Welcome

to Dental Practice Solutions

Welcome to dentistry’s largest dental hygiene practice management resource center! We are the leading dental hygiene consultant/coaching business.

We will increase your TOTAL dental practice profitability without working more hours or days each year.

- Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS, Speaker, Author. Dental Hygiene Coach & Consultant

Dental Practice Solutions - Debbie Bittke

Practice Profitability Challenge

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

January 25, 2010

practice_profitablity_challengeCan a GRAND PRIZE worth $1,000s to the dental team and their patients be incentive enough to increase the practice profits?

At Dental Practice Solutions our team will guide you and give you the tools to increase your profits these next 3 months. Join us to get this started on the webinar Thursday February 4, 2010 @ 5:30 pm. (PST)

What do you need to do?

  1. Click here to Register.
  2. Send in your practice profile no later than Monday February 8, 2010
  3. Participate in our 3 webinar series about increasing your profits to guide you
  4. Each week assign one team member to email or fax the practice production to our founder debrabittke@comcast.net
  5. Stay tuned to hear the announcement of our winner on Thursday May 6, 2010

What your team will win:

Grand Prize

1 year of services from loyal-patients-inc

This is a 1 yr no contract service to the dental practice worth over $1,000’s. The service also includes rewards to your patients as well as the entire team.

3 months of telecoaching sessions

Discount to New Patients Inc Summit Session


2nd Prize

Practice Profile from Dental Practice Solutions

3 Telecoaching Sessions over a 3 month period of time to continue increase profitability

New Patients Inc Written Text Volumes 1 – 3 of Unlimited New Patients


3rd Prize

Oral Hygiene Products for your team members and patients


Everyone Else

Practice Profile and 1 Telecoaching Session


Register

Make a Difference with Meetings that Matter

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

January 11, 2010

When I first began my business in 2000, I read The E-Myth: Revisited by Michael Gerber. I have since read almost every book by Michael Gerber and believe he has solid and proven knowledge to share about systems solutions that work.

Mr. Gerber spends a lot of time talking in this book The E-Myth: Revisited how business owners take a lot of time to organize, market, sell, network, and be a proper bookkeeper to get by in their business. Business owners are told that owning their own business is something they will do and love. They are told that once they embrace and realize this, everything will fall into place for the business owner.

Unfortunately, this is far from the truth.

When a business has systems in place and these are applied purposefully, the business process has the power to transform that business into an effective organization. Incorporating these processes into every activity controls the destiny of the business. The business stays youthful and survives because of these systems. This is the reason that in the month of January 2010, I come to you writing about meetings; what type of meetings and how to plan and hold these individual meetings.

Perhaps you are thinking that some of the meetings we will discuss are a waste of time, that meetings give a chance to express negative feelings or are just a social event. Perhaps you thinking this will take time away from productivity. When the team takes time to offer meetings it offers a time to communicate, problem-solve and achieve results beyond your wildest dreams. The meetings that we at Dental Practice Solutions believe really matter will provide results which may surprise you. We make these meetings easy to implement by providing you with a step by step process. As a member of our Leadership Tools (Membership Center) we offer tools to download and utilize immediately in your dental office.

We want you to be more profitable. If you continue to do the same ‘ole thing day after day and year after year you won’t achieve the results that we are talking about.

We suggest that you improve your practice profitability by first implementing team meetings.

The first meeting I want to talk about is called “the morning team huddle”. This is a way to make certain you have a seamless team working in harmony rather than chaos and frustration.

Start your day off right with a strategy-oriented team huddle and remember each team member has something to offer. This meeting will give your team a chance to work and provide patient treatment efficiently each day. You will be able to spend time strategizing how to accomplish your goals; whether they are patient flow, improving patient treatment, patient satisfaction and/or increased profits. By spending just a few minutes planning each morning you will be investing in something very important—your assets.

Planning your morning huddle

The best time to hold a huddle is in the morning, thus “the morning team huddle.”

Each team member needs to participate in this meeting. Everyone will need to take about 20 minutes to prepare for this meeting; usually the day before the huddle is held.

It is best to review the charts and patients information a day or two ahead. How will you find time to review the charts? If a patient on the day you are in the office and on the clock, cancels or no-show’s, you will review the charts during this new found time. If you don’t work in the office a day prior to the team huddle, then you will need to come in about 20 minutes early to review the charts to prepare for the huddle. To save time on the day of the huddle you may decide to review the charts a few days prior. This will allow you to spend less time. If your office has a lot of last minute cancellations reviewing charts a few days in advance may not work well. Now is a time to address other issues going on that cause these last minute cancellations. (This is another topic to discuss)The doctor needs to consider the huddle preparation time as paid time. All team members who come in or stay late to work on preparation of meetings need to be paid for this time.

