If there is one thing that is going to make or break your practice it is your team! In this blog post I will be sharing some of the common habits I see amongst awesome teams.
Habit # 1 Clarity of purpose & direction
If you don't know where you are going how do you expect to get there? The same applies to your team. A vision & purpose developed in partnership with your team is an essential step to achieve this. As Simon Sinek says 'people don't buy what you do they buy why you do it'! Make sure your team understands and appreciates why you all do what you do and set a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve.
Habit # 2 Clarity of Responsibility
Does everyone in your team understand their job? They know what their key responsibilities are and they know when and how they are expected to deliver them? I'm not talking about having job descriptions, of course these are an important tool but don't assume because someone has a job description they understand their job. Once everyone understands the expectations of their own role they must also understand the role of their team mates. It's great to have reliable team members who are great at their job however a back up plan is a necessity.
Habit # 3 Empowerment
An empowered team is an essential element of a successful practice. Once your team understand their responsibilities and there are clear expectations for delivery of a role give them the trust and ownership to do a good job. Micro-management is a real problem in many practices and it stamps out empowerment resulting in teams reluctant to go that extra mile.
Habit # 4 Seek first to understand then to be understood
One of the 7 habits of highly effective people identified by Stephen Covey is hugely relevant in building an awesome team. If you are genuinely interested in your team members, you listen to their problems and triumphs and I mean sincerely listen, your team will appreciate you all the more for it. The real benefit is that by demonstrating understanding your team will mimic this behaviour and your team and patients will be feel better understood resulting in improved trust and relationships.
Habit # 5 Synergy
A team that truly understands their purpose and direction as well as each others responsibilities ultimately leads to better collaboration. A collaborative team works together in synergy, they feed off each other making decisions together. The benefit of a collaborative approach is a more efficient workflow and increased productivity. By working together to achieve a common goal and utilising everyone's skills to full effect your team will be truly awesome.
Habit # 6 Prioritise
An awesome team knows what is important. This comes from a clear understanding of purpose, direction & responsibilities. By knowing what is important your team will be able to prioritise workloads to achieve success.
Habit # 7 System driven
A practice runs on systems, good systems are the key to success. Systems should be clear and straightforward and regularly reviewed to make sure they are working. Systems should make life easier and help the business run smoothly. Each team member should be fully trained in all systems relevant to their role and should have a good understanding of all systems outside the scope of their role.
Habit# 8 Proactive not reactive
Have you ever come into work on a Monday morning and thought 'why are there so many gaps in my book this week'? The likelihood is that the thought will then disappear until you find yourself in that gap because you get 'busy' with the day. The problem with this is that the gap will not be filled. If your team are working proactively, looking ahead to identify gaps and collaborating to fill those gaps the problem is solved. Proactive teams identify problems before they become problems and use systems to beat the problems.
If you would like help to build an awesome team feel free to get in touch.
We've been quiet for such a long time now, you may be wondering where we have been. I'm pleased to tell you that the company is going from strength to strength and today is a very proud day!
WE ARE OFFICIALLY A COMPANY!
Practice Perfection Services Ltd became a reality today when we officially became a registered company in England & Wales.
Over the past few years we have been busy building exciting services to offer our growing client base.
We are now actively engaged by a number of prestigious clients on an ongoing basis to provide virtual business support. This varies from book keeping to marketing and business development and with a growing team and set of expertise we are continually adding new services to make our clients lives easier and their practices more efficient & productive.
Another exciting development is that from this week we will be committed to keeping this blog and our social media pages current and up-to-date so no more long spells of silence!
We hope you enjoy our content and we look forward to hearing your welcome feedback!
The number of patients on your database is a key bit of information and something that should be tightly monitored and managed.
Patient retention is one of the most difficult challenges facing general dental practices at this time and your success if going to greatly depend upon your ability to win your patients loyalty and keep them attending regularly.
I have just completed an exercise involving a database of patients whereby 77% of patients had not attended for 18months or more! I should mention that this practice is doing well in terms of financial success, new patient numbers and profit growth so this figure was somewhat surprising to say the least but one not to be ignored!
