How to Foster a Culture of Lifelong Learning at Your Dental Clinic

One of the things that makes dentistry such an exciting industry to work in is the fact that, just like the software industry, the field is constantly changing.

As new research turns up new information, and new software creates new service possibilities, dentistry continues to evolve to provide patients with better care. This means that dental professionals need to regularly upgrade their skills so they can take advantage of new breakthroughs. 

Lifelong learning – continuing education in one’s field – can pay off in a number of key ways.

Enhancing Skill Set

There’s evidence to suggest a direct correlation between learning and improved efficacy in the workplace – after all, learning is much like exercise for the brain. Studies show that continuing education leads to more efficiency, lower rates of absenteeism and equips those continuing to build their skill set with a better ability to meet the demands of a fast-paced workplace (like a busy dental clinic).

Earning Potential

Out of all the benefits continuing education offers, a boost to earning power is one of the most tangible. The good news is that continuous education can often be accessed online which provides a convenient way for busy professionals to build their skill sets.

Curiosity Booster

Many psychologists view curiosity as a crucial factor to happiness, intellectual growth, and overall mental health and well-being. But as we get older, we tend to let everyday tasks and pressures block out or overshadow our naturally curious natures. Continuing education allows to us to tap back into that curiosity, leading to an improvement in mental health and sense of self.

Collaboration Opportunity

Continuous learning encourages collaboration, plain and simple. Whether through actual group work in a classroom setting, learning new software in an online community or shadowing a supervisor in the workplace, collaborative skills are naturally nurtured.

But while most dentists understand the importance of ongoing training in theory, it can be difficult to put this into practice.  It isn’t always easy to stay up-to-date when you have multiple commitments and priorities and it can be even more difficult to ensure that the rest of your staff participate in regular training sessions.

If you are passionate about providing high quality care to your patients, your staff need to be equipped  to use the newest information and the latest techniques. Normalizing regular, ongoing training and lifelong learning as part of the culture of your dental clinic is key.

Here are four ways you can get started.

1. Don’t Make Training a Special Event

When it comes to scheduling training, one of the most common mistakes clinic owners make is trying to fit a year’s worth of education into a weekend retreat. While training can seem like a disruption of the everyday running of the clinic, cramming a lot of learning into a short period of time is simply ineffective and can be a waste of resources.

Numerous studies have shown that training is most effective when it takes place on a regular basis, giving trainees the opportunity to regularly review new information and incorporate learning into day-to-day life. Making training a regular part of your clinic’s schedule increases the likelihood that you will be able to keep it up over the long run. 

2. Incentivize Learning

If nothing else lifelong learning in healthcare is important to simply remain competent – in a fast-moving industry like dentistry, if you aren’t moving forward you’re going back.

Your clinic benefits from having hygienists, assistants, and receptionists who are staying up-to-date on the latest customer service methods and dental procedures, so it only makes sense to incentivize education. Paid time for training and making regular training a prerequisite for advancement are ways to give your staff a reason to commit themselves to developing their skills and knowledge. 

3. Model Good Learning Habits

Your staff look to you for leadership in all areas of work. For example, if you as head of the clinic want to adopt new practices like going paperless,  start by explaining the rationale and what the benefits will be for the entire team. 

The same is true of learning. If your staff can see that you are constantly updating your credentials, following new research, and improving your own knowledge of patient care and patient service, they will be more likely to value these things themselves and respond accordingly.

4. Invest in Learning

When it comes to employee training, the two biggest obstacles will always be time and resources. Most clinics are good about finding time for training staff on new software because this has an immediate practical implication – it’s when it comes to big picture stuff that things get difficult.

You need every hand on deck to help with patients during business hours and staff may be reluctant to pursue work-related tasks on evenings, days off or weekends. The simplest way to deal with this challenge is to schedule some training during regular hours rather than paying overtime. Your staff will be less likely to suffer from burnout and the return on investment should outweigh any lost patient revenue.    

