I feel that the very best way to build a great practice is to do complete examinations and

July 1, 1997
I feel that the very best way to build a great practice is to do complete examinations and treatment plans. This sounds so elementary that I hesitate to write about it. But as I travel around the country talking to dentists and consultants, it seems that many dentists do not do a complete examination, much less a complete treatment plan. I am not sure why this happens. We were all trained to do comprehensive exams in dental school. Maybe we tend to prejudge our patients` attitudes or their pocke

I feel that the very best way to build a great practice is to do complete examinations and treatment plans. This sounds so elementary that I hesitate to write about it. But as I travel around the country talking to dentists and consultants, it seems that many dentists do not do a complete examination, much less a complete treatment plan. I am not sure why this happens. We were all trained to do comprehensive exams in dental school. Maybe we tend to prejudge our patients` attitudes or their pocketbooks.

Greg Stanley said a few years ago that dentists are afraid of confrontation and thus do not tell patients what they do not want to hear. Maybe that is why we tell our patients that we will watch an area or patch it one more time. That may be the easy thing to say in the hygiene room when we are rushed, but the usual outcome of a "watch" is that it gets worse. Wouldn`t it have been better to treat it in the first place? How about when that patch shows up on the doctor`s schedule? Is that extra stress because you know in your heart that the tooth needs an inlay or a crown?

Twelve years ago, I was doing all of those things. So I know about the problems firsthand. At that point in my career, I made a decision to change. I wrote a practice philosophy that went on to become the driving force of my practice. I decided then that every patient (old and new) in my practice would have a comprehensive examination, a thorough diagnosis and a complete treatment plan.

From that day forward, my practice was forever changed for the better. My production rose to heights that I never dreamed possible, and my self-esteem and my sense of accomplishment rose along with it. Dentistry was fun again!

This long preamble is to introduce you to this month`s How to Profit From... series, "The New Patient Examina-tion." I have assembled what I feel is a great cast of writers for this one. Joan Eleazer returns to Dental Economics to describe Dr. Pete Dawson`s process for the new patient exam. This has been the cornerstone of Pete`s philosophy for as long as I can remember, and he spends a half day on it in his "Top Ten Percent" course.

Debra Englehardt-Nash eloquently describes the philosophy behind the new patient examination. She then shows in detail how that philosophy is put into practice with the new patient process in their office. Dr. Roger Briggs will show you how to use your intraoral camera to its best advantage in the new patient process.

Dr. Jack Miller, the first dentist to ever qualify for the Indianapolis 500 race, finished 20th in a field of 35 cars. You ask, "What`s that got to do with dentistry?" With all the bad press we have been receiving lately, I think that it is important to celebrate the good that Dr. Jack is doing. In May, Jack`s two dental trailers traveled around Indiana educating a total of 102,000 children about dentistry. Let`s celebrate what Jack and his sponsor Crest are doing for dentistry.

We have some great feature articles for you. Dr. Mike Schuster returns with a great article on systems in your office. If you want to read more on this subject, I suggest one of my favorite books on the subject of policies and systems, "The E Myth" by Michael Gerber.

Les Mann gives us some great tips on collecting the fees that we generate with all the new patients (old ones, too) who are accepting the treatment we recommend.

Suzanne Boswell tells you the results of her focus group on the effects of the Reader`s Digest article. This story is the first to really tell you how your patients feel about the article and how it impacts your practice and what to do about it.

In a letter to the editor in the June issue, Dr. John E. Dodes takes Drs. Jim Pride and Scott Perkins to task for making "rash statements" about his organization. The NCAHF is not listed in the ADA Directory of dental organizations nor could I find anyone at the ADA staff level who knew anything about it. I find it interesting that Dr. Dodes was the only dentist to claim that Mr. Ecenbarger`s dental health was "fine."

If you are looking for something to do this summer, the ADA is sponsoring a course with a great lineup of speakers. The course, "Dentistry as a Business: Bridging the Gap Between Money, Management & Marketing," will be hosted in Chicago on July 18-19. Call the ADA at 312-440-2895 for reservations.

A closing thought that appeared on my fax machine yesterday: "Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try." Let`s celebrate the good in dentistry! Keep those cards, letters, faxes and e-mails coming. See you next month!

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor

[email protected]