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

Going For the Gold! What is Your Half Time Plan for Success?

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

August 3, 2012

There is a bigger game being played than the World Olympic Games. Yes, Olympic athletes train for years and many leave their families to accomplish these goals. As dental professionals we do this approximately 50 weeks out of a year and for usually, more than 30 years. Many of us spend thousands of dollars in college and then later another few hundred thousand dollars to buy an office. We have a huge legal and financial liability for many years. Profitability and sustainability are very important aspects of a dental professionals’ life and for many decades!

The year is more than half over and it’s time to get your game face on.  What type of plays do you have planned for this second half of the year? How well did you and your team play in the first two quarters? Did you have a mid-year team meeting to evaluate the first half of 2012 and what are your plans to get the gold by December 31st?

If you have met with the team, what type of adjustments will you make? How do you plan to accomplish this year’s goals?

When you meet with the team, it will be beneficial to share what you discover when analyzing your mid-year numbers, systems, etc.

The Office of Dr. Doolittle

This dental practice started off with a bang! They not only met their goals by March but exceeded their production goals by March 1st for the first quarter of 2012. During the second quarter of 2012, things dramatically changed and they are currently $55,000 behind their year-to-date production goal. We also noticed that the employee salaries paid are up from June 30, 2011. We’ll need to talk to doctor about this challenging situation and how this could have occurred.

First of all, Dr. Doolittle acknowledged to us what went well the first quarter of 2012. He reports a steady flow of new patients, creative and very effective marketing, the hygiene schedule has 9.3% unfilled patient hours, and collections

Dr. Doolittle realizes that unless these revenues and expenditures are resolved, his deficit, when annualized, will be $110,000.00, or worse, if this decline continues. Doctor has planned to cover the overhead with the 2012 production goals. If these facts do not change over the last half of 2012 his expenses will not be covered. This creates stress!

After reviewing the numbers with Dr. Doolittle we decided to begin on a positive note and the half yearly team meeting began by celebrating success! Doctor gave each team member a personally written card with a note of how much they are appreciated. Inside the card he wrote specifically what each team member did to make a difference for the practice. The second step was for everyone to sit down and discover what created this $55,000.00 deficit the first half of 2012. The challenge was doctor’s plan to cover expenses with the production goals. During the team meeting and through analysis, they discovered many patients had unscheduled treatment. The total amount of unscheduled treatment was in excess of $100,000.00. The next step was to review patient communication for the unaccepted treatment. Where was the breakdown? Why did patients choose not to accept and schedule treatment?

After brainstorming together, as a team, they discovered:

1. Patients had not been taken into the new consultation room for private conversations. This is the perfect atmosphere to answer patient questions, concerns and overcome their objections to treatment. As you can tell from the above story, patients are returning for their hygiene appointments but by the time they returned for the next hygiene appointment (Months later) their enthusiasm that may have been there, had now faded. Any value added and benefits communicated at the time of diagnosis, had now been lost. The challenge was that too many patients said “I’ll call to schedule later…” and too much time had since passed to remember what they were going to “schedule an appointment for”. No follow through nor follow up was the big breakdown in this scenario.

2. Although the Financial Coordinator has been with Dr. Doolittle for over 8 years, and she does not have effective communication skills. She is a great listener but not real confident overcoming patient objections. She is also not confident in offering third-party financing. The final result is too many patients who do not understand the value of moving forward with treatment sooner than later. She is also not able to assist patients with their financial needs when they think they don’t have money to spend. People usually buy what they want, not always what they need.

There are three solutions to get this team back on track and accomplish their 2012 goals!

1. Effective communication must now take place in the new consult room

2. The auxiliaries will always offer third-party payment plans when finances are an objection

3.  A follow-up time with patients, who do not schedule treatment, will be made before the patient leaves the office without a next appointment. This follow up will usually occur one week after the treatment plan was presented. A new change will be made to contact patients to follow up with outstanding treatment sooner than later.

Dr. Well May Throw Money Down the Drain

The economic climate aside, this office had a chronic hemorrhage in their daily schedule; both doctor and the two hygienists! (too many holes in the schedule, cancellations were out of control!) As of June 30, 2012, the practice production was down 43% from their 2012 production goal. Doctor spent $3,000.00 on a new website last year (2011) and this did not help any with potential new patients finding the office through search engine optimization. (Google, etc., type searches) The new website was unfortunately, not set up correctly! Dr. Well could just continue to “throw money” down the drain by continuing on with her current marketing plan and she could wish upon a star that the cancellations will come to a halt. W I S H is not how Dr. Well spells success. After meeting with Dr. Well, she set up a “half-time” team meeting to look at what specifically is going wrong. (half-time = half year)

Here are some questions they will ask at the meeting:

  • What was working well last year (2011) and now has a deficit this year?
  • How many hygiene patients leave their appointment without a next appointment?
  • Do we check route slips prior to the patient appointments? Do we check if patients need a next hygiene appointment?
  • Do we check the route slips to see if other family members need a hygiene appointment?
  • When do we call to confirm appointments?
  • What do we say on the phone call when confirming a patient appointment?
  • Do we need to call to confirm appointments?
  • What are alternative methods to call patients and confirm appointments?
  • What is our patient reactivation system? (Continuing Care System)
  • Do we allow our patients to leave a message with the answering service (voicemail) to cancel an appointment?
  • Do our patients understand the value, benefits and risks to their health if they cancel an appointment?
  • Do we have a cancellation policy?
  • What can be done to create more unique visits to the new website?
  • What are other low cost marketing aspects to keep an ongoing conversation with patients between appointments and attract new patients?

The Team Meeting

A key to success during team meetings is to have a facilitator who can keep the team ideas flowing. It is important that the facilitator supports the ground rules for meetings and this means starting and ending the meeting on time,  no negativity or finger pointing, etc.  Always come prepared with an Action Plan Form which outlines/keeps record of what solutions need to be created. If team members are assigned a project write this down in the Action Plan Form, along with the due date for the project to be completed, and plan a time to follow up with the plans created.

Lessons Learned from Two Doctors

What I enjoy about and applaud both of these 2 doctors for is that they “inspect what they expect”. Notice how they both agreed to take a proactive approach to solving challenging situations? Both doctors have great leadership skills which makes it much easier to work with. This makes it easier to create a system for improvement and overall success. These doctors were open to sitting down to analyze their challenges and then discuss/problem-solve with their teams. Both doctors realize it takes an entire team to bring about effective, solution-based change.

Both doctors have a positive attitude and never once did they go into panic mode. As the leader of your team, the team members find it easy to follow you. Panic is caustic and creates stress. Solutions are not easily resolved when panic or negativity exists. If you are proactive in your approach to deal with a challenge, you will lower your stress and the creative juices are more likely to flow from everyone. One positive creates another positive much easier than if you begin with a negative.
Both doctors have been solution-focused.  Challenges arise in every business; it’s the nature of the beast and finger pointing does not resolve challenges. A good leader will not point fingers but will be solution-focused.

The plan of action, which direction you choose to take on your road to 2012 success, has everything to do with how you will be celebrating at the end of the 2012 game! This is a choice you need to make and your chances for success are greater if you take action today.

 Need more “halftime” plays?

Purchase Continuing Care for Dental Practice Success. This is an eBook that you can access immediately. It has all the necessary tools to reactivate patients and then keep them coming back! Your cost is only $47.
Contact us to discuss Your Dental COO which is our proprietary yearlong consulting program. This is designed to streamline your systems for a GO! Or we have a lower cost virtual comprehensive practice management program called RAISE™.  Read more about these.

