Running a Successful Practice: Industry’s Top Challenges

On behalf of the Oral Health Group, I’d like to thank Dr. Bobby Chagger, Dr. Effrat Habsha, Dr. Mark Lin, Dr. Kevork Manoukian, Dr. Jordan Soll and Dr. James Yacyshyn for participating in our first-ever roundtable for our Data Driven Dentistry series. This comprehensive study was a new creative project for Oral Health, which focused on the business and technology aspects of dentistry and the key factors of running a successful practice. Each participant is a leader in dentistry and we are extremely grateful that they were willing to share their knowledge and insights with us and our readers. Our goal from the data we collected from practicing dentists all over Canada was simple – to stimulate dialogue. Look out for our upcoming video series in 2019!

What do you consider to be your biggest challenge in the day-to-day running of your practice?

Dr. Bobby Chagger Dr. Bobby Chagger

Practicing since 1996, Dr. Chagger embraces all aspects of dentistry and the innovative techniques within this ever-evolving profession. Through repeated participation in continuing education courses, Dr. Chagger strives to ensure Chagger Dental offers the most current and effective treatments available to patients today. He especially enjoys the unique challenges of cosmetic dentistry and implantology and is an ISCD CEREC® certified trainer and is qualified to train other dentists in both basic and advanced clinical instruction.

It is human resources. It is people. What the greatest challenge is that, we can hire the right person. They’re educated well, they click with the team, everything’s there, but they’re human beings. If someone walks in in the morning and they’ve had a bad night – something happened, their little girl was sick that morning – and they’re off, it is my role, or maybe it’s another team member’s role, then to deal with them. Find out what’s wrong, get them to lift their spirits because it’s game on guys. When I walk in my front door, I have a smile on my face, because if it isn’t it permeates across the office. My other staff know, my patients know it. The smile comes on and I have to make sure that everyone else in the office is happy that day, and if they’re not happy, I have to coach them to find out what happened and lift their spirits.

Dr. Effrat Habsha

Dr. Effrat Habsha

Dr. Effrat Habsha earned her Bachelor of Science degree, DDS, Diploma in Prosthodontics and Master of Science degree from the University of Toronto, and completed a one year General Practice Residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Dr. Habsha compliments work at her private Toronto practice with teaching Prosthodontics at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Dentistry. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Department of Dentistry, Eastman Institute for Oral Health at the University of Rochester Medical Centre, Professor at George Brown College, and Staff Prosthodontist at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Clear communication is essential in order to facilitate smooth running of a practice. Breakdown in communication can be a result of difference in communication styles as well as inadequate understanding of expectations and job roles. Successful communication is a two-way street. You have not communicated effectively unless others receive, understand and accept your meaning. There is a misperception that communication is something we simply do by telling people what we want them to know or do. However, how you say something often has more impact than what is actually being said. How others think you may feel can obscure the meaning of anything you say to them and when you say something is just as important as how you say it to them. Clear understanding of job roles and protocols is essential in avoiding a breakdown of communication. In order to facilitate this, our office has a comprehensive office manual which outlines staff expectations and specific clinical protocols. It took quite a bit of time to compile an office manual that is specific to our clinical environment and it has served as an indispensable tool in maintaining a smooth workflow and minimizing the risk of communication breakdown. So my advice is to develop and adhere to an office manual and have a daily team huddle that includes at least one administrative personnel and clinical assistant in order to align and set daily expectations.

Dr. Mark Lin

Dr. Mark Lin

Dr. Mark H. E. Lin graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy for his dental program. He then completed a one-year General Practice Residency program at the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. He practiced general dentistry for 13 years and then returned to complete his post-graduate training in the specialty of prosthodontics at the University of Toronto. He maintains a full-time private practice as a prosthodontist at Dr. Mark Lin Prosthodontic Centre.

As a dentist, we should be at our best in mind and spirit to provide optimal dental care for each of our patients at every appointment every day. This can be very challenging because we get pulled in all directions throughout a working day. Therefore, as dentists, we should be reminded to stay focused and not be distracted by other factors and focus on the reason why we do what we do, taking care of our patients to the best of our abilities. Another serious challenge is finding the good team members that are cohesive, harmonious, professional and motivated to move the practice in a positive direction. Due to potential turnover rates of employees in dentistry, it is often difficult to develop a “Dream Team” that are unified to elevate the practice to the next level.

Dr. Kevork Manoukian

Dr. Kevork Manoukian

Graduated from the University of Montreal in 1994, followed by his multidisciplinary residency at St. Mary’s hospital. Once completed, he was nominated teaching coordinator for St. Mary’s hospital’s dental department where he also held his practice. He is the author of scientific articles published in Canadian dental journals. In 1998 he got his MBA from HEC, and was awarded Best Entrepreneur Grant. He was on the administration team, including treasurer of the Société Dentaire de Montreal from 1996 to 2002. He lectured at the University of Montreal to dental residents on how to better administer dental practices. He has held his private practice with a special interest in technology.