So we started a lengthy analysis of the patient database, looking at those patients who had failed to respond to recalls and had subsequently fallen through the gaps.
Once we had identified those patients that we felt there was a possibility we could reactivate we considered ways in which we could attract them back.
We did a trial of a half price exam offer, sent out to 150 of the 'inactive' patients and the result has been amazing. In just 3 weeks we have seen a 11% response and a resulting income of £500 plus an additional £2000 of planned work of which approximately 50% is already in the book!
You could argue that offering a half price exam is loosing you money and in the short term you may be right although I would argue these appointments have taken slots of your appointment book that otherwise would have been left empty! You need to look at the bigger picture, you have earned additional income, you have achieved a great initial return on investment and you have generated additional income that you have yet to earn. The most important point to remember is you have reactivated dormant patients and you now have the opportunity to re-develop relationships and convert them into loyal, regular attending, friend and family referring customers!
After an initial sceptical response to this initiative the practice involved is now amazed by the response and will certainly be taking the time and effort to extend the offer to the rest of their dormant patients.
If you would like help planning and implementing initiatives such as this please get in touch on 07703627873 or email email@example.com
Running a dental practice in today's economic climate requires a large degree of business focus.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Do you know how much it costs to open your practice each and every day
2. Do you know how much you need to make each day to cover the fixed overheads, variable costs and pay yourself?
3. Do you know these numbers off the top of your head?
If you answered no to any of these questions you should read on.....
Knowing how much it costs to run your business is essential for success. Once you know how much you need to earn to cover all the costs you can plan more effectively and work out what you need to be earning on a daily or even hourly basis.
Its also important to know what your 'costs' are made up of, if you don't know what you are spending your money on how can you make sure you are spending it in the right place?
I recommend that practices do a full review of their costs every month to determine if essential savings could be made. By doing this it also focuses practices into becoming more aware of what they are spending and paying more attention to this ultimately results in less money being spent unnecessarily.
If you'd like to find out how we can help you control the costs of running your business and you'd like to learn ways to effectively monitor these costs get in touch!
Do you have satisfied customers?
Are you offering a level of service that your patients are happy with?
Have you found out what your patients think of your service?
Are you listening to what is not being said?
Most practices will have ‘satisfied’ customers but ask yourself this....is satisfied good enough?
Satisfied means they expect nothing more, their standards are mediocre and no-one else is doing it any worse.
Satisfied does not create loyal patients who are ambassadors of your practice, satisfied creates patients that are happy with the status-quo but who will jump ship when a better opportunity presents itself.
Your patients are your customers and they are buying a SERVICE and to keep them coming back that service needs to be top notch, anything less and that loyal patient will eventually take their business elsewhere.
If you are trying to improve your patient experience I would highly recommend a book called ‘Raving Fans’ by Ken Blanchard.
We can help you transform your patient experience and give you not satisfied customers, but raving fans who will recommend you time and time again. Call us today on 07703627873 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the fourth edition of the 'Practical Guide to Compliance' series. This series is intended to act as informal guidance to dental teams working toward CQC compliance. The contents of these articles are based on personal opinion and interpretation of the CQC framework and other relevant legislation. Whilst the author has full confidence in the suitability and appropriateness of the information contained within these articles, the information shall not be regarded as fact and those requiring definitive information should consult the relevant governing body.
Outcome 4 Care and welfare of people who use the service
This outcome is centred around ensuring that you are delivering safe and appropriate care to your patients.
What do the regulations say?
"People should get safe and appropriate care that meets their needs and supports their rights".
- CQC Essential Standards
Compliance with this outcome will be achieved through having systems and procedures in place for managing patient care.
You will need to demonstrate your process for assessing patients prior to treatment, this could be in the form of a written procedure for examinations/assessments, it should detail what the assessment entails, how you involve the patient in the process and how you identify and take into consideration their individual needs and choices.