 

Mid- Year Financial Report. Where Do You Stand Today?

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

July 27, 2012

We are half way through 2012! Hard to believe I know! Are you on track with your financial goals for this year?

Maybe you are questioning, what financial goals?! And maybe you answered “Yes, I have already reviewed my numbers and I know exactly how I compare to last year!” Or maybe you answered, “How can I be expected to review financial goals when I am at the office all day and working on patients?!”

No matter how you responded to this question, you will appreciate the sensible steps about how to improve your financials and proven steps to success.

No matter which of the above listed groups you fall into, I have outlined a few steps for you to hit your financial goals this year. In fact why not plan to add an increase to your numbers without adding more stress or time to your day?!

  1. First step  is to run your YTD  income and expense statements
  2. Run your software reports; year to date (Dentrix has the ability to run previous year so you can compare)
  3. Compare your current performance YTD report  to your previous YTD report
  4. Identify opportunities and challenges to achieve End of Year goals
    a. Develop processes to achieve Year End goals
  5. Schedule team meeting to promote collaboration
    a. Ask your team to problem solve and assist in development of solutions
  6. During last quarter schedule team meeting and repeat above steps

There are many ways to increase your income. Some dentists will increase fees although during this economic climate this can create more challenges and you may lose many patients. Other dentists will choose to lower employee salaries or cut back hygiene hours and days.

If you want your revenue to improve you need to look at all the details of your profit and loss statement. It is not as easy as increasing fees nor cutting salaries and days of hygiene. Many dental practices have numerous cancellations but are making more money seeing fewer patients and working less days. One way to identify increased production is to provide more preventive services. Many of the clients of Dental Practice Solutions have implemented the preventive services through valuable communication skills. This has benefited the patients overall health and the financial health of the practice’s although an economic decline occurs in our world today.

Here are the steps to take:

  1. Run Your Profit and Loss Statement

Run your profit and loss report which will provide an overview of your current financial picture. This is where you can compare employee salaries, leases, equipment, etc., etc. This provides a black and white report providing a true financial picture YTD. Run this statement From Jan 1, 2011 – June 30, 2011 and compare to Jan 1, 2012 – June 30, 2012. When you look at these two years and compare, now you have a better idea of where your last half of year goals truly need to be to accomplish your Year End goals.

  1. Run Your Half Year Software Reports

Many of Dental Practice Solutions clients use DENTRIX software. If you use Dentrix you will go to Office Manager and select Practice Analysis. Now you can run a detailed production report for each provider in your practice. This will allow you to analyze the procedures, who has provided the various procedures, how many and the amount of production from these procedures they have provided for the practice. Once you have this information you can analyze the trends and discuss with the team at the team meeting you have scheduled at half year meeting and again at the end of year team meeting. This is a great time to discover how many of the procedures you most desire providing patients, have been completed. If you enjoy providing veneers or implants, now is a great time to assess how many you have provided and what you may need to change (Are you communication skills effective?  Or do you need to review other third party payer information for patients to use and easily pay for treatment?)

  1.  Compare your Current Performance YTD Report  to Your Previous YTD Report

Be sure to use these benchmarks: Collections should be at 98% or >, Employee expenses 22-33%, Lab expenses 8-12%, Marketing 1-3%, Facility expenses 4-8%, Minor expenses 6-10%, General expenses 6-10%. The total expenses should be no higher than 75%.

Once you have a spreadsheet (Excel) designed with these expenses listed out, total the amounts spent and compare to your total collections. This is how you will calculate the % you have spent for each of these areas to run your dental practice. Now you can use your P&L to discover if you are on track to accomplish your financial goals. Which areas do you need to adjust and prepare a system to improve these areas that need adjustment?

  1. Identify Opportunities and Challenges to Achieve End of Year Goals

In reviewing one of our clients (Became our clients Jan 2012) financials mid-year we discovered that her employee salaries are 50% higher than one year ago. It is now time to sit down to discuss why this happened and how to get on track to accomplish the year end goals. Possibly, you have moved to a new location or you have taken out a loan in the past year. If you lease expense (Facility expense) is now 10% instead of 8%, you will need to adjust your goals for the year end and discuss a way to close the gap for the year end goal to be met. Maybe your collections are down this year. It is time to create a new system to increase collections. If insurance payments are behind you may want to discuss using the collection services of Trojan Professional Dental Services.

We teach our clients how to implement preventive and same day services. These have proven to be great ways to improve patients’ health, add value to your services, WOW patients and improve the financial health of your practice.

Our offices have also implemented team bonuses based upon the bonus system. This provides improved team collaboration and definitely improved team spirit!

  1. Schedule team meeting to promote collaboration

As a team these changes will be much easier to implement. Plan a half day or even full day, off-site and have everyone on the team come with ideas to create change. Have a time for them to express their challenges and concerns. Ask everyone to provide ideas for success.

At the end of year, it is a great time to not only have a Holiday Party but a time to go outside of the office for a Success Celebration and also a time to plan out the next year’s success. Each year plan to have 2 major team meetings. These need to be at least 4 hours in length and it can be a great idea to add some fun to a meeting which can be thought of as boring or monotonous

  1. Schedule Your End of Year Team Meeting and Repeat All of the Above

Plan a time in November and December to sit down as a team and plan for a great year in 2013. What do you need to change or continue for added success in 2013? This is a great time to CELEBRATE your success in 2012!

At the end of year in 2012 and every year to come, run these reports and repeat the steps outlined above. This is how you will run a financially success dental practice. Two times each year you will follow these steps and sit down as a team to collaborate your plan for success. If you do not take time to plan than you have planned to fail. There is no other way to put it so plan now for your future success!

A Profit Center Within Your Dental Business:10 Facts of the Matter

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

July 3, 2012

For many years the dental hygiene department has been thought of as a loss-leader in the dental practice. In the world of today’s preventive patient-centered dental practice, the dental hygiene department needs to be a very big profit center. The patients gain optimal overall health and the dental practice has healthy profits when you follow these guidelines.

When you see the words “the business of dentistry” what do you imagine? Perhaps you see a treadmill where high volume and financial reward are the main focus of the dental hygiene department. Or do you see a hygiene department where quality patient care and profitability are congruent, operating with systems and protocols that would not allow one to compromise the other?

A Paradigm Shift

Years ago when I decided to become a dental hygienist a dentist –friend of the family–said to my father, “All my hygienist does is cost my dental office a lot of money! Your daughter should not think about becoming a dental hygienist. Hygienists really don’t add much value to a dental office and I wish I didn’t have a hygienist.” Good thing I didn’t listen to what that man said!!

During the past ten+ years the goal of helping dental patients has now progressed from cleaning teeth into supporting good overall health and preventing disease. One thing that hasn’t changed is the cost of running a dental practice. It is important that the team understand the cost of running a business and also a hygiene department. It is when the team understands these financial aspects of the business that the members of the dental team will be committed to excellence. It is important to have team meetings that educate every team member of the cost associated with the daily operations of running the business of dentistry. Share the vision for your practice and with the team and let everyone, know your mission: The “WHY” you do what you do.

The Facts

The fact is, the hygiene department is the second largest profit center in the dental practice, and provides support for the practice as a whole. Within the hygiene department are several other areas of profitability for the dental practice.

Most of your patients spend one hour–two to four times a year with the dental hygienist(s) and because of this ongoing relationship patients are more likely to remain in your practice, accept treatment recommendations and refer patients to the dental office. This makes your hygiene department a business within a business. It makes the executive(s) in this department held accountable for his/her success. When the dental hygienist is held accountable for the department success, when he/she understands the vision, and the principles of the dental practice, success will follow. You will find the team working in harmony when they all understand the vision for the practice, share the same code of patient ethics, and take ownership for the way patients are treated.

