With the digitization of much of our everyday tasks, ransomware poses as huge risk to companies, healthcare providers, and even governments. COVID-19 resulted in even more digitization, and therefore a higher occurrence of cyberattacks. In this post we are expanding on our blog post from April 2020 to provide you with some updated advice on protecting your practice from ransomware.
While over half of the cyberattacks occurred via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) servers, hackers gained access to servers via phishing (29%). Since dentistry is largely an in-person profession (aside from teledentistry), phishing is the most common way for hackers to access a practice’s data. These attacks can grant hackers access to your practice’s network, which makes your office extremely vulnerable to ransomware.
Key point: be wary of links and strange voice messages
Phishing and vishing are common attempts hackers make to gain access to your practice’s network. Both methods can be seen in a variety of ways – for example, hackers may impersonate someone you know to gain a password, account, or request you send them money directly. Cybercriminals also may appear to be from a government or financial institution, accusing you of being in trouble, or that you owe money. Any unrecognizable message from an unverified source should raise suspicions.
If you suspect you or your office may have received a phishing email, there are multiple tells that you can look for:
An urgent email from an unknown source – for example, someone you know contacting you claiming to be from a “different email or phone”)
Emails requesting instant action, such as sending your password or confidential information immediately, or sending money right away.
There are more signs to look for, which are detailed in this PDF. If you want more information on ransomware in relation to dentistry, ADA has an informative post on ransomware and cyberattacks, and provides details on how you can avoid losing your practice’s data.
We are always looking for ways to help your practice grow and succeed. Securing your office’s data is the foundation of a flourishing dental office. If your office requires backup services, consider ABEL RBS for your office’s security.
Whether your dental assistants or reception team are leaving a first impression, or you are treating a long-time patient, patient acquisition and retention comes down to the quality of care provided. Providing quality care to patients involves multiple factors, one of which is having a positive team. Your patients are more likely to be comfortable with someone who has a happy presence in the operatory.
Dental professionals are trained to work under a variety of conditions, and many are used to performing a wide range of tasks. Keeping up morale is essential in maintaining a strong and positive team. Working in a setting that is perpetually stressful is draining on any individual, no matter how motivated they are. COVID-19 and all the risks and precautions associated with the virus have certainly presented a new stressor for your team. How do you improve morale when hard times hit?
1. Genuine Positive Feedback
While your office may have employee incentive programs for team members, such as insurance benefits, work parties, and other perks, providing personal praise to your team members is a simple and valuable motivation technique. Not only does this positively reinforce good work in your team, but personal praise also increases work satisfaction for the member on the receiving end. Additionally, and leading into our next point, providing feedback this way nurtures a transparent environment, encouraging your team to share their own voices.
2. Be open to feedback on your end
Provide your team members with a safe space to share their concerns and suggestions. It’s been shown that bottling up issues can quickly cause burnout, which results in high turnover rates, and ultimately is detrimental to teamwork. Creating an open space where team members can work on conflict management, problem solving, and make their concerns known to you. To go a step further, if you can address your team members’ concerns, the individual will be satisfied with the outcome, and your team will most likely be encouraged. If your practice is not having regular team meetings already, implementing weekly or daily team meetings are a good place to start. Allowing your team members to check in and feel confident for the day or week ahead if it works with your practice’s culture.
3. Reduce stress by optimizing your available resources
Using your practice management software to its full potential can help your team members save time and reduce stress levels by automating manual tasks. ABELDent, for example, provides communication options for your reception team, such as ABELDent Patient Portal. In the operatory, your dental assistants can quickly check for patient medical conditions or allergies via the clinical sidebar without having to navigate away from their chart. No matter what practice management software you are using, ensuring it is set up to make the most out of all the available features is your best bet for reducing stress, and improving workplace morale.
Our brains tend to get stuck in a repetitive cycle when we lean into our negative thoughts. Additionally, negative attitudes that take over workspaces have been cited time and time again as being detrimental to any workplace’s overall goal and financial wellbeing. We have touched on the power of positivity in the past, and the ways in which your practice becomes more successful from a happier team. A healthy and happy environment is highly influential in fostering a productive practice that benefits not only your team, but also your patients.
