By Dr. Joe Blaes
During this year of the COVID-19 virus, the world of dentistry has been turned upside down. The ADA has finally convinced the political powers that dentistry is essential and most of us are able to reopen our offices and treat all of our patients while monitoring them for the virus.
I would like to introduce you to a technique that I learned from Dr. Marvin Berlin who has a very successful practice in McKinney, Texas.
I am not sure how it started but a common practice management concept is to diagnose the dental problems today and then put off the treatment until a later date. Unfortunately, as we all know, when that next date comes along, inevitably "life" happens. The patient's car battery dies, her husband is out of town, the kids missed the school bus, or other problems come up that need her attention. You name it; we've heard it.
We complain about hearing excuse after excuse, but it's not our patients' fault. Life does happen. So, what can be done to avoid these inevitable obstacles to treatment? We offer to do it today.
My practice is hygiene driven. My team and I have committed to do what is best for every patient right away. We have committed to phrases like "We can take care of that today" and "Would you like to take care of that today?" These phrases have become automatic for everyone.
My hygienists are empowered to tell their patients about potential dental problems that may need some attention. When I come in to check the patient, the hygienist will point out the problems she has observed and I will confirm them. I then will discuss any additional problems and tell the patient about the treatment that I feel needs to be completed. When I leave, the patient invariably turns to the hygienist and asks, “Well, what do you think?" You had better hope that the hygienist will say, "Dr. Blaes is the best and he can get started today if you like." Most patients are thrilled that they can get the dentistry done today. Then the hygienist anesthetizes the teeth to be treated and a chair side assistant takes the patient to the doctor's treatment room.
My team is excited and together we created what would become better and more efficient dental treatment than ever before. The team set up daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Everyone was constantly aware of these goals. “Do it now” dentistry allows the practice to add to the already scheduled goals that will increase the profitability of the practice.
Setting a daily goal gives us a target for each day. It should take hard work to reach and give you a sense of accomplishment. Your attitude should be one of expectation, not hope. Control your results by controlling your attitude. Because our team is completely in tune with our expectations, they do what is needed every day. We as a team are always looking for opportunities to do dentistry now. My team is on board to be smile makers every day.
The team does not ask me if we want to work a case in over lunch. They tell us we are. And we always oblige. To do otherwise would be contrary to the "do it today" mindset instilled in them. If we do work through lunch, I always make sure my team receives a bonus gift card!
We had one operatory that was unscheduled which we used for emergency patients. This became the ideal place for patients who would like to have “do it now” dentistry. During this time of COVID-19 we all have unscheduled chairs. The patient was already convinced that the treatment needed to be done so treating them the same day would save our patients time and another trip. The bottom line is, it wasn't that we changed how we prepped or added any new procedures, it is all in how we delivered our dentistry. This is when we became a real team.
Joe Blaes, DDS
Joe Blaes, DDS, created a unique, insurance-free, fee-for-service general practice in St. Louis that emphasizes preventive, esthetic, reconstructive, and implant dentistry. He is best known as the former chief editor of Dental Economics. Dr. Blaes is a fellow of the American College of Dentists, a past president of the American Academy of Dental Practice Administration, and a founding member of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health.