A Forbes article notes that “When good leadership is in place in a company, it can be felt throughout the entire organization” and “Bad leadership can also be felt throughout the entire organization―only not in a good way. We couldn’t agree more! In my dental consulting practice, I’ve witnessed first-hand the impacts of both effective and sub-par leadership. When strong leadership is lacking, the organizational culture suffers. This, in turn, impacts patient experience. Having engaged, high-performing employees is also important for ensuring solid business operations. Bottom line: If you want your practice to grow and thrive, you need to have the right leadership infrastructure in place to mobilize the support of the entire team. In this article, we’ll touch on some of the steps you can take and why they matter.
If you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to focus on abstract ideas like ‘leadership’,” we hope that the following examples of the practical, tangible benefits of good leadership may shift your perspective.
Cultivate a Positive Organizational Culture That Fosters Growth and Achievement
The first question to ask yourself is “What type of culture do I want for the practice?” While the answers to this question may differ somewhat across individual practices, I think we can all agree that a culture that promotes a positive work environment, boosting employee engagement and high performance, is highly desirable. So how do you accomplish this?
Establish and share a clear mission and vision statement with all staff. This is a good clarifying exercise for you and sets the tone for all employees.
Cultivate a positive culture. Treat employees and patients in a professional and respectful way. Model a positive outlook and show clear disapproval of destructive gossip and unkind behavior. Never make cutting comments about anyone.
Promote a culture of growth and learning. Demonstrate a growth mindset by adopting a can-do attitude and continuously learning and improving your own skills. Your behavior sets the bar for the rest of the staff. Also, be sure to encourage your employees to grow and learn. In addition to providing training opportunities, you can include professional growth and development as a criterion in employee performance reviews. A growth and learning culture lifts all boats.
Recognize achievement. Countless studies have shown that recognition is highly valued by employees. It also typically boosts contentment. Happy employees are typically more productive than those who aren’t. Additionally, employees who feel appreciated are more likely to appreciate their managers. Oh, and happy employees will typically stay with their employer longer. So, carving out time to notice and acknowledge individual and team achievements is well worth the effort.
Demonstrate Practice Values Through Your Actions
Another key question is “What type of values do I want to reinforce in the practice?” You likely want your employees to value teamwork and respectful treatment of patients and colleagues, as well as practice growth. When you demonstrate key values through your behavior, employees notice and will usually try to adopt similar behavior.
Model teamwork and a caring, supportive approach. Treat employees with respect, fostering excellent performance through encouragement. Avoid a strict hierarchical approach in favor of an attitude of everyone pitching in and helping one another. If a staff member is trying to get out on time to pick up her child from work, offer to finish up for her. Employees feel supported and respected by gestures like these. Remember that how you treat your employees has a direct impact on how employees in turn treat patients.
Adopt a goal-driven approach. Management studies have consistently validated the value of goal setting. Basically, if individuals and organizations don’t articulate specific goals, progress and growth are much less likely to occur. Be sure that your practice has goals and that they’re shared frequently with staff. Working toward goals also helps employees to feel more engaged and part of a larger effort. You also need to monitor progress toward goals or else momentum will be lost and employees will assume the goals are no longer important.
Cultivate Staff Loyalty, Trust, and Longevity
Communicate regularly with staff. A common challenge in dental practices is a shortage of time. Most dentists are hard-pressed to complete procedures while also keeping on top of managing the business side of the practice. Dental practice managers are also typically juggling many tasks each day in a busy office. However, taking time to communicate with staff is crucial, and will save you time in the long run if you’re able to keep good employees from walking out the door. We have two recommendations: 1) Hold a morning huddle with all staff each morning; and 2) Talk to employees frequently, showing that you care. Regular communication makes staff feel like a valued part of the team and helps to generate employee trust and loyalty.
Provide staff training opportunities. Providing opportunities for staff to grow, learn, and develop new skills is a well-documented way to reduce staff turnover. It also helps to improve employee engagement and morale. Plus, most importantly, your staff performance will improve as well!
The tried-and-true strategies presented above have been implemented in all types of organizations, big and small. You might want to start out with some small steps. Just implement a couple of these suggestions and watch the positive changes that will emerge in your practice!Read More
While helping dental businesses to thrive and grow over the past decade, I’ve found that there’s one challenge that plagues nearly all of my clients—staff turnover. Below are some actions you can take to recruit and retain top talent.
