DEBRA MILLER | DIRECTOR OF COACHING
The problem with practice management is that you spend most of your time chairside, which is where you need to be and want to be. Unlike other businesses where an owner/manager’s role is primarily to oversee everything happening in the business in real-time, doctors often don’t have the opportunity to notice problems or opportunities as they happen.
When you do find out, it’s often too late to act on it, whether that is after a patient leaves, at the end of the day, on a month-end financial or referral report, or at the end of the year when your accountant delivers bad news. So, when practice management needs your attention, you’re often in a reactive mode and already feeling behind the 8-ball, which leads to frustration and stress.
Endodontists are incredibly dependent on their teams, but most doctors don’t feel like they have an equally incredible team. They may feel their team is good, kind and caring with patients, and generally capable. They may also feel that someone on the team isn’t meeting expectations, that there is too much drama, socializing and gossip, or the team isn’t engaged or focused on practice goals. As a result, there always seems to be an issue to deal with.
Dr. Ace Goerig often says that 90% of success and growth in the endodontic practice is driven by the team. If you don’t have a team that you can count on for both patient success and business success, then you are always going to be worrying. Part of your brain will always be listening to what’s happening in the background when you’re trying to focus 100% on the patient in front of you.
Sometimes there is a genuine performance or personality issue with a team member, but the gap in overall team performance (which makes the difference between a good team and an incredible one) is almost always a leadership and training gap.
Great teams need a clear understanding of your vision for the practice, which includes your vision for patient care, referral relationships, daily flow, and productivity. They also need a clear understanding of the metrics that are essential to drive the practice’s success and growth. And finally, they need to understand their specific role and priorities to ensure the highest level of patient and referrer care, and the highest level of care for business goals.
When teams are trained fully to the level that they are capable of, doctors have confidence that their vision and standards are being met every minute of the day. They know the team is managing the right things, and they are capable of taking on more responsibilities for daily operations. That takes stress off your plate, and lets you leave each day knowing that the team has completed everything comprehensively and correctly.
A lot of practice management stress is also caused by disconnected practice systems. The left hand isn’t supporting the right hand and vice versa. This is often revealed in the practice schedule, where patients are routinely scheduled for longer than they should be. Sometimes the scheduling is stretched out because the doctor wants a “time buffer” … which is often a sign that the doctor and clinical team have not coordinated their clinical flow so that assistants are responsible for almost everything that a doctor is not medically and legally required to do.
Equally you see disconnected front office systems. For example, if patients are not committed to their out-of-pocket costs for treatment on the day of the consult, you’ll see consults reschedule for treatment, or an increase in accounts receivable in order to keep them in today’s schedule. Either way, something entirely preventable has created a disruption.
Systems like new patient intake, scheduling, clinical efficiency, productivity, collections, marketing and practice finances need to be streamlined and integrated to remove the gaps and ensure everyone on the team is rowing in unison to get the best results.
When teams and systems are aligned to your vision, and when the training and processes are established for consistent team performance and practice results, your life in the practice changes significantly. At Endo Mastery, we call it “effortless endodontics”, which lets you optimize your efficiency, eliminate your stress factors, achieve great financial performance, and have fun every day in the greatest profession.