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Get maximum efficiency with minimal team members

May 26, 2022
No doubt you're feeling the effects of the staffing shortage. But there's help—try these ideas to keep critical team members focused on patients while other important tasks are covered by outsourcing.

In talking to dentists through the years, many say that the most difficult part of being a business owner is dealing with team members and personnel issues. When a team member must be replaced, efficiency drops. The industry has shared that it takes 18 months for a new team member to become as efficient as the team member they replaced. That’s a lot of time! 

To make matters more difficult, there’s the recent development that many in today’s workforce want to work from home. This is great for businesses that do not rely on face-to-face interactions. It’s not so true about the dental field. COVID has been hard on the dental industry. Considering the number of unlicensed team members and the available government assistance, many have chosen to resign and stay at home for different reasons, such as they’re doing remote learning with their children. The lingering fear for team members who remain in the office is, of course, being exposed to COVID. “Droplet” spread is a reality that caused many professionals to look in different areas for their next career move.  

Faced with all these factors, dental business owners have to decide what tasks must be done in the practice, where to find trained professionals for those tasks, and what tasks can be outsourced. 

Simple, right?  

Offices will never be efficient and effective if they remain in the pre-COVID world.

Not really. Dental patients often like to come into the office and see the same faces. The customer service component cannot be outsourced. Hands-on dental treatment from the dentist, dental assistant, and hygienist cannot be outsourced. But to some degree, other tasks can be done on an outsource basis.  

Many opportunities to simplify

Let’s start with teledentistry. Early conversations regarding the condition of a patient’s oral situation can be done via remote means. Patients have come to expect this convenience, so teledentistry will most likely grow and eliminate some of the initial in-person interactions between patient and doctor.  

Moving on to scheduling appointments, patients can now do this online. To avoid a team member having to answer the phone and enable them to interact with the patients who are in the office, an online appointment system can do the job. Patients can make appointments at their convenience. Many offices find this scary, but a good system is a true luxury for the administrative team, and often fills more appointment slots. 

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Should I outsource? If I do, to whom do I outsource?

Perhaps the most effective bit of outsourcing is in the area of insurance. It’s very helpful to have an outside company obtain breakdown of benefits, upload them to patient profiles, and complete the process. This company can create claims, send them for payment, and post payments and forward statements to patients after the claims have been paid. Many also call on delinquent accounts and follow through with collections. Often a member of the company is dedicated to the same office, so they become familiar with the team and patients. The economic gain for the practice is far more than the investment in this outsourced position. 

Because of the shortage of dental professionals, this is one less position the dentist must fill, which leaves more time to focus on the team members who are essential for necessary face-to-face interactions with patients.  

Team training cannot be avoided, and DIY Dental Consulting offers training programs for team members both with and without dental experience. This saves team members from having to make the time to train someone, and the self-paced DIY course is ideal for employees to take either while in the office or at home.  

The only sure thing today is that change will occur. Offices will never be efficient and effective if they remain in the pre-COVID world. Practice owners who are proactive and seek solutions before they even need them will always be a step ahead. Customer service must stay in the office. To keep that service sharp, there are many tasks that can be outsourced.

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