Have a special place where the entire team can be accommodated by standing up during this morning meeting. Make this morning meeting location a place where patients can’t hear what you are talking about. If it is not far from the reception area then choose a room where you can close the door and have privacy. It is important to stand up rather than sit down and drink coffee. Many people are not morning people so standing up helps bring the energy level up. Leave food to a minimum as this is not a social event but a serious and timely planning session. This meeting and what occurs needs to be short and concise.

In this special area where you hold the meeting, have a calendar and have each team member sign up to be the ring master. (The leader who begins and directs this very short team meeting.) You can also have the huddle check list on the wall in this room as a guide. (Please download this from our membership center at http://dentalpracticesolutions.com/members-center/.)

Before you begin the morning huddle, leave a little note stating that you are having a team meeting to let the patients know you are preparing for their treatment and to please make themselves comfortable as you will be with them shortly. Make sure the note looks professional; be sure it is typed and add a photo and even laminate it. This is your representation while you are temporarily unavailable.

The phones will still need to be answered during the huddle so I suggest that you use a live service. Currently, there are virtual services where someone can actually pick up the phone and speak directly to your patients. Please check into one of these services as they can make patients feel more comfortable when they call and speak to a live person, rather than an answer machine telling then you are busy with patients.

At Dental Practice Solutions we recommend a specific virtual assisting service that can accommodate your phones while away from your office temporarily or even while out of the office for the day or week, etc. This is a live person who will answer your phone when it begins to ring and no one is in the office available to personally answer. (Contact us directly to learn more about this virtual assisting service.)

If you are not currently holding team huddles then I suggest that you set aside time to plan for this important morning event.

The Step-by-Step plan will look like this:

  1. You will need your practice mission statement. Have this written down for every team member as I suggest that you read this together as this is one way to get everyone on the same page.
  2. I recommend that you have written practice principles (a code of ethics) and have these available for everyone on the team because you will end the huddle by reading one of your ten ethics. A code of ethics is similar to your 10 commandments; it is something that reminds you how your patients will be treated. Have you ever gone to The Ritz Carlton? If you are there as a guest ask one of the team members to show you their code of ethics. Most team members have a card to show you that explains how their guests are to be treated.
  3. Bring to the huddle what did and didn’t go well the previous day. The office administrator needs to be in charge of letting everyone know about the previous day’s performance, as well as, where the practice stands for production and collection goals.
  4. If you have an appointment administrator this is the person to let the team know what holes or cancellations are currently in the schedule that day and the rest of the week. This is the same person who will let the team know when time is available to see an emergency patient. This is the person who lets everyone know when there is a block of time available for a new patient and non-surgical periodontal treatment. If a new patient is scheduled for the day, this is the person to let the team know all about the new patient. Think of this as a pre-introduction.
  5. If the office has a financial coordinator this is the team member who will report on the previous days financial arrangements and if the patients have accepted treatment and what percentage of treatment is outstanding; this is a good time to periodically review. If a patient scheduled today has an outstanding balance this is the time to discuss payment options and make certain everything is handled appropriately.
  6. Each hygienist who is seeing patients today will report on their patient information as necessary. Some examples of the information to report on are: periodic and comprehensive exams, patients who may be due for Full-mouth x-rays and are not yet scheduled, the need to administer full-mouth probing, developing and mounting of x-rays (should you still be developing these. If a patient has not completed a recent medical history (within the past 3 years.) The front office will need to have the patient come in early to complete or begin updating the medical history on the day of the treatment appointment, when necessary.
  7. The dental assistants should report on the patients they will be seeing in their personal treatment room. (I believe that each assistant should have a primary room where they are the leader.) The assistant will let the front office know if a lab case has not arrived and how this situation should be handled. If the front office or hygiene department needs coverage, the assistants should to be aware so they can help out where necessary. If post operative calls were made the previous evening they need to report on the results.
  8. The huddle can be ended with the doctor reading one of your practice principles. You can assign anyone to read these, but they should be passed around so everyone can learn.

I know that all of you are very busy. We are here at Dental Practice Solutions to give you hope and offer many tools to guide you to success in 2010. You can never be too busy to have these team meetings.

