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Dental Team

Building Trust with a New Patient

The 28th New Dentist Conference is in full swing right now in Kansas City, Missouri. A number of CE programs are taking place right now, including Take This Job and Love It! presented by Dr. Mark Hyman.

Earlier this year Dr. Hyman spoke with ADA New Dentist News about people skills new dentists can use in the practice. Here’s one suggestion that stood out for us:

Dr Mark Hyman

Dr. Mark Hyman

“Dentists don’t do themselves any favors by spending the first moments with a new patient asking about insurance coverage,” Dr. Hyman observes. Instead Dr. Hyman thanks the patient for choosing his practice, and asks about the patient’s goals for her smile, her teeth and her health. And, unless the patient is new to the community, he asks why she is no longer seeing her previous dentist.

“The answer might be, ‘He was always pushing me to get a crown.’ So I would reply, ‘do you think you need a crown?’ And I would follow with, ‘as I examine your mouth, if I find evidence of dental disease, do I have your permission to tell you?’ And that takes it out of the realm where I’m the expert here to diagnose and deliver bad news. My approach builds trust because it puts us on the same team working towards the same goals. Once you have truly heard the patient’s goals, the more quickly you can build trust.

You can find more of Dr. Hyman’s tips from ADA New Dentist News here.

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Dr. Hyman will be presenting Drill ‘Em, Fill “Em and Thrill ‘Em in one of the courses offered in the New Dentist Track of CE options at ADA 2014. New dentists (those who graduated from dental school in 2005 or later) receive a 20% discount off of the fee courses that focus on a mixture of business, ergonomic and clinical topics that have been curated by new dentists.

See the entire new dentist track and register for courses here.

Educating Patients using Evidence-Based-Dentistry

Dr. Partha Mukherji

Dr. Partha Mukherji

When it comes to oral health there is a lot of misinformation circulating in the public imagination. What’s the best course of action when a patient makes a request or assertion that isn’t supported by science?

Dr. Partha Mukherji is a general dentist practicing in Ft. Worth, Texas, and a supporter of Evidence-Based dentistry. He spoke with New Dentist Now about strategies dentists can use when patients are misinformed about science.

New Dentist Now

Let’s start with a quick definition of Evidence-Based Dentistry

Dr. Partha Mukherji

Sure—Evidence-Based Dentistry, or EBD, is the point where scientific evidence, my expertise as a dentist and the patient’s treatment needs and preferences all intersect. EBD isn’t new, but it has received increased focus in recent years, especially as junk science has gained prominence in the public imagination.

NDN

How do you integrate EBD into your practice on a day-to-day basis?

Dr. Partha Mukherji

It starts with my team—I’ve worked to make sure that everyone in my practice is familiar with Evidence-Based-Dentistry and how to use tools such as EBD.ADA.org. The site has some quick tutorials that can help bring newcomers up-to-speed.

I think it’s also important to share this information with patients. It has always been our role to educate patients, and this adds another dimension. It moves the conversation beyond, ‘Well I’m the dentist and I say so.”

NDN

What happens when a patient presents a real challenge, such as presenting an oral health myth as fact?

Dr. Partha Mukherji

It’s a two-step process. First of all I use it as a teachable moment, to explain how I use EBD to support my decisions, and to give an overview of how I assess scientific research. I find that many patients aren’t familiar with the basics about science—for instance the difference between correlation and causation.

And second, I work to demonstrate respect for the patient’s perspective, even as I maintain respect for my own integrity as a dentist. So I might say, “I am recommending scaling and root planing as a treatment plan. If you want to research that approach independently or seek a second opinion, I support that completely. However science doesn’t support oil pulling as an alternative.” I’ve found that helps to strike a balance between the patient’s wishes and my responsibility as a clinician.

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The ADA Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry is at EBD.ADA.org

Brush, Floss, Baby!

University of North Georgia student Jonathan Lee Casas makes some important (and catchy) points about good oral health. Here are the ADA’s recommendations:

  • Brush 2 minutes, twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss daily
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Visit your dentist regularly

And with that, remember icky biofilm/now that’s just whack

(H/T to Huffington Post who brought this video to our attention)

 

 

What to do when Delegating Goes Wrong

NegotiationWhen we talk with new dentists, one challenge comes up frequently — the difficulty in getting comfortable with delegating. But whether you own a practice or work for one, there is simply no way to do it all yourself.

Over at the HBR blog, Elizabeth Grace Saunders has a series of suggestions for how to delegate effectively. Here’s a tip that caught our attention:

Once you start to let go of control, inevitably there will be a time when something doesn’t get done in the way that you would prefer. Your gut reaction will lead you to blame yourself for letting go — “Why did I ever let anyone else do this?” – which typically manifests on the surface as anger toward or frustration with others. But instead of immediately putting the work back on your agenda, transform this situation into an opportunity for learning. First, evaluate whether you could do anything differently in the future. Second, help the people who did the work understand what they need to know to complete the work successfully next time. Often you don’t know what went wrong until you really dig in.

What is your best advice for someone new to delegating tasks? Share your answers in the comments.

Create a User’s Manual about Yourself for your Team

Young girl using tabletWe’ve written before about using employee agreements to clarify expectations between the practice and the dental team. So we were interested when we read on The Build Network about a corporate strategist who developed a one-page user’s manual to help his new employees understand how to work with him effectively.

Check out the original post for a series of questions to ask (and answer) for developing a user’s manual:

  • What are my expectations for commitment to the job beyond conventional work hours?
  • What are my idiosyncrasies—that is, what are the individual quirks that anyone working with me should know about?
  • What weaknesses of mine should the team know about — and how can they help me improve?
  • What is my process for handling conflicts?
  • When it comes to mistakes, what’s the best way for employees to come forward?

