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. 

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. 

Video Tutorials Part II: Quick Scheduling Tool

A month ago, our team posted our first video to our new video tutorial series. If you missed the video, you can see it here. The first tutorial covered ABELDent’s clinical sidebar, which is a feature included in the new updated version of the software. Our video tutorials show you how you can use these new features everyday in your office to make managing your dental practice easier than before. 

Our new video focuses on our quick scheduling tool, which hygienists and receptionists can use to quickly find openings for patients. This feature allows you to quickly find an opening based on the patient’s next due date, as shown in the video. 

This feature is particularly useful for scheduling routine appointments ahead of time, and only takes a minute to find the next time/day for the patient. Using these new features allows dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, and receptionists to have extra time to focus on providing the best possible care to patients and improving patient relationships.  

If you are interested in what is demonstrated in the video and want to learn more, feel free to contact us for additional questions or a demo. Our team is working from home, but we are still available 24/7 for any inquiries you may have. 

ABELDent’s Exciting New Features: Video Tutorials

Last week’s blog post addressed the downtime caused by the COVID-19 crisis and the ways that dentists can keep themselves preoccupied, even though all routine services are postponed. In the blog post, we encourage dental professionals to utilize online classes now that they have some more time to benefit from additional learning.  

In line with this theme, we are publishing a miniseries for ABELDent users to learn about the new features that our software has, as well as prepare for future upgrades. In these videos, we will show you the features in action, as well as provide some examples for your benefit. 

Many of the new features will make your day-to-day life easier in your practice. Having a strong understanding of these new features will help you in making the most of your dental software, and in turn, providing the best quality of care for your patients.  

The first video of our miniseries covers the clinical sidebar. The clinical sidebar’s purpose is to minimize clicking and scrolling while your patient is in your operatory. You can easily access the important information that you need before starting any treatment by simply glancing at your patient’s chart. 

The Clinical Sidebar 

The clinical sidebar is not restricted to the patient’s chart. You can also see it for each individual patient when checking daily appointments. This allows you and your staff to adequately prepare for any cases that require more attention than others, or just to have a headstart on the day to increase confidence.  

Another option the sidebar provides is quick and simple health updates. You can pre-program your common health conditions and medications into ABELDent and then quickly select what you need when updating your patient’s health history. You can even have your patient do an updated health form, completely paperless, signature included. 

The clinical sidebar offers various possibilities for your practice and streamlines the process of updating and checking patient health information.  

Practice Precautions and Additional Resources for Dentists: COVID-19

RCDSO posted a message to all Ontario Dentists on March 15, 2020, regarding the risk COVID-19 poses to dental professionals. ODA recently announced their support of their recommendations. The College outlines seven different guidelines that they are putting into place to counteract the virus’s spread.

The College urges dentists to temporarily cease all non-emergency dental treatments to minimize the risk that the virus poses to dentists and patients. The College will revisit this recommendation in April 2020, but for now, it is strongly suggested that only emergency treatments should continue.

The primary focus of this blog addresses the college’s recommendations and provides additional resources for navigating the current climate while maintaining your practice. 

What can I do in the meantime?

While the office may be slow for the time being, the downtime provides an opportunity for continuing education and advanced training. Refreshing yourself and your staff on your systems and tools, software applications, and best practices for your office is beneficial during this time so that when business begins to resume regularly, you can get back up to speed quickly and even get ahead of the game. 

This may also be a great time for you to do a practice self-assessment that will give you a better understanding of how you are currently performing and what adjustments you may need to make to meet your practice objectives.

On a related note, it may also be time to ask yourself if you are taking full advantage of all the features your practice management software has to offer. Lorne Lavine, dentist and practice management consultant states that “Many practices are only using a small portion of the capabilities of their software… and this is not allowing them to operate at anything near a desired level of efficiency.”  If you feel this scenario applies to you, it may be a good time to consider more training during a time when you are not operating at full capacity. 

7 Recommendations from RCDSO and ODA

1. The RCDSO strongly recommends that all non-essential and elective dental services should be suspended immediately. Emergency treatment should continue.

As previously mentioned, the College will reassess the necessity of this precaution in the first week of April. RCDSO acknowledges that this recommendation will impact staff members, which is why they also suggest that dental professionals consult with the Ministry of Labour. 

“2. The College will continue to enforce the Standard on Infection Prevention and Control, in cooperation with public health.

This point is expected, and also crucial in this time. Taking some downtime for refreshing your staff on proper protocol for sanitization and safety measures is beneficial. The prevalence of upholding and emphasizing IPAC standards can serve as a practical learning experience for your staff.  

“3. All in-person meetings at the College have been suspended until further notice.

“4. All speaking engagements and presentations by College staff are cancelled until further notice.” 

