I see a lot of clients who think I will come in and clean up their practice in one fell swoop. The truth is, as a credentialed coach, my job is not to reorganize and refine a practice, but to guide my clients in doing it themselves. A successful dental practice depends on employee growth and happiness, patient/client health and satisfaction, practice management, and the dentist’s own sense of fulfillment. When I work with a dentist, I encourage him or her to look at these areas and to truthfully assess the places where there is room for improvement. It is only through active participation that dentists will see a marked improvement in their practice success.
Employee Growth and Happiness
Communication with your entire team is one of the most important aspects of your dental practice. Not only will a mutual sharing of ideas keep things running smoothly and efficiently; it will also help your team feel valued and take an invested interest in the practice as a whole. On a daily basis, it’s ideal to hold a morning huddle to address the day’s schedule and plan out an efficient approach to it, looking for opportunities, challenges, obstacles, and more. In addition, you should be holding annual Growth Conferences, Compensation Reviews, and even Salary/Pay Conferences. This will allow each member of your team to safely voice his or her opinions. You will also be able to reward outstanding work and set goals for individual and practice development.
Do you regularly communicate with your team? How can you improve communication in your office and encourage open, constructive discussion among your employees? What skills do you need to be more effective than you currently are?
Patient Health and Satisfaction
Of course your patients’ well-being is already a focus of your practice. However, there are probably areas in which you can improve. For the good of your patients and your practice as a whole, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I follow all OSHA, CDC, ADA, HIPPA, federal, and state guidelines?
- Have my team members been trained in CPR and emergency protocol?
- Do I maintain open, non-judgment communication with my patients?
- Do I have satisfactory case acceptance and patient compliance rates?
- Do I provide detailed instructions for follow-up care?
- Do I solicit patient reviews? Is feedback consistently positive?
Practice management may be the area in which you feel you need the most help. After all, it combines the practical side of medicine with financial goals, administrative policy, and legal compliance. Fortunately, if you have a good office manager, he or she will handle much of these necessary chores. However, you may not have that type of person in your practice! Thus, it is important for you to be aware of everything that goes on in your practice. When assessing this side of your business, work closely with your office manager or someone else who can provide feedback, analysis, and ideas. Together, you can address these specific areas of practice management:
- Finances: Do you hire a CPA? Do you keep close tabs on monthly profits and losses? Do you have a certified financial planner? Do you have an annual budget, both for your practice and your home?
- Patient Experience: Is your office comfortable? Do you offer amenities that draw new patients to your practice? Do you utilize advanced technology?
- Scheduling: Do you have a reliable and convenient scheduling system? Are you routinely on time? Do patients complain of a long wait time?
- Marketing: Do you have an internal and external marketing strategy? Do you fully utilize all means of marketing available in your area?
Most importantly, helping professionals achieve personal satisfaction is one area from which I derive particular pleasure. Often, I see dentists who have a true love for their work and for helping patients. However, they have become so bogged down with the business of dentistry that they have lost that driving passion. If you feel overwhelmed, look at how you spend your hours outside of the practice. Do you even have any time away from work? If not, make time for yourself and your family. Do something you love. Take a trip, even if it is only a one-night getaway. After all, when you take time to nurture your inner life, it will only have positive results for your practice.
When you asses your practice, be honest, but not overly harsh, with yourself and your employees. After all, everyone has areas in which they can improve. Discovering these areas is the first vital step towards a more successful and efficient dental practice – and personal satisfaction and happiness.