Revisiting your practice’s vision: remaining adaptable in a changing world

Your mission statement and your practice’s goals  

What is your dental practice’s mission statement? Do you base your practice’s daily operations around your mission statement? How often do you revisit your mission statement, particularly when circumstances change?  

Thousands of dental professionals set their practices apart through mission statements that focus on the quality of services, patient relations, and treatment options. A mission statement reflects the overall goal that you wish to achieve through your practice.  

Various recent changes to the dental field may have impacted your office’s hours of operation and treatments available, and by extension, impacting your practice’s overall goal. With these changes, it may be an excellent time to evaluate whether your practice still integrates your original values into your everyday routine, or if your core values have shifted. Assessing your mission statement also invites you to revisit your short-term and long-term goals. For example, your office’s primary goals may have changed from acquiring a certain number of new patients per month to ensuring your existing patients have received necessary treatment or are booked.   

Staying realistic in varying circumstances  

Specific, measurable goals are favourable in comparison to vague, overarching goals. Having realistic goals helps keep your team on track throughout the day and helps guide you when making business decisions.   

Some examples of realistic goals are shown in the Nova Scotia Dental Association’s resource for improving your practice’s communication with patients. For instance, NSDA focuses on the patient-provider relationship and outlines the importance of soft social skills in dentistry. More specifically, educating your patients on what your practice is doing to ensure safety is specific and measurable based on patients coming in. 

Unrealistic mission statements can sometimes be misleading for your team. As this article points out, a broad mission statement can sometimes lead you away from the reality of running a dental practice. If you get caught up in thinking about the big picture, you may lose focus on the actions that advance your practice towards your goal. Big aspirations do not bring results quickly, which may cause your team to lose motivation. For this reason, it is important to set realistic goals that everyone in office can achieve, especially during a challenging time. For instance, your schedule may only accommodate for a portion of patients everyday due to social distancing. Adjusting your goals to fit the circumstances may be necessary to encourage your team and set your practice up for success.  

How Patient Alerts Simplify Your Day

Running a dental practice is far from formulaic. Patient needs vary from person to person, which sometimes presents barriers. Language barriers, for example, are common issues that dental teams need to address for a portion of patients. Ensuring that you have the necessary tools and resources to communicate with your patients effectively is crucial. Having solutions prepared ahead of time limits stress for both parties and allows for a more rewarding experience for both your team and your patients.  

The reality of running a dental practice is that individual needs must be addressed by the team. Some patients require certain settings or protocols that other patients might not need. With many patients coming in per day, it is important to have a quick and obvious identifier for any patients that have specific needs for the team to prepare for.  

Our new video shows you how your office can use one of our newer features, ‘patient alerts’ to bring these special needs to your attention. Patient alerts show symbols that indicate a patient’s specific condition or need. Your team can quickly glance at the screen and identify existing conditions or special issues that require more hands, extra attention, or additional prep time.  

The video also demonstrates how you can add in patient alerts for patients who may have developed a special condition, for example, an allergy, or a medical condition. Another example that shows this tool’s practicality is if your practice treats a patient who is very anxious or apprehensive, you can add a note in their patient record which can quickly be viewed by hovering over the symbol that you added to their chart. This way, when anyone on your team notices that the patient has an assistance symbol, the team member can quickly adjust to fit the patient’s needs, rather than going into a situation blindly. 

As always, we hope you enjoy our video about patient alerts. We look forward to continually providing you with valuable information to help you better use ABELDent’s features. If you have any questions or would like us to make a tutorial about a specific topic, please let us know.  

Getting Back on Your Feet: Optimize Review Management Software for Effortless Feedback

In March 2020, popular review websites, including Google and Yelp, temporarily disabled business reviews to avoid misconceptions and bad reviews due to COVID-19 spreading in North America. While this measure did not last long, it reinforced the impact that public reviews have on small businesses such as dental practices. 

We have discussed the prevalence of reviews for dental practices before. Online reviews and public ratings of your practice are a significant factor for appealing to prospective patients. Learning about your patients’ perspectives also help your team improve their social skills and treatment quality by providing an opportunity for more empathy and understanding, which, in turn, may alleviate patient anxieties. On top of using reviews to improve patient experiences, reviews are an excellent resource when establishing your practice’s KPIs. Understanding patient perceptions can often be just as insightful as numerical data.  

Reviews are just as important as ever, but dental providers and their teams do not have much time to focus on reputation management. Catching up on dental treatments has taken the forefront for thousands of offices where patients are months behind their due dates for hygiene, restorations, and various other procedures. Having a review management system in place works in the background while your team focuses on providing outstanding treatment. Having a review manager is generally simple to maintain, especially if incorporated directly into your practice management software.  

How does review management software work? 