When every team member takes ownership of their role, the patients are sure to experience a caring attitude, an ultimate dental experience, the highest level of care, and the profits are sure to follow. This provides a win-win situation.

One of the most important aspects of the dental hygiene treatment that is often overlooked, is this list of assessments. (see below) Dental hygienists feel as if they are on a treadmill but when the team effectively plans their day, these assessments can really make the day run smoothly, this will make patients feel they received the highest level of care, and it now allows provides a higher level of comprehensive care. The treatment plan now moves to a higher level of care.

New Treatment Heights

There is a list of 10 assessments and patient procedures that stimulate profitability in the dental hygiene department. (keep reading below) These ten are all important aspects of the patients’ oral and total health. Not all offices participate in this list of 10 and this is what sets your office apart when you offer a menu of these services to your patients.

If you take a look at the list below and notice a missing piece in your dental practice, choose to just implement 1 or 2 of these within the next month. Make an appointment this month to discuss with your team how to implement these ten successfully into the hygiene patient appointment. Be patient with yourself when making these changes. Take time to discuss at a team meeting how to effectively implement these with full participation from the entire team.

The most overlooked assessments are the annual full-mouth periodontal screening exam. Still in the 21st century many hygienists who see a patient every six months, they neglect to pick up a periodontal probe prior to picking up a curette.  Most dental offices have approximately 15% of their adult patients with untreated and even undiagnosed periodontal disease. If each of these patients continues down this path we know that the research states — “this disease process will continue and the patient will at some point experience tooth mobility and possible tooth loss.”

What will this cost your dental business? Take into account that most non-surgical periodontal treatment plans are approximately $1,000.00 (USD) for 4 quadrants of scaling and root planing, not taking into account the use of antimicrobials and/or laser therapy. Now take into account the frequency of the periodontal maintenance. (Add in another $100.00 USD maybe 4 times a year.)

Once a periodontal patient, always a periodontal patient. It is the same as a patient with diabetes or high blood pressure. These patients are seen frequently and always at risk for future disease even after the disease has been halted. These patients are asked to schedule a preventive care appointment with their physician to be sure their disease is now “status-quo.” This is no different when our patient is diagnosed with periodontal disease.

Take into account that if you have 100 patients with 6 areas of 5mm pockets and they now receive Phase-1 non-surgical periodontal treatment. And then after the Phase-1 non-surgical treatment is completed the patient returns 4-6 weeks later for the re-evaluation, (Similar to a post-op appointment) which is now considered the 1st periodontal maintenance appointment. If the disease goes untreated we know what the cost to the patient may be tooth loss and poor systemic health. If you neglect this treatment for 100 patients what is the financial loss to your dental business?

Another new area of treatment that is overlooked at this time is the pediatric patient – first visit. CAMBRA (Caries Management by Risk Assessment) is a new evidence-based protocol for assessing caries. It is now the standard of care for the pediatric patient to have their first visit when the first primary tooth erupts. This appointment can be done in a consult room with the child seated on the mothers lap. This is an appointment to assess the tooth structure, biofilm and any suspicious areas of the child’s oral cavity. If you are concerned about receiving payment the CDT codes in the United States have you covered. There are two specific codes to bill for a child to have this exam and bill for the procedure in a consult room, if an operatory is not available. A biofilm assessment, oral hygiene instruction and a fluoride varnish can now be completed in a consultation room and billed accordingly, according to the CAMBRA protocol.

CAMBRA recommends that a patient who is at moderate to extremely high-risk for caries see a dental professional for preventive measures every 90-120 days for biofilm assessment, oral hygiene recommendations, a fluoride varnish and home care instructions; not just at the six month continuing care visit. This adds another area of profit to your dental hygiene department. The Insurance book of CDT codes outlines specific codes to bill various procedures including CAMBRA patients.

How many patients qualify for this preventive measure? How will this benefit your patients and your bottom line? It is all up to you. How will you decide to answer these questions?

When the hygienist and team all understand the need to prevent and intervene at an early stage vs. wait and watch; not only does the patient gain an improved level of health but the dental hygiene production will increase. Establish periodontal and the various preventive protocols today. Now is the time to cease treating the periodontal patient with a prophy appointment and begin to utilize the preventive measures according to the new CAMBRA guidelines.

Another area in dentistry that has changed in the past decade or more is selling home care products. Many decades ago we wrote a prescription or sent our patients to a pharmacy with names of products written on a piece of paper. Our knowledge and research over the past few decades states that 70% of these patients returned to our dental office and never took time to get the prescription filled. Patients seldom took that piece of paper with them to purchase the specific product recommended. When patients have the toothbrush they are to use and shown in the dental office how to use that new power toothbrush they are more likely to use the brush effectively.

This is the one area of your dental practice that has a net profit of about a 70%. You can spend hours preparing a crown or bridge and you have lab fees to pay at the end. The ROI (return on investment) for home care products sold in the dental office is about 70%. We want patients to buy their home care products from the experts, the people who know which toothpaste, toothbrush, mouth rinse, etc., is appropriate for each individual patient to use at home. The sales person at the local drug store and even the pharmacist is not the person to educate a patient about xylitol and its benefits, let alone what type of silica is appropriate to use on the expensive restorations your dental patient just paid for.

By engaging and empowering the entire team, your dental business is certain to excel in many ways. You will create a cohesive team and a dental practice based on excellence and the extraordinary. Realizing the potential of your dental hygiene team and creating a thriving profit center inside this valuable department of your business is essential to building the dental practice you have always dreamed of. This assures you long-term relationships along side your success.

Your team and the dental hygiene department are all very important assets to the health, profitability and success of your dental practice.

10 areas of Profitability in the Dental Hygiene Department

  1. Perform oral health care assessments that include the review of patients’ health history, dental charting, oral cancer screening, periodontal assessments, biofilm assessment, saliva pH test, smile analysis, xerostomia, etc.
  2. Expose and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); co-diagnose
  3. Non-surgical periodontal procedures, antimicrobial agents, laser therapy, etc.
  4. CAMBRA
  5. Apply cavity-preventive agents such as fluorides varnish and sealants to the teeth;
  6. Administer local anesthetic and/or nitrous oxide analgesia;
  7. Educate patients on proper oral  hygiene techniques to maintain healthy teeth and gums and recommend home care products
  8. Discuss whitening treatment and take impressions when applicable
  9. Administer smoking cessation programs; and
  10. Counsel patients on the importance of good nutrition for maintaining

 

“7 Keys to Reactivate and Retain Your Patients PLUS Increase Your Practice Profits”

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

June 29, 2012

Attracting a new patient can cost five times as much as maintaining a relationship with an existing patient. Implementing this Continuing C.A.R.E. System will help you retain valuable patients and keep them returning – on a regular basis – for essential dental hygiene and preventive care appointments.

Investing in a patient retention strategy such as this Continuing C.A.R.E. System will keep your profits consistent and decrease the amount of time and money spent on advertising for new patients. Never assume that an overdue patient won’t return to your practice. Many times, patients appreciate your efforts to reconnect with them. When patients know they matter to you, their loyalty to your dental practice will grow. The Continuing C.A.R.E. System consists of four concepts rooted in effective communication: Consistent Communication, Advanced Scheduling, Reasonable Payment Options, and Efficient Planning. Combined, these steps will help motivate inactive patients and revitalize your dental practice.

Rule One: Consistent Communication

Establishing a system of connecting with your patients is essential to building and maintaining relationships.