First, let’s look at the typical staffing scenario in a dental practice. The front office staff person gives two weeks’ notice. The practice scrambles to hire a new person. The applicant pool is limited, so they just go ahead and hire someone quickly. The new person—who often has limited education, skills and experience—starts work about two weeks after the previous staff person has left. But the existing staff are snowed under with work and don’t have much time to spend training the new person. So, her interactions with patients are far less than ideal and she’s muddling through scheduling, billing and insurance tasks. Sound familiar?
Up your recruiting game
If you’re like most dental practices, you can’t afford to pay high wages to your administrative staff. So, you may be thinking that you’ll just have to settle for sub-par staff. However, you can take steps that help you attract the best possible candidates.
Spend time on the job description and job ad. Update your job descriptions regularly to make sure they’re accurate. (This is also helpful in the event of any HR legal situations.) Remember that prospective candidates are evaluating you also. Make sure your job advertisement not only conveys what you need, but also includes information that attracts candidates, such as “warm, caring, positive work environment” and/or perks.
You also need to make sure your job ad is the right length and clearly written, with formatting that makes it easy to read.
Offer perks. Can you offer discounts on selected dental procedures? Do you provide training opportunities? Can you offer a slight pay increase after one year of excellent performance? Be sure to list any of these perks in the job ad.
On-board new staff effectively
When new employees are just thrown in at the deep end with little guidance, they typically feel stressed and unsuccessful. As a starting point, make sure that your employee handbook is current and useful. This can save you and your practice manager a lot of time and increase the new employee’s confidence. If you equip new staff with the skills they need to do their job and provide some coaching, they’re much more likely to stay.
Create a positive, healthy organizational culture
Nothing pushes employees out the door faster than a toxic work environment with poor management. Signs of an unhealthy work culture are a lot of gossip and back-biting, anxious, unsmiling employees, and high levels of mistrust. Here are some ways you can cultivate a more positive work environment.
Provide training for your practice manager. A little bit of management training can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of a supervisor.
Hold team meetings. Team meetings can provide a great opportunity to establish communication channels with team members. Most people like to feel like they’re a valued part of a team, and are eager to contribute. Use meetings as a way to keep employees in the loop and engage them in what’s happening in the organization.
Communicate regularly with employees. You and/or your practice manager need to take the time to talk to your staff and show them that you care about them as people. Make sure that you’re approachable, and that you regularly acknowledge good work. Recognition is a powerful motivator.
Learn how to deal with and resolve conflicts. A certain amount of disagreement and conflict is unavoidable in any group of humans. However, if they’re handled correctly, they don’t have to result in deep rifts or ongoing tension. Training in conflict management can be surprisingly helpful.
Intervene with employees who are big gossipers. A little bit of gossip is part of human nature. But a lot of gossip can be very demoralizing and create a poisonous, dysfunctional atmosphere filled with mistrust. Let employees know that it won’t be tolerated.
Provide opportunities for staff to learn and grow
According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), research has shown definitively that providing development opportunities for employees reduces staff turnover. This is especially true for your best employees, who want to feel like they’re progressing in some way. Giving staff access to training also helps to increase their motivation and level of engagement, as well as loyalty. All of these in turn make employees want to stay with you.
If you’d like to explore some of our courses related to these topics, please visit:
For Practice Managers:Read More
We cannot overemphasize how important it is to provide a positive patient experience.
When it comes to patient experience, the relationship is everything.
This time-tested adage is still spot-on: “First impressions are the most lasting.”
Your staff should strive to create a positive, memorable experience even before the patient visits your dental practice.
When a new patient calls in to get information about your services or even to see if your clinic accepts their dental insurance, here are some of our suggestions on how your receptionist should handle this call:
* Learn more about the patient
Rather than settle for the usual 5-minute exchange of information, you should take a little time to learn more about the new patient.
- Ask them how they heard about your practice
- Find out how they’re doing and what they’re looking for
- Learn what’s important to them!
Engaging your patients with “small talk” builds trust and demonstrates that you care.
* Be attentive and enthusiastic
While gathering a patient’s information and the conventional details, ensure that you achieve a light, pleasant tone.
