Get your Camera out of the Closet


So, you’ve invested thousands of dollars on various technology breakthroughs in dentistry.  Whether you are a technology geek or just beginning to dabble, the key to getting a healthy return on your investment is to get your team on board.  Achieving this starts with you, Doctor.  Being excited and confident about your new piece of technology is the first step.  The next step is to inform your team BEFORE the equipment arrives.  Nothing sends a piece of equipment to the back closet faster than the old, “unpack it and figure it out” mentality.

Let’s look at a few other tips for truly utilizing your technology.

1 – Accessibility This is number one for a reason!  I’ve been in offices where team members don’t even KNOW they have certain technology.  Or, more often, the tools are all located in one central location…that back closet again. The theory is that if they are kept there, everyone will know where to find them.  But let’s face it, if you have to walk down the hall to get the intra-oral camera, you’ve just lost 3-5 minutes of valuable appointment time. It’s just not going to happen.  That camera is going to sit back in the closet feeling very lonely.

A better solution is to store the tool in the operatory.  Let’s say there are two hygiene ops side by side. If your hygienists are using a digital camera for intra-oral photos, it too can be placed at the edge of the operatory.  Another great idea that I learned from my Doctor is to buy a digital photo card for each team member.  This way if you use a digital SLR camera, one hygienist can take photos, eject her card and then pass the camera on to the other hygienist without having to worry about lost or deleted photos.

2 – Accountability I hear it all the time…we’ve talked ’til we’re blue in the face about using the intra-oral camera and my team is just not doing it.  Get everyone’s agreement that at least one photo will be taken on EVERY patient with needed treatment.  And this goes for the entire team! Hold everyone to the same standard and it’s easy to remember your policy.

And then be a leader.  If the photo isn’t up when you go to do your hygiene exam or step in to see an emergency patient, politely ask for it to be taken and then come back when it’s done.  The photo should ideally be taken BEFORE scaling so the hygienist and patient have time to review it and discuss before the doctor exam.

3 – Allowing enough time This is a piece of the puzzle often overlooked. You’ve heard me say this before…I have never coached a team that didn’t increase production when they increased their adult hygiene appointment time to 60 minutes – if they have clear systems and accountability for taking care to the next level.

It takes time to take quality intra-oral photos, put them up on the monitor and then share the information with the patient.  This is a huge practice builder in the hands of a well-trained, motivated hygienist.  It can add tens of thousands of dollars to the practice production each month.  Adding 5-10 minutes to the hygiene appointment time is a small investment that pays you back, big time. So, pull that technology out of the closet, dust it off and get it into the operatory where it will work to increase patient care and productivity.

Stay Inspired,

What’s the best use of YOUR down time?


We recently worked with a practice suffering from a MAJOR queen bee infestation.  When we interviewed the dental assistants, the administrative team, the other hygienist, and THE DOCTOR, they all complained of constant stress brought upon primarily by “Jane” a queen bee RDH.  “Jane” had worked in this practice for over 20 years and the entire team, including the Dr., was paralyzed with fear about what to do with “Jane.”   The Dr. was fearful that if he fired her, the patients would be upset.  Everyone agreed “Jane” was difficult to work with and they were constantly frustrated with her “not my job” attitude.

So, they all just continue to tolerate her behavior ….for almost 2 decades!

“Jane” exhibited these types of queen bee behaviors:

  • unwilling to try new ideas
  • a negative attitude
  • only willing to do what benefited her directly; she read magazines or clocked out when she had open time

Have you been tolerating a queen bee? It not only negatively impacts the Dr. and team but it also has a direct effect on patients.  “Jane” was perceived as being selfish and unwilling to help others in the office.  This is certainly not good for team morale.

What does your hygienist do during open time?  Come up with a list of activities that your team members can do if they have open time. Post this list in a common area, such as the sterilization area.  Open time should always be prioritized these three ways:

  • First Priority = PATIENT
    • What can I do with my open time that will support the patients that are in the office right now?
      • Taking a quick PA on the emergency patient, giving anesthetic if you finish early so the Dr. can begin restorative on his 10:00 patient right away, etc.
  • Second Priority = TEAM
    • What can I do with my open time that will support my team members?
      • Pouring up the models for the assistant when you see impressions sitting in the lab, helping the front desk with recare cards, processing instruments if you see the assistant running behind, etc.
  • Third Priority = SELF
    • What can I do with my open time that will support my SELF?
      • Restock room, sharpen instruments, review charts for tomorrow, etc.

Thankfully, for my client, “Jane” responded well once the Dr. developed a written plan for utilization of open time.  The Dr. and the team members have all commented that “Jane” is being a much better team player.  It was a pretty simple fix to “Jane’s” queen bee ways.

Here’s your takeaway message: Don’t assume people know how to be a team player.   Clearly map out your expectations for the team and set up (and stick to!) consequences if they are not met.  The stress will be reduced and the team will work together much better.

Doctors and office managers – What will you implement this week that will help bring the teamwork up a notch?

Stay Inspired,

Let Go and Let Them


We’ve all heard the term “Let go and let God”. For sure, I have to remind myself of that mantra from time to time.

Have you ever noticed that when you hover or micromanage your team, even less gets done? You’re all busy tripping over each other and it becomes a power struggle between you and your team.

I recently worked with a young dentist in Florida who was having this exact problem. He just couldn’t understand why his hygiene team wasn’t excited about their potential to create a powerful, productive, service-oriented department. He has tried and tried to tell them how to do it. They knew he was in control and he wasn’t ready to let go of the reins long enough to give them room to “step up”.

Well, with the help of his Productive Dentist Academy practice coach he realized it was time for him to step up as a strong leader and then step aside. I coached him to set up very clear performance and service expectations for his hygiene team. He created a system for them to create their own pay increase as related to the growth of the department and told them he would support them with whatever they need. Now he’s done “telling” them what to do and what they’re doing wrong.

Guess what? His hygienists are really excited. They’re determined to grow hygiene and they have some skin in the game as motivation.

I’ve just re-read a great book called “You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader“ by Mark Sanborn. It’s a quick read and has some very practical tips for growing leaders within your team.

In the book, he quotes Erwin McManus, a community leader working with kids in LA. “We spend so much time worrying about our kids (team) being good…that we often forget to invite them to be great“.

Sanborn goes on to define true leadership as “an invitaiton to greatness that we extend to others.” There is a catch, though, he says. “We can’t give what we don’t have. We can’t extend an invitation we haven’t already accepted”.

That’ll give us something to think about…

Stay Inspired,