The importance of ongoing education for healthcare workers – and dental workers especially – cannot be overstated. By holding regular training sessions, incentivizing learning, modelling good behaviour, and investing in learning management software for dental clinics, you are making lifelong learning an integral part of your clinic’s work culture.

Easily Produce New Reports and Dental Practice Metrics with these Productivity Tools

You’ve probably viewed hundreds of reports by now from your dental practice management software – production totals, collections, receivables, and maybe even a missed appointment list if possible. (In a recent blog, I provided samples of these types of standard reports as well as specific transaction tracking features that are essential for running a well-informed, financially successful practice.)

Yet, have you ever wished you could change the format of some of your reports or wondered whether you should be getting more out of the software that’s holding so much practice data in its database? This blog will address these issues by outlining some external reporting methodologies you can employ to shed new light on how your practice is performing.

1. Enhancing Your System’s Standard Reports

One of the limitations of the standard reports is that the output format is essentially fixed – what you see is what you get. As a first step to producing more revealing reports, contact your dental software vendor to find out whether you can export your report data to a folder on your computer. If so, you should be able to view the folder’s file content in other programs such as Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel.

With a little knowledge of these applications, you will be able to perform additional calculations on your practice data and benefit from using news ways of presenting the results. For example, with Excel you can get sums or count totals for any chosen set of data and that can give additional context to the original standard report. You can also use Excel or Word to format the report according to your preference. Let’s look at a simple example to illustrate the possibilities:

From the above example, you can see that the same data from a standard report can be used to provide metrics with additional context. In this case, after utilizing the capabilities of Excel we now have a patient count well as the total and average production by provider.

In short, your practice management software still performs the work of gathering and compiling the data but by using these powerful productivity tools, you can produce new metrics that help you better manage your practice.

2. Visual Reporting with Power BI

Would you like to go a step further by transforming your practice data into easy to read visual reports?

Microsoft Power BI is a business analytics platform that can monitor and read the important data from your dental software database. It provides tools to quickly analyze, transform and visualize data into meaningful reports, key performance indicators (KPIs) and dashboards.

Note: You will need some basic Power BI training and assistance from your software vendor to ensure you extract the data you require. Here are two sample reports that illustrate the possibilities:

3. The I’m not that Technical” way of producing KPIs

If you don’t want to invest time learning how to use the above mentioned tools to produce the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you need, don’t fret.

With a few simple manual calculations you can likely produce at least some of the customized reports that you require.Below is a list of financial based KPIs I mentioned in a previous blog:

In short, the exercise involves manually extracting one or more numbers from the relevant standard reports and then performing simple calculations as described in the above chart. For a list of Operational KPIs, check out this previous blog and for Patient Satisfaction/Service Level based KPIs, try this blog.

In summary, your ability to extract the information you need and produce the metrics for running a better practice depends on four main factors:

  • Your comfort level for using the productivity tools at your disposal
  • The number and quality of the standard reports your dental software produces
  • The ability to extract information from your dental software database
  • The degree of assistance you receive from your software vendor

On a parting note, simply producing dental practice metrics is not enough. To compete in today’s dental marketplace you need to compare your results to industry benchmarks. And, then make corresponding behavioural and operational adjustments in areas where you are not satisfied to improve those results – but that’s a blog for another day! 

Dental Clinical Charting Features To Look For

Have you decided to bite the bullet and replace your paper patient charts with electronic ones? Or, have you already done this and are disappointed with the results?

First let’s quickly review why it’s still a good decision and then look at what software features are essential to make electronic charting work as smoothly as possible.   