One of the crucial roles of a healthcare provider is to ensure patient understanding, whether by dissipating false information for patients, or educating and explaining topics to patients. As of 2021, we are growing increasingly reliant on social media platforms and various websites for our social interactions, news consumption, and other major facets of our lives. While our growing connectedness via the Internet fosters an age of understanding, there are also more opportunities for spreading disinformation. Some statistics, tricks, tips, or other forms of media that may initially be harmless can be altered, or flat-out harmful practices can be shared. Some examples of this include skewed statistics, or “dental DIY” tricks that can cause repercussions.
A concerning number of patients get their health-related news from scrolling through social media. Based on findings from Referral MD, 90% of surveyed individuals between the ages of 18 – 24 indicated they trust health information shared on social media platforms.
COVID-19 has resulted in a lot of misinformation and confused masses. Different municipalities, locations, and sources have varying regulations and protocols, and many people are unsure of what is safe and unsafe anymore. Fortunately, your dental practice’s team can work to minimize confusion in your patients by utilizing emails, social media platforms, and in-person appointments. Keep reading to find out how to utilize these three methods to benefit your patients.
Opportunities to educate your patient-base:
Use emails to your office’s advantage by reminding patients of what they can expect when they come to their appointments. For example, if your waiting area is closed, remind your patients to wait in their car, or be prepared to wait outside. Remind patients of necessary pre-appointment duties, such as filling out a pre-screening form, and wearing a mask.
If your office participates in patient newsletters, consider adding a portion dedicated to sharing accurate information and facts for relevant topics.
Using a messaging software that lets you send automated emails with areas for personalization is a great way to connect to patients on a large scale, while also remaining time efficient.
Using social media prevents can help prevent harmful trends from occurring in your patients, depending on your practice’s following. Keeping on top of “dental DIY” trends and similar patterns can help your practice make relevant social media posts, as well as guide followers, and your patient base, in the right direction.
Ensure that any information you post is appropriate and truthful. This may go without saying, but sometimes, unclear information can be misinterpreted, which can result in further confusion.
Try to keep any posts simple, clear, and most importantly, trustworthy. Getting your information from reputable sources (such as collegiate institutes, trusted healthcare providers, government websites, etc.), or using your own knowledge as a dental professional, are good practices for ensuring you are doing your best to mitigate disinformation.
Share useful information from trusted sources (examples above) as resource hubs for your patients.
Encourage your patients to be aware of ongoing dental trends that tend to pop up every few years – for example, at-home whitening, at-home “braces”, etc. In addition to just being aware, patients should also know the dangers associated with participating in these trends, and the damage they could cause to their mouth and overall health.
Be aware that younger patients may feel inclined to try these trends more than older patients, generally. Younger patients may not know these trends are as harmful as they seem.
Answer any questions your patient may have, and if they indicate that they are interested in specific cosmetics (I.e., bleaching treatments), be sure to educate your patients on the dangers of at-home treatments. Any way you can educate your patients about the best practices for continuing their oral hygiene at home is valuable and will help mitigate disinformation.
The role of the dental receptionist is a complicated one, and it differs from office-to-office. There are varied job descriptions, tasks, and duties established by each practice. Something consistent, however, is that dental receptionists are always on the “front lines” in a practice. Fielding patient and team inquiries, managing patient issues, and keeping all records organized are just some of the tasks receptionist’s handle. For many prospective patients, receptionists and front-desk workers are the face of the practice.
In 2019, we wrote about things every dental receptionist needs to know for maximum patient satisfaction, efficiency, and organization. With COVID-19’s implications on the dental industry, we thought it was time to update our list to address current social issues that you may encounter in your practice. In this blog post, we discuss the top three things to know as a dental receptionist in 2021.