Every patient should be given a written care plan detailing their individual needs and choices, the detail included within this care plan will depend upon the complexity and nature of their treatment needs however it essential all patients are given a full details of all care and treatment options appropriate to them. The treatment planning process needs to take into consideration a patients indivdual needs and preferences and patient involvement here is key. A treatment planning policy will serve as a means for setting the required standard of treatment planning in your practice. There should be provision within your treatment planning processes for dealing with changes in treatment needs/wishes and how patients are involved in this process. The operation and monitoring of an effective treatment planning policy will not only serve as evidence of compliance to this CQC outcome but will also count towards compliance with the outcomes we have already covered in this series (1, 2 and 3).
Educating your patients about their treatment needs is paramount you must make sure that you have made every effort to support their decisions regarding treatment, this could include discussions, providing further information and resources or even offering alternative option where appropriate. It is important that patients are made aware of the consequences of foregoing a particular treatment.
All care provided should be done so in line with the appropriate clinical guidance for example demonstrating your compliance with NICE recall guidelines would be considered evidence of this. This can be done by having a Recall policy detailing the criteria for recall selection and subsequent recall interval audit to monitor the operation of this policy.
All assessments and treatment planning processes should be operated in line with your practices equality and diversity policy to ensure people are protected from unlawful discrimination.
Having the above processes in place will reduce the risk of patients receiving unsafe or inappropriate treatment. By carrying out a detailed assessment you will be obtaining all the relevant information to ensure your treatment recommendations are the most appropriate course of action to address the patients individual needs.
This outcome also requires practices to plan for any foreseeable emergency situations. To do so you must be aware of what risks exist in your practice, this will be covered in much greater detail in Outcomes 8-10 but in brief you will need to:
· Carry out risk assessments and reflect on the findings
· Show evidence that you have learned from adverse events, incidents, errors and near misses
· Evidence that you operate a being open policy with regards to patient care, if there an error, incident or adverse event has occurred in the course of patient care that has caused or may cause harm, you should offer a full explanation and the appropriate apology.
· Take notice and actions in relation to relevant safety alerts
When planning for foreseeable emergencies it is necessary to think about what could go wrong and how can we minimise the effects of such emergency. For example we all undertake annual medical emergency training (or at least I hope everyone does) and we put into practice what we learn. We keep the appropriate emergency drugs and equipment and know how to identify different conditions and how to provide immediate and potentially life saving treatment before medical help arrives, this is an example of planning for a foreseeable emergency.
Other types of foreseeable emergencies might include fire or major equipment failure, things that may put your surgery/practice out of commission for some time. How do you ensure patients are provided with safe care and treatment and continuity of care during this time? A detailed business continuity plan will help you put plans in place for these situations as well as many others and it is a necessity to achieve full compliance. Once you have a plan it is essential everyone knows about it and what role they play.
Of course the key to all of the above is implementation, team training, monitoring and review. Make sure your team understand all your policies and procedures and are knowledgeable about what their individual role in each process is.
Set up systems for monitoring everything that you put in place for example a record keeping audit will help highlight the effectiveness of a treatment planning policy.
It is important to review the effectiveness of your policies and procedures to make sure you are using the most up to date methods and guidance.
You will now start to see that many of the CQC outcomes are inter-linked in many ways and evidence you have started collecting for earlier outcomes will also serve as evidence for this and others too.
If you’d like to know more about how Practice Perfection can help you with CQC compliance please get in touch at email@example.com or call 07703627873
We all send out recalls, traditionally by letter but hopefully now most practices have embraced modern methods of communication such as SMS and email, but what happens next?
Do you send out your recalls, sit back and hope for the best or are you proactively working to convert those reminders into appointments?
The first step in an effective recall system is encourage the patient to book an appointment before they leave the building, however I hear 2 main objections to this, these are as follows:
· The patient does not have their diary, its too far ahead for them to plan for it
· They book but then we get loads of late cancellations and FTA’s causing lost time in our appointment book
I believe the answer to the above objections lies within the communication skills of your team. If your team can effectively communicate and answer these objections with an effective response usually its problem solved! Role play and scripting is a great way to get your front of house team to communicate effectively with your patients. They will learn what to say, how to say it and to feel comfortable handling any objections.