The Benefits of Electronic Clinical Records

Fully electronic patient records consist of four main components:

  1. Restorative History – pre-existing conditions, new conditions and restorative treatment
  2. Periodontal History – pre-existing conditions and periodontal condition over time
  3. Clinical Notes – recording of observations, medical conditions/history, additional factors and recommendations
  4. Recommended treatment plan/s

Here’s why it makes sense to store all of the above electronically:

  • Full Patient Record Integration – Administrative (already in electronic form), and clinical information can work in concert to enable optimal treatment outcomes, streamlined workflows and improved communication – this synergy is simply not possible with unconnected, multiple paper systems.
  • Accessibility – The patient record is available at any place on the network and can’t be misplaced like paper charts.
  • More Complete and Legible Records – Electronic information promotes more thorough and legible recordkeeping without the investment of extra time.
  • Labour Savings – Pulling, organizing and refiling patient charts is no longer required.
  • Space Savings – Electronic systems free up valuable space for more productive use.
  • Reduced Costs – This saves the money formerly spent on labour, paper charts, stationary and storage.
  • Increased Security – Electronic charts can be backed up and protected from catastrophic events.
  • Longer-lasting Records – Electronic charts are impervious to wear and tear.
  • Chart Integrity – Electronic charting systems can automatically name, date, and time-stamp entries which ensures data integrity and regulatory compliance.
  • Dynamic records – A new and separate cumulative historical chart is created with each patient visit making easy to see all of the treatment a patient has received. This is more convenient than searching through the sheets in a paper chart.

Getting Started with Electronic Clinical Records

Now that we have confirmed the benefits of electronic clinical records, let’s look at the conversion protocols and system functionality that make the transformation as easy to do as possible.

Quick Method – to save time vetting, all patient paper charts and related clinical documents are digitally scanned and loaded into the practice management software. New transactions are then entered electronically via the interface to the dental software’s graphical representation of the patient dentition (odontogram).  

Analytical Method – The Analytical Method is a stepped approach that starts with the vetting of paper charts to determine which patients are high priority for conversion (typically based on their current level of activity). Similarly, for each patient selected, additional time is spent to determine the essential information to scan for the electronic patient file and which documents can remain archived in their paper file.

To give more context to the odontogram and to reduce the need to refer to the archived paper chart, existing conditions can be plotted on the odontogram prior to adding electronic entries of new transactions.

Assessing Restorative Charting Features

Start by looking for software with odontograms that illustrate the dentition as realistically as possible. Accompanying sidebar icons typically present a comprehensive list of choices for entering graphical representations of existing conditions, planned treatment and completed procedures. Most systems will allow you to simply apply a condition or treatment by clicking the on the appropriate icon and then applicable teeth. Where necessary, additional options should appear for marking surfaces and specifying materials.

Plotting of treatment plans should produce corresponding treatment fee estimates along with the necessary series of required appointments to produce time-saving administrative synergies and ensure chosen treatment plans get scheduled. Similarly, completed work entered on the odontogram should feed the patient ledger for billing and provide the ability to enter payments.

Customizable clinical note templates save time with data entry and ensure key information is entered consistently. Finally, proper chart sign-off protocols should be in place to ensure date integrity and regulatory compliance.

Assessing Perio Charting Features

This function should allow the recording of measurements for all the standard periodontal conditions including recession, pocket depths, attachments, and furcations as well as plot conditions for bleeding, suppuration, plaque, calculus, and mobility.  Users should be able to choose the order in which they would like to enter data.

The ability to compare results over several visits facilitates the evaluation of patient progress. Voice input functionality has the potential to save time and free up staff resources with recording of conditions, but only if the technology employed is sound. If considering this data input option, make sure you view a demonstration to determine if it will be practical to use in the context of your own operatories.

Conclusion

The benefits of moving to electronic clinical records include administrative synergies, cost savings, and increased efficiency and productivity. Before making the transition, it is important to ensure that your practice management system is capable of handling electronic clinical records to your satisfaction and to have buy-in from your dental team. Making the transition does require spending some time and money but the ongoing gains for your practice will far outweigh any initial investment.

4 Back to School Tips to Help Dental Students Succeed This Semester

The following guest post is from Tyler Willis, founder of Tyler Willis Content Consulting. An accomplished writer and editor, Tyler engages with clients from many industries including higher education, technology and healthcare to produce professional quality content that appears in magazines, online news and blogs.

