May 12, 2022
by Carrie Webber, Owner & Chief Communications Officer, The Jameson Group
In the hundreds and hundreds of dental practices we at Jameson have had the opportunity to work with over the past three decades, we have seen high-performing practices and low-performing practices. We have seen teams that work as an aligned group of leaders and we have seen teams that don’t look or behave like a team at all. One thing is certain, when it comes to high-performing teams and practices that meet and exceed ideal visions and goals, there is no room for the mentality of “The Front” vs. “The Back.”
Dental teams that reflect what we would consider excellence in the business of dentistry all reflect what we call high-performing team mentality and performance. These teams all understand the ins and outs of the systems of the practice that help them succeed, they understand their roles within those systems, and they take the initiative both as a team and as individuals to execute those systems excellently. Hygienists in high-performing practices are not only delivering excellence in their clinical skills, they are embracing the transformative impact they have in driving excellence within the business systems in the practice as well. Here are three pivotal areas where hygienists can contribute and make a profound difference in the business systems of dental practices:
Team Meetings. One of the areas that often loses momentum and focus is the time working ON the practice, not just in it. One of those powerful meetings is your daily huddle. Many say they do this, but few do it intentionally and consistently well.
Where does the hygienist fit in an intentional and successful daily huddle? One powerful use of the huddle is to identify needs and opportunities in the schedule. Diagnosed treatment that needs to be revisited, needs for radiographs and photos, voids in the schedule where unscheduled treatment needs could be placed, and so on. When huddles are dependent upon only one person to run and execute, it falls flat and does not accomplish its true purpose – to help the team all connect and orchestrate the best possible day. When each member of the team takes on the responsibility of identifying opportunities within the day and voicing those opportunities, we are all on point to deliver and execute the very best.
Scheduling. It is well-proven that when it comes to keeping patients active and reducing broken appointments and no-shows, the best way to schedule and to reappoint is face-to-face. Having your scheduling system so strongly in place that the hygienists in a practice are comfortable and confident in reappointing for a patient’s next continuing care appointment from the chair makes such a strong and smooth start to building value for that next appointment and streamlining the entire patient check-out process. In fact, we want every patient that comes in for a hygiene appointment to leave with their next appointment on the schedule and with the patient’s verbal commitment to that appointment.
We then follow-up this strong scheduling process with a strong hygiene retention program of reminding and confirming those patients of their appointments as the next reserved time draws near. When you are strategically pre-blocking and pre-appointing patients in your hygiene schedule, you can more successfully schedule to meet production goals and foresee needs in the future. It is important that each and every member of the team is clear about your practice’s scheduling processes and protocols. The last thing we want happening is someone going into a beautifully orchestrated schedule and wreaking havoc on upcoming days because they don’t know the protocols that are to be honored.
Work together as a team to get on the same page with best practices in scheduling for your patients, practice the verbal skills to schedule effectively from the clinical area, and become competent in navigating your patient communication software so that we can not only effectively schedule our hygiene patients chairside, but also document important information for reference in the future.
Case Presentation & Case Acceptance. At Jameson, we teach what we call the Four Pillars to a Patient-Practice Partnership. We believe that healthy relationships with our patients exist when we are successfully building the four pillars of Trust, Need, Urgency and Value in the patient’s mind for the care we provide and the role we play in their ongoing health journey. There is no better representation of how this partnership works than through the Doctor Hygiene Evaluation. When the hygienist plays a role in educating patients on what the doctor has diagnosed or areas of concern, and then effectively communicates and has the necessary photographs at the ready for the doctor during his or her evaluation, there is a very powerful educational experience that can take place.
If you want to take your hygiene appointments to the next level in patient education with a goal of greater case acceptance and patient satisfaction, commit to two things:
1) Take intra oral photos and/or scans of every single patient in your hygiene chair. Review diagnosed and incomplete treatment with your patients, and show a photo of the area of concern. Make sure this photo is pulled up on the screen when the doctor comes in for the patient’s evaluation.
2) Work on strengthening your verbal skills and execution of a solid and sound Doctor Hygiene Evaluation. Everything matters – From the body language and positioning of the hygienist to the doctor and the patient; to the visual aids; to the verbal skills you use to help transition your conversation with the patient; all the way through to an effective conversation with the doctor. These efforts engage the patient in a different way, educates them through excellent visual aids and verbal skills – two of the main ways that human beings process information – and allows room for deeper conversation and consideration of treatment acceptance to take place.
These steps take a more intentional approach to leading a patient through a hygiene appointment and takes a great deal of focus and discipline in time management. Making sure we are taking the time to provide the care and the conversations that will matter the most will help your patients and your practice the most in the long run.
As James Clear, author of Atomic Habits says, it is the building of small disciplines over time that ultimately build the path for you to experience great success in the long run. As you consider your approach to your role in your dental practice, my hope is that you will look at the disciplines you can embrace in these three significant areas of the practice – meetings, scheduling and treatment presentation – that will not only help your practice thrive and your patients thrive, but also, by engaging at this level of excellence beyond the clinical care, it will help you to thrive in your professional journey.
About the Author
Carrie Webber is Chief Communications Officer and co-owner of The Jameson Group, a dental management, marketing and hygiene coaching firm that helps dentists and teams become more productive, more profitable and ultimately more fulfilled in their practicing lives. Carrie is a contributing author to several publications and blogs on the topics of marketing, customer service and business development as well as a popular speaker at dental meetings nationwide. She is a member of the Speaking Consulting Network and was named a Leader in CE by Dentistry Today for the past four years. For more information on Webber and her company, The Jameson Group, visit www.jmsn.com.