Many organizations are postponing physical meetings in favour of virtual meetings for the time being to minimize the risk of spreading the virus to more Canadians. 

5. All business travel for staff has been cancelled.

The Prime Minister urges Canadians to come home if they are currently travelling abroad and has also announced the closure of most airports except for four major ones across the country. 

“6. Renewals of existing facility permits and Certificates of Authorization are suspended.” 

RCDSO will not renew facility permits during this time, but instead are extending current permits and extending renewal deadlines. 

“7. The Quality Assurance program is suspended effective March 16, 2020.

In their last point, the College encourages members to continue to earn CE points but urges attendees to do so online or via virtual means to prevent as much physical contact with the public as possible. 

Going along with the theme of attending virtual conferences, ODA has extended their cancellation deadline for all attendees to March 23, 2020, giving dentists and prospective attendees more time to assess the situation before this year’s ASM. 

EDIT: March 18, 2:45 p.m. || ODA has announced that they are cancelling this year’s Annual Spring Meeting due to growing concerns surrounding the virus.

To summarize the points, the College asks dentists to pause regular appointments but keep emergency appointments to attend to their patient’s needs.  

Additional Resources for Dental and Healthcare Providers – by Province/Territory

 

Establishing and Monitoring Key Objectives for Dental Practice Success (Part 3 of 3)

In Part 1 of this series, the concept of Practice Management by Objectives (PMBO) was introduced. The first two objectives of the methodology were outlined; achieving financial targets and increasing hygiene and treatment plan acceptance. Objectives 3 and 4, growing/retaining your patient base and advancing your scheduling were covered in Part 2 of this series. This post concludes the series with Objectives 5 and 6.

OBJECTIVE 5: SAVE TIME AND MONEY BY TRANSITIONING TO PAPERLESS 

Implementing electronic charting and digital radiography result in administrative synergies that are not possible with paper records. A complete patient profile is maintained by efficiently integrating all information related to the patient in one electronic chart. Benefits of transitioning to a “paperless” dental practice include: 

  • Elimination of transaction double entry, manual errors, and inconsistent information 
  • More complete and legible charts through customizable template data entry 
  • Dynamic record-keeping by accumulating historical data that can be viewed incrementally by date 
  • Minimizes need for organizing, retrieving and filing charts and radiographs 
  • Time-saving and reduced confusion by allowing access to data from any place on the network 
  • Requires less floor space
  • Improved data protection since clinical data previously on paper charts can now be backed up
  • Protection of patient and practice privacy 

OBJECTIVE 6: STAFF EMPOWERMENT FOR ENHANCED SOFTWARE EFFICIENCY & SECURITY  

Your goals and objectives including the ones described above and part 1 and 2 of this blog series aren’t achievable without buy-in and participation from a well-informed and trained dental team.  Your team especially needs to be well-versed in how to use your dental practice management software to effectively to ensure the data required for monitoring your practice performance is entered accurately and can be retrieved easily in the desired format.  

With the increasing threat of cyberattacks, the entire team should be well versed in data security measures so that your practice is protected from data breaches. Environmental threats and hazards such as fires, storms, floods, power failures, and electrical surges can cause serious – sometimes irreparable – damage that can destroy your business in the absence of proper planning. 

To summarize, you can use the practice objectives and recommendations outlined above to articulate to your dental team, your own specific goals and practice objectives in a clearly defined way.  The use of KPIs will allow you to quantify your expectations and monitor your progress in meeting them.   But remember, all this is only possible with the right dental team in place.

A Reliable Tool for Objectively Evaluating Your Practice

Are you finding your practice’s production plateauing? Are you looking for new opportunities for your dental office? Do you need to get your practice back on track?

Much like MBO (Management by Objectives), SWOT Analysis has been used for decades by businesses to objectively evaluate their sustainability and how they might better respond to their environment for growth and prosperity. From that perspective, your dental practice is no different from other businesses – it is essential that you do periodic self-assessments for continuous improvement.

But what exactly is SWOT Analysis? In short, it is a technique used to determine and define your practice’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Here is a template you can use to start your own SWOT analysis with links to valuable background information:

Once you have a general idea of the composition of each SWOT category you can begin to drill down to specific examples that apply to you in each category such as the ones referenced in the chart below:

SWOT Analysis example tailored towards a dental practice

Once you complete the above exercise, you should have a much greater insight into what you are doing well, the factors that need addressing and the position your practice occupies in the dental marketplace. The information you uncover can be the foundation for developing a realistic and relevant business plan going forward.

Group of dental professionals having a meeting

Another benefit of SWOT Analysis is that this technique can be applied at a micro level, for example, deciding on whether to take on an associate, expand capacity or move to a new location. In conclusion, SWOT Analysis gives you heightened awareness so that you are in a much better position to capitalize on your strengths, address weaknesses where feasible, act on opportunities and mitigate threats.