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Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is known as a top dental consultant by Dentistry Today.

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Dental Practice Solutions - Debbie Bittke

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 https://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