In a dental practice, there’s a function that is almost always undervalued or neglected. Lack of this function can throw a pretty large wrench into the mix despite superior clinical, management, marketing and communication skills. The function I’m referring to is: Quality Control.
And by this I don’t just mean clinical quality control. I trust that you already maintain tight quality control on your own clinical work (and the work of any associates and/or hygienists). I’m also referring to quality control for every aspect of the practice – or in other words, quality control for the work of every office employee.
Non-Clinical Functions Need Quality Control, Too!
Every dental office is trying to achieve something with the work that they do. Usually that something is happy patients, with healthy mouths who refer. If you examine this, you’ll see that this is not just created by the dentist. Every staff member in the practice has a hand in creating this, from the receptionist who answers the phone to the treatment coordinator who helps the patient sign up for treatment.
In my experience, I’ve seen too many offices where patients come in and the front desk ignores them or makes them wait, causing the assistant to be rushed when they see them and miss something by having to short circuit their job. Then the dentist comes in and does an excellent, beautiful crown, but the patient walks out without their next appointment set and with no Care-to-Share card in hand.
Later this doctor wonders why they aren’t getting more referrals. Obviously bad work isn’t the problem, and their office is “hi-tech” enough. The problem lies in the quality of care falling down in other areas!
A patient who is so happy with his experience at your practice that he goes and tells all of his friends and family is the result of every team member at your practice – not just the dental work itself. The receptionist has an influence on that, and so does the assistant, the hygienist, the treatment coordinator, etc. Every staff member in your practice should be so competent, friendly and efficient that they are walking advertisements for your practice.
Have you ever gone to a restaurant where the food was pretty good, but a large part of your decision to become a “regular” lay in the service and friendliness of the owner and/or the staff? You felt like it was your place, so you went frequently and brought your friends, too? Have you noticed how it’s hard to get a seat in restaurants like this? You’ve probably seen the other side of this as well – great food, but poor service and/or unfriendly staff = empty restaurant.
It’s very easy to take these little errors and less-than-perfect situations in your practice and overlook them, because fixing them can take some time and attention. But it is vital that you do fix them.
Many offices have staff members that are good at doing one thing on their job, but are lacking in other areas. Instead of taking the time and effort to train the staff member to be better at their job, the doctor ends up doing everything themselves, or the OM does, or they hire more and more people to do every little job, or they fire the employee and hire someone else who isn’t fully competent either. But none of those are the correct solution!
Thorough Staff Training
The best handling and the only one that has long-term workability is to train that employee and get them up to a point where they can do their entire job competently.
The doctor or another staff member who is skilled in the area where the employee is lacking in can work with them and help them improve at that aspect of their job. Also, depending on the job of the staff member, they can do continuing education. At MGE, there is a wide array of training that staff can do to become competent on their jobs, and that is the best and most permanent solution.
Now of course you would always place the most attention on clinical quality – that’s number one. You would also want to make sure you hire competent, productive people to train. But, it’s rare to find a new employee who is already perfect at their job and fits right in with the way your practice operates. There will always be some degree of training and correcting things they do wrong. So pay attention to it and make sure you do train them up and correct them when it’s needed.
Regular Staff Meetings
Having regular staff meetings also gives you an opportunity to coordinate with the staff, address any customer service issues that arise, and reiterate that the focus of the team should be on taking great care of the patients and helping them get healthy.
For some guidelines on which meetings you should be having and when, Dr. Winteregg discusses it in this video:
I hope this helps!
Feel free to contact us at any time if you’d like help with anything, and check out calendar of upcoming free seminars around the country here.