- Personalize the conversation by calling the patient by their name (e.g., Mr. Lee)
- Talk to them in a welcoming and friendly tone
- End the call with: “We are looking forward to meeting you …. OR We are excited to meet you on….”
Demonstrating how excited your team is to have them as a new patient will help the new patient to feel welcome.
* Build value for the practice
Every interaction with a patient is an opportunity to create additional value.
- Explain to new patients how your practice is different from the others.
- Assure them that they’ve found the right place.
These few customer service tips can supercharge your new patient experience.
For in-depth resources, check out our Premium Dental Practice Training courses.
- Conveying a Welcoming, Professional Image
- Ensuring An Excellent New Patient Experience, and
- Providing Exceptional Customer Service
In my consulting practice, I always begin work with new clients by doing a comprehensive practice analysis. An important component of this analysis is reviewing key financial metrics. One of those is the “age” of pending insurance claim payments. Recently, I was astonished to discover that one of my new clients had over $300,000 in unpaid insurance claims—some of which were more than 15 months year old! For many of these claims, too much time had passed to collect the revenue from the insurance plan. When I shared this discovery with the dentist, she paled and the expression on her face said it all. So, let’s explore how this happened and what can be done to ensure that the same situation doesn’t arise in your practice.
This client had a loyal practice manager who had been with the practice for more than 10 years. She provided great customer service and had a good attitude. However, the practice hadn’t established solid policies and procedures on insurance and billing and the practice manager hadn’t received any training in this area. It turned out that the pending insurance claims were just the tip of the iceberg in terms of ineffective practices.
Following are some tips on how to tighten up your insurance and billing practices to ensure a healthy revenue stream and prevent avoidable losses.
Establish effective front office policies and procedures
You or your practice manager should implement and ensure compliance with the following best practices.
Establish a financial policy. You should have a financial policy in place that covers when payment is expected, forms of payment accepted, and any third-party financing plans available.
Handle new patient intake optimally. Before patients arrive for their first visit, obtain their insurance information and verify eligibility and coverage. When they arrive, have them sign a copy of the financial policy.
Collect patient’s share of the costs at the time of service. Before a patient arrives for an appointment, estimate their share of the cost of the services. Ask them to pay their share at their appointment. Studies have shown that the chances of collecting patient co-pays go down by about 20% as soon as they walk out the door.
Submit claims daily. At the end of each day, staff should submit insurance claims from procedures done that day. This helps ensure a steady cash flow.
Leverage practice software
Fully utilize finance-related features and functions. You or your practice manager should take the time to explore and use all of the tools your practice software has to offer. Not only does this save time and improve efficiency, but being able to quickly run reports allows you to keep tabs on key financial indicators.
Capture patient coverage electronically. Ensure that front office staff enter all new patient insurance information immediately after obtain the information.
Submit claims electronically. You’ll receive payments more quickly if you submit all of your claims electronically.
Monitor the right data and run the right reports
The tasks below are typically handled by the practice manager.
Monitor insurance claim status. Checking insurance claim status at least twice a month and re-submitting rejected claims or appealing denied claims promptly promotes collection of as much insurance-based revenue as possible.
Monitor pre-treatment estimates. Every two weeks, make sure that the insurance company received the requests and schedule patient treatments as soon as the estimates are received.
Run a daily report on claims submitted. The practice manager should ensure that each day all procedures done for patients with insurance have been submitted.
Run aging reports on insurance claims and outstanding patient balances. Run these reports weekly and address any issues promptly.
The practice manager should definitely have dental-office-specific training geared toward managers. Ideally, the front office should also be trained in basic front office billing and insurance best practices. A small investment in this type of training has a high ROI for your bottom line.
If you’d like to explore our online billing and insurance courses for both front office staff and managers, please click on the links below.
Developing high-performing teams with deeply engaged employees is well worth the effort. A large Gallup workplace analysis concluded that business units with highly engaged employees resulted in 21% greater profitability. Even more impressive is that those departments with highly engaged teams had 59% less turnover and 41% reduction in absenteeism. They also found a 10% increase is customer service ratings and a 20% increase in sales.
So, let’s back up a little bit and talk about what we mean by engaged employees and high-performing teams.
What is an engaged employee?