Rule Two: Advanced Scheduling

Make every attempt to schedule the next dental hygiene appointment at the end of each dental hygiene preventive appointment.

Rule Three: Reasonable Payment Options

It is possible that many of your patients today are experiencing financial challenges and educating them about your dental practice’s flexible payment options is essential to bringing them back for regular preventive care appointments.

Rule Four: Effective Planning

Create a plan outlining daily or weekly responsibilities with the end goal of contacting inactive patients and scheduling appointments.

THE 7 KEYS TO  Reactivate and Retain Your Patients. Show You C.A.R.E. !

  1. Follow up with patients by phone as soon as possible to schedule their next visit.
  2. If there is no response to a phone call, send the first letter.
  3. Send the second letter if patients do not schedule within 6 months – if not sooner.
  4. Send the third letter with a SASE so patients can easily communicate why they are not responding the phone calls and/or letters.
  5. Please note: Many patients may desire emails or text messages instead of a phone call or in addition to phone calls. Contact patients using their preferred method of communication. With an appointment is still unscheduled always follow up with a letter.
  6. After 18 months of follow up calls, letters, emails and/or text messages without a response, this patient should now be considered inactive.
  7. New patients are the lifeline of your dental practice but keeping the old is much easier and more cost effective than brining in the new! “One is silver and the other is gold!” Effective communication and this Continuing CARE Plan will keep your schedule full!

If you liked some or all of these tips please be sure to check out our eBook with all the scripts, templates and all of the work done for you. All you have to do is follow the step by step plan created just for you!   Grab it Here:

 

Are You Stuck in a Rut? 4 Steps to Reactivate Your Dental Hygiene Patients!

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

June 22, 2012

Attracting a new patient most likely costs you five times as much when you can keep an existing patient.  One of the best systems you can have in place is the continuing care system.  This will eliminate you chasing down valuable patients and it will keep them returning, on a regular basis, for their valuable dental hygiene – preventive care appointments.

Investing your time and effort in a continuing care, patient retention strategy is not just a good idea but it will keep your practice profits consistent and decrease the amount of time and money spent chasing after patients.  Never assume that an inactive patient won’t return to your practice.  Many patients appreciate the time you will take to  to reconnect with them. People want to feel important and that you care about them.  Start with your most current overdue patient list. This is a report you can very easily generate from your computer of all patients past due for continuing care in the past 18 months.  Provide reasons and the benefits of why your inactive patients need to return ASAP.

1.  Sending the Letter

Once you have sent a postcard to let the patient know they have not scheduled their hygiene appointment, within the next three months send a direct mail letter to every patient who is overdue for a hygiene appointment. In your letter provide information about the oral health/systemic health link, oral cancer, the importance of ongoing professional dental care and how much your value their overall health.  This is the perfect chance to educate patients about new techniques, technology and services available in your office, options for achieving that sought after smile and include continuing education programs your team has completed that will benefit the patient.

 2.  Financial Challenges

Many patients are experiencing financial challenges today so educate them about your various financing options for payment.

When you have a relationship with patient financing companies it will make treatment more affordable and more likely for your patients to proceed with both necessary and elective dental treatment.  Let your overdue and current patients know about your patient financing options available.  Let patients old and new know that your office will provide financing so your patients receive the type of dental care they want and need.

3.  Pre-schedule Continuing Care

Make every attempt to schedule the next hygiene appointment in the hygiene room at the end of the hygiene appointment.  My experience shows that when patients are not pre-scheduled at least 60% of your time will be spent chasing down your active patient base.  It is important for the hygienist to educate all of the patients about the value and benefits of preventive care. This is how everyone will live a longer and healthier life! Have you ever met someone who didn’t want to live a longer and healthier life? Neither have I!

There is no doubt that without optimal oral health our total health can and will most likely fail.  The philosophy of every dental practice today should include the science about oral health and the relationship it plays in our overall health.  When patients understand you care enough about their total health and not just their almighty dollar they are most likely to sit up, listen, schedule their dental appointments and refer their friends and family to your dental office.  This is what creates improved patient care and healthy profits to your dental practice!

4. Daily Patient Calls

Decide each day who can make calls to patients. When the hygienist has a cancellation, he/she plays a valuable role in contacting overdue patients.

Each day: 

  • Create a goal to call a specific number of overdue hygiene patients.
  • Create a goal to schedule a specific number of appointments.
  • Create a blocked schedule ensuring that each hygienist achieves a specific daily production goal.
  • Establish treatment plan goals and monitor your scheduled treatment each day.
  • Each month monitor your continuing care report.
  • Ask a front office auxiliary to provide a monthly continuing care success and strategy report at the team meeting.
  • Throughout the year plan to assess, strategize and create reasons for your inactive patients to return for your services again.

Many times when you make contact with an overdue patient they have no idea it has been that long since their last hygiene appointment. Surprising but so true. My how time passes so quickly!

COMING SOON! Check our website for your complimentary WHITE PAPER and receive your complimentary continuing care strategy.

Have you subscribed to our 30 Day Dental Practice Makeover? This is a great way to quickly and without a lot of cost added, increase your practice profits!

30 Day Dental Practice Makeover

6 Steps to Creating a Profitable Dental Hygiene Department

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

June 14, 2012

For many years the dental hygiene department has been known as a loss leader. We live in a new era of dentistry. If you have specific systems in place you will add value to your patient services, increase case acceptance and increase your dental business profits.  Here is a 6 step process to streamline this process and increase your profits.

For many years the dental hygiene department has been thought of as a loss leader. Furthermore, many dental professionals believe they must see more patients each day and complete more procedures during a patient appointment to become more profitable. Perhaps, if you are a dental hygienist, when you hear the phrase, “Increase profits,” you cringe and think of working longer hours.

The good news: This doesn’t have to be the case for you! But why are some hygiene departments more profitable than others? We’ll tell you why and share the secrets to success in 6 steps. Times have changed, and the business of dental hygiene can mean profits for the entire dental team. When the correct systems are in place, a day in the dental office will feel less like a migraine and more like a mission accomplished

1. Understand the Importance of the Hygienist’s Role

Hygienists play a huge role in the growth of a dental practice today. In fact, the hygiene department should be the second-largest profit center in the dental practice. Think of the dental hygienist as an ambassador for the dental practice. Indeed, the hygienist is in a very unique position, spending a large majority of one-on-one time with patients in the chair. The hygienist is first in line to present the risks and benefits of preventive and aesthetic dental treatments. The dental hygienist can, thus, set the stage to help patients accept treatment plans, large and small.

Furthermore, when a hygienist sees the same patients multiple times a year, he or she has a chance to develop personal relationships with these patients — and this means building more trust. This added trust will, then, make patients more likely to listen to the hygienist’s treatment plan suggestions and more likely to ask the hygienist for help in their decision-making process.

Examples of where a hygienist can — and should — get involved with suggestions and decision-making include: • Choosing the best restorative options • Deciding upon various cosmetic/aesthetic procedures • Understanding preventive products, such as power toothbrushes and knowing which one is best for them • Choosing which mouth rinse to buy and what toothpaste is best suited for their oral condition.

2. Foster Daily Teamwork

All successful businesses begin with a collaborative team. Even the vocabulary the world’s most successful businesses use will describe their employees and show the companies’ high regard for teamwork. Wal-mart employees are known as associates. When you’re a guest at the Ritz Carlton, employees and guests are known as, “ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen.”

