When I was in the banking industry, we were forced to watch hours upon hours of Cohen Brown motivational tapes. While we did get many a chuckle from his hair and brightly colored ensembles, something must have sunk in to stay because my BFF Deb and I often bring up certain things that we learned, and obviously liked.
He talked a lot about behaviors, missed opportunities, communication skills/styles and something Deb and I have often discussed – Office Assassins – The Team Slayers of the world. He also called these types of people the “cancer” of the office.Ya know – one bad seed theory. You can have 8 fantastic people in the office, but one bad seed can and will poison/taint the entire office. Whether they drive patients away, make your stomach roll just thinking about having to deal with them, or create inner turmoil among the other staff members, you all know the type I am talking about. They rebel against change, have an attitude of “we’ve tried that”, “we’ve been there” , a know it all attitude and have a complaint against every single person, place and thing in life. They even might be fantastic at the “paperwork” part of their job, but their people skills are absent. These peeps are the team slayers.
Their negativity is palpable – They snarl, whether inwardly or outwardly at everything – patients, change, and find it impossible to embrace opportunity with excitement. Before their feet hit the floor they are already complaining about the day ahead. They are the ones who roll their eyes when everyone else might be showing excitement at something new, tell you all the reasons why something won’t work before they even try it and have everyone in your office either trying to avoid them at all costs, or cringing when then have to engage. They might be blame shifters, who blame everyone around them for anything, instead of owning their own mistakes and using them as a tool to grow.
Team slayers refuse to accept help or advice for the betterment of customer service and the workplace – we have found these types of employees don’t accept help or advice because if they did, and positive results were to abound, it will set a new, higher bar/standard for them that might make them have to work harder and invest more of themselves and they like things just the way they are. At their speed and level of capability. (We also refer to these people as time clock punchers. They view what they do as just a J.O.B.)
Are your team members, and even yourself, engaged, not-engaged or actively disengaged? If you answer this question honestly and I bet I can tell you what your schedule looks like.
Does this happen in your office? Having a patient leave without paying their co-pay because someone said “Oh that’s ok, we’ll just send you a bill after insurance pays”….. Or having a patient leave without their next appointment because they need to either check with their wife or their schedule…..and then no one ever follows up. Might seem like small issues here, but these small issues directly affect your production. The fortune, is indeed, in the follow-up. You even wonder where a patient has been? Refer a patient out to a specialist and haven’t heard a peep? The fortune, is indeed, in the follow-up!
A team player uses consistent, methodical systems for recare, follow-up, undone treatment, patient connections, insurance claim submissions/follow-up, patient finances, treatment recommendations, and everything else in between.
How about the hygienist who does bloody prophy’s all day long? Doesn’t invest in the opportunity to implement a stellar perio program for the benefit of the patients oral health? Or the hygienist who ignored the note that the patients insurance provides for adult FL treatments twice a year and the patient walked out from their hygiene appointment with no FL treatment?4 or 5 mm pockets noted with bleeding (or here’s one for you – a hygienist who doesn’t probe ) and the patient sent along their merry way for the next 6 months?
Here’s one of my favorites (NOT!) How about the patient who has been treatment planned for a crown on tooth #2 for the past 2 years and they come in for their 6 month recare visit…. There are NO notes for the past 2 years on why this patient hasn’t scheduled yet and no one discussed it with them today either. Patient leaves with next 6 month cleaning scheduled and that crown is STILL hanging on their undone treatment plan. As a matter of fact, it has been so NOT discussed that if you even tried to schedule it with the patient they probably wouldn’t believe you that it was ever recommended! (As a front desk peep, I really dislike being set up for this type of failure….. Patient looks at us like we grew a third eye all because we are trying to be proactive yet no one on the clinical side mentioned diddly. Come on admin peeps, you know what I’m talking about!)
Do you have team players or team slayers in your practice? We encourage you to take a look around your practice. Focus on your most challenging areas. Who has your back ?! What we mean by that is who is watching your production, strategically maneuvering your days to meet production goals, while offering the highest level and standards of patient care to be found?
