3 Ways Efficient Dentists Lead Their Practice

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: 

  • Make sure your practice’s mission statement is made clear to new hires from the very beginning. 
  • 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 
  • Attending dental conferences (including virtual trade shows) – these shows have valuable educational material and CE courses for your team. 
  • 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. 

4 Reasons for Attending Dental Conventions

Dental conferences and trade shows are among the longest-standing traditions in the industry. Dental professionals, stakeholders, exhibitors, and various other guests attend conferences and trade shows commonly held in convention centres or hotels.  

The reasons for attending are different for everyone; some attendees may go for the continuing education (CE) courses; some want to expand their professional network, some for the social opportunities, while others may want to go for the experience. Depending on the location, these conventions often attract dental professionals from all over the world and foster connections between people associated with the industry. 

This year, several trade shows and conferences are being taken online due to health and safety measures. This unique format has been used in the last few months to facilitate connections while also prioritizing social distancing and public health. ADA’s Florida Dental Conference, for instance, is operating virtually this year. While this format eliminates the aspect of travelling to a new place, having a virtual conference creates an opportunity for attendees that otherwise may not have been able or willing to attend a physical exhibition. Additionally, scientists have found that in many cases, virtual conferences allow for better experiences for attendees and stakeholders due to more control for moderated discussions, more attendees, reduced carbon emissions, and lower travel expenses.  

This week’s blog outlines five reasons to attend dental conferences and trade shows, whether virtual or physical.  

1. Opportunity for CE credits 

As a known requirement for dental professionals, continuing education credits are often available from educational sessions or modules at conferences or trade shows. If you are looking for potential CE credits, be sure to do research on the sessions you sign up for to see if they are offered with the module.  

2. Outside insights & networking

Attending trade shows and connecting with new individuals allows you to learn about how other industry practices operate, which is useful in comparing your differences. Comparing your current practice’s business model with other dentists in the community is a great starting point when conducting a SWOT analysis of your practice. You can also learn why other professionals in the field may favour certain technologies or methods over others, providing you with a new perspective and ongoing appreciation of the industry. 

In addition to gaining outside perspectives, attending virtual and physical conferences provides an opportunity for networking with other professionals in the field. Along with meeting new people, new opportunities arise for potential practice changes, partnerships, retirement plans, and other chances to improve your practice in ways you may not have thought of before.  

3. Go for the experience

If you haven’t been to a conference in any capacity, attending one for your first time may not be what you expect. While physical trade shows in the past have been quite busy, with many having thousands of visitors, virtual conferences are a new ballpark. Despite this, there are still many reasons to attend an online trade show. For example, many vendors you may have inquiries for are set up for easy access with minimal wait times. Often, you may have an opportunity to privately message or reach out to a speaker that you have questions for. Lastly, if you missed a specific session or livestream, there are usually recordings (especially for sessions that you register for), whereas at a physical conference or trade show recordings may be limited. Of course, attending a physical trade show can be an exciting experience for the first time, to say the least. There are countless things to do, many vendors to talk to, and hundreds of potential new connections.  

4. Learn what is new in the ever-changing field of dentistry. 

The exhibit hall is a world of opportunity for conference attendees. Perhaps there has been a technology or vendor you have been interested in incorporating into your practice prior to attending the show. Whether virtual or physical, attending a conference is a great opportunity to talk to the companies that you think are interesting and may benefit your practice. There may be special pricing or additional benefits by seeking vendors out at these shows. Interactions with vendors at their booths tend to be more valuable, personal, and informative by giving you the chance to ask anything you may be wondering about the vendor.

3 Reasons You Should Keep Your Software Up To Date

In a Pew Research Center study on Americans and cybersecurity, roughly one out of ten people do not update their smartphone software at all. While ignoring software updates poses a major risk to the individual user’s security, a staggering number of people still choose to stay with the older version of the software. Why is this the case? 

Patrick Boblin writes on this issue in an article regarding the reasons people avoid updating their computers. Some of the reasons Boblin lists include compatibility issues, having a bad prior experience, and being comfortable with the way their system currently runs. One specific reason that stands out is that people don’t understand why they need to update their systems so frequently, and as a result, have less security. 

The reasons Boblin brings up go beyond computer or smartphone updates. Many users ignore software updates, especially if they seem tedious, or the changes are not adequately explained. In today’s blog, we want to emphasize the importance of keeping your software up to date, especially the software you use for your dental practice. 

Security 

First and foremost, software updates are created to maximize the user’s security. Technologies are always changing and unfortunately, so are viruses and other threats to your system. To stay up to date on the best security, it is crucial to update the latest version of any software you are using to keep your information protected. These updates provide the best possible defense systems to prevent cyber-attacks before they become a problem for your practice. 