When you begin to see the long term results you will realize it was time to make these changes. This positive change will create effective communication, greater patient satisfaction, less stress and more fun at the office.

If you are not currently holding morning huddles it may be uncomfortable in the beginning. I have never worked with an office that made this transition without some kicking and screaming because most people don’t like to change. Be patient when you begin implementing this process and within a month of regular meetings this will be as natural to you as your patients flossing their teeth each night.

We are here to guide you. We are experts in this process so please don’t hesitate to call us so we may guide you towards success. Please be sure to download our tools to help implement this important meeting.

Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS and the team at Dental Practice Solutions

Quit Chasing Returns in the Market – Save Your Way to Retirement

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

January 4, 2010

In 2007, the American Dental Association released some survey data that raised quite a few eyebrows. Their data revealed that only 4 out of 100 dentists in the United States are saving enough money for retirement to support their current lifestyle. Now, I’m not one to just pick on the dentist. Americans don’t save enough and the economic challenges of the last few years have begun to wake some people up. For the dentist; however, saving money becomes and even more critical challenge. Dentists are saddled with two other problems that make their savings requirements tougher than most: they are in a cash-based business that will not sell for what most think it will sell for and they enjoy a higher standard of living. When you couple this with the fact that few strong business courses are offered in dental school to help the dentist, you have a perfect storm. I speak with dentists across the U.S. daily and my clients are scattered with the wind and settle into different geographies, demographics, and economies. One thing remains the same – there is a disconnection between good productivity/income and great savings for retirement. I refer my clients to the best Practice Management Consultants in the country and those consultants all share the frustration of helping their clients grow the top and bottom line, only to find there is not the financial harmony one would expect from those results.

Why does Dr. J call me from Orange County, California because he collects 200k per month between two practices and cannot pay his bills? Dr. W in rural Arkansas produces 1.4M and takes home 120k. Dr. N in Ohio is a specialist, earns a tremendous income, and can’t figure out how to save more than 35k per year. Dr. C lost 42% of his retirement savings in 2008 and delayed his retirement 7 years as a result. Dr. B in Chicago cannot comprehend how to properly bring on a partner and what a great Transition could mean to his retirement wealth. What begins to appear is a pattern of many mistakes and misfortunes that could be prevented with a more holistic, comprehensive approach to the business of dentistry. As a partner in a fee-only asset management firm that only has dentists as clients, I will testify that there is a better way. I believe most dentists are on an island by themselves. Sure, many have great advisors around them: good CPA’s, super PM Consultants, investment brokers, dental dealers, attorneys, coaches, etc. but they are not communicating with each other! Nobody is pulling the brake on the train and saying, “what is the master plan?” It’s my opinion that a more reliable and pragmatic approach should be taken for those dentists that are really serious about building retirement wealth. Stop chasing high-risk returns in the market and get a great advisor that can impact how much you save each year. Then, find a specialist to help weave all you’re financial threads together holistically: partnerships, practice profit, personal finance, tax, and debt positions. Don’t mistake me, I’m an optimist on economics and the stock market is a wonderful vehicle to help build wealth over time. Simply put, good mathematics suggests that the more money you can save, the more you reduce the risk and market gains necessary to build wealth. It’s time to get back to the basics and leverage the business you’ve worked so hard to build.

Steve Steinbrunner is a graduate of Indiana University with twelve years in management and leadership positions for two leading dental supply companies – in three different states. Also a Registered Investment Advisor Representative, he currently advises dental professionals in areas related to finance in their dental business and personal lives. His firm provides business consulting, transitions, and fee-only investment advisement to dental professionals serious about their retirement wealth. Steve is a member in good standing with the Academy of Dental Management Consultants and serves on the board of directors for Donated Dental Services, Indiana’s chapter of the National Foundation for Dentistry for the Handicapped – an organization helping to provide dental services to those in need but that don’t have access to care.

Tip of the Month: How much should you be saving now?

Monthly savings, by age, required to grow a retirement account to $4 million by age 65. This will allow net annual retirement income of $365K to age 90 with a 9% rate or return.

Age Saving/month
30 $1,295
35 $2,044
40 $3,277
45 $5,388
50 $9,265
55 $17,418
60 $40,648Four Quadrants

Letter from our Founder

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

Here We Go Again! Happy New Year 2010!

I hope you are all back from a wonderful holiday season feeling refreshed. Thank you for joining us again to begin another successful year.