It’s going to be human resources. Finding the right person to fit your team. Finding that solid team. I find that our job, let’s go back to hockey – we’re the owners, we’re the general managers and we’re the coaches of the team. As general managers we’re going to have to find that rare, wonderful employee that’s going to fit in our team. I find that there has to be chemistry when I hire somebody. You can just look at paper and everything makes sense, then you meet the person and you just don’t click. It’s hard to spend a lot of time with a person if you don’t see that there’s chemistry, where that person is going to share that same passion and the same drive that you have for your business. You’re going to have to find that person – you’re the GM. You’re going to have to give that person a wonderful environment to work in. Once that’s done, the coaching has to come out. You have to train that person and you have to motivate them so that they can reach their goals. And if you do everything right, the third aspect, the owner in you, is going to be happy and proud to say ‘look, I have a successful, financially profitable business that I’m running.’ We have to make that when we hire our people, we think of all that put together.

Dr. Jordan Soll

Dr. Jordan Soll

Dr. Jordan Soll is a Toronto based general practitioner with a special interest in appearance related procedures. He is principal of Central Dental Group, responsible for transforming the smile of high-profile fashion editor, Suzanne Boyd, of Zoomer magazine, and is the dental expert for City Line with Tracey Moore. Dr. Soll served as Cosmetic Consultant to the Editorial Board of Oral Health, the premier dental journal in Canada, from 1998 to 2011. In 2012, he was appointed as Co-Chairman of the Editorial Board.

I’ve started to just really think that to be really successful in the center of Toronto, you have to control two things: you have to control your facility, you have to control your labour. By that I mean, if you can by any way, own your facility. If in closing remarks you ask me ‘what is the greatest advice that you could give a practitioner’ – do whatever it takes to own your own facility. Because I see so many dentists in the Greater Toronto Area with a massive redevelopment, condominium growth; so many dentist’s leases are being torn up, are being thrown out, and we just can’t move our offices overnight. It takes a lot of planning: get the right location, get an office built properly. It is worth the sacrifice if you can own your own location. And second, when I say ‘control labour’, I think based on court rulings, based on human resources, I think it’s imperative to have workplace contracts with all of your employees. Everybody’s standardized. When everything is out on the table and they know what your expectations are and you know what their expectations are, I think that it makes it a little bit easier to work together. There’s no hocus pocus, there’s nothing behind the scenes. Those are probably the two biggest challenges and I think you can sleep at night if those two issues are covered.

Dr. James Yacyshyn Dr. James Yacyshyn

Dr. James Yacyshyn obtained his Bachelor of Science degree, with honours, from the University of Alberta. He then obtained his Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree, with Distinction, from the University of Alberta. Upon graduation, he went on to pursue and complete a Masters in Applied Science Engineering, from the University of Toronto. Dr. Yacyshyn joined the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, as an Assistant Clinical Professor. He was appointed Director of Continuing Dental Education, and had cross appointments to the Alberta Research Council and Faculty of Medicine.

When looking at staffing and from the HR side of things, I think the single biggest thing I would be challenged with is, not just from a regulatory perspective, but all the office procedural aspects. I find that it comes down to planning, if you want to change technologies, if you’re bringing something new in, you’re dealing with people, and now, good days or bad days, there’s only so much change they’ll facilitate. It was interesting kind of looking at ‘what key element have we bought recently’ we’re on a bit of a holiday right now, and part of it is managing those people, but also as a function of the changes happening office wise. Let’s take the Health Information Act in Alberta – it changes again, so you need to make sure you have more paperwork in place, who are you going to burden with that responsibility and how does it fit in with all the other roles and expectations? I think finding that balance, you have the right team, you get passionate, driven people, but still it’s keeping that balance in there. If you quickly overload somebody who’s got other responsibilities as well, that cart can get unsettled. I’d have to say it’s the sheer volume of issues that are coming. It’s interesting to reflect, the industry is not getting simple, it’s getting more complex.

Excited for more? Our video series will be uploaded throughout 2019, so keep an eye out on our website!

*Between February and March 2018, RKI, a third party independent research house, conducted a 10-minute online survey of active, practicing non-hospital affiliated dentists and dental specialists on behalf of Oral Health. Using Oral Health’s subscription list, a total of 398 dentists participated in the study (with 219 completing the survey to the end). Assuming a total of 20,000 dentists in Canada (and 398 total completes) the margin of error for the survey is +/- 4.86, 95% CI.

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