And there’s no reason your dental office can’t emanate (and profit from) these very same values. For starters, everyone should be on the same page. Each member of the dental team needs to be enthusiastic and well-versed in discussing the benefits of preventive and aesthetic dentistry. Also, the doctor and the auxiliaries must share a practice vision and philosophy for patient care. That’s where dental professionals can make a difference. Expert dental coaches can analyze your dental office’s highest potential and create a custom, step-by-step plan that capitalizes on your practice vision and brings you more success than you thought possible.

Meanwhile, start with a morning team huddle to get your team on the same page, and if you don’t already, plan monthly team meetings to provide a time for collaboration and exploration of new ideas and systematic processes. This is where the right hand learns what the left hand needs to do, so to speak. Then, your team will have the ability to be in complete harmony… which leads to higher profitability. Taking time during team meetings to set the backdrop for a seamless day at the office creates added value to the patient services — and the team doesn’t feel dead at the end of the day.

Let’s not forget the value of dental team-to-patient teamwork. When the dental team takes time to review its patient communication skills and the team understands how to communicate the science behind the art of dentistry, patients see the opportunity (and importance of) optimal health. This is when it becomes a winning situation for the patient and the dental practice. See a trend here? If you can build a relationship where the patient looks to the hygienist as a trusted advisor, patients are more willing to agree to an optimal plan of care — which means better health for them. And remember: happy patients refer other patients to your office. It’s a win-win situation.

3. Move Beyond the Prophy A critical item to discuss in your team meetings is changing your practice’s treatment approach paradigm. Many dental practices in this new era of preventive dentistry face challenges moving from the Prophy to treating the patient’s total health. Many dental hygienists today still feel pressure to complete the cleaning when, in fact, the most important service they can provide is education and a treatment plan to reverse the disease process.

Diagnosing and treating based on what insurance will cover or based on what the patient wants, instead of what the patient’s needs, helps neither your patient nor your practice.

So here’s another example that demonstrates the value of your dental hygiene department: When the hygienists regularly move beyond the Prophy, they add value to the patient’s services. Most patients see their dental hygienist more often than their physicians. And when you begin offering a variety of services, such as blood pressure screenings, oral cancer exams, fluoride treatments, xylitol products, periodontal exams, smile analyses, etc., you increase the value of your services — and your patients start to see amazing potential to improving their overall health just by visiting the dentist. Plus, many of these services incur a small fee, adding to the profits of the dental hygiene department.

Afraid you’ll scare your patients away if you go beyond the Prophy and present a treatment plan that’s in their best interest? You won’t, if you show patients you’re on their side. You can’t go wrong with stating the facts. Always present the scientific evidence to support your findings. Then, show patients their options, along with the risks and benefits of completing and not completing treatment. It is when you discuss the science and your expert knowledge of oral health that you add value to your services. The increase in profitability will come alongside when patients sit up, listen, and then take action to treat their disease.

4. Tap Into The Recare System Gold Mine

Remember that myth we busted at the beginning of this blog, that you don’t need to pack in extra patients each day to build profit? If you’re still wondering how this works, the answer is in your practice’s recare system — with your hygiene department at the helm.

Imagine the hygiene department as an energy cell and the recare systems the mitochondria of the dental practice. When a well-developed system is in place, your practice will experience increased profits. The key is in pre-scheduling. That is, before the patient leaves the hygiene room, the hygienist or hygiene assistant schedules the patient’s next appointment. The hygiene department has the best auxiliary to schedule the next appointment because they intimately understand the patient’s needs and desires for the next appointment and the necessary procedure to schedule. This is your ticket to success: You must have close to 95% of your hygiene patients leave with their next appointments already scheduled. And you should know the barriers and patient objections which may occur ahead of time so you can plan accordingly in your team meetings.

For example, many times patients will not know what they are doing in two weeks, and especially they may not know their schedule in 4 or 6 months. So, the hygienist and the hygiene team need a plan of action to communicate with patients who may object to scheduling a next hygiene appointment. Short on ideas? Try this: Take time during a team meeting to role play, and create a plan of action for various types of objections patients have toward scheduling a next appointment. Also, keep in mind that so many people these days carry smart phones and PDAs with their calendars, so a patient with a device like this can easily check his or her schedule and add to it instantly.

One dental practice our team of experts worked with originally had 75% of their hygiene patients leave the hygiene appointment without scheduling a next appointment. With help and guidance, the team has taken on a new attitude. Here is an example of a patient dialogue after the team changed the way it communicated and viewed the appointment schedule.

Kris (Hygiene Assistant): “Beth, I understand that you travel a lot, and I want to make certain that you return in three months for your regular maintenance appointment. Today, I found a few areas that are bleeding, and I am concerned that if you call us to schedule you next hygiene appointment, we won’t be able to accommodate your schedule. I want to suggest that you make your next hygiene appointment today so we can attempt to accommodate your busy travel schedule. If you find you can’t make this appointment, then you are welcome to call us a month before the appointment to reschedule. I know you prefer to come later in the day, and we have so many patients who want this time of day, that it is best for you to schedule this appointment today and only change if you find there is a conflict.”

Beth (Patient): “Mary, I understand what you are saying. I am a procrastinator, and I can see how waiting to make my next appointment can most likely create more problems in my mouth. I really do not like hearing my gums are bleeding, and I believe that I can rearrange any travel plans or change my work schedule so I don’t have to change this appointment. From what I heard today about my mouth, I really want to take better care of my teeth and gums. I never knew how important the gums are to my overall health.

Kris: “Beth, I am so happy that you understand how important your oral health is to your overall health. We can see you on Tuesday November 12th at 3:30pm. Will this time work for you?” Beth: “I’m looking at my calendar, and I don’t see any conflict with this date or time so let’s schedule it!” Notice how this type of communication between the patient and hygiene auxiliary allowed the patient to be in control. Beth felt involved in the process of scheduling her next appointment. Beth took responsibility for her health, and she was an active participant in the conversation.

This dental team also has changed to a blocked or tiered schedule which can better accommodate new patient appointments, alongside the preventive care appointments, periodontal maintenance appointments, and scaling and root planing appointments, etc. Not all patients are seen at the same interval of time, but the office can accommodate patients in a timely manner with this type of scheduling system.

5. Improve Cancellation Rates

Scheduling the recare appointment is only half the battle, though. The recare appointment is the most canceled and failed appointment on the dental schedule. And one cancellation per day in the hygiene department will lead to what is called a loss leader. This means a loss in the hygiene and doctor productivity. Many offices experience a cancellation and patient appointment failure rate of 25%. But this need not occur when you use the strategies we suggest. In fact, a realistic goal to set when following these suggestions is 95% or better in scheduling effectiveness.

Most important strategy: Have written guidelines for patients that explain what will occur when they cancel an appointment at the last minute or fail to be present for their scheduled appointment. Some practices post these in a visible place in the office, in addition to having new patients sign that they’ve read and understand the cancellation policies.

Just make sure you write your expectations using positive words. Check out our example below of guidelines written in a positive manner:

“We will always respect your time, and our team will make every effort to schedule appointments that accommodate the needs of all of our patients. In return, we ask that our patients make every effort to keep their reserved dental appointments. When a patient appointment is broken or an appointment is missed, it creates scheduling challenges for other patients as well as for our dental office.

Our dental office will charge a fee for cancellations and appointment failures without 72 hours notice. We understand that emergencies and personal situations do arise, so after a series of two failed or broken appointments outside of the 72 hour guideline, a charge will apply to your account before a next appointment is scheduled.”

Bottom line, when effective communication occurs between the patient and the dental team, a change in the patient’s attitude occurs, which translates into improved patient compliance. Consequently, the dental practice will see a reduction in cancellation and appointment failures.

