Uniting as a Team to Overcome Challenges During a Pandemic

by Lisa Hardill, RDH, BHADM

Running an efficient dental practice while keeping up with the advances of delivery of care during a pandemic can be an area that overwhelms many dental professionals.

Whether you are a practice owner, administrative or clinical team member, being part of a successful practice is important to everyone. Working at a leading office allows one to feel proud, accomplished and part of something that is a reflection of their contribution to the dental industry.

A dental office is continually balancing a number of priorities. We’ve all experienced its fast pace and ever-changing environment, with team members that have different insights as to areas that lead to practice success. However, the areas of importance that overlap with each team member’s role should be the focus of daily activities. It’s these common areas of importance that will help the team navigate through challenging times.

Some common areas of importance within a practice include:

  • Communication with each other, including dental professionals that are part of treatment outside the practice walls, such dental and medical specialists and dental labs.
  • Minimizing risk in the office that can impact staff and patients.
  • Time management.
  • Providing optimal oral health outcomes.
  • The patient experience, beginning when a patient first enters the office.
  • The reputation of the office, as it’s an extension of who you are as a dental professional.

Are you working at an office making time to have conversations about each of these areas? These conversations allow for fine tuning of processes and to build upon what’s currently being done.  Even if you believe these areas are obvious to each team member, taking the time to discuss will further enhance strategies already in place.

Practice owners and leaders must have a plan to address areas that will lead to staff satisfaction and job fulfillment. Making time for team meetings, huddles, training and development are the drivers of success. With current office set-ups, many are facing staggered breaks and lunches, leading to challenges for full team engagement. Ensuring there is a solution around this, such as smaller group meetings or virtual meetings, need to be put in place. Avoiding team discussions during our current climate is not the answer.

Successful dental offices leading through the halts of the pandemic have continued to rely heavily on team consistency and transparency to avoid potential downfalls. The current state of our world and our industry is forcing team members to stop and think even more deeply about the above areas of importance, and the impact each can have on the team, the office, and themselves.

A category of dentistry that I have seen first-hand provide support for areas most important to the success of an office, the team and patients is embracing dental office technology and treatment innovation. When dental practices keep up with or lead the way by implementation of new technologies, it directly supports the common areas of importance. That being communication, minimizing risk, time management, optimal oral health, patient experience and office reputation.

Some of the most successful dental offices I’ve had the privilege of supporting over the last year have maintained momentum by focusing on what drives the team to be inspired, and ultimately exceeding their patient expectations.

I’m sure we can all agree today’s patients are well educated on dental treatment options and have high expectations. My question is, what are you doing to ensure your practice stands out and maintains its current patient flow while continuing to acquire new patients?

Working towards building a strong and engaged team will allow dental practices to overcome the challenges they face. To summarize, this is accomplished by keeping the practice focused on what’s important to all team members, continuing to redefine what works best, and ensuring the office is investing in new treatment strategies and technologies to prevent falling behind.

Being a leading dental office takes time and effort but is clearly worth it when everyone enjoys the success and resiliency they have created.

About the Author

Lisa Hardill, RDH, BHADM, is a dental hygienist with experience in public health, independent and private practice, education, consulting, and sales within the industry.

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