1. Remain adaptable
Adaptability, even in ordinary circumstances, is a valuable skill in reception. As mentioned in our previous blog on this topic, receptionists are the first to greet patients and the last to see them out. Being such an integral part of the team, front office team members must be able to adapt to new technologies, organization systems, and communication approaches. For instance, many dental practices have adopted digital communications, especially since lockdowns minimized dental appointments. Using texting software to send automated or ad-hoc messages may require an adjustment period but adapting to new (and often more efficient) systems ensures that your office remains ahead of the technological curve.
Patients can keep you on your toes, especially if they are particularly apprehensive about receiving dental treatment or care, or if they are very thorough and inquisitive. Some patients may require more in-depth responses, or even an approach that you do not normally use. The ability to adjust your approach to different situations is highly valued in this position, as unique individuals can raise issues in your office that can’t always be solved with a generic solution or a solution developed during more normal times.
2. Look ahead to fill your schedule
Under the best of circumstances some patients will look for excuses to avoid proceeding with dental treatment, whether it is for financial concerns, dental anxiety, or other reasons. COVID-19 added another reason for patients to delay their treatments. With all the mixed messages from official and unofficial sources, and changes in guidelines over time, cuments released , many patients are legitimately confused about whether it is safe to visit their dentist for regular appointments, and when they can see their dentists.
With vaccinations being rolled out worldwide, receptionists are looking ahead. While still taking the necessary precautions such as spreading out the waiting area (or making patients wait outside/in their cars), leaving gaps between appointments, and using paperless forms, receptionists should continue reaching out to patients who need recare appointments. Call lists, email lists, and contact sheets can result in a lot of manual work, especially if the lists are long, and perhaps growing longer. Having a system or tool to help you quickly send many messages at once helps your front-desk team when working to fill the schedule months in advance. For example, ABELDent’s Treatment Manager is built-in to our LS, CS and LS+ software. Whether you use a system is as simple as a customizable email template and manual sent emails, , a more efficient, built-in recall manager, or a third-party application that helps with recall management, such a solution can help to keep you organized and on track during these especially challenging times.
Looking months ahead helps you in the long-run by having a structured schedule month-by-month, as well as keeping patients’ recare appointments on track for their own health. Scheduling appointments early will help you to uncover patient concerns that can then be addressed in advance to establish patient commitment. Getting patients back on track will be a big job, but booking appointments and dealing with patient concerns early will reduce the likelihood that you will be scrambling at the last minute to fill a providers’ column or day.
3. Practice professional empathy
In 2020 and 2021, thes impact of COVID-19 on organizations resulted in large number of layoffs and heightened Canada’s unemployment rate. Financial troubles will undoubtedly reduce the priority of dental treatment for some patients. While there may not be anything your office can do in some of these cases, providing a professional, empathetic tone may make an enormous difference when communicating with upset patients. Professional empathy can be conveyed through word choice, tone of voice, and body language. If you are communicating virtually, using keywords and phrases such as “we understand” can help to diffuse anxiety caused by financial concerns.
The importance of empathy extends past financial concerns. Ashton College highlights the difference that using empathy has in a difficult situation with a patient or even a team member. Additionally, being able to understand another perspective will aid you when problem-solving, strengthening the quality of patient care.
These three tips are just a few of many things dental receptionists should know to maximize their office’s potential in 2021. With tools and technologies evolving, the dental industry is getting more efficient while simultaneously becoming more complicated for new hires. Going forward, we look forward to speaking more on this topic and providing content that helps your entire dental team.
As mentioned in previous posts, the COVID-19 pandemic opened the door for increased cyberattacks of all kinds. With many of our interpersonal communications moving online, hackers and criminals are continuously finding new ways to compromise our cybersecurity, and by extension, access our personal information. This problem goes beyond our personal devices, however, as healthcare-providers are a major target due to the valuable information that is kept on file. With countless breaches, ransomware attacks, and lost data, healthcare providers are turning to off-site backup services to ensure their patient and office data is safeguarded from threats.