For students preparing for a career in the dental industry, September is a exciting month. As that delicious nip of fall enters the air, the new semester brings new classes, new challenges, and new opportunities for growth. 

Studying to become a dental professional can be incredibly rewarding, but I don’t think anyone who has been through the process would say that it is easy. Dental programs are designed to be extremely demanding, but there are ways to make things easier for yourself.

Here are four tips that can help you head into this school year prepared for success and focused on mastering the skills you need.

1. Plan Ahead

The best way to succeed in dentistry school is to plan so that you are prepared for the rigours of the coming months instead of finding yourself panicking as the end of the semester closes in. Pace yourself, make sure you understand the material and adopt a proactive attitude to learning.

Here are a few areas you can focus on to ensure that you succeed in dentistry school:

  • Manage your time – Mastering the skill of time management is crucial to keeping on top of your assignments and studies while also balancing your personal life and other responsibilities. Keep a calendar noting when all of your assignments are due and the time and location for every quiz, exam, personal appointment, etc. so that you arrive on time.
  • Set some time aside for yourself – This often-overlooked tip is key. Don’t drop all of your social engagements or hobbies just because you’re studying. Make time for yourself to avoid burnout.
  • Always be professional – You are about to embark on a career in patient care, and the sooner you learn how to conduct yourself in a professional manner, the better your prospects will look. Dentistry school is also the perfect time to start building networking connections. Trust me, they will last your entire career.
  • Keep your body in shape – This is an easy one to let slide, especially during exam crunch time. But it’s important to get a good night’s sleep and keep fit. Keeping your body healthy will keep your mind sharp and help you succeed.

This video that shares more good advice for first year students in dental programs.

2. Gain As Much Knowledge As Possible

Dentistry students get a lot of information thrown at them and, when you’re just starting out, it can be tempting to wonder when you’ll actually need to know all this.

The reality is that since you will be running or participating in a business in addition to being a clinician, you don’t just need to know about your own role. You will also need to co-ordinate with team members that have a variety of different skills. As I mentioned in a previous blog, succeeding in dentistry often means adopting new approaches, mastering new software solutions and using cross training techniques to get the most from yourself and your team. Soaking up as much knowledge as you can while in dentistry school, even if it doesn’t seem immediately applicable to your desired role, will stand you in good stead once you are in the workplace.

3. Prepare for a Career in the Real World

Dentistry has changed a lot in the past twenty years, and being part of a dental team involves understanding a lot more than just teeth. In addition to covering standard tools of the trade like scalers, molds and tofflemires, your instructors will talk about practice management and people skills.  

Take advantage of these education opportunities to learn more about industry-specific topics like the role dental software plays in the modern clinic. The specific features of the software will give you a good indication of what is important to track and monitor to run a successful practice so that you are better prepared when you graduate. Remember, successful dental professionals wear a lot of different hats and maintaining an approach to your studies that is focused on preparing yourself for the actual industry will stand you in good stead when you are interviewing for your first job in the field.

4. Don’t Neglect Your Own Health

Let’s face it: if higher education is stressful, advanced study in the healthcare sciences is doubly so. And one of the unfortunate by-products of all this stress is that students often don’t take adequate care of themselves, even as they are learning about the importance of regular check-ups for public health.

When studying to be a dental professional, make sure to regularly book appointments with your own healthcare providers so you can keep healthy throughout the school year. Remember, you can’t take care of others if you are neglecting your own health! You’ll also get a better idea of what approach you will adopt when dealing with patients based on your own experience as a patient.

Many of the healthcare professionals I talk to look back on their university or college years with a sense of fondness for the good times – and a general feeling of relief that they made the grade.

Whether you love the student life or can’t wait to start practicing your profession, it is important to get the most out of your school experience. After all, these years can set you up for a long and successful career in the world of dentistry!

Service and Support: The Key to Dental Software Satisfaction

Recently I wrote a blog about four main factors to consider when evaluating and purchasing dental software. One of the factors cited was the importance of a vendor’s quality and level of service and support. While writing, this had me thinking back to a time when we were doing a lot of conversions from other vendor’s systems – the primary reason not being lack of functionality as one might think, but rather in many cases, the lack of sufficient customer support at critical times.

