Virginia Lee, D.M.D. & Jeffrey Santone, MA (Econ)

Last updated on July 28th, 2018 at 09:42 am

I am an Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon practicing in Washington, DC. I graduated in 1996 from University of Maryland Medical Systems and the Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. At that time I thought that was all I needed to do – just open up my own practice and be successful. My father also had completed his Oral Surgery residency training about 50 years prior to my graduation and he always seemed very happy and successful. I thought it was just natural to do the same in my own practice. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Private practice was a lot of work. Technically I had great skill, but dental school and residency training did not teach me anything about running a business or practice (let alone an efficient and successful practice).

I started with MGE in December 2006. At that time I had already been in private practice for 9 years. I had a nice space (2500 sq. ft. and 2 operating rooms). Initially, I did primarily cosmetic surgery and accepted a few PPO plans. I knew I could do better but didn’t know how. I had staffing issues and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t procure more cases. I had never kept any statistics in my office before MGE, nor did I track anything besides my collections and bills. I thought as long as I could pay my bills I was okay. Well, in actuality, if you don’t track anything, you spend all you make.

My collections and production were not consistent. I had tried a couple of other management consultants previously— with zero return on my investment. I got to the point that I did not enjoy going to the office and I felt like I wasn’t working up to my potential. I was always stressed out and worried about my future. At this time my father had become very ill, and I began thinking that I would always be unhappy and not successful.

It was at this time that one of my referral doctors recommended MGE: Management Experts to me. He told me that it had really helped him learn how to hire staff and he also learned how to run his office efficiently and productively. I was still skeptical, but I then spoke to one of the representatives at MGE who seemed very knowledgeable and he recommended the MGE New Patient Workshop. I spoke to my husband (fiancé at the time), Jeff Santone, who had a Masters in Economics, and he agreed to accompany me to Florida for my first course with MGE.

I had done some advertising before, and networked with many local general dentists, but that was the limit of my marketing and promotion. I was always skeptical because I was a specialist, but was pleasantly surprised that the executives and staff at MGE were so helpful and actually seemed concerned with my success and well-being. I started implementing some of the technologies that MGE recommended and immediately started seeing an improvement in my practice. With the MGE Communication & Sales Seminars and Advanced Sales Seminar, I learned how to properly present my cases and get patients to want and accept the full treatment plans they need.

After 5 months of trying to implement all this information in my office by myself, Jeff left his very comfortable job at the Federal Reserve to join my practice as my Office Manager. Both of us signed up for the MGE Power Program after our first seminar. It was such a huge commitment for us, but we were determined to make it go right.

As we progressed through each step of the program, we would return more excited than before. We learned how to organize the office efficiently, how to manage by statistics, and create a very effective and excellent staff.

By 2010, our collections are up by 150%, as a sole practitioner and with 2 operating rooms. We are currently expanding our practice to 4200 sq. ft. with 5 operating rooms. I am still the only surgeon, but hopefully not for long.

I attribute our success to implementing the technologies we learned from MGE—which included keeping stats, organizing the office, getting and following our own organizing board and delivering excellent care to our patients. My clinical skill has always been the easy part. I had an excellent education from my residency training, but now I also have a smooth, efficient, and fun practice. Since we completed the MGE Power Program, our business is under control, and we have also been able to help other organizations and other dentists through both clinical and practice management continuing education.

My advice to you would be simple: Whether you are a GP or a specialist (yes, there are quite a few of us specialists who are MGE clients), if you want to get your practice under control—call MGE.

Start off with the MGE New Patient Workshop or the MGE Communication and Sales Seminars.