Gallup describes engaged employees as “as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. “ Following is an illustration of an engaged vs. disengaged employee. Imagine you have one front desk staff who’s always upbeat and enthusiastic when she arrives at work. When she finishes all her work, she asks what else she can do to help and wants to learn how to do new tasks. You have another employee who is often late, who just does the bare minimum necessary and then looks at Instagram the rest of the time.
What’s the ‘secret sauce’ for a high-performing team?
A high-performing team is a group of individuals working toward common goals who collaborate effectively and achieve superior results. A Forbes article notes that high-performing teams “have high levels of internal trust and accountability, navigate change more successfully and have resilient mindsets. They are more sustainable, have higher levels of engagement and therefore efficiency.” Though the perspectives of experts in management and leadership (e.g., SHRM and McKinsey) may differ slightly, nearly all point to the following additional qualities as essential for both high performance and employee engagement.
==> Big picture is clear. Be sure your organization has a clearly defined vision and mission that’s communicated to all employees. When you on board new employees, emphasize how they contribute to the achievement of your vision and mission.
==> Shared vision and common goals. Establish goals for your organization, team, and individuals. That way the team is all rowing together in the same direction.
Employees equipped with the right skills and knowledge to succeed. Use best practices in attracting, screening and hiring top talent. Provide any training that’s needed to ensure that employees can be successful in their roles. If they lack skills or training, they will likely disengage.
==>Clear expectations. Every employee, as well as the entire team, should know what’s expected of them, from customer service to OSHA and HIPAA compliance.
==>Performance feedback. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), “Research has shown that managers who engage in effective performance management produce extraordinary business results compared with those who do not.” Employees need to know what they’re doing well and what areas need improvement. It gives you or your practice manager the chance to acknowledge accomplishments while identifying coaching, mentoring, and training needs as well.
==>Mutual trust and respect among team members and between team members and managers. For best results, you and your practice manager should adopt “servant leadership,” providing support and service to your employees. This approach builds trust and respect. Try not to blame and criticize employees. If an employee needs to improve, provide constructive feedback in a supportive manner.
==>Stellar communication. Regular communication between the manager and team, among team members, and between the manager and individuals is critical to success. Employees should feel psychologically comfortable expressing themselves. In fact, a report by Salesforce notes that “employees who feel their voice is heard at work are nearly five-times (4.6X) more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.” Hold regular meetings; when employees are included and valued, they’re more likely to be engaged.
==>Continuous learning and growth. To engage your staff and retain your best employees, offer opportunities to learn and grow. Training and development are worthwhile investments in one of your most important business assets.
If you or your staff would like to acquire new skills and knowledge that will help promote employee engagement and high performance, you may want to consider the following interactive online courses:
- Cultivating a Winning Mindset: Introduction
- Cultivating a Winning Mindset: Habits for High Performance
- Leveraging Communication Styles
- HR101: Strategic Planning
- HR101: Organizational Culture
- HR101: Recruitment & On-boarding
- HR101: Training & Development
- HR101: Change Management
Do you and your staff interact exactly the same way with all of your patients? If so, then your dental practice is missing out on opportunities to improve connections with patients and boost treatment acceptance rates. Also, a 2016 study conducted at the University of New Mexico Dental School indicated that “determination of patient personality type results in better patient communication and consequently better oral health.”
As you’re no doubt aware, there are many different communication and personality style inventories out there. The foundation concepts for the study just mentioned and for our dental office courses are derived from the DISC personality type theory developed by William Marston.
So, how do you go about leveraging personality/communication styles? The first step is an awareness of different communication styles. Some patients enjoy a chatty, high-energy approach. Others are quiet types who prefer a calm, subdued approach. Some patients want all of the facts and details about their dental care and proposed treatments. Other types of patients just want you to cut to the chase and give them the big picture.
When there’s a mismatch between the dental clinic staff’s approach and the approach that’s desired by the patient, the result is typically patient frustration and dissatisfaction. I know I don’t need to spell out for you the impact this can have on patient satisfaction and retention, not to mention treatment acceptance.
We recommend that all of your staff receive training that will enable them to identify both patients’ communication styles and their own style. That way they can customize their interactions to bolster patient comfort and receptivity and establishment of rapport.