With the increased complexity and functionality of dental software today, the importance of service and support is even more critical, yet often remains a neglected factor when evaluating which practice management system to implement. Let’s look at the components of a comprehensive support plan that help ensure your practice runs smoothly with minimal interruption.

Solution Implementation

The first indication of the level of support you will receive from a vendor usually comes during the sales process – but at this stage you are dealing with promises. It’s during the software implementation phase where you will receive tangible evidence of a vendor’s commitment to support.

Whether you choose a local server or a cloud-based solution, it needs to be configured to the workflow requirements of your practice and that requires assistance from the software vendor. In many cases, you will need to contract third party hardware/IT vendors that will also rely on your dental software vendor for support. Many installations also involve conversion of practice data from a previous system – another indicator of service level based on the quality and delivery time of the data converted.

Training

The amount and level of training you will receive is another indicator of the vendor’s dedication to high service levels and is a huge determinant of how your dental team will perceive the functionality and quality of the software.

Look for a vendor that has the resources to offer a variety of training methods including onsite, classroom and web-based, and ask about the software’s built in help system and whether they have other training collateral available such as tutorials and videos. The number and experience level of trainers on staff is also a good indication of the quality of training you will receive.

There is a temptation to skimp on this area in an effort to save money but the irony is that quality, comprehensive training allows for the greatest return on investment. However, if you have a person on staff that is skilled enough to train the rest of your team, this can be a viable option to optimize your investment and help ensure that all team members follow the same procedures when using the software.

Software Support

As mentioned, a common reason practices switch to new dental software is poor customer support from their vendor – specifically, slow response times and insufficient problem resolution.

  • Request performance statistics, such as the average on-hold time and average length of call. This information will provide you with an objective metric when comparing service levels between vendors.
  • Ask how many software support analysts they have on staff to respond to technical questions and/or issues.
  • Check out the type of support plans offered and the scope of service hours to see if they match your requirements and budget. Ideally, the vendor should provide 24/7/365 support.
  • Find out from your colleagues whether their vendor’s technical support staff often go beyond simple problem resolution by providing helpful tips based on their experience working with dental practices.
  • Review the vendor’s customer newsletters, blogs, ebooks, training materials, etc. to gauge how helpful they will be and the degree to which they will keep you informed.
  • Look for vendors that provide a customer portal for convenient access to value added resources.

Software Updates

As the dental industry and practice management best practices continue to evolve, so will your dental software need to progress. Software updates you receive from your vendor should consist of improvements to existing features as well as new functionality rather than simply “bug” fixes. Downloading updates should be seamless and require minimal setup to limit practice downtime. Small incremental updates are preferred so that learning curves to implement new features are short and reliance on support services is minimized.   

Third-Party Integrations

No matter how comprehensive the dental software package you choose is, there may be third party applications you want to add that can benefit from an integration. The integration will typically involve sharing of information between the new application and the dental practice management software to provide administrative/clinical synergies and reduce data entry. Third-party applications that can benefit from integration include imaging software, payment card processing, reputation management, and automated patient communication. The number of integration partnerships a vendor provides is an indication of how dedicated they are to delivering leading-edge solutions to their customers.

Conclusion 

Like all companies that use software to help manage their business, dental practices rely on service and support to maintain productivity and minimize downtime. Unfortunately, many dental practices underestimate the importance of quality support before purchasing dental practice management software only to realize its impact after it is too late to change course easily. There is also a temptation to cut support costs since it is an ongoing expense – however, this service has the potential to provide a large return on investment if used effectively.

It can be difficult to determine which vendor is positioned to provide the best levels of service and support. It is wise to start by evaluating the vendor’s overall track record in the industry – a good indicator of the quality of support they will provide after you purchase their software.