Every dentist should be aware of your numbers. Bi-weekly/monthly reporting delivered to you for:
- Insurance Aging
- Account Aging
- Adjustments by type
- New Patients – including where they were referred from (how do you know which marketing dollars are working if you don’t keep track of this?
- New Patient treatment presented vs scheduled
- Past Due Recare
- Undone treatment
- Open hygiene and dr time (this is a real eye opener!)
Once you determine your most challenging areas, then you focus on putting a plan into action.
If your schedule is empty here are a few areas to look at:
1) Recare/Undone treatment – Run your past due recare and undone treatment reports TODAY. Find out exactly how many patients you have NOT seen within the past 18-24 months. The numbers might astound you. If you haven’t seen them, are they going elsewhere? How do you know if you aren’t doing a chart audit? If someone isn’t following up with these patients to get them scheduled? Current – are you making sure that NO patient leaves the practice without their next appointment scheduled?
2) Hygiene – How many scaling and root planings have been done within the past 6 months in your practice? Run a report. How about Fluoride treatments? Are FMX or PANO’s being done every 3-5 years to follow in line with your standard of care? Are patients leaving their hygiene appointments educated enough to seek the quality dental care they need? Is your hygiene team setting you up for success at your exam by already addressing undone dentistry and any other current situations they may see? (not diagnosing but preparing the patient)
3) Schedule Review – This is the constant monitoring process of the schedule. Being aware of every opportunity and potential challenges and the best way to make the most of all. Who is due for fmx/pano? Who else in the family might be due for a hyg visit? Does the patient have any undone tx that can be combined with hyg visit? This is a very time consuming process but it more than pays off every single day! How many days have gone by in your practice where you became aware of an opportunity AFTER the fact?
4) Insurance verifications – Verifying insurance benefits is a timely and tedious process, but will give you so much in return! The Perpetual State of Preparedness is a great place to be!
Knowing what your patients are eligible for (can increase production) X-rays, FL, and frequencies. You ever have to eat a cleaning because the patient was in too early? Or weren’t eligible for X-rays? Yeah, stop doing that.
You ever see a patient whose insurance termed 2 months ago but you didn’t know until after treatment was completed and you received denial from insurance, and patient won’t pay?
Stop doing that.
You ever go ahead and do treatment on a new patient whose insurance had a waiting period, and whoops, you didn’t know until after you seated the crown?
Stop doing that!
You ever collect patient estimated portion on a composite filling, only to find out afterwards insurance downgrades to alternate benefit and have to deal with furious patient because they paid what they were asked, now owe more and say your fees are too high?
Be in the know to expertly support your patients in utilizing their benefits within your practice and maximize your opportunity!
5) Insurance Aging/Account Aging
Your 90 day buckets should be clean. Your 60 day bucket should be minimal. These reports should be ran and worked. Statements should be sent consistently, after an ins payment is posted and then monthly. Collection system should be in place (calls, letters etc) for any past due patient accounts. If you do nothing, your hard earned money is sitting on a report instead of your bank.
- Unmotivated, un-energetic, detached employees which reflects in poor patient care
- Complaints from other team members and/or patients
- Not actively engaged with the rest of the team
- Not reporting to DDS as directed/requested
- Complains about any aspect of their position
- Doesn’t willingly volunteer to help out in challenge situations
- Failure to fully explain treatment and finance options
- Time clock puncher attitude
- Motivated, enthusiastic, warm, friendly, KIND patient care
- Presenting treatment & financial options with finesse, caring and affordability for patients
- Do what it TAKES to go above and beyond an expectation to meet a goal
- Has the practice best interest at heart – No ME attitdue
- Works well with the rest of the team for the benefit of the practice as a whole
- Compliments from patients and/or other team members
- Systems for maximum scheduling, collections and production management
- Willing to jump in and provide support wherever needed to ensure a smooth schedule and patient care
The more team players you have on your team, the more successful, happy and less stressed you will be!
If you find yourself frustrated over an empty schedule, growing insurance and account aging, decrease in treatment case acceptance and low morale you owe it to yourself to assess your situation, determine the most challenging areas and then make the adjustments needed.