When you feel sick you visit your doctor. When your brakes squeak you visit your mechanic. When you go to your office day after day and feel trapped in the same ‘ole routine, you may find that old habits are hard to change. Dental Practice Solutions is here to help you and your team turn over a new leaf this year. We are here to share the good news that we have a solution for whatever your needs may be. We have many experts on our team to guide you towards success in 2010. Our team consists of experts in most areas you may require skills to build success, increase your net profit, build patient rapport, trust, have fun at the office or whatever else you may have a need to improve upon in 2010.

At Dental Practice Solutions we have some very exciting events, so stay tuned-in this year! We have many new tools to help improve your practice and we have even added an extra web workshop in the month of January, which will increase the value of your dental practice. (See Web Workshops, Thursday January 14, 2010, with Steve Steinbrunner.) Our ezine readers and most dentists you know will be particularly interested in this workshop; especially with the economic stress at this time. This additional workshop will give you information about how to increase your net profits (the bank account, 401k, pension plan, etc.) without adding more patients or workdays. Mr. Steinbrunner has some valuable information and I didn’t want you to wait another month to hear what he has to say. Yes! It is that important for you to hear this sooner than later! Check out the web workshop area of this for the workshop titles this month

Our ezines (eNewsletters) will continue each Tuesday of every month this year. The Membership area is open at this time and it is still free to join! We invite you to take advantage of our tools; such as the flexible scripts that allow you to make the communication alterations you need so you can easily implement them in your daily practice and communicate various needs to your patients and get to “Yes”. Besides our scripts you will have access to the latest protocols, procedures and the evidence-based scientific information right at your finger tips. Along with this you have a one-on-one 45 minute telecoaching session with founder Debbie Seidel-Bittke. There are many other advantages if you go to our website (www.dentalpracticesolutions.com) you can read more about these benefits.

Please plan to join us on Thursday January 7, 2010, at 5:30pm. (Pacific Standard Time) Chris Mrozek-Brooke and I will discuss 4 ways to add at least another $130,000 to your dental hygiene department in 2010. You will leave with a step by step process to accomplish this goal should you want to add more dollars to the hygiene department and not more patients. I feel that it is important to begin the New Year with information on how to increase the size of your bank account, so I added an extra web workshop on

I am sure everyone is ready for a fresh start this January so please stay tuned as we offer new tools, support and expert advice to make your new year successful. I wish all of you a New Year filled with joy, happy smiles, prosperity—and not a single depressing old rut in sight!

Debra Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

Where Have All the Patients Gone?

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Where Have All The Flowers Gone? by Peter Paul and Mary

As Owner and Founder of Dental Practice Solutions I have had the opportunity to talk with dental practice owners every day on a consistent basis. I also review and analyze dental practices on a weekly basis, using my extensive dental knowledge to educate practitioners on how they can improve their bottom line.

What I hear consistently are dental practices, which on average, see 30 new patients each month. Most dental practices have an average of 2,500 active patients. Through the assessments we do at Dental Practice Solutions, most of our clients have been practicing for at least 12 years.

After being in practice for 12 years and examining about 30 new patients every month; you might wonder why most practices only see a mere 2,500 patients on a consistent basis. If all of these patients continued to return to the office on a regular basis there should be an active patient base of at least 3,500 patients (accounting for attrition)–not a mere 2,500.

In the United States, approximately 78% of general dentists are solo practitioners. Why is there only enough work to keep one dentist busy? The answer is simple, dentists are losing more patients out the back door than are coming in the front door. Most practices I review have only 6 days of hygiene patients each week. With this point arises the question: why are these practices only seeing 6 days of hygiene each week?

First of all, I want to address the reason behind why patients may not be coming back to your office. The lack of a “personal relationship” with your clients could be to blame. By building a personal relationship with each patient, you will establish trust and give them a reason to choose your office over another one down the street.

One of the most common questions that I hear daily basis is, “why do we need to change? We always done things this way.”This statement signals a major breakdown and is a silent killer for any dental practice. Dental practitioners should also keep in mind that the field of dentistry changes very quickly and dental management skills that worked five to ten years ago probably do not work in today’s world.

There are many reasons why a practice might lose patients. I will highlight a few now and more each week during the month of January. Each week in our Tuesday Tooth Picks I will add suggestions on how you can prevent losing patients.

Our January 7th web workshop will highlight some very important tools to not only to increase profitability in the dental hygiene department, but add value to the procedures and dental products your prescribe for your patients.

