Content Dam De Print Articles Volume 107 Issue 7 July 17 De Thumb

Teamwork on and off the field

July 1, 2017
Are all your dental team members on the same page? There are many areas involved in running a dental practice smoothly, and it's important for the team to be in sync.

When the New England Patriots were down 25 points in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI, their future looked bleak. Today they are five-time champions, having overcome the odds to consistently succeed in a competitive sport. The Patriots attribute their record-breaking victory to the simple mantra, “Do your job,” and the power of a team.

Many private practices are struggling to win in the face of increasing corporate dental practices and PPOs, and doctors spend a lot of their time redoing or closely watching the work of their teams. Does your practice have a deep-rooted trust in the abilities of the team? Is everyone focused on the task? Do they know the importance it has in the overall health of the practice and your patients? If you instill the importance of each team member’s job in your overall ability to care for your practice and patients, your team will be able to capture far more opportunity and revenue.

While there are many areas of practice opportunity, radiography is a great example of the importance of many employees coming together to achieve a common goal. Radiography represents an enormous opportunity for most dental offices. Did you know that just one missed pan per day equates to $20,000 in missed revenue annually? Oftentimes a lack of structure and protocol leads to major films being missed. The team isn’t clear about who is responsible for what portion of this crucial practice element, and your standard of care fails to be met.

Having clear and consistent expectations is the first step toward delegating responsibilities. Your entire team should know how often patients should receive a pan or full-mouth x-rays per your standard of care. Once the expectation is set, it’s time to develop a game plan. Assign a team member to pull reports from your practice management software and task that person with running daily huddles. The most effective huddles last about 10 minutes. They review the upcoming schedule and should identify which patients are due for a major film. In addition to a daily huddle leader, another team member should be responsible for making sure each eligible patient actually receives his or her major film. Each day a team member should identify patients who are due for a major film, and the radiograph should be assigned to a team member.

Even with a game plan, your team cannot reach their goals without the right tools and training. Radiography programs often fall behind because of improper technology. It takes the average skilled chairside assistant 23 minutes to take a full-mouth x-ray, while a panoramic survey can be done in 2.5 minutes. Provide your team with the technology to ensure success. With reduced fees, you can’t afford not to work as efficiently as possible. Encourage your team to develop tools, such as patient scripting, to use when confronted with objections. Equip them with radiation charts and patient education materials to increase patient acceptance. When your team members see their role as a crucial element in practice and patient health, they will be more likely to use the tools you provide to successfully fulfill their job obligations.

Use your practice management software to regularly track how many major films are being taken. Determine which team members are accomplishing the task, and follow through with rewards when they excel and consequences when they fall short. It may be that one team member is taking all the major films while another isn’t taking any. If a team member is falling short of expectations, make sure he or she has the proper tools, has been well trained, and understands how the job plays a crucial role in the health of both patients and practice.

Ensure your team members understand how their day-to-day tasks fit into the larger picture of delivering excellent patient care by communicating the importance of what they do and the positive impact it has on patient health. Encourage collaboration and teamwork to foster trust that each team member will do his or her job. When your team members consistently complete the right tasks, they’re in a position to succeed even if obstacles stand in their way.

To identify areas of opportunity in your practice and track progress, request a Henry Schein Practice Analysis at Once you’ve prioritized opportunities, be sure to share the importance of success with your team, set clear expectations, give them tools and training, and watch your practice grow.

Diane Webler is the field communications manager for Henry Schein Dental. She helps field sales consultants make more of an impact by targeting their focus on the most effective products and services available. Diane also works to train new hires on the business of dentistry and educates them on current industry concerns to prepare them for work in the field.

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