Bug prevention and elimination

When software updates are published, the new version usually accounts for bugs that have been reported by users. Even if you or your team has not experienced any of the corrected bugs, updating to the latest version of the software eliminates the chances of that bug happening to you in the future. And if you have experienced one or more of the bugs, there is no need to continue to live with and negative impact. Updating your software frequently prevents both ongoing and potential frustration that can be the result of software issues.   

It’s best practice 

Making the most of your dental software’s capabilities is the best practice for your team and your patients. Continually updating to the most recent version prevents errors, maximizes your software’s capabilities, and simplifies your team’s workflow. Downloading the latest updates also means you are taking full advantage of your dental software and getting the full value out of the product that you use every day. 

Essentially, your software is continually updated to provide you with the best possible product to make your daily tasks more efficient and secure. It is beneficial to keep up to date on the latest developments for your security, as well as ease-of-use, whether it is your smartphone’s operating system or your dental practice’s scheduler. 

How to Send Hands-Free Questionnaires to Your Patients in Seconds

The spread of COVID-19 in late 2019 and early 2020 caused us to adapt to new ways of working with each other. While Ontario is now in phase three of reopening various businesses and organizations, it is apparent that we are going to keep some changes permanently going forward. A change that we have already embraced prior to the outbreak is hands-free technology. To counteract public health risks, people have developed newer technologies that favour touch-free environments; for instance, digitized paperwork and patient charts. 

Worldwide, dentists have accommodated the necessary new changes that maintain social distancing in practice. Although many dental offices have already moved to a paperless-based practice, multiple still retain some physical documents such as intake forms for compliance with proper dental recordkeeping.  

Whether your practice is fully paperless or not, pre-screening can take up a significant amount of time over the phone or in-person. ABELDent’s new feature gives providers the option to send COVID-19 pre-screening forms to patients before they even step foot in the clinic, saving your team time and preventing paper forms.

This feature maintains your patients’ private health information (PHI), which must be encrypted when sent via emails. The pre-screening survey sends a one-time link that your patients can fill out prior to their appointment either at home, or right outside your office before entering. The information is automatically updated in the electronic chart, saving time and effort for your team. 

If you want to learn more about this new feature, we hope you check out our new video. Our overview goes through the basics of sending quick pre-screening surveys, and how you can customize the message to fit your office’s needs. As always, we hope you enjoy the video. 

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 been impacting 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.  

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 You 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. 

Reopening Your Practice’s Doors: Obstacles and Solutions

Resuming regular dental appointments is a big step for everyone involved in your dental practice. All of Canada is in the process of reopening important services. While the processes and timelines differ between provinces and territories, the whole country is moving in the same direction. There are various challenges dental offices have to confront in order to get back up and running. In this blog post, we are discussing some concerns dental professionals share regarding reopening their office for routine appointments, and also providing links to some solutions. 

Resupplying for your reopening 

Dental professionals are facing various challenges ranging from vague and nondescript guidance on reopening to limited PPE. Toronto dentist Natalie Archer addressed the shortage of PPE in a recent article. Many dentists donated a lot of their supplies to hospitals at the height of the health emergency, and are now having difficulties resupplying their own practices. The shortage of personal protective equipment causes delays that are not only detrimental for dental offices, but also patients, many of whom are overdue for their recare appointments. To help healthcare providers with their reopening, a group of organizations set up the Rapid Response Platform to help Canadian providers obtain their necessary PPE for the workplace. 

Reformatting your day 

While keeping your schedule full maximizes your office’s potential, health and safety must be the priority. Some offices are eliminating overlapping appointments, while others are implementing measures that allow for social distancing while still attending to multiple patients in the same time frame.  

ABELDent's Patient Manager

While it is inconvenient, and may result in appointments that are delayed for weeks based on patient availability, these measures are a necessary challenge that practices have to address in reopening. Some ideas for making waiting areas a safer space include asking patients to wait in their car, or taking away complimentary items such as books/magazines to minimize the spread of germs. Different dental offices will have different approaches to social distancing, but implementing the options that work best for your own practice is a great way to make sure protocols are regularly followed. 

There is no doubt that when you reopen your doors, business is not going to be the way that it used to be. While there are many challenges to overcome in terms of reopening, there are also opportunities to find innovative solutions that work for both your team and your patients. Some things that your practice offered in the past may need to be suspended, such as complimentary waiting area items, or walk-in appointments. Making some changes now to protect your team and your patients will help your practice grow and prosper in the future.