Seems like this could be helpful when it comes to bringing new team members up to speed with your working style and preferences. After all, over time it becomes second nature to know how different personalities interact, but a shortcut could accelerate that process.

What about you — what has been your approach to letting the dental team know how you prefer to work? Leave your answers in the comments.

Negative Feedback and the Performance Review

NegotiationIt’s December and for many organizations, that means performance reviews and appraisals. If you are the boss, this might be the time of year when you provide feedback to your team. And if you are an employee, this might be the time when you are on the receiving end of an evaluation.

Over at the Fast Company blog, Celia Shatzman has posted 8 Questions to Ask your Boss that can Make or Break your Career. The post draws heavily from the book Great on the Job: What to Say, How to Say It: The Secrets of Getting Ahead by Jodi Glickman. Question #8 attracted our attention:

“I’m sure that I’ll have some additional thoughts and questions as I digest all this information. Could we schedule a follow-up conversation in a few days?”

When to ask: At the end of a not-so-great performance review or any conversation wherein your boss gives you valuable, if not altogether positive, feedback.

Why it’s important to ask: It’s hard to think on your feet and ask constructive questions when you’re feeling beat up. By asking for a few days to collect your thoughts, you’ll have time to reflect on your boss’s words and brainstorm ways to move ahead. “The last thing you want to do is lose your cool,” says Glickman. “Remember, the goal of feedback is not to make you feel good. It’s to make you better at your job.”

Seems as though this would also apply if you were the one delivering the negative feedback—you might propose that the two of you meet again in a few days for a follow-up conversation.

What has been your experience with negative feedback, either on the giving or receiving side? Share your observations in the comments.

Developing a Written Employee Agreement

The ADA Center for Professional SuccessIf you are the owner of a dental practice, you might already have an employee agreement for use in clarifying expectations between the practice and the dental team. If you don’t have an agreement in place, consider Preparing Written Employee Agreements. As the title suggests this brief document is not a substitute for legal advice, but it is a helpful list of topics that are customarily included in an employee agreement. For instance:

  • What are the expectations around uniforms?
  • What is the arrangement for professional liability insurance?
  • What are the policies for continuing education?

…and more. ADA members can get the complete story at the ADA Center for Professional Success. And while you are there check out the other resources including Be a Great Boss, Checklist for Terminating an Employee and Using Flexible Benefit Plans in your Practice.

Protecting Against Embezzlement

Embezzlement is different from ordinary stealing. An embezzler, by definition, is someone you trust, such as an office manager or a valued employee. A 2007 study by the ADA found 17.5% of the surveyed dentists reported that they were aware their primary practices had been embezzled.

An embezzler, by definition, is someone you trust

An embezzler, by definition, is someone you trust

The ADA publication Protecting Your Dental Office from Fraud and Embezzlement contains several steps you can take to protect yourself and your practice. Here’s three of the steps:

Maintain Separation of Duties Don’t concentrate too much control over cash into the hands of one person, such as using only one team member to issue checks, record deposits and reconcile the bank statements.

Instead, divide these tasks among multiple employees, or between the employee and yourself to create a cross-check where unusual activity is more likely to be noticed.

Use Random Monitoring Let your team notice that you are keeping an eye on the details. Monitor some reports every day, including every patient visit, every payment, and every EOB. Other checks, such as payroll and inventory, should happen randomly, without prior notice.

It’s easier to “beat the system” if the embezzler knows that as long as everything looks good by the end of the month, no one will be the wiser.

Keep Valuable Documents and Materials Locked Up Reduce temptation — keep blank checks, payment receipts, prescription pads, and accounting records out-of-sight and locked up.

Consider securing valuable supplies, such as whitening materials or toner cartridges, which can be easily re-sold outside the practice.

In addition to tactics that may help prevent embezzlement, the publication also addresses the actions you should take if you believe you may have been a victim. From working with attorneys to termination issues unique to suspected employees, Protecting Your Dental Office from Fraud and Embezzlement addresses a plan of action that can mitigate losses and minimize hassles.

Handling Unacceptable Requests from the Dental Team

Negotiation

“I’d like to think about what you’ve just said.”

In the ADA Podcast Be a Great Boss, communications expert Mary Byers suggests a three-part reply for use when an employee makes a request or suggestion that is unacceptable:

  1. I appreciate your input.
  2. I’d like to think about what you’ve just said.
  3. Let’s discuss this tomorrow.

“This allows for a response that is well thought out and not over-reactive,” Byers explains, “and if the response sets precedent, it’s going to be a precedent that the dentist will be comfortable with.”

Be a Great Boss is one of more than twenty audio podcasts produced by the ADA for dentists. Topics include strategic planning, finding and retaining dental team members and using social media. Find all the podcasts at ADA.org/podcasts.

Hiring the Dental Team—Wait 31 Minutes

Pocket watches in a bunch

Wait 31 Minutes

Do you hire for openings in the dental team? If you do, consider this piece of advice from executive recruiter Lou Adler from the Build Network blog:

When interviewing job candidates, withhold all personal judgments until the 31st minute. First impressions only happen once — and if you’re searching for top talent, you should give candidates at least 30 minutes to make one.

Too often, hiring managers botch the interview process by allowing their immediate impressions of a candidate to shape the entire interaction. “If you click with someone right away, you go easy on them,” Adler explains. “On the other hand, if you have a bad initial reaction, you tend to ask hardball questions.”

If you’ve had experience interviewing candidates is there a rule of thumb that you’ve relied on to help make a good decision? Leave your answers in the comments.