Another area in which communication styles are useful is dental office management. If you’re interacting with staff in a uniform way and you’re assigning tasks without factoring in communication style, your office is probably not operating optimally. Communication styles can help predict what will motivate or discourage different types of individuals. They can also give you insights into the roles, tasks and projects that are most appropriate for individual dental office staff members. Teamwork also tends to improve when employees are aware of each other’s communication style. They’re typically more empathetic and tolerant of their colleagues. Most employees are also energized by training related to communication styles. Our four micro-courses provide this useful training through engaging, interactive activities that are specifically targeted to dental practices.
Take advantage of our free registration to access the course :Introduction to Leveraging Communication Styles. Click here to register for freeRead More
Do you think that offering training opportunities to your dental practice employees is a waste of money that will only result in your staff moving on to other jobs? According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), research has shown that the opposite is true—providing development opportunities for employees actually reduces staff turnover. SHRM goes on to say that “Employee development is almost universally recognized as a strategic tool for an organization’s continuing growth, productivity and ability to retain valuable employees.” They also note that training is necessary to remain competitive. We couldn’t agree more, as we’ve seen the remarkable changes that training can have in dental practices. Training is definitely a worthwhile investment in dental office success.
In fact, an analysis by the Association for Talent Development on the return on investment from training yielded some startling statistics. They found that businesses that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies that lack training programs. These companies also have 24% higher profit margins.
Following are some additional benefits. Providing employee training and development opportunities:
- promotes a growth and improvement orientation. When your practice staff are regularly learning new content, they are more likely to adopt a growth and improvement outlook in their work.
- boosts employee engagement. This, in turn, improves motivation, job satisfaction, and morale.
- reduces staff turnover. When employees are engaged, learning, and happy at work, they’re less likely to leave.
- reduces practice risk. Training in areas such as HIPAA, labor laws, and safety practices is an essential risk reduction tactic for dental practices.
- improves performance. When your dental practice team learns skills such as management or customer service, it lifts all boats: your employees are happier and they create a more welcoming environment for your patients.
- fosters excellent customer service. When employees are happier and more engaged, that goodwill filters down into excellent customer service for your patients.
Following are examples of the types of benefits of different types of training:
- New patient conversion
- Retention of existing patients
Optimal Operational Systems Training
- Scheduling strategies that increase production/revenue
- Improved efficiency
- Effective management of insurance
- Development of useful employee manuals to ensure consistent performance among all staff
- Tactics to attract and retain top talent
- Cultivation of a positive organizational culture
- Successful strategic planning to improve and grow your practice
- Practice risk reduction (e.g., ensuring your practice isn’t violating labor laws)
- Effective employee performance evaluation system to develop employees to their full potential
Management and Leadership Training
- Cultivation of a winning mindset in your employees
- Adoption of treatment presentation approaches that work
- Increased employee engagement, which boosts productivity and reduces staff turnover
- Development of high-performing teams
If you’re still not convinced, see if the following information changes your outlook. In 2018, workers quit their jobs at the highest rate in 17 years. And that trend is not expected to change. A 2019 Workforce Learning Report by LinkedIn showed that a whopping 94% of employees said that they would stay with their employer if the business would just invest in learning opportunities for them.
Bolster the success of your dental practice and reduce the expense and hassle of staff turnover by offering your employees the chance to improve their skills. Check our catalog with complete series of courses for your staff.
We offer cost-effective, yearly memberships that give access to all our courses and training accounts for multiple team members. These courses reflect our many years of dental industry experience. Here’s what makes our courses different.
- We teach crucial, practical skills that will make your practice thrive.
- Our courses challenge your staff with realistic scenarios to boost their skills.
- Each course we offer takes only 30 minutes to complete. This means your employees will be able to learn and become a highly skilled member of your practice quickly.
- Our courses are interactive, which sparks engagement and increases retention of new knowledge.
- Every course has a downloadable summary that your staff can keep handy.
- And much more.
If you would like to learn more about the plans we offer, reply to this email.Read More
Simply filling the majority of your open dental appointment slots doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re achieving your full production and revenue potential. Like so many of our clients, you will likely be amazed by the impact effective scheduling strategies can have on your dental clinic’s bottom line. Even more surprising is that some of these practices can actually reduce stress and overtime, while simultaneously boosting collections. Following are some of the strategies we recommend to our dental practice clients.
Establish revenue goals. The first step is to establish a monthly or yearly revenue target for your dental clinic. Be sure to factor in revenue generated by hygiene services as well. Then determine how much revenue you need to bring in each day or week to meet your overall goal.