You will however always get those patients who do not want to book their next appointment too far in advance and will always prefer to be sent ‘a reminder’ closer to the time. So how do you make sure that each and everyone of those people books an appointment when that time comes?
The second step in an effective recall system is the wording of your communication, whether by letter, SMS or email, the message should be the same. Keep it short and to the point with a direct call to action. For email reminders I recommend giving the patient the option to request an appointment by reply, this saves them the time and effort of calling you directly. It is very effective and very simple to do. All too often I see recall letters/emails that are so long winded and give the patient a full lecture about the importance of regular dental care- this is not necessary, the patient is unlikely to read it and it distracts them from the call to action ‘BOOK AN APPOINTMENT’.
Recalls are a great marketing tool, whether you attach a flyer, a link to a webpage or social media site you can very simply get a marketing message out to your most captive audience and best of all its usually FREE!
So you’ve sent out recalls, some people have booked their appointment but others still haven’t been in touch, what now?
The final stage in an effective recall procedure is Follow Up. I recommend leaving a period of 2 weeks between the first and second reminders, you don’t want to seem pushy but equally you want the reminders to arrive a short interval apart thus keeping you in the patients mind. The second reminder should be very informal, reminding them that they are due to see you and telling them the ways in which they can book an appointment.
If after a further 4 weeks the patient has not been in touch we make a courtesy phone call. Now here the communication skills really are the key to success. We don’t want the patient to feel like we are harassing them into booking an appointment and that is not your aim. Your aim is to make the patient feel like we are offering a wonderful service, we’re worried that we’d not heard from them and we wanted to make sure everything is alright. Often patients ignore recall reminders for the following reasons:
· They can’t afford treatment right now
· They have not had previously recommended treatment and are worried about the consequences
· They are scared
· They (or a loved one) is in ill-health
· They have more important things going on- marriage, divorce, travel, change in career etc
· They have been dissatisfied with previous treatment or service but have not told you
Whatever their reason this call is all about learning what is stopping them from making an appointment and offering up solutions to overcome whatever it is that is holding them back. This is a great way to build relationships with your patients and to really make them feel like you are going the extra mile and often because you have taken the time to call them and listen to their objections and offer up practical solutions you can end the call with an appointment in the book.
If the patient still doesn’t want to go ahead and book their appointment, the best thing you can do is tell them you will amend your records and contact them again in a few months time or a time you agree with the patient. This way you are not repeatedly contacting someone who does not wish to book, keeping them happy and allowing you to concentrate your time and energy on something more productive.
All too often the importance of a recall system is overlooked, practices spend all their time concentrating on converting new patients and promoting cosmetic procedures as a way to increase productivity and ultimately profit however it is important to remember that a robust recall system helps to nurture ongoing patient relationships and help keep the flow of existing patients moving through the practice, generating treatment and income as they pass through. Routine appointments form the ‘bread and butter’ of most practices income and its easy to overlook the value that these appointment bring to your business. According to SOE during their webinar last week the average recall retention rate is 46%, with this system my practice continually achieves a recall retention rate of between 83% - 92% so its definitely worth investing some time and energy getting it right.
If you would like to learn more about improving, creating or implementing a recall system for your practice or help with team training and scripting techniques to improve the effectiveness of your existing system please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07703627873.
Welcome to the third edition of the 'Practical Guide to Compliance' series. This series is intended to act as informal guidance to dental teams working toward CQC compliance. The contents of these articles are based on personal opinion and interpretation of the CQC framework and other relevant legislation. Whilst the author has full confidence in the suitability and appropriateness of the information contained within these articles, the information shall not be regarded as fact and those requiring definitive information should consult the relevant governing body.
Outcome 3- Fees
This outcome is all about how you charge fees for your services. Although not one of the core 16 outcomes it is considered relevant to dentistry and it is important that you comply with it.
