November 4, 2019
by Shawn Peers, Dental Peers
Now that my last blog introduced you to the idea of discussing those forbidden, dental “birds and bees”, it is time to get into what that really means for you. You will recall that I ended that blog instructing you to do two things: i) schedule your team meetings for the rest of this year; and ii) block time in one of your first meetings to create your standard of care.
Why the Standard of Care?
We know that dentists are educated on and work with care standards that are based on professional, scientific knowledge. As such, they tend to be viewed purely as a clinical list of protocols that guide patient care decisions based upon professional observations as to the patient’s oral health.
Despite substantial consistency throughout dentistry, each office often has some care protocols that are unique to them. The problem is the clinical professionals do not share their unique protocols with each other… or the dental assistant…or the admin team…or the patient. They just “know” their protocols and expect other team members to magically know them too.
So, when (surprise, surprise) the rest of the team is not familiar with these unique protocols of a colleague, everyone gets frustrated. Nobody knows what is expected of each other. Communication becomes muddled and patient care can be compromised.
That is why you need to use one of your first team meetings to review your standard of care. Your entire team needs to contribute to the creation of these protocols, so they all buy in. Put them in writing and make sure they are given a prominent place in your policies and procedures manual.
Why all this effort just to create a standard of care? The reason is simple…it is not just a “to do” list that guides your actions based on your observations. It is the foundational building block of your brand.
Yes…Patient’s CAN Tell!
Most of the time, we think of branding as the image that is communicated to the patient. It shows up on websites, social media pages, business cards and other promotional literature or signage.
Many dentists find it difficult to think of the care they provide as being a brand. Afterall, if a brand is what you communicate to your audience, how can care be the foundation of a brand? In the absence of actual pain or discomfort, many patients cannot differentiate between high quality, clinical care and that which has room for improvement.
However, do you know what patients can tell?
Patients can tell when a dental assistant is frustrated because they do not know what their dentist expects from them.
Patients can tell when a hygienist is stressed because the dentist has not shown up for the recare part of an appointment and they are running behind schedule.
Patients can tell when a dentist is impatient because a team member has not provided them with an x-ray or intra-oral camera photo in the time they expected.
These are all things patients can recognize…and no matter what your website may say, this is what will form the lasting impression of the quality of care you provide. If they do not like that impression, it is easy for them to find an alternative in today’s dental market.
Having a written standard of care your entire team is familiar with and supports is the first step in communicating the expectations you have of each other. When expectations are known, frustrations and stress are reduced, allowing the entire team to stay focused on caring for the patient. And care is what your office is really all about!
That is why the standard of care is truly the foundation on which your brand will be constructed! And your brand foundation deserves to be enshrined in a written document…if only to remind everyone why you do what you do!
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