Format your scheduling software optimally. Are you currently scheduling dental appointments in 15-minute increments? If so, you’re likely not maximizing productivity. Instead, try scheduling in 10-minute increments. This allows you to get more granular and precise. You may only gain 10 or 15 minutes of productivity with this change, but that time will add up, believe me! Also, you should be sure to set up a column for every treatment room in your clinic to monitor productivity for each operatory.
Document procedure times for each provider. If you’ve actually tracked the amount of time it takes each to complete different procedure, you should make this a priority. Be sure to document the time it takes each clinical staff member to finish his/her part of a procedure. Document about a dozen procedures in this way and calculate the average time. This has some obvious advantages. First of all, you can reserve the right amount of time for different procedures, which ensures that your schedule runs on-time, while at the same time avoiding “dead” time in the schedule. It also helps you to project staffing needs.
Sequence appointments effectively. Sync up dental assistant and hygienist time with the doctor’s time. For example, if the dental assistant completes her work on a patient at 8:30, schedule the dentist’s part of the procedure to start at 8:30.
Schedule emergency appointments at times that are least disruptive to the daily schedule. Squeeze in dental emergency appointments just before or after lunch or at the very end of the day.
I’ve seen many clients focus on “filling the schedule” as their primary goal, in an effort to increase collections. However, all appointments are not equal. Shifting a focus to ensuring that there is time available in the schedule for more lucrative procedures is far more effective in achieving revenue goals
Adopt a block scheduling system. The central idea with block scheduling is that you “block out” times in your daily or weekly schedule that are reserved for higher revenue-generating dental procedures.
Classify procedures: Group procedures into high, moderate, and low (or 0) revenue-generating categories.
Determine how many slots to reserve for each type of procedure. We won’t go into great detail here, but using worksheets and formulas, you can determine, based on historical data plus revenue goals, how much time to reserve in your daily or weekly schedule for more lucrative procedures.
Assign scheduling responsibility to one staff member. Block scheduling is definitely more complicated than conventional scheduling. To ensure that it’s done correctly and runs smoothly, we recommend that one person on your team handle all scheduling.
Train dental clinic staff in block scheduling. Getting staff buy-in on the block scheduling system is crucial for successful implementation.
If you’re not yet ready to make the leap to block scheduling, start by implementing the other strategies and monitor the impact on your bottom line. If you’d like to learn more about production scheduling or you’d like your staff to get a better understanding of optimal scheduling practices, please see our practical, interactive online courses :
- Scheduling to Your Practice’s Goal to Minimize Stress and Maximize Productivity
- Block Scheduling to Maximize Revenue
Are you and your dental clinic staff thoroughly steeped in HIPAA compliance? If so, that’s terrific. You can rest easy knowing you’re not at risk for HIPAA violations—the fines for which can be frighteningly high.
If you’re unsure whether you’re totally on top of HIPAA compliance, see if you can answer the following questions correctly. Your success, or lack of success, will be a good barometer of how conversant you are with HIPAA regulations.
|Answer This Questions To Test Your HIPAA Knowledge||TRUE||FALSE|
|1||It’s okay to put paper patient records in the recycle bin if they’re more than seven years old.|
|2||If you download some patient records on a USB drive so that you have home access, and it’s stolen, you’re not liable for any HIPAA breaches because you couldn’t anticipate a theft.|
|3||Your employees should only view patient records that they need to see to do their jobs. Looking at patient records with no “need-to-know” basis is a HIPAA violation.|
|4||It’s okay to freely share health information with parents of any patients under the age of 21|
|5||It’s okay to freely share health information with the daughter of an elderly person who is no longer capable of independent living if the daughter can prove that she is the executor of the parent’s will/estate.|
|6||Your clinic is required to have one person in charge of HIPAA compliance|
|7||All staff in a covered entity must receive HIPAA training.|
See how you did on our quiz
- This is not true. You should never recycle patient records, no matter how old they are.
- Sorry to say, you are still liable for any breaches that occur. So, think twice before storing dental patient information on a device that lacks password authorization.
- This is true. Viewing or sharing patient health information that is not needed to perform one’s job is a HIPAA violation.