What do the regulations say?
People who pay for a service should know how much they have to pay, when and how to pay it, and what they will get for the amount paid.
-CQC Essential Standards
This should be one of the easier outcomes to comply with as most practices have been producing fee guides, written treatment plans and cost estimates for some time. However this guidance encourages you to take this a little further to comply with this outcome.
The first step towards complying with this outcome is to have a published fee guide and payment terms. This applies to both NHS and Private practices, if your patients are expected to pay for all or part of their treatment they need to know how much they will be required to pay before they go ahead with anything- this includes examinations, consultations and diagnostic tests.
Your fee guide should be comprehensive covering all the services and treatments that you offer, where it is not possible to provide a fixed cost for example a filling is usually priced by surface and in this instance you need to provide a fee scale for example £75 - £125.
Your payment terms should clearly state how and when the patient will be expected to pay. You should state what methods of payment are accepted for example cash, cheque and credit debit cards. If you offer finance or payment plans then some mention should be made to these. the payment terms should also make clear the patients obligations for example fees are due on completion of treatment or similar. It needs to be made clear when you expect the patient to pay your fees. Payment terms should also clearly state the consequences of late or non payment of fees agreed. You should also include details of how a patient would cancel their agreement for treatment once they had started the treatment and what proportion of fees may be payable.
When you are prescribing treatment you must provide the patient with details of the full cost in writing, this can be done by supplying patients with a written estimate detailing the cost of each treatment recommended. When providing estimates it is important to be as clear and transparent as possible, there is no requirement at the moment to itemise the individual fee components of treatment but in some cases this would be advisable for example when providing an estimate for Endodontic Treatment, if you are applying a surcharge to cover the cost of single use files this should be stated.
For more complex or high valued treatment it would be advisable to provide a written treatment plan which is a little more detailed than a standard estimate. Within this you could include your recommendations, associated fees and also include a section about any additional fees that may become necessary.
Within any estimates or treatment plans you must be explicitly clear of what is and is not included in the fee quoted for example if you are carry out a root canal treatment and you will be charging a fee on top for the filling this must be made clear, if you also plan to crown the root treated tooth months later the patient should be informed of the cost and an given an idea of when they should expect to pay the additional charges.
It is important to give costs for each stage of treatment and when each payment is due as the patient may wish to discontinue their treatment with you at any time and you need to make sure that they are clear about what costs are incurred up to that point.
Once you have determined the treatment needs of a patient and provided them with details of their treatment plan and costs it is vital they are given time to consider their options. Patients must freely agree to go ahead with treatment and it is important that they sign a copy of any estimates or treatment plans agreed and they should also be given a final copy of this signed document.
You must ensure that there is someone available to discuss the terms of any treatment plan with the patient should they request it. This person should have enough knowledge to answer any questions the patient may have.
Once a patient has entered into treatment and has agreed the fees you are required to:
· Provide a statement of account upon request
· Offer a receipt for all payments received
· Provide written details of any change in cost due to unexpected changes in the treatment plan
In order to implement all of the above into practice it is advisable to incorporate fees into your consent procedures. This will allow you to make sure that agreement to fees is being obtained and recorded effectively and provides you with an audit trail for monitoring compliance. Another way you can monitor compliance to this outcome is through a question in your patient survey to find out whether patients felt fully informed of the fees relating to their treatment.
Whilst this outcome is relatively simple in its requirements I believe it will evolve into something more in years to come. The Office of Fair Trading launched a market study into Dental fees in September 2011 and I see this report highlighting the large pricing inconsistencies between different practices, lack of clarity into what the fee covers and quite possibly the need for a more transparent approach to pricing. OFT plans to complete this report by March 2012 so we'll soon hear about their findings.
If you’d like to know more about how Practice Perfection can help you with CQC compliance please get in touch at email@example.com or call 07703627873
Today I have spent the day reviewing our practices performance for this year so far, comparing it to the previous year and looking at key information that can help us identify areas for improvement. This is something I do on a monthly basis but the purpose of today was to start the process of budgeting and forecasting for the next financial year.