There are different processes for different review management systems. Typically, emails or texts prompt patients to select a pre-made rating (for instance, a thumbs up/thumbs down option) or ask patients to click a button, leading them to a web page where they can leave their review. Webpage reviews allow for more in-depth reviews but may result in fewer responses. 

Once you have your software set up to fit your office’s unique needs, you can send a follow-up email or text message to patients that you have treated on a specific day. Sending same-day emails and texts is typically the best course of action because the experience is still fresh in your patient’s mind. The email messages invite patients to navigate to a page where they can rate their experience at your clinic. 

Positive reviews result in encouragement to post online, such as to Google Business or Yelp. Negative or neutral feedback encourages the patient to reach out to your office by leaving a comment or calling your office instead of posting a harsh review. Your team can personally reach out to any ratings that are not positive, allowing the patient to feel heard. Personalized responses to bad reviews also provide an excellent opportunity to evaluate which aspects your practice may require improvement.  

If you are interested in ABELDent’s review management software, feel free to reach out to get in control of your practice’s online reputation.  

How to Effectively Insert Insurance Bulk Payments

This week, we are bringing a new video tutorial to the table for you.  

Tracking finances can be tedious sometimes, but having the right practice management system in place may alleviate some of the stress. In our new video, we address some common issues that can impact the entry of bulk insurance payments. These include receiving an unexpected amount, the consolidation of carriers leading to payments arriving from an unexpected source, and complications arising from mistaken information. This video discusses how recent changes in ABELDent CS and LS+ allow you to work around those issues in order to accurately and efficiently enter your bulk payments. 

We hope you find our videos insightful for utilizing ABELDent in your dental practice. If you have any feedback or want us to talk about any specific topics, feel free to reach out to our team by leaving a comment. 

Why You Should Keep Track of Your Practice’s Performance

Business decisions are a part of daily life for dental professionals. Whether you are a provider and owner, or you have a different role in a practice, you have an impact on and are impacted by the practice’s business decisions.   

COVID-19 brought economic stress to most industries, including dentistry.  While most practices in Canada are open to some extent, whether to see emergency patients or to offer a wider variety of services, it will be some time before things are “back to normal”.    

As your practice gets back on its feet, it’s as important as ever remember the words of management thinker Peter Drucker, who said “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”.  While the business environment will improve as the negative impacts of COVID-19 subside, some practices will recover more quickly, in part by measuring their practice performance and finding opportunities to improve at all stages of the recovery.   

Key Performance Indicators (abbreviated as KPIs) are measure the most important indicators of practice success.  During this unusual time, it might be beneficial to look at the KPIs you measure to ensure that they are well suited to your needs in the coming months.  For example, tracking the potential for non-essential treatment may help you to determine how quickly to add hygiene hours to your schedule.    

In late 2019, we discussed three options for measuring KPIs for your dental practice by generating reports. The three methods included using Microsoft tools such as Word, Excel, and Power BI, and also doing it manually by extracting key information from standard reports. If you use our practice management software, we have a solution that doesn’t require third-party software. 

ABELDent Insights is an upcoming integrated data measurement tool from ABELDent that generates viewable statistics based on ABELDent data. Viewing the KPIs and data trends in ABELDent Insights can help ABELDent users to determine their practice’s strengths, weaknesses and progress toward goals. Measuring these critical success factors helps practices to know what is working, and to plan adjustments where there is an opportunity for improvement.    

ABELDent Insights provides simple displays simple infographics on such measures as production, including often-used KPIs such as the ratio of production generated by dentists compared to hygiene providers. ABELDent Insights also shows scheduler downtime, including statistics regarding no-shows, cancellations, and inactive patients. This can help to identify which days or times are hard to fill in order to adjust provider hours or try to fill those gaps.

Once you have identified your practice’s KPIs, you can work towards finding solutions that are feasible for your practice, and ideal for your team and your patients. Maybe a provider needs to focus on taking on a few more patients, or perhaps some inactive patients need to be contacted for their hygiene appointments. Regardless of what your practice’s needs are, there is a huge benefit to knowing your areas for improvement, as well as knowing what your office does well. 

The Quickest And Easiest Way to Update Multiple Patient Records With ABELDent

It is critical to keep your patient’s contact information up-to-date, especially since we are heavily reliant on virtual forms of communication that allow coordination from a distance. It can certainly be difficult to keep certain patients or families’ contacts updated, but it is important for your team to always make an effort to make sure contact records are accurate.

We recognize that in this industry, contact information can easily become outdated. Family dynamics change, families move, and dental providers can often end up with a wrong number or email address on file. If a patient indicates that their contact information should be used for specified few family members, it can be a hassle going in between files making sure that each patient’s contact outlets are updated. In our newest video tutorial, we go over a feature that ABELDent has that allows you to quickly update contact information for multiple family members without having to go back and forth between files. This feature helps to eliminate drudge work and gives your team more time to focus on more important tasks that drive your practice forward.  

