By Dr. Steven L. Rasner
First, let it be clear I am aware that I won't be confused with Dr. Fauci, or for that matter any of our generation’s leading philosophers—I am just a colleague with a never quit soldier’s mentality. That attitude has served me well over my career. I know many of you are hurting through all of this—I'm hurting. My biggest takeaway is to do whatever you need to do right now to stay afloat—because it will be worth it. There is not a doubt that if you embrace the philosophy of practice I have shared over the years, it will guide you back. That philosophy includes a lifetime commitment to clinical excellence; a relationship- based practice; and a practice with a lead brand of trust and confidence.
In other words, creating a dental practice that patients in your community believe is a safe place where they can get their oral health care needs met and trust your recommendations, your clinical care, and your willingness to honor that work.
That is not an oversimplification. It is exactly what guided this clinician to 39 years of astounding success. But what about now? What about when we are allowed to return? Here is my advice: The nation has been seriously injured—not just financially. It is naive to think we won't take an initial hit. With some time, you will come back as a force, especially if you embrace a long-term view right now. I would suggest you re-adopt that attitude you once owned when you first opened the office—the one where you crossed every "T" and dotted every "I" to create that practice you are now trying to save. That practice where you got to the office way before the first patient to prepare for excellence. Where you invested the time with the team to instill practice protocols so that everyone knew what we do and what we stand for. Where you answer the phone on the 2nd ring. Where patients with unanswered questions are called back within the hour. Where your case presentations were individual patient-centered, meaning the patients were comfortable with not only the clinical reasoning but the financial commitment. And when they don't commit, they leave the office with a good vibe. You were cognizant of everything you did. Everything counted.
I am prepared to continue a comprehensive exam approach. That won't change because it is rooted in great decision-making. What I suspect will change might be the number of patients that will need alternatives. Larger restorations versus full coverage. Staged therapy. Extractions without immediate tooth replacement, but it is essential to treat the extraction site so that the bone will rebuild and be ready for an implant. More "can you hold me over for a while, doc" strategies. Is this what I signed on for after a lifetime of CE? Nope. Will my revenues take a hit? Yep. Do I believe within a year or less we will be firing on all cylinders? Absolutely.
Your patients are going to remember how you represent yourself during these times and when you return. It literally is a defining moment of your career. The opportunity for lifetime trust is clearly greater than ever. That is why I have no interest in the myriad new revenue-producing tactics in the meantime: Not interested in emergencies other than to authentically help the patient. Not interested in discounted options to get them to pay old balances. Not even interested in revenue-producing teledentistry unless it is intended to simply answer questions or relieve an anxious patient. Practices that were ordinary can emerge as a powerhouse in their communities. Invisible practices can become unforgettable.
At a time like this, it is easy for your mind to become an enemy. Don't fall victim to the stories it might tell you why you cannot still soar. I'm sure there will be days or weeks where I question if this is worth it. Now is the time to dig deep. To look inside for the Navy Seal within in you—we all have some of that. One day soon you will look back with pride on standing strong and it is my fervent opinion if you are in the office you won't be looking through a hazmat suit with 19 layers of protection. I have been through too much to fall for that as our end visual. Tests or new protocols or just a turn of fate of this virus will evolve. Some of you are likely great at other things and may choose that path—nothing wrong with that direction. But if you aim to return to the skillset and organization you spent a good portion of your life developing than perhaps this will—I don't know—maybe give you some air in your tires. I know we aren't done riding.
Steven L. Rasner, DMD, MAGD, DICOI
Located in an area of the U.S once ranked by USA Today as the 2nd worst place to live, Dr. Rasner developed a practice considered by many as the gold standard of General Practice. Surrounded by corporate or insurance-driven patient options his practice has remained FFS by branding a message of trust and confidence to both his community and team. Thirty-nine years of practice and statistical evidence isn't theory. Everything we do: Now and when we return will be the moments patients remember for defining your career.