Advice for the Endodontist – Polish your elective case presentation skills. You may need little or no finesse to close need-based cases, especially if a patient is experiencing or anticipating pain. However, when recommending elective root canal therapy or other procedures that patients may decide to postpone or forgo altogether, being able to explain the case in simple, understandable and persuasive, benefit-based terms will increase your acceptance rate significantly.
Don’t keep endo patients waiting. When patients agree to treatment, schedule them to come in within 7–10 days. Then, when they arrive for their appointment, take them back for treatment right away. Your professionalism and efficiency will make an excellent impression on patients… many of whom will make positive comments about your practice to their referring doctors and others.
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Define roles clearly for new team members. New team members need to fully understand their position. Job descriptions should be very specific, listing all of the skills and responsibilities for the position, and be used as a working document. Communicating about each position is critical for the practice, other team members and potential future staff members.
Don’t assume new patients know how to get to your office. Even with smart phones and GPS devices, some patients may have trouble finding your practice. The last thing you want is patients showing up late (or not at all) because they got lost, so always offer directions to your office. Send them directions or a link to MapQuest or Google Maps so they can easily find your office.
Leadership Advice for the Endodontist: Sharpen your interpersonal skills. You don’t have to be a “people person” to act like one. Learn to make eye contact and greet team members by name. Become a good listener. Remain calm and display a positive attitude, whatever the situation. Most important, apply the Golden Rule in your interactions with staff.
Start all cases within 7 days. Once endo patients accept treatment, try to schedule them no more than one week later. Keep them waiting any longer and they may cancel… either because they’re hesitant about getting treatment or are considering seeing another endodontist.
Review your collections process. If your collections rate is less than 99%, take a close look at the systems you’re using to collect overdue fees. Start with these questions:
- Do you have documented, step-by-step systems for your financial coordinator to follow?
- Is she fully trained on those systems?
- Are there set times when she works on collecting overdue accounts?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you need to improve your collections process.
Find out who sent new endo patients to your practice. The front desk coordinator should always ask who referred a patient to your practice… and document it. She should then report it to the marketing coordinator and at the Daily Business Meeting™ on the day that patient is presenting. This will enable the endodontist and team to mention the referring doctor or patient.
Advice for the Endodontist – Lead by learning. If you, like most doctors, had little or no management training in dental school, you need to make up lost ground quickly. Take every opportunity you can to learn how to be a business leader and you’ll not only lead your team well but also take the lead in your market.
Even the best systems need to change over time. Most practices have poorly designed management systems… and even well-planned protocols eventually become inefficient. Internal and external changes cause bottlenecks and other problems that no amount of tweaking can correct. For this reason, you should review and rethink all practice systems every three years.