Dan Lohrmann wrote an insightful blog post covering the various topics under the umbrella of cybersecurity amidst COVID-19. Lohrmann summarizes that as much of the workforce shifted to a remote, virtual mindset, cyber criminals began taking advantage of the shift while most people remained in an adjustment period. In April 2020, WHO reported a higher number of cyberattacks on the organization’s staff, for example, via email scams. Lohrmann lists the many news articles that connect the vulnerability that the pandemic brought, with the increase in online criminal activity.
While we have largely become used to regularly using virtual means for work, education, and socialization, cyberattacks still pose a massive risk to us.
What does this mean for dentists?
Your dental practice’s information is highly valuable to a hacker. Patient information, financial records, or even staff records can be used for malicious purposes in the wrong hands. While most of your work is done in-person, your computers can be compromised by something as innocent-seeming as an email. To ensure your data is safe from cyberattacks going into the future, ensure your team members are properly trained in cybersecurity. Social engineering, phishing, and vishing are all terms that your front-desk staff should be aware of. In addition to this, it is best practice to review and update this training at least yearly, and when there are staff changes or other major changes in your practice or more often if needed. Cyberattacks evolve as new technologies become implemented, meaning that your team needs to know what to look out for as hackers adjust their tactics.
Another way you can protect your practice’s data is by keeping all computer systems, platforms, and software that your practice uses up to date with the latest versions. We spoke more in-depth on this in a previous blog post, but to summarize, software and system updates patch any insecurities that hackers may have found in between updates. These updates also are ever-improving security measures, so keep cybercriminals at bay by making sure your systems are not out-of-date.
In addition to making sure hackers can’t cause any damage from the start, always have a backup plan in case of the worst possible scenario. If your office lost data, your practice could be significantly impacted for days, maybe even weeks, or even permanently, depending on the type and severity of the attack. Make sure your practice data is regularly backed up, either locally or in a cloud server. All practice data should be backed up, including all patient records, financial information, schedules, etc. Having a backup ready in case your office experiences the worst-case scenario saves you hours of distress in trying to get that data back or dealing with the repercussions if it is lost for good.
In summary, prioritize your practice’s data security by:
Ensure your staff has up-to-date cybersecurity training regularly.
Keep your software, computer system, and all platforms up-to-date.
Back up your practice data regularly – either remotely (such as ABEL RBS, a remote backup service using cloud technology), or locally.
The end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 has been a difficult time for everyone with COVID-19 cases steadily rising throughout December and January. With lockdown continuing in various areas, we are turning our focus back to making the most of your practice’s downtime and preparing for the future influx of patients.
While the first province-wide shutdown did not alter the scope of dental services, Ontario’s current stay-at-home order has resulted in many dental offices scaling back once again to taking in fewer patients than usual. RCDSO urges dental offices to take additional precautions when providing care to patients. For instance, deferring non-essential appointments to a later date or offering remote appointments for these cases as a precaution to avoid the risk of in-person contact.
While dental appointments are minimized, there are still opportunities for your team to participate in online training, e-learning, and other important tasks that help maintain your practice. During your office’s downtime, your team can learn how to use your practice management software more efficiently, especially new hires that still need to get used to your software. ABELDent users can use ABELDent Mastery, for example. There are also webinars and online courses you and your team can take to help maintain best practices, and even to earn potential CE credits.
We have compiled our blog posts throughout the past year as a resource bank for our readers. To read more in-depth about some of our tips for making the most of your office’s downtime, please see our list:
Patient-facing systems are tools that provide patients with the opportunity to actively engage with their healthcare practitioners virtually. The dental industry has been evolving towards patient-facing solutions in recent years by implementing auto-scheduling, downloadable forms, and live chatting functionalities. The demand for these systems and methods have escalated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Practices are incorporating patient-facing solutions because patients can easily interact with dental providers or access resources online. Patient-facing systems are accessible, simple solutions that prove useful for a variety of reasons. For instance, the touchless aspect of online solutions reduces face-to-face interaction and the sharing of paper, pens, or devices, thereby minimizing COVID-19 related health concerns.
