Today’s dental practices are fast-paced and often stressful, with a seemingly endless list of conflicting tasks that must be accomplished. It can be tough to find time to build relationships in between all of the other pressures of running your practice. Yet relationships are critical to your success.
The best dental practices not only provide excellent care, but foster thriving relationships between the dentist and the team, the dentist and the patients, and the patients and the team. Here is what you need to know.
Talk to Your Team
Research shows that beyond money, staff members in every industry seek a sense of connectedness, autonomy to make decisions, ongoing growth and development, and the feeling that they are making a difference. Foster these intangibles by holding regular staff meetings, seeking feedback, and acting on the information you are given. Help your team members feel like stakeholders in the practice, and they will become far more personally invested in it.
Lead by Example
Model the behaviors you want to see. Never ask your staff to do anything you would not do yourself. Work hard to get to the bottom of team member conflicts in a way that makes everyone involved feel valued. Share your passion for dentistry and your dedication to helping others. Show your team your vision for the practice and ask for their help in achieving it.
Be Tough but Fair with Problem Patients
Every dental practice has that one patient who insists on a very early or very late appointment to accommodate her schedule, and then fails to show up without so much as a phone call. It is always best to give a warning the first time, explaining that you know things happen but next time you will have to bill for the appointment. If the patient makes a habit of no-call, no-shows, send a bill with a courteous but firm explanation.
Pay Attention to Agitated Patients
Unfortunately, some people are aggressive in their daily lives. Even more manage to be polite most of the time but may turn combative when under stress. Keep an eye out for situations that could turn aggressive, such as:
– Patients who owe significant balances
– Patients who tend to skip appointments
– Patients with alcohol or drug addictions
– Patients who cannot be helped right away
– Patients who are especially fearful or in a great deal of pain
Certainly, not everyone who falls into one of these categories will become combative, and it is important to give people the benefit of the doubt. Still, making sure that you and your team are up to date on the latest de-escalation techniques, and using a team approach to potentially volatile situations, can help your staff and other patients feel more comfortable, and can help you provide needed care to agitated patients.
Warning signs that a patient is about to lose his cool include, but are not limited to:
– Tense body language
– Changes in speech volume
– Behavioral changes such as fidgeting or suddenly becoming very quiet
De-escalation techniques include, but are not limited to:
– Active listening
– Allowing the patient to finish speaking
– Calmly addressing the stated concerns
People management may not be your natural strong suit, but learning basic skills can help boost your dental practice to the next level. The goal is to foster trust, support, and communication between all stakeholders in your practice: the dentist, the staff, and the patients.
If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.
And he knows that once you “get it right,” it’s not a great leap to replicate that success over and over again.
Today, in addition to his work as an actual dentist, Dr. Coughlin coaches, consults and speaks to dentists across the country on how to build the practice of their dreams – based on proven processes and procedures.
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