6. Measure Your Success

Seeing the fruits of your labor is extremely important to continued success. Knowing exactly how much your numbers have improved each month can guide you to know where more potential remains. Not to mention, seeing your improvements is a huge morale booster — now you know that all your hard work is worth it!

Not sure how to track your progress? It is recommended that each month, the hygiene team or office administrator run and review (with doctor) a “Production Analysis Report”. This report will analyze all dental hygiene procedures each month to determine what percentage of production the appropriate hygiene department codes represent. And what better time to review this data, which tracks the hygiene department’s effectiveness, than during your monthly team meeting?

It’s exciting, actually. You’ll see that when you implement many of the assessments and procedures just described, you will experience at least a 30% increase in your hygiene department within the next six to nine months.

Services that may account for this increase in hygiene profits are fluoride treatments, (Utilizing the Evidence-based science from CAMBRA) sealants, antimicrobials, xylitol products, oral rinses, toothpastes, 5% sodium fluoride for at home use, and power toothbrushes.

Change Your Patient’s Paradigm, Too

A final word: The twenty-first century is a new era for dentistry, and particularly dental hygiene. Cleaning teeth is no longer the standard of care. In fact, we suggest removing this word from your dental practice terminology when talking with patients. Today’s dental teams must talk to their patients about prevention — and the dental hygiene appointment is actually a preventive care appointment.

If the patient has any level of disease, the time to treat is now! Take the classic example of a patient in the early stages of periodontal disease. Phase I of non-surgical periodontal treatment ends with the periodontal maintenance, which is a 4-6 week post-operative appointment to evaluate the disease state. The last appointment of Phase I non-surgical treatment is the first of regular periodontal maintenance appointments. The patient who does not have a healthy evaluation must return for more treatment in the Phase I level of treatment. In fact, this is the time where you may need to refer the patient to a periodontist.

If a patient is healthy at the final evaluation (The first periodontal maintenance appointment) then he or she will return consistently for the rest of his/her life every 3-4 months for periodontal maintenance. Periodically, a patient may have episodes where the disease state returns, and the hygienist will need to schedule the patient to return for scaling and root planing and even antimicrobial therapy. All that said, you must communicate with all periodontal patients that periodontal disease is episodic and the idea that “once a periodontal patient, always a periondontal patient.” If the patient has a hard time taking the information seriously, explain that his/her situation is the same as when a patient is diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes.(And various other disease conditions.) The physician will always monitor the disease state even when everything seems to be “status-quo”.

Most successful dental businesses have implemented these systems. No longer will you hear that the Dental Hygiene Department is a “loss leader.” Expectations of the dental professional may be high, but remember you don’t have to take this path of success alone. Begin with these few guidelines to get on the path to where you want to be. And remember, we have many experts available to guide you along the road to success so don’t ever feel like you have to walk the path to success alone. Dream big, and happy planning as you embrace this new era of dentistry!

Strategic Systems Today Help You Flourish Tomorrow

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

June 4, 2012

New patients are the lifeline to every successful dental practice. Without new patients, production will decline and the practice will not exist. Every dental practice has a normal attrition of patients. This is a fact of business. People move, pass away, or leave because you are not on their “insurance plan” and this can mean an annual loss of 10%. Just as your heart beats at least 60 beats per minute, you must have a continual flow of new patients walking in the front door to make up for those patients who are walking out the back door.

Patient retention (continuing care) is the heartbeat of the dental practice. Your active patient base consists of patients who value your care, accept your recommendations, and pay for treatment. These are the people who trust you and your team. They refer their families, friends, and colleagues to you. These are the are key players to the ongoing success of your business Most patients see the hygienist more than any other auxiliary of the dental team. This is what makes the hygienist carry and important role in building and maintaining the current active patient base.

Maintaining the Active Patient Base. Always Pre-Schedule Hygiene Appointments

Always preschedule 90 percent of your hygiene department patients –Patients are more likely to understand the importance of why they need to schedule their next hygiene appointment. When the hygienist schedules the patients for their next hygiene visit there is a continuation in the practioner/hygiene communication process. You most likely see a positive patient attitude and an increase in patient compliance occur when the hygienist is engaged in scheduling the patient next hygiene appointments. Ideally this should occur when the patient is still present in the hygiene treatment room.

Communicate With Confidence: Words Do Matter

The dialogue between the auxiliary and patient is extremely important. Here is an example of how the conversation may go:

Example: “Today I found a few areas of bleeding that were considered abnormal and doctor is observing and area where you have the beginning of decay. Our schedule is very tight because patients usually schedule before they leave their dental hygiene appointment. I know that you like to come in first thing in the morning on Thursdays so I recommend that we reserve your next appointment to assure that you can return on that day of the week and at that time in fact that is a very valuable and popular time for most of our patients. To make sure you have your next appointment on this day of the week and at this time, I want to schedule and reserve this time for you now. I can see you on Thursday, October 18th at am. Will this work for your schedule? ”

The dental hygienist is the oral health educator for every dental practice. It is the role of the dental hygienist to educate patients about the relationship between oral health and systemic health. Patient involvement and active participation create ownership and accountability and will ultimately reduce the cancellation and failure rates of the continuing care patients. The preventive care and supportive periodontal maintenance appointments have the highest cancellations and failed appointment rates of any service in the dental practice. If you have one hygienist working four days a week and each day you have one cancellation you this can lead to an annual loss as high as $150,000 in hygiene department profits and this does not account for the treatment normally diagnosed from the hygiene appointments.

For a hygiene department achieve success they should be scheduling 95 percent of their future dental hygiene appointments at the time of the patients current dental hygiene appointment. Always create monitors and track the scheduling ratio. Count the total number of patients seen in the hygiene department each month and divide this number by the number of appointments available for the month. The hygiene or scheduling coordinator should then report the current scheduling rate to the team at monthly team meetings. The scheduling coordinator needs to always report in the morning huddle the open times available on the hygiene schedule each day for the next week.

Many dental practices charge a fee for failed appointments, and the effect of doing this has been positive in raising patient awareness of the importance of the time set aside for their appointments.

Team approach –Everyone on the team should understand the words which are effective for a positive patient response. Courtesy confirmation calls, emails, text messages and written communications define the hygiene appointment (continuing care) with dialogues such as this:

“Hello Mr. Goodman, its Megan calling because Maria (Insert the name of the hygienist seeing the patient) and I are looking forward to seeing you tomorrow at 3 o’clock for your preventive care appointment. I see on the schedule that Maria will be doing your annual periodontal screening exam and Dr. Goodtooth mentioned to me that you were in tested in the new whitening product we are using. We’ll see you then. By doing this, patients are moved beyond the “just-a-cleaning-and-a-check-up” mentality. It is best not to discuss any type of cancellation policy because this is only a subconscious reminder that if something else comes up they can cancel and it sets up for failure for your continuing care systems’ success. Do not ask for calls back to the office to verify an appointment. Have the expectation that patients understand the importance of their dental service and desire to come to see the doctor and/or hygienist.

Team Accountability

Chart audit and patient activation must be ongoing systems that are frequently performed in the office. This is completed through daily reviews and computer reports. While everyone on the team plays an important role, one auxiliary (the hygiene or scheduling coordinator) is responsible and accountable for keeping the daily schedule full and productive. At team meetings, the scheduling coordinator reports and discusses the scheduling effectiveness rate. Everyone needs to be aware of what is working and what is not working so that problem-solving can take place.