Makes open communication between dentist and patient easier, faster, and more accessible
Clear communication is a crucial aspect of dentistry. Ensuring patient understanding, as referenced by CDA, results in increased patient satisfaction, increased procedure efficiency, and fewer negative experiences and reviews.
Patient-facing features provide patients with the opportunity to share information more easily via online resources to learn about their treatment. This also allows patients to actively participate in virtual care. Some examples include patients filling out consent forms prior to treatment, completing health history and COVID-19 screening forms, updating their standing patient form, and prefacing appointments with video consultations. These features ensure patients can gain a deeper understanding of their treatment prior to their physical appointment without having to be physically present in your office. Providing an online format for these tasks rather than in-person is convenient for patients, reduces COVID-19 concerns, and saves your practice a spare operatory.
Provides a good opportunity for easing anxious patients
Additional benefits of patient-facing features include the accommodation of safe (touchless), convenient, and fast communication between provider and patient to preface appointments. In addition to quick communication, virtual care allows the use of visuals the same way you would be able to show patients in your operatory how a procedure will go. Screen-sharing capabilities that are included in most video conferencing tools allow this, limiting the setbacks that an online consultation would have in comparison to a physical consultation.
Pre-treatment appointments can be beneficial for patients who are apprehensive, as you can suggest patient calming techniques, discuss whether nitrous oxide is a viable solution for their needs, or discuss other options that may help to calm anxieties. Doing all this in an online setting benefits your practice and the patient, and helps strengthen the practice-patient relationship.
Lightens the workload for your team and minimizes chances of manual errors
Forms that are hard to read, faxed, or scanned to your office, or rushed can often result in team members interpreting information wrong and inserting incorrect information in a patient’s chart. Allowing patients to fill out their forms online eliminates these potential errors on your office’s end. Patients may still make a typo or fill in an area incorrectly, but these errors can easily be fixed in your office by editing the file. Removing the chances of your team members getting information wrong is a step in the right direction towards great recordkeeping. Additionally, allowing patients to submit their forms online allows your team members to be more productive with their time.
Overall, patient-facing solutions are a great practical tool to have in your office, not just during health crises, but long-term. Many patients and practices, having been introduced to the benefit of these methods, will come to prefer and expect them.
The various benefits mentioned throughout this blog post are reasons for investing in online solutions, which will prepare your practice for the upcoming decade when virtual care and patient-facing systems will be the norm.
If you are interested in finding out more about ABELDent’s touchless patient-facing forms, we are available 24/7. Feel free to fill out our contact form below, or give us a call at the phone number mentioned below.
Jensen, R. E., Gummerson, S. P., & Chung, A. E. (2016). Overview of Patient-Facing Systems in Patient-Reported Outcomes Collection: Focus and Design in Cancer Care. Journal of oncology practice, 12(10), 873–875. https://doi.org/10.1200/JOP.2016.015685
As dental software providers, one of our ongoing goals is to ensure dentists keep their practice data safe and secure, regardless of which software they use. Healthcare practitioners, such as dental providers, are always targets for cyberattacks because of each practice’s valuable information and records. While paperless recordkeeping boasts increased security for your practice records, it is crucial to keep in mind that data needs to always be safeguarded from potential threats. In this blog post, we have four simple steps that you can follow to ensure your dental practice’s data is sufficiently secured in the event of a cyberattack.
Step 1: Keep your software and computers up to date
Whether you store your dental records on an all-in-one practice management software or you use other options, chances are that the software you use rolls out regular software updates. Our first simple step to data security is keep your software updated. We have discussed the importance of keeping your software up to date in previous blog posts. To summarize, software updates provide users with the latest security to counteract potential threats, which are continually evolving. Additionally, these software updates fix bugs that could potentially lead to unprotected data.