What to Look For in a Dental Office Manager

A dental office manager plays a central role in the smooth functioning of the dental practice. If you want your clinic to succeed, ensure that the position is filled by someone who is passionate about patient care and has the hard skills to make sure that every aspect of clinic business is addressed.  

But what does that actually look like, and how can you tell just from an interview and a resume that someone has the character and experience to run your clinic?

Hiring becomes even more challenging when the person you are hiring is going to be responsible for just about every aspect of the day-to-day functioning of your business.

In my experience, the clinics that have been able to find the best people for the job are the ones that have looked beyond basic criteria like credentials and years in the industry to take a more holistic approach.

If you are looking to hire a new office manager in 2019, here are a few things to consider before you start the search.

Make Sure They Have the Hard Skills

In addition to dental office managers requiring a sufficient grasp of industry norms and standards, they also need to be familiar with the software and service technology used in modern dental practices. 

A good manager should be able to perform the following roles:

  • General office administration
  • Financial reporting functions for accounting purposes – perform basic bookkeeping duties as necessary
  • Organize and help lead (along with the dentist) regular staff meetings
  • Coordinate marketing efforts
  • Budget for office expenses and assist with supply orders
  • Oversee staff scheduling and payroll
  • Cover for Front Desk duties and Dental Assisting (if certified)

This means that when it comes to considering candidates, you should look for the following qualifications:

  • High School diploma and relevant certificates or associate degrees (there are a variety of certificate and degree programs designed to provide dental administrators with a background in medical terminology and dental health safety)
  • At least two or three years working in dental administration
  • Solid and demonstrated understanding of billing and insurance procedures, and a high degree of familiarity with the dental accounting and practice management software

These qualifications should be viewed as the basic requirements needed to be considered for the position – there are additional skills that you should look for if possible.

Experience with management in other industries adds diversity and new ideas. Candidates with backgrounds in healthcare marketing, dental technology and software or dental hygiene can also provide new and valuable perspective to the practice. Remember, dental office managers oversee many operational areas – the more diversified their experience, the better equipped they will be to provide direction to staff members and the practice overall.

Don’t Forget Chemistry and Character

When hiring people for management positions in the healthcare sector, my experience has been that most of the candidates applying have similar qualifications and skills.

That means that you are likely to have a range of candidates who all have the knowledge and skills, but may have very different degrees of competency in other areas. These can be the differentiators in order to identify the preferred candidate.

One of the biggest hiring mistakes clinics can make is by selecting the person who has the most experience, or seems most dazzling in the interview. While these things are important, be aware that you are presumably hiring a person that will be working with the practice long term. Therefore, making sure that the manager you hire has the kinds of character traits you desire – being extroverted, communicative, friendly, confident, and patient-focused – is just as important as making sure they have the hard skills to do the job.

Finding a manager with whom you get along is really important and a candidate who is more personable and friendly but less experienced will probably be a better hire in the long run than someone who doesn’t gel with your team or who has a very different approach to management than the one your team is comfortable with.   

Soft Skills Matter

In recent years – in dentistry as well as other fields – employers and recruiters focus their talent identification strategies around soft skills (inherent personality traits that can’t really be taught). With enough time to train, a new hire can learn how to use various components of practice management software such as automated appointment reminders but you can’t teach someone how to have a higher Emotional Quotient (EQ) or how to be more adaptable.

These days, most candidates for dental management shouldn’t be considered unless they possess strong soft skills such as leadership, communication, collaboration, and even culture-fit. A candidate with these attributes is likely to be better at other areas – there’s a natural synergy.

For example, a leader who demonstrates curiosity will listen and pay more attention to feedback so they can better understand where improvements are needed. And, a leader with a higher EQ is more likely to build on feedback to become more self-aware and learn from mistakes.

Bringing on a new member of the management team is not an easy process, but given how impactful the decision is going to be in the long run, it’s important to make sure you do your due diligence when recruiting.

In summary, consider more than just the hard skills: as any experienced leader knows, character is just as important as qualifications when it comes to building a healthy workplace culture and a thriving business.