- False. You need to obtain patient consent from any patients 18 years and older before sharing any health information. Even if the parents are footing the bill!
- False. The child of an elderly person can access health information only if they have power of attorney and/or medical power of attorney.
- True. Each covered entity organization must appoint one individual to manage HIPAA compliance.
- True. If you have dental clinic staff members that have not received HIPAA training, then you’re out of compliance.
Train and test your staff
Provide access to online training for new staff members. An easy way to ensure that all new dental office staff members receive HIPAA training is to give them access to online training materials that are available 24/7.
Include key provisions of HIPAA regulations in your employee handbook. Include a bulleted list of the HIPAA regulations you see as most relevant to your staff.
Include occasional pop quizzes during your regular team meetings. Using mini-scenarios such as those in this article, quiz your staff. If they do poorly on the quiz, ensure that they have some remedial training.
If you’re interested in online training for your staff, check out our short, practical, interactive HIPAA course, designed specifically for dental offices.Read More
Mention “culture” to many dentists and it brings back dental school memories of how they determined what organisms were causing what disease and what antimicrobial could be used to combat the disease.
Actually, the culture of a dental office is the personality that defines what it’s like to work there, how the staff treats their patients, and what the staff’s fundamental beliefs and work ethics are. One of the challenges of growth in dental businesses, whether in one or multiple locations, is maintaining the culture.
All it takes is leadership!
The leader needs to align with the culture and model any desired behaviors. A leader’s values, actions, and development of his or her team need to visibly reinforce the culture of the organization. A leader has the ability to make or break an organization.
Through leading by example, the leader sets the tone for the company’s culture every day. One of the biggest factors that can hinder a leader’s ability to effectively drive results is failing to align with, act on, or uphold the organization’s values.
Poor leadership can reinforce the wrong values, behaviors, and attitudes, creating interferences that can lead to a toxic culture and create discord between an office’s image and how it actually operates. Most consultants would say if the culture is not great, it doesn’t matter what system is used or how well it is implemented, because it will never stick.
Leadership and culture are the crosshairs that, when coordinated, can make for a competitive advantage in a competitive market.
Here are some steps you can take to start
Show genuine interest and concern—Connect with the emotional side of the workforce, which creates a shared sense of purpose and motivation.
Lead by example
Never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. If the office staff has to stay late for a patient and they’re behind on closing the day, grab a vacuum and help.
Respect your team, both inside and out of the practice
Empower team members in their positions and let them do the jobs you hired them for. Try not to call, text, or email them when they’re outside of the practice.
Create a clear vision and share your mission statement
Defining the office vision is your responsibility. You must embody the practice’s cause, and that includes defining it. People buy into the leader way before they buy into the vision. Communicate your goals with the team.
Create job descriptions
Make sure your team knows their jobs, that they are educated on how to do those jobs, and that they have the tools and resources needed to complete their jobs. This sets them up for success.
All good leaders will not let employees know just once a year how bad or good they are doing at their jobs. Leaders communicate often and openly.
Whether big or small, celebrate the victories in your practice.
Create a safe environment for staff
Do not display an aggressive attitude. This can make team members nervous in their job surroundings.
Identify strong suits
Never place someone who is uncomfortable talking about money in a treatment coordinator position and expect the person to be good at it. Find staff members’ strong areas, and place them where they belong.
What kind of employees will be attracted to this style of leadership? The answer is, enthusiastic and happy people who look forward to coming to work, who are reliable, satisfied, self-motivated, and willing to help grow the practice.
Nothing is more costly to a business than losing a valuable team member. It might take months or even years to find and train a replacement who can operate at the same level of productivity. In the meantime, the lost productivity will never be recovered.
Your team is your practice’s most valuable asset because patients value relationships with you and your team members more than they value the dentistry you provide. It takes years to build those relationships. Lose a key team member, and you lose some of the relationships with your patients.
Showing sensitivity to the culture of practice will reap benefits for all concerned and show improvements in staff morale, patient treatment acceptance, profitability, and growth. Without that awareness comes stagnation, frustration, and poor performance. It might be time to revisit the culture if you’re having team retention issues, systems that fail to stay in place, are not progressing toward practice goals, or have high office stress levels.
You may find our micro-course on HR Skills for Practice Managers: People—Organizational Culture helpful in cultivating and reinforcing a positive organizational culture.Read More