Along with software updates, ensure your computer platforms and operating systems are regularly updated as well. Updated computers and operating systems incorporate advanced security measures and bug fixes that are necessary to prevent the latest threats. For example, as of January 2020, Microsoft no longer supports outdated platforms such as SQL 2008, Windows Server 2008, and Windows 7. Since these platforms are no longer supported, the software no longer receives security fixes in automated updates, leaving the system vulnerable to viruses, spyware, ransomware, and other malicious threats. Although you may require a periodic investment to keep your system up to date, it is best to always make sure you are using supported versions of the technologies used in your practice.
Step 2: Maintain proper user credentials
In addition to keeping up with software updates, make sure your workstations’ passwords are private and strong enough to minimize threats. News stories, statistics, and testimonies can attest to the issues bad passwords can create for a businesses. For instance, 81% of hacking-related security breaches are caused by insufficient passwords. As shown through multiple studies, weak passwords can be the downfall of an entire organization. Not only can an outsider easily access your valuable practice data but, with poor passwords, a team member could access something they are not supposed to.
How can you strengthen your password security? For starters, if you can, ensure each team member has their own secure login information to eliminate the risk of password-sharing and similar problems. Additionally, ensure all passwords are unique and strong; everyone should avoid using personal information in their passwords, such as their name or birthday, as these could be easy to identify for a potential hacker. General phrases such as “password” should always be avoided. Password specifications vary from source to source, but universally, almost everyone agrees on these general principles:
Keep your password long (recommendations vary, but generally 8-16 characters)
Use a mix of capitalized and lower-case letters
Integrate numbers and symbols into your password
Ensure passwords are periodically changed
Lastly, to keep your workstations as secure as possible, passwords should change every few months. The passwords should also not recycle any words or patterns as a precaution. If you or your team members struggle to remember multiple unique passwords, consider using a password manager to keep track of everything. For more tips on how to create a strong password, read this article.
Step 3: Backup your practice’s data
Our third simple step for protecting your practice’s valuable data is backing up your data regularly. While you can do everything possible to protect your data in the event of a cyberattack, some things are uncontrollable. For example, natural disasters can cause devastating and irreversible damage to your practice’s servers if they are kept in your office. To ensure your practice data is as secure as possible, look into secure Cloud backups. Doing regular data backups not only prevents significant data loss if a cyberattack struck your office but also ensures your practice’s data is secured off-site. Microsoft Azure is an example of a Cloud solution, and it is the one ABELDent uses for Remote Backup Services.
By checking off these three simple steps, you are taking the necessary actions towards securing your practice data.
How well is your website contributing to your practice goals? Is there someone in your practice gathering information and taking action to improve your web presence? Who in your office has time to check data analytics? How would it benefit your dental practice?
While there is a learning curve associated with navigating web analytics software, using this such a measurement tool can be very worthwhile for your practice. Once someone in your practice understands the basics of navigating and interpreting the information shown, you can make your marketing strategies and SEO more efficient and cost-effective.
Web analysis software measures various aspects of your website, such as the number of unique visitors, pages within a website that are popular, and the length of time a visitor spends on a page. Analysis software also often collects data via cookies to form demographic reports about website visitors.
Office administrators, dentists, or delegated team members can do regular upkeep on website data by using tools such as Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a popular choice because it is free. There are various alternatives to Google Analytics, as well. Once someone knows how to navigate and interpret the information that the data analysis tool collects, it can be a very efficient and worthwhile process for improving the impact of your online presence. Streamlining web keywords and SEO can save your office time when deciphering the presented data.
If you are interested in using web and data analysis to position your practice for growth, read below to find out three compelling reasons for using these systems in your office.
1. Pinpoint your prospective patients
Having web analysis software attached to your website can help you learn more about who is visiting your website. Google Analytics, for instance, gathers demographic information about visitors on your website. In reports, you find out the age, gender, and interests of your visitors. Knowing who visits your website can help you understand where your practice is positioned online, and if you are marketing to your desired demographic.
