Dentists spend thousands of dollars on continuing education each year. Education should be a priority for the dentist and the dental team; you can pick up tips and suggestions that can have a significant impact on your practice, if they are actually implemented. But too often, the team returns from a CE program with pages of notes that get filed away. If you want to put your new information into practice and make those changes permanent, you have to create accountability.
Accountability requires systems. You can’t hold team members accountable if they don’t know what you want them to do, when you want them to do it, and why you want them to do it. Adhering to the practice’s standard of care is a common topic in practice management education. If I asked your team members to describe your radiography standard of care, could they? If they can’t articulate it, how can they adhere to it? If your standard of care for radiography dictates each new patient receives a panoramic X-ray, that should be clearly documented and explained to your team. All team members should be able to explain to a new patient why a panoramic X-ray is needed and how the patient benefits from it. Adjust the schedule to ensure enough time is allotted for X-rays at all new patient visits. Create systems that support every new process or procedure added to your practice.
“Having achievable, established goals also improves employees’ job satisfaction and morale.”
Accountability requires regular monitoring. Even solid systems can and will be pushed to the side when you’re running behind, an emergency patient interrupts your schedule, or a lab case fails to arrive on time. To keep your newly implemented systems on track, you need regular monitoring. One of the easiest times to monitor measurable tasks is in your daily huddle. In the radiography example, review all patients due for X-rays the day before, and discuss who received them and who didn’t. Identify the patients who should receive X-rays today. If daily monitoring isn’t appropriate for the changes you’ve implemented, add it to your monthly team meeting agenda. When appropriate, empower team members to lead various new tasks and have them report on results to the rest of the team. If you’ve struggled with implementing new systems in the past, consider using a professional coach. 360 Practice Development coaches monitor more than 100 key practice metrics to ensure the changes in your practice are implemented successfully and your practice is experiencing the expected results.
Accountability requires consequences. Change may be more difficult for some team members than others. Schedule regular one-on-one discussions as part of any new process, especially with those most impacted. Performance reviews should be used to document any concerns, collect performance data that can be used to make an objective evaluation instead of an emotional one, and gauge whether employees need more training. Having achievable, established goals also improves employees’ job satisfaction and morale. You’re also creating a legal record of failure to perform to standards, in the event that it becomes necessary to make a change in employment status.
For help creating accountability in your practice, request a complimentary consultation with one of Henry Schein’s practice management experts at www.HenrySchein.com/consulting.