Creating Strategic Solutions First

Create a plan of action when there is a small crack in a system. Ask for suggestions to overcome these challenges which may occur and when you are feeling like a hemorrhaging in systems and a decline in production occurs. When challenges do occur this is a very important time for you to consider the advise of a dental expert who is knowledgeable in overcoming these challenges, especially during these stressful economic times in our world today.

When you have a water leak you most likely want to STOP it sooner than later rather than put your money down the drain for water never used. It’s the same thing with your dental business; STOP the financial leaks sooner than later! Creating a plan of action for each system you have in place will halt the progression of a small problem into a bigger one.

Annually sit down as a team to list all of your systems and re-evaluate what is and is not working. Above is only a very small example of systems you should have in place: New Patients, Continuing Care Patients, Communication and Scheduling. Creating your own list of systems is important to re-evaluate before each year begins.

Creating strategic systems for your success will STOP the water leaks in your practice before they flow out of control. Most businesses that do not have a PLAN in place have PLANNED to fail! Create your systems, write them down, re-evaluate them annually — and then be certain you flourish in the years to come! This creates a WIN-WIN for all so go ENJOY the RIDE!

 

PROPHY or PERIO PATIENT?

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

May 21, 2012

3 Easy steps guide you to increase patient value and thousands of $$$$’s!

Did you know that any time you spend more than 20 minutes scaling on your PROPHY Patient that you are possibly throwing money down the drain? No matter how much time hygienists spend removing plaque and calculus, many dental offices charge the same fee for a more involved treatment — and leave even more money sitting on the table by failing to initiate a new, more appropriate treatment plan. And the patients total health may pay the price in years to come!

“A Prophy Patient is not always a Prophy Patient but a Perio Patient is Always a Perio Patient.”

So, when I tell my clients that today’s dental practices experience a substantial amount of hemorrhaging, I’m not just talking about bleeding gums. Dental practices’ profits are hemorrhaging from countless missed opportunities in the non-surgical periodontal treatment profit center. Far too many patients receive just a prophylaxis when they really need non-surgical periodontal therapy or periodontal maintenance. (also known as Supportive Periodontal Therapy or SPT)

So why is this pattern so rampant across the globe — especially when dental practices need that extra cash to survive today’s economy? First, many hardworking dental professionals are not comfortable stepping off the daily Prophy treadmill. They are not comfortable talking to patients about the science  and communicating the need for non-surgical periodontal therapy. Even the hygienists that do propose Supportive Periodontal Therapy (SPT) to patients often give up because they can’t convince patients to pay more money for just a “cleaning.” Some dental offices will even avoid SPT appointments because they don’t understand how to code the procedure for insurance payment. The biggest reason, however, I believe, why dental offices are unsuccessful at building their SPT programs, is poor communication and patient education. Patients simply do not understand the importance of regular preventive care and routine SPT appointments. Why would someone agree to a seemingly simple, supportive therapy to prevent disease when they don’t understand the far-reaching health consequences of inaction?

That said, let’s explore together three ways you can break these old, unproductive habits and tap into a periodontal maintenance gold mine worth thousands of dollars annually in profits to your dental hygiene department.

1.      Patient Needs

Annually schedule patients for a periodontal screening exam. This is a six-point screening process that all dental hygienists learn to administer and assess for periodontal disease. It takes maybe 10 minutes and this is one time the dental hygiene team needs to plan to slow down the speed on the treadmill — at least once a year. When pocket depths are Within Normal Limits (WNL) and still you find yourself scaling more than 20 minutes, perhaps it is due to how you have inserted the periodontal probe into the sulcus during the screening exam. Many of us when in the dental hygiene program were taught to angle the probe in contact with the root surface, holding the probe parallel with the long axis of the tooth. The original purpose of teaching this method was for the researchers and possibly the dental hygiene educators, to have probing depths that are reproducible. The challenge with holding the probe at this angle is that it will not detect any mid-interproximal pockets. This is one reason periodontal disease is greatly underestimated.

Take time as a team for the hygienists and doctor(s) to calibrate your probing technique so a 4 mm or 5 mm pocket is the same for everyone who will hold a probe.

2.     Fine-tune your patient education.

The latest research behind periodontal disease is your biggest tool to convince a patient to begin — and stick with — preventive and SPT appointments. Make sure you clearly understand the information behind your case and are able to bridge the gap between the hard science and your patients oral health.
First, give patients the disease facts, focusing on tooth/bone loss and systemic health. The bottom line message to patients is, any time bleeding is present, pathological change is occurring that needs to be evaluated and appropriately treated sooner than later. If periodontal disease is present, the potential for bone loss has already begun. Depending upon a patient’s risk factors, bone loss can occur quickly and become aggressive very easily. With this knowledge, a patient will be much more likely to say, “Yes,” to your treatment plan. Assess their risk for disease and treat appropriately.

Point out that your patients’ health and longevity are also at stake if they do not follow the appropriate treatment plan. Cite examples of the link between poor periodontal health and certain diseases. Back up your facts with brochures, posters, iPad apps, etc. Also, highlight specific risk factors. (such as smoking, diabetes, etc.) Explain the complications that arise when periodontal health declines — and how easily this can happen without proper treatment and regular supportive periodontal therapy.

Key: Remember to explain that periodontal disease is episodic. Tell patients that from this point forward, they need to return every twelve weeks, or at frequent, appropriate intervals when SPT is required — even if their teeth and gums begin to look and feel healthy again. This is a disease and once a disease always a disease. The role of all dental professionals is to prevent disease. Communicate, Educate and Prevent.

3.      Practice Philosophy

The practice philosophy is a huge reason for patients receiving a Prophylaxis when in fact they are a periodontal patient. It is the primary role of healthcare providers to prevent disease. Communication of the evidence-based science and educating patients’ about their needs is another important role as a dental professional. When effective communication is implemented we can create a change in patients’ values and what they believe is important to pay for.

Conclusion

The dental hygienist has two important roles. The first role is to determine which type of preventive care is appropriate for each individual patient – and at what interval the preventive treatment is necessary. The second role is to educate and communicate to patients about their oral health conditions and exactly what type of care is appropriate for their overall health. Performing these roles allows us be patient-centered and offer comprehensive care.

Creating a patient-centered comprehensive approach means you have a few keys to unlock a higher level of patient value and increasing profits is automated!

As dental professionals we are concerned about our patients’ overall health. We want the very best for our patients. Educating patients on the difference between health and disease, prevention and treatment, is a huge part of , comprehproviding optimum, patient-centered comprehensive care. Communicate to patients how much you care, and they will most likely follow through with future preventive care providing optimal health. Creating a patient- centered comprehensive dental practice is a win for everyone!

 

 

7 Benefits of a Mastermind Group for Dental Practice Owners

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

May 13, 2012

You may be wondering “what is a Mastermind Group” and “how can I benefit from a Mastermind Group?” I have asked the same questions to myself and now that I am in a mastermind group I have found it to be the biggest ROI for my business this year.

Are you asking “How can I benefit from a Mastermind Group?”  Here are some answers that may resonate with you:

1.      Cultivating Success

A group of “like-minded professionals will meet. Our purpose is to grow and succeed. During the live sessions as a good group, you have a safe place to be real without fear of judgment. The thoughts and energies of the members combine to create a unique atmosphere. Ideas are shared, more ideas are generated, which generates more sharing, etc. The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. If you have read the book “Think and Grow Rich” you may remember this from Chapter 10. If you have not read this book, consider this to be a “MUST READ” for success in your business!

2.      Perspective

When you associate yourself with the same people day after day and year after year, you tend take on the same perspective. It’s simply human nature. It is incredibly refreshing to belong to a mastermind group with people of differing views and perspectives. They will help you to see things in your business from a completely unique vantage point. You may find yourself trying things you would have never even imagined.