2. Have better plans for marketing your practice online
Understanding which media are effective for your practice allows you to get the most value out of your advertising budget. Analytics software displays detailed reports of how people arrive at your website, how long they stay on a certain webpage, and whether visitors clicked specific buttons on your webpages. Understanding how you acquire website views signals the methods that are effective for your practice. For instance, if you get a lot of direct traffic (meaning people insert your website into their web browser on their own), your print media and other resources are likely effective at directing people to your page. If you acquire a lot of visitors from search engines, however, it may signal that using sponsored ads such as Google AdWords is more effective for your practice.
Analytics software also allows you to see the breakdown of devices used to view your website. If your website displays strangely on mobile, and majority of your visitors are on your website from a mobile device, you may need to plan to revisit your web design. Seeing how long visitors stay on your webpage also tells a lot about how effective your design is and signals what visitors want to learn from your website by which webpages are most visited.
3. Web analytics help you evaluate your practice’s online performance
When you are conducting an evaluation on your practice via SWOT analysis, PMBO, or another method, your website’s metrics are a great indicator of how your online presence is doing. Interpreting certain patterns in website visitors can suggest where your strengths and weaknesses are in terms of marketing your practice online. This can also provide useful insight into the techniques your practice utilizes the best from a business perspective. Lastly, the ability to catalogue and document this information into reports is an especially useful tool when measuring online growth and ad efficiency. Spending some time learning data analytics can help your practice if you are looking to get more out of online marketing.
Leadership is one of the main cornerstones of a healthy organization. Many dentists own and operate their own dentistry practice, but some offices work as a conglomerate. Whether you are an office manager or a practicing dentist, knowing what to do as a practice leader will strengthen your team. This blog post delves into three ways to harness your leadership skills to promote and maintain an efficient dental practice.
1. Foster a healthy workplace culture from the top-down
Your practice’s workplace culture defines how your team members feel while working in your office, and by extension, how they behave. For instance, if they are too comfortable, team members may sometimes forget to maintain their professionalism in the office. If staff are uncomfortable in the work environment, however, they may behave rigidly or nervously, also negatively impacting their performance, and by extension, the quality of service given to your patients. Additionally, team members working in a thriving environment contribute to the office’s culture, often harmonizing with other team members.
Fostering a healthy workplace culture is vital for maintaining a thriving dental team. Some pointers to take into consideration include:
Encourage the behaviours you want to see in your office by setting an example. Employees tend to mirror what they see in the workplace.
Reward team members and hold them accountable – providing constructive criticism as feedback maintains a safe work environment and provides room for growth for the team member. Remember to be fair and consistent when giving feedback.
Be proactive with feedback, whether it is positive or negative. Providing no feedback may make existing problems larger in the long run and result in team members feeling unappreciated.
2. Prepare your staff with problem-solving skills
As a practice leader, you are one of the people who decide how your office handles problems and how to mitigate problems. One aspect of preparedness is making sure your team members know the correct protocol when handling difficult situations or individuals. Educate your team members on what they should do or say if they encounter a problem with a patient, visitor, or co-worker. Guide your team members on the correct protocol for these issues. Preparing your team to face these situations with confidence dissolves tension when the time comes and may help prevent problems entirely.
While you can prepare your team as best as you can, there will always be a chance for unforeseeable problems to come up. While you won’t anticipate every issue that may occur, you can still prepare your team with diverse problem-solving skills, which are crucial when facing an unanticipated situation.
3. Provide resources and opportunities for learning
Dental offices are symbiotic; the office’s front and back need to work in harmony to be efficient. Before this can happen, team members need to learn the best practices for the tasks associated with their roles. Aside from putting care into an initial training program for new hires, some other ways you can provide resources for your team include:
Registering for CE courses as a group throughout the year
If you recently updated or transferred a software or system in your practice, set aside some time for training the whole team on the new workflows.
Sometimes, team members may need reminders on how to use equipment or software properly. For example, if someone regularly forgets to use a built-in charting system favoring leaving detailed notes, they likely need a reminder. Ongoing education is almost always required in the workplace.
By providing the resources for your team’s ongoing learning, you set your team, and by extension, your practice up for success. Ensuring everyone in your practice is implementing best practices is a surefire way to maintain a team-centric attitude and foster office motivation.