Be sure to watch our newest tutorial to find out how you can update contact information for multiple contact members in one simple click, which is just one of the improved features in ABELDent’s updated version. If you liked the video and want to see more, let us know! We look forward to providing more tutorials to demonstrate how ABELDent can be used to make practice management easier and gives you more time to focus on patient care. 

3 Ways to Increase Positivity in Your Practice

In past blog posts, we pointed out the power in maintaining a positive work environment in your dental practice. This week, we want to revisit this conversation from a different angle to discuss the impact that fostering a positive attitude in your practice has on your team and your patients. 

Various dental blogs have written about the importance of a positive work environment for everyone involved with your practice. Your team’s work satisfaction is as important as your patients’ experience at your clinic. Team members who are enthusiastic about their work are reported to be more productive than those with low morale at work. Maintaining a positive environment may seem difficult, especially in these challenging times, but here are a few tips to help you foster a positive attitude at your dental office.

Make any new hires in the team’s best interest

Janette Whisenhunt, RDH, writes in an article that attitude is often more valuable than hard skills when it comes to building a dental team. To elaborate, she writes that soft skills such as punctuality, friendliness, and professionalism are harder to teach than the hard skills that the job requires. Whisenhunt explains that a positive vibe in your office nurtures a productive team. It only takes a few negative mindsets to bring your team’s energy down. To counteract this, instil core values in your employees that cultivate a team attitude of working towards a common goal. For instance, prioritize patient experience so that your team is focused on their soft social skills alongside their hard skills.

Oftentimes, if your team has a certain dynamic in place, it is best to evaluate new hires based on how well they will work alongside the team. This changes in relevancy, however, if your clinic needs an experienced professional to lead the team or add quality to your office.

Provide positive feedback and incentives

Everyone likes being told that they do a good job. Nearly every worker in the world experiences some level of stress while doing their job. Positively reinforcing your employees has proven to be far more effective than negatively addressing undesirable behaviours. Letting your employees know when they do a good job alleviates some of the stress that comes with their personal and professional lives. Incentivizing the workplace is also another great way to increase positivity, whether it is done by implementing a benefits package for your workers or providing other incentives.

Be mindful of patient perceptions and prioritize patient care

If your office has a negative atmosphere, your patients will notice. Patients pay attention to long wait times, disorganized or flustered employees, and tension between others. In the operatory, your patients want to feel secure and safe. Ensuring the patient has a positive experience with the best possible outcome is an essential piece in building trust with patients. Training your team to treat this as a primary goal of your practice serves as a motivator when team members are having a hard time maintaining a positive environment. Additionally, a reassuring and comfortable environment, accompanied by confident and happy team members, leaves a lasting impression on your patients and encourages patient retention. Overall, it is important to strive to maintain a positive atmosphere in your dental clinic. We recognize that challenges come up with team members, and even large-scale issues affect our morale at work. Upholding your practice’s core values, mindfully hiring your team members, providing regular positive feedback and incentives, and prioritizing patient care all contribute to your office’s positive environment, and benefit everyone involved with your practice.

How your dental practice management software helps your practice reopen

Things are rapidly changing in the world of dentistry. There have been multiple changes over the last few months in terms of how care can be provided to patients. With various provinces across Canada in different states of ‘reopening’, we think it is important to discuss dental providers’ options. This week, we want to delve into the various ways you can utilize your practice management software for a smooth and gradual office reopening. 

While offices are permitted to provide non-essential dental services to patients, some dental offices are still currently refraining from booking routine patients. RCDSO is also becoming more lenient on the use of aerosols in dental treatment, as long as the patient has not been tested positive for COVID-19.  

Patients that need dental treatment must be prescreened for COVID-19 either over the phone or online. ABELDent’s Patient Portal allows you to set up an online screening form for patients to fill out prior to coming to appointments. By setting up this functionality in your Patient Portal, you save your team time that would otherwise be spent on the phone. Once patients have completed filling out the online form, their patient record in your system is automatically updated. Having an efficient and streamlined pre-screening process like this helps your team adjust to how things will likely be for a while. 

Having ABELDent’s Patient Portal, in contrast with a third-party communication tool, boasts secure and seamless integration. You can also use the Patient Portal to minimize in-person contact, paper use, and time spent by encouraging patients to use these features online.  

Many dental practices have executed the first steps needed for reopening. Some practices in other areas have fully reopened their doors, accepting both hygiene and emergency appointments.  

In addition to solutions that your dental software system provides, there are many more ideas that you can integrate into your practice to encourage both your team and your patients while you work towards reopening. 

