Efficiency Creates Profit

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Efficiency Creates Profit

Time is a most important commodity and patients, especially, will appreciate your creation and use of systems and philosophies which allow them to maximize their precious time for activities of their choice. The same efficiency as seen by patients creates more profit in dentistry as “time equals money.” The goal is to deliver excellence using less effort and time. This means, the dental entrepreneur needs to schedule his time well.

Efficiency does create more quality time for the other things in your life, like family, travel and hobbies. If you had an extra day a week, how would you spend that quality time? Worrying about your business or rejuvenation time?

Doctors as entrepreneurs need to efficiently schedule their time rather then focusing on work, work and more work all or most of the time. Dentistry can be a most productive business and what that takes is a focused practitioner. Without planning, we end up with every day having clutter and then feel exhausted as we never seem to have any real relief from our practice. Vacations need to be a scheduled activity to renew and rejuvenation rather then work so hard, and finally take a vacation as a reward for hard work yet, be so filled with tension and frustration, you could not even relax in your week off. How about reorganizing your thought patterns and work cycle so that the efficient use of time equates to more creativity and vacations are taken to create and replenish the soul?

Plan focus days of very productive work, ie., real dentistry. Plan buffer days where you do administrative work, networking, continuing education, leadership skill building, reading, planning and preparation for your focus days. Then have totally free days where there is no email, no cell phone and no office contact. It truly becomes a day of vacation whether spent in a resort or your home town. This allows you to be much more productive and creative in seeing the bigger picture of life rather then mixing all three and feeling you are not doing justice to any, especially the vacation with freedom aspect of your life.

In planning for your focus days, use your buffer days to analyze your schedule and create areas of time efficiency. Each team member and activity we do can be streamlined for efficiency. Efficiency can be the buzz word for the business arena as well as treatment efficiency. One of the largest areas to become efficient is in diagnosing and treatment planning. With a shift in paradigm, dentists can actually have long term treatment plans for all their patients.

To create real efficiency, your team needs to move from hourly to salary. Hourly workers have a time and effort mentality and pay increases result only by working longer hours which defeats efficiency. Create an entrepreneurial atmosphere in your practice by placing everyone on salary. Not only are salaries a large factor in shifting from individual staff to a real team, your group will also be thinking of ways to become even more efficient in their work and effective in their conversations. They then become entrepreneurial in their thinking and actions. This then is the results based economy. How brilliant is that to create with them the gift of thinking differently about life and their potentials?

I like to start with an Excel spreadsheet for each team member, including the Doctor can complete on a daily, weekly and monthly basis listing the tasks they do, time spent, why do they do them, who else could do them, who could be trained to do them. It could look like this:

TASK ANALYSIS-MARIA, Treatment Asst. Dr. Cook

  • What Do I Do?
  • Why Do I Do This?
  • Who Else Could Do This?
  • Who Could Be Trained to Do This?
  • Time Spent

When you and your team have completed their Task Analysis, have a team meeting with the purpose of efficiency to make decisions on tasks which are duplicated or even omitted. Who else could be hired to do some of the tasks which take you away from patient care? The meeting needs to be led by a team member.

Why a team member? Remember, we are now on salary and have created a results economy in your practice. Your salaried team could be challenged to create a schedule for working one less day a week keeping the same or better production and collection. They are now with you, not independent of you.

In a dental practice, it is easy to have much clutter over the years. Team members leave, new team arrive and bring with them systems from their other practices. We end up with layers of forms and paper work. This is 2008. It is time for dental practices to become paperless and use the Internet for patient communication. Throw out the clip boards and communicate with new guests by having them complete their entry and health forms on their own time. Communicate with specialists, send x-rays and research treatments on the Internet. Get up to speed. Become much more efficient and effective by sending hygiene and appointment confirmation and much more by SmileReminder. This can even reduce the tasks of team members so each can concentrate more on patient service. How efficient is that?

You also have “clutter” on your patient roster. Create an Excel spreadsheet to either complete on your dental software or do by hand as the Pareto’s study of your patients is critical to your efficiency. This 80/20 study is used by all entrepreneurs but dentists. When you discover who your top 20% patients producing 80% of your results, wouldn’t it be a great idea to study this group and concentrate on these for results? We create efficiency in our marketing efforts as well as whom we will pamper and ask for referrals. Conversely, study the bottom 20% of your patients and make some strong decisions for efficiency. Most practices have at least one extra team member when their tasks are combined who focus on roping this bottom 20% to come in, accept treatment, hassle with insurance companies and collect those funds. Is there not something more efficient you could do if you had this knowledge?

Scheduling your day demands efficiency to create the results you want. By thinking bigger, move from single tooth crisis to long term treatment plans. Hold blocks to accept larger treatment and schedule all treatment possible. Become more efficient with time management for each of your guests. Time is a critical factor for them, too. Erase the reputation for a single crown taking three or more appointments by diagnosing long term treatment with your patient as a partner. Even if they choose to do treatment a segment at a time, they are partners with you for the bigger picture and end result. Efficiency also has a monetary component. Do you know your real overhead per hour to produce dentistry in your office? If your overhead per hour is $125 per hour per provider, how many hours a day do you and your hygiene produce in excess of your overhead? The average dentist (are you average?) produces great dentistry two hours a day and is not efficient the other six hours.

Examples of treatment efficiency could be a two appointment completion of endo and crown by seeing a bigger picture of efficiency and service, mastering sales with benefits of time for your guest and your own efficiency.

Become more efficient in recare exams by having your hygienists in the know on long term treatment plans. Your hygienist must be thinking and speaking of complete treatment dentistry with the benefit of less time spent in the chair for the patient. If the Doctor is the only one whom everyone believes is responsible or capable of selling treatment, efficiency and effectiveness are squelched. Sales are a team effort and mastering sales skills creates efficiency.

When multiple units are accepted and scheduled, always offer financing from outside sources as Care Credit. When a guest says, “can I make payments?” you can efficiently answer, “yes, is that what you would like to do?” What would be an affordable monthly payment?” “We can do that.”

Your treatment assistant can create a checklist to laminate for every procedure. Efficiency in the treatment room is critical. Read the checklist aloud just as a pilot recites with the co-pilot with thousands of hours. This helps create a plan for that scheduled time and is patient impressive. It is also very service oriented and efficient to have hygienists and assistants schedule the next appointment, enter treatment, create a treatment slip and insurance form and collect the payments by having computers in every room and a point of sale machine available in the treatment area. Talk about efficiency!

Patient coordinators and team at the front need to make full use of electronics and Internet in communicating with your clients. Hire curious people who know or want to learn computer programs and all they can provide for efficiency. Ask at the interview if they know how to create a spreadsheet. In hiring, ask potentials to respond by sending their resume by email. This is the first step in assessing their efficiency in today’s Internet and computer world.

Through the task analysis, how efficient are you today? What do you need to change to become very efficient? Do you have layers of forms and papers, multiple appointments for procedures which should have been more effectively scheduled and a staff of people who all are overworked yet not efficient? What stops you and your team from being more efficient and effective? Albert Einstein once said, “If you ask the same questions, you will keep getting the same answers.”

Dr. Bill Blatchford is the leading dental business coach with a custom coaching program customized to your goals. Limiting his practice to 50 clients a year, some of the most successful Doctors in America have discovered how effective is Blatchford personal coaching. His book, Playing Your ‘A’ Game—Inspirational Coaching to Profitability and the newly released audio of the book are available on www.blatchford.com or call (800) 578-9155. To hear Dr. Blatchford speak, go to www.blatchfordspeaking.com