The “New Patient”

Your first impression is a lasting impression. I always ask doctors to periodically call their own office so they will understand how the phone is being answered. The dental practice owner and all team members need to be aware of how a client may feel when calling in to make an appointment. Do you get the feeling that the phone is answered with someone who has a smile on their face? The end of a New Patient phone call needs to have a positive ending. I am talking about all aspects when I say positive. I mean from the effect and emotions a smile can leave a person calling your office for the first time all the way down to making an appointment that is suitable to the potential new guest in your office.

Participate in Social Media

Talking about the new patient, I want to mention that social media is a great way to market your dental practice. It is a great way to stay connected with your patients and let them know what is happening in your dental practice. Do you have new services or products that you are offering in January 2010?

Twitter and Facebook are a few ways that cost zero dollars to get the word out to your patients. People in the 21st century are all just a tweet or google click away.

Take advantage of these opportunities and show you are on the leading edge!

Offer good “Customer Service”

How long does your new patient need to wait until they are able to get an appointment in your office? If you have blocked times to schedule new patients you are more likely to successfully accommodate them in a timely manner. If you heard something good about someone and are anxious to meet them, do you want to wait a month to meet them? Neither do your patients!

I have called many offices and an answer machine let me know the office team members were too busy to take my call. The message said they were busy with another patient and they were not able to answer my call. If I were a new patient calling to schedule my first appointment and I was greeted by a recorded message, I would be discouraged by this not so warm welcome.

What types of information do you send your patients home with? Do they have written oral hygiene instructions or post op instructions? Do you send out a new patient package prior to the first appointment? This can easily be done if you have a website that patients can download information from. If it is not possible to distribute the information through your website, think about emailing a package of information.

Do you make post op calls? If you have a difficult or a fearful patient, think about the impact you would make if you called after hours to make certain they were feeling okay about their dental appointment that day. My niece just had her 3rd molars extracted and it was so comforting when the oral surgeon called to check on her much later that night.

How long does it take you to return patient calls? Do your patients leave with a written treatment plan for any future treatment? Are they able to send emails to confirm their appointments? What type of payment plans do you offer? These are only a few questions you should take into consideration when trying to improve upon your dental practice.

Team “Hiring and Training”

How do you know what type of personality fits into your practice? There are various models for testing temperaments. You need to know what type of personality fits each job description in your dental practice. You need to know if hiring another person with a strong personality will interfere with any other strong personalities that currently work in the office.

Employee turnover costs the dental practice thousands of dollars. A consistant team is another reason that patients will continue to come back to your office. It is all a part of building a strong rapport for your practice.

“Recare System”

This is one system that will make or break your patient retention. It is also the most neglected dental operational system. This may be the underlying reason behind the loss of patients and the reason you don’t have more hygiene days each week. It also might be the #1 reason you have open slots in the schedule.

It has been estimated that around 70% of your patients will be lost if they are not pre-booked for their hygiene appointments. This is a hard fact of the dental business. It gives a sense of urgency when patients know that if they don’t pre-book the next hygiene appointment 3 and/or 6 months in advance, they will have to wait a long time for their next hygiene appointment.

When patients know they have to wait a long time to schedule or reschedule their next appointment – I am talking about the appointment schedule being full with hygiene appointments. The only open slots which should be left open intentionally; a few weeks in advance, are non-surgical periodontal procedures and new patient appointments. All hygiene patients must schedule in advance or become over due dental hygiene recare appointments. Patients who call in at the last minute or cancel last minute for their dental recare appointment need to be put on a call list. If a patient does cancel these patients on the list will be called to come in. Dental hygiene preventive treatment is crucial. Patients need to understand this is not a casual appointment. You need to be communicating the importance of these frequent appointments and give a sense of urgency. Patients need to sit up and listen that without good oral health they will not be completely healthy. The oral cavity is the link to total health.

Dental patients who come in on a regular basis have most likely established a good rapport with the hygienist and entire team. Patients will enjoy coming back when they feel a common bond with the people who care about them and respond in a friendly manner.

Finding the Lost Patients

You will find that your hygiene schedule has less holes when patients always pre-book their recare appointments and you only have intentionally left openings for the non-surgical periodontal treatment and new patients.

Our hope is that you have an increased stream of active patients during 2010. Please stay tuned for more methods of success. We will continue to discuss these topics in more depth as the month continues.

Thank you for your support and we hope you will share our information with other colleagues.

The team at Dental Practice Solutions