Things Dental Offices are Doing for their Team: 

  • Investing in negative pressure air systems to reduce their personal risk of contagion 
  • Normalizing new guidelines and extended approaches as standard practices for the team to make the transition back to work feel more comfortable. For example, Dr. Beaulne in Fort McMurray found that when his team started a routine again at work, their anxieties about returning started to go away. 
  • Restricting office hours for minimal exposure to patients 
  • Restricting usable operatories to minimize patient contact 

Things Dental Offices are Doing for their Patients: 

  • Spacing appointments apart adequately 
  • Asking patients to wait in their car rather than the waiting room; if the patient has to come in for whatever reason, the waiting room chairs are an appropriate distance apart 
  • Continually educating patients on the current situation and proper sanitization techniques inside and outside of the dental office. 

We will continue to provide resources on reopening processes throughout this time period. If you are interested in purchasing ABELDent’s Patient Portal, please feel free to contact our team, or let us know you are interested here. 

How to use Microsoft Teams in Your Dental Practice

Dental professionals have remained flexible, adaptable, and innovative in recent months in the wake of a global health crisis. Many offices have opted for virtual conferencing to maintain communications with their patients, while others have utilized social media and their website to facilitate conversations via the web.

Dental practices have demonstrated the power of remaining adaptable in the healthcare industry. Although routine appointments have been interrupted, important business functions have had a chance to take the forefront. Some of these functions include updating the team’s training, switching practice management systems, treatment planning with patients, and organizing the practice’s finances.

 While dental offices are reopening, it is important to remember that the tools that you have learned to use during this time can still benefit your practice daily. Virtual conferencing is a useful tool when patients are unwell, presenting certain symptoms, or live far away from your office. Having your team post on social media every now and then helps maintain your office’s presence on the web and helps you by bringing more prospective patients in.  

If your office has not utilized any virtual conferencing applications, we have created a walkthrough for you detailing how to download and use Microsoft Teams. Applications such as Teams help you continually provide care to your patients via Teledentistry. Microsoft offers a free version of their application which you can use in your practice to virtually connect with your patients as your office adopts a new level of normalcy.   

We hope you enjoy the video. If you have any questions, concerns, or feedback, please email us, message us, or give us a call.

Communicate With Your Patient Base Effectively as Ontario Reopens

Last week, we spoke about the challenges associated with reopening your practice, including limited PPE, spacing apart appointments which result in delays, and new changes that are necessary, such as removing toys or magazines from your waiting room.

There is a lot to do when it comes to reopening, and communicating your details with your patients is a large part of the process. Being open with your patients also creates a transparent line of communication, helping to alleviate anxieties patients may have about coming to your office while COVID-19 still remains an issue. This week we are outlining some measures and best practices you can do to keep the line of communication with your patients open, and how to send bulk messages efficiently.

There are various tools and methods that can be used to efficiently communicate with your patient base, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Some popular methods you may consider using (or may have already used in the past) are manually sending letters to patient addresses, putting in extra hours to phone patients, or conducting mass email communication by sending automated messages to hundreds or thousands of patients at a time. While putting together letters to send to patients’ home addresses provides a personalized and old-school presence that many patients may appreciate, it takes excessive hours of labour, and also may be costly depending on the number of patients your office has. 

Phoning each individual patient, much like sending letters, provides a personal connection which can strengthen your patient-to-office relationship. Doing this may be ineffective, however, for the following reasons:

  • Many mobile users have not set up their voicemail inbox
  • Overall decrease in mobile users checking their voicemail inbox. CBS, in 2013, cites 33% of people listen to voicemails from businesses, and only 18% listen to voicemails from unknown callers
  • Patients who have not come for a long time may have outdated phone numbers

While sending automated emails may lack the personal touch of a letter or phone call, messages can be customized to appear personable and friendly in tone. The important part is that emails send vital information to large numbers of people efficiently. It is very likely that most dental offices will opt for emailing their patients their reopening policies, as it is a trusted form of communication for many patients. Just like the case for mobile calls, however, it is important to routinely verify that your patient contact information is updated to minimize errors in sending.

While there are drawbacks associated with any form of mass communication, there are times that it is necessary for your office. Ensuring that your office records have updated contact information for patients minimizes the margin of error when sending out messages to your patient base. This can be done by routinely verifying contact information with the patient when they have appointments with your office. 

Another point to address is the use of virtual communications to consult with patients prior to your opening. Patients will naturally have questions regarding your office’s plans and processes regarding reopening and performing treatments. Microsoft offers a free version of Teams businesses and families. You can utilize tools like this to facilitate meetings, and also keep recordings of the meeting for your files. We are working on making a video outlining the basics of Microsoft Teams for patient virtual care, so keep an eye out.