Top 5 Ways to Improve the Culture of Your Practice

Workplace culture: it’s one of those terms that seems vague, but actually plays an incredibly important role in the job satisfaction and work experiences of dental practice employees.

Where a workplace culture is healthy and vibrant employees enjoy coming to work, are friendly with their colleagues and rally around each other in trying times to face challenges together. A toxic workplace culture, on the other hand, makes employees feel isolated and belittled and saps productivity.

Workplace culture is especially important in the healthcare industry. Workers at a dental clinic are under a lot of stress even at the best of times, so maintaining good teamwork is essential for the effective delivery of patient care and their positive perception.

Even for offices that don’t suffer from passive aggressiveness and team sabotage, hallmarks of a toxic workplace, it is still worth considering whether your clinic could be more effective if employees felt better integrated and more supported. And, the good news about workplace environments, as Glenn Rolfsen explains in this TEDx video, is that they can be changed:

If you believe your dental clinic culture could be improved, and you want to explore some practical ways of doing so, here are five strategies that I have found to work well.

1. Foster a Culture of Appreciation

Everyone likes to feel their work has been noticed and appreciated and you might be surprised to learn just how much negativity comes from workers who believe their contributions are not being recognized. 

Encouraging your employees to become more appreciative of each other starts at the top, so the best way to foster a culture of appreciation is to intentionally make a point of regularly thanking every member of your staff. Something as small as a cheerful “thanks!” after being handed a folder, when repeated daily, can go a long way.

2. Break Down Workplace Silos

Nothing encourages a distrustful workplace like silos, and in a dental clinic, the problem can become prevalent especially between employees working in the front end of operations and those working in the clinical area.

Workplace silos form when particular departments or sectors do not wish to share information with other departments or sectors. Many employees become frustrated with their company when they identify issues, but can’t do anything about it because the problem starts in another department. Using dental practice management software that integrates administrative and clinical functions well can facilitate better communication between team members.   

3. Invest in Better Communications

Simply having good software tools at your disposal isn’t enough: making sure your employees have been trained to use them effectively is an important step toward ensuring your workplace is more interconnected and your workers more communicative with each other. 

A team that doesn’t communicate well will quickly become a team that won’t communicate at all so it is important to make sure that channels to help employees collaborate and share information with each other are open and accessible.

Holding regular team meetings that give front and back end staff opportunities to talk about what is working and what isn’t is a good way to ensure that negative feelings can be processed in healthy ways, rather than festering into resentment.

Of course, this means that as a leader you will have to make the time to train your staff.

Peter Capelli, the director of The Wharton Schools Center for Human Resources, notes that companies are interested more than ever in workers they don’t have to educate. But his research also proved that when employers don’t put aside the time to train young workers on new software, workflow will suffer.

4. Reward Worker Efficiency

In order for a dental clinic to run well, you need to devote time to problem solve with your team. It is a good practice to present different scenarios and ask team members to collectively recommend the appropriate course of action. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and is equipped to handle different and difficult situations as they arise. This won’t just make for more effective patient care, but will also make employees feel more like members of a team. 

As I have written before making sure you have a good team is vital and keeping the team engaged is just as important. Rewarding your workers for looking ahead and using their own critical thinking skills to make operations run more efficiently is a great way to build employee loyalty and a healthy workplace at the same time.

5. Encourage Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is one of those terms used so frequently that its now a cliché. “Yes, of course,” you want to say, “I know that being a workaholic isn’t healthy. I take time for self-care and I encourage my employees to do the same.”

Management attitudes – and especially perceived management attitudes – toward work-life balance has a major impact on your overall workplace culture.

Do more than just let your employees know that they can take time off when they need to; concretely foster work-life balance by discouraging working after hours or on weekends when it isn’t absolutely necessary.

A healthy workplace culture is one of those things that can be difficult to define but it is one that is immediately recognizable.

Patients notice when workers are happy and feel supported and making your workers feel valued and appreciated will pay off in other ways as well. Employees that really feel part of a team are much more likely to cheerfully go the extra mile for the clinic.