With the end of the current financial year looming its a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future.
If you want to increase revenue and more importantly profits, this process is essential for success.
The budgeting process allows you to focus on what you want to achieve in the year to come. This could include the personal income you want to achieve, planning for projects requiring capital spend, introducing new revenue streams for example a new product or service or even the addition of another staff member, these are all things that need to be planned for both operationally and financially.
Does your practice plan for the future?
Do you have a written budget and financial forecast for the whole financial year?
Does your team know what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it?
Have you got a formulated marketing plan that ties into your financial forecast?
If you answered no to any of the above, start planning now!
Someone once told me 'what you monitor tends to improve' and this is so true in the case of budgeting. If you have a written plan to work to for the year and you review it on a regular basis with your team you all become more focussed on the achievement of this plan and you'll be amazed at the results of this increased focus.
In the difficult economic climate that we are currently in, this planning process has never been more important. I firmly believe that for a practice to succeed or even survive in today's economy you need to be switched on and on the ball with your numbers!
You may be asking yourself 'where do I start?', well we can show you and support you through the whole process email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can help, we'd love to hear from you.
Running a successful, profitable dental practice is enormously dependent upon not good but superior book management.
How do you manage your appointment book? Do you give it the attention it deserves or do you just open it up and hope for the best?
If you want to improve productivity and maximise the clinical time available in your practice then read on.....
The first step in superior book management is to operate a booking system which meets the needs of your individual practice.
Depending upon your practices main focus you need to create and implement a system that caters to it. For example if you're a well established general practice with a high number of loyal patients it would be wise to schedule specific slots for routine examinations to ensure there is a daily limit on the number of exams scheduled, leaving enough time in the day for more valuable treatments thus maintaining a good hourly/daily rate.
Before deciding how you want to structure your appointment book you must give some thought to several factors:
· What is your main focus?
· What would your ideal day look like?
· How much do you want to earn per day?
· Does your book tie up with anyone else, for example the hygienist?
The main aim of any book management system is to not only ensure there is room in your book for a full range of treatment but more importantly that your day is varied and productivity is maximised. There is nothing worse than a day filled with short, low value appointments, days like this leave you and your team feeling over worked and under valued, a full day of hard work ends up yielding little financial return.
Regardless of how you structure your system, you should make sure it incorporates some way to allow the following:
· Time for New Patients
· Time for Emergencies
· Time for Routine Examinations & Low Value Treatments
· Time for Advanced or High Value Treatments
It is important to involve your team in the design stage of a book management system, they can provide you with invaluable input that will really help the system succeed. They are also more likely to be supportive of the system as they will have a good understanding of what its all about and having been involved in the design they will really take ownership of it!
Once your system is in place you should stick to it, obviously some level of flexibility will be needed but on the whole it is important for everyone to understand that the system is the system and it should be followed.
The next stage in superior book management is to manage your system. You've trained your team and they all understand how it works and they are all working to it but having a system does not fill the space!
Book management should be PROACTIVE NOT REACTIVE. All too often practice teams REACT to gaps in the appointment, they are actively following up recalls, not handling cancellations effectively and are not pro-actively working to fill un-booked space ahead of time.
A good follow up system can transform book management and I believe all practices should adopt robust systems to track patients through the key elements of the patient journey, click here to read my previous post on follow up systems.
Set your team some targets specific to the appointment book, this could be based on utilisation of hours available, income yielded per day, x number of a specific type of appointment, set targets that are specific to what you want to improve and monitor the progress rewarding team members for success.
In summary, it is possible to unleash the potential of your appointment book but you must have good book management processes in place to maximise productivity. Your team must understand and support your book management systems and be proactive in filling gaps and handling cancellations.
At Practice Perfection we can help you improve your book management procedures, train your team and ultimately increase productivity! Get in touch to find out more email us at email@example.com or call 07703627873
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