case you have any questions following today’s procedure and one for you to share with a friend who may be looking for a new dental home.”

The hand-off between the clinical and administrative teams is rock star, ensuring that the doctor’s schedule remains productive. “Sandy, Mr. Johnson has some treatment in lower right area. The treatment plan is in the computer. Doctor will need 90 minutes and would like to schedule this appointment as soon as possible.”

The entire team is mindful of the value of recall patients, so it is second nature to look at a patient’s recall status. The assistant may ask the patient if he or she can schedule the recall appointment while they wait for the doctor. The hygienist may suggest that they schedule the patient’s children’s recall appointments while they are scheduling her next appointment. The doctor asks the assistant, in front of the patient, if the patient has his next recall appointment scheduled.

If an appointment is broken, it’s all hands on deck to make up the difference in the schedule. You will see everyone’s brains whizzing through the patient database to think of a name to call.

No one allows a patient to leave the office before stopping at the front desk. This guarantees the collection ratio will remain high. “It was great to see you today, Julie. Let’s see if Becky has any questions for us before you leave.”

It’s a team approach, not rocket science. Everyone depends on each other to ask for that referral, schedule that next appointment, or collect that money. The patient is passed around the office in a methodical way and everyone knows his or her role, what to ask, what to expect, and what their teammates expect. It’s truly a beautiful thing.

In a dental office, just like on a basketball court, teammates lean on each other, help each other, and work together to achieve their goals. When one person “falls,” the rest of the team runs over to help that person up. At the end of the day, they pat each other on the back for a job well done. There are no attitudes. There is no drama and there is not a single superstar. Rather, there is a team of exceptionally good players.

The NBA finals were fun to watch (mostly because my Spurs won), but also because the world got to witness and remember what a team sport is supposed to look like.

#GoSpursGo