3.      Unique You

You are able to be You. Within this environment to cultivate success you are able to discover your own uniqueness and find what sets you apart from all the rest. This is where “What you do and The WHY you do what you do becomes unique to you. This is how you can be well known in your community for what you do!  The acceptance and encouragement from the group naturally invites a type of self-actualization not found in many other places.

4.      Authenticity

Do you know what your REAL Purpose in your life is? Why are you the best dentist in your community? What were you born to do best? In this environment you become more aware of the who…the what… AND… the why you do what you do. This environment is where you realize there’s something that only YOU can do.

5.      Fuel and Fire

There may be days in your dental office when you feel burned out. You just do not have that energy necessary to make it through the day and then some. Let’s face it, there may be weeks on end where your energy is lacking.  A good mastermind group will bring the energy back to you and also to your day at the office.

When ideas are flowing back and forth, real energy is created that carries over into your dental practice and most importantly your personal life, (The family and friends you love) for days, weeks and months. It is like you just got a shot in the arm. A painless shot!  All you feel is energy.

This renewed energy, during each day, can work wonders for leaping forward in life. Get the injection and make a DIFFERENCE in something that will  revitalize your entire team, your patients and provide you the necessary cash flow to live the life of your dreams.

6.      Synergy

This is the very best part of the mastermind group! An idea or concept that started as one thing will morph, and morph again. Your ideas and new concepts will be added to, carved and chipped away at, and they will turn into a life of its own. Often times something that’s not even recognizable from what it started from. In fact, sometimes it has NOTHING to do with what it started from.

This is my favorite part of being part of a Mastermind Group! The ideas that come from this synergy of the group can be incredibly dynamic. Many times it happens for ALL of the people in the group. Partnerships are formed. You just never know what will be when like-minded professionals all get together!

You are sure to find other benefits of the mastermind group that are just your own.

7.      Mindset + Action = Lifestyle

As you re-create in your mind and in your set of goals, the opportunities available to you are endless. Your mind and the brain cells that set your mind on fire will create change. As your mind changes you grow, you leap forward and become the authentic you. This is where your entire life shifts. Your actions will flow from that inner mindset change and everything around you changes. This is when the “good stuff” begins to show up and the “bad stuff” flows away from you. AND Yes, this is when even your income changes. As you grow so does your income!  The relationships around you grow and so does everything else in your life which will bring you peace, joy and your dreams now become your reality!

When you are surrounded by like-minded professionals, you are most  likely to find, as countless others have, that you will naturally begin expressing encouragement to others and LEAP forward in your own life.

The beautiful result is, as you become the PERSON you were meant to be, others will  come to know, like and trust you and by default, you end up selling and/or becoming more of  the YOU that you were meant to be.

Am I suggesting that you can’t be successful without being a member of a mastermind community? Not at all.

But I am suggesting that it’s likely to help you get to success if you are in a Mastermind Group with like-minded dental professionals.

While you’re here, take a peek at the mastermind group that begins now!

SO…Are you READY to Leap forward and Join our Mastermind group of like-minded professionals just like you?!

As always, your comments are welcomed.

 

 

TAKE THE ACTION THAT WILL CREATE THE CHANGE YOU NEED TO BE!

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

May 7, 2012

It makes complete sense that becoming a dentist appears and may sound very attractive to many young high school or college students today. The traditional work model for a dentist and even a dental hygienist seems like a good fit for men and especially women. For a woman they are possibly thinking about raising a family. For many, being able to custom-design a business that fits the lifestyle we want is the ultimate dream!

The downside is that Dentists are also business owners. When I met with the dental students at USC in Los Angeles, they have no clue, no knowledge about becoming a business owner and being an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur requires one KEY quality: the willingness to take risks. And this is where I see many promising dental professionals and new dental practice owners struggle.

You see, when I mentor a client, they always start out saying “I am finally ready to step up and build a very profitable dental practice.” Then, we get to that place where they may be required to “take a risk”. Often what happens is—while in the beginning having the support of a coach/consultant sounds exciting, all seems wonderful—but then it tends to get uncomfortable and I find that clients begin to crawl into their black hole. They begin to say things like: “I’m not ready for x yet.” Or “x is too …!” “Why don’t we start with w or z first?” Or, “v sounds great, but let’s save it for six months from now.

This is not unusual, because honestly we are not programmed to just “go for it”. When we are born, we first crawl, then we walk. In school, we go to grade one, grade two, middle school, high school and so forth. In college, we become freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors- –THEN you are accepted into dental school. Not many dental schools today offer business skills. Then REALITY SINKS in soon after graduation! In the real world, you may start out as an associate dentist and then you move up in the world a few years later to buy your own practice

The problem is, this “grade school” way of thinking stays with us for life. And when you also add in the fact that essentially at the DNA level most of us are wired for safety, you can see why this becomes a big hurdle.

If you are ready to step up into a bigger purpose and make a big change in your life, this type of ladder-type thinking will defeat you. It feels safer, but in the end, it will get you nowhere. At the most, you may make a step in the right direction, but most often you’ll end up back where you started.

Big gains in your personal income and your practice profits will come from leaping—not ladder climbing. This will take some adjustment to your thinking– your mindset.

To help my clients start thinking in “leaps”, I recommend they read a few great books such as The E-Myth by Michael Gerber or Good to Great by Jim Collins, just to name a few. Then there are the biographies of big-thinking entrepreneurs like, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump and Bill Gates, etc.

In most of these books you will find that when these people came across big opportunities, they were in line with their mission, and never did they shy away. They jumped in all the way—even when the resources they needed to do so weren’t apparent yet. They took risks!

Did you get that last part? They said YES even when they weren’t sure how they would do it, where they would get the money, or who could support and guide them to do it all. Very quickly they found—sure enough as you will too—that when a big opportunity presents itself and you step up and say “yes”, and when you truly believe in your heart that this goal is yours, suddenly the universe seems to rearrange itself to help you. Have you ever thought “The force is with me?!” Now is your time to create the change that takes you where you deserve to be! Feel safe in taking the action that will create the CHANGE! This change creates a positive power down the pefect path for your success in life.

And here’s the good news… You typically don’t have to go looking for these opportunities. These are usually right in front of you, or one will soon drop in your lap. Once you declare you are ready, your awareness is heightened, a shift occurs, something presents itself, and you will suddenly see the path to all that you, your business and your life, can truly be!

I hear countless times from my clients, as I will use an example here; that they were not sure where they would get the money to pay for a years’ contract of my services. Surprisingly enough, once they signed the contract, suddenly, the resources they needed to pay for the consulting services — surfaced. Funny how that happens!

So, are you really ready to be an entrepreneur? Is your pulse racing? Did you feel a shift here? If your heart is right now is shouting, “Yes!” here are some examples for you to take action and create the change for success:

  • Do you know how to increase your income in 2012?
  • Do you want to create a few new income streams to increase your own paycheck? How many profit centers do you have in your dental practice today? ANSWER: Many!
  • Are you aware of an expert coach, consultant, mentor whom you could hire, or whose training or coaching program you could join?
  • Are you aware of a powerful event you could attend that could help fast-forward your success? See below for this answer
  • Is there an influential person whom you know if you connected with could change your trajectory of success? Again look here

Here is the scoop… Save your SPOT, register for your place, invest in our low cost high ROI Mastermind Program or our RAISE Virtual Program – choose what that step is—and make that big move. All your rewards are waiting… if you’re ready to make the leap!