Achieving Practice Efficiency with Multi-Disciplinary Care Teams (Part 1 in a 4-part series)

Introduction In today’s dental practices, it is becoming more difficult to manage the challenges of closing the gap between science research (best practice) and optimum patient care. Many patients still see dentistry as an elective service and not the preventative medicine it truly is. With that in mind, patients could present with medical problems that could delay, prolong, or even rule out dental treatments they want or need due to other priorities in their medical health. This is unlike a medical case synopsis, which makes it easy for doctors to execute a prescribed path of care based on best practices—such as kidney disease, which immediately requires some form of dialysis without any negotiation from the patient. Dentistry has and always will allow for a unique approach and conversation with each patient in their decision-making process for their desired outcome.

Dr. John Kois, director of the Kois Center, teaches his members to ask: Are patients trying to create a smile they once had or one they have never had? In dentistry, a risk assessment is determined at an initial appointment when gathering information and all of the diagnostics needed to create a case synopsis for optimum outcomes for the patient. As these recommendations for preventive, functional, and esthetic goals are discussed in depth with the patient, the patient and dentist prioritize treatments based on the most realistic outcomes.

Patients desire the best available care provided by a qualified, multi-disciplinary team of professionals and specialists who are part of their general dentist’s collaborative circle in order to realize for the most economical investment and greatest value. Success in being efficient and obtaining optimum results for the patient can only be achieved with a team that is committed, coordinated, possesses clear communication skills, and cares. Delivering safe, lasting treatments must be paramount while still maintaining a well-trained internal support team with an ecosystem that will withstand any type of patient needs, maintain a focus of closing the gap between scientific research and patient care delivery, and sustaining practice profitability.

To move toward mastering an eco-system in the culture of any practice, systems and strategies must be created and maintained, with each procedure provided to the patient, without exception. Supporting technology is the catalyst for an efficient eco-system in the culture of each practice. This includes, but is not limited to, all diagnostic technology, practice management software, data processing and documentation, and a system for all providers on the multi-disciplinary care team to virtually review and discuss the case synopsis and their part in care delivery. It also includes a shared portal through which the internal support team ecosystem can communicate and track patient progress throughout the entire patient experience of preparation and post care. This allows a more efficient transfer of information and care and, as a result, more patients will be satisfied and feel they not only made the right decision, but they are apt to refer others who desire the same outcome level that they obtained.

A practice structure that has shown promising results is that of the multi-disciplinary care team committed to excellence through best practice scenarios. These multi-disciplinary care teams should be formed and function with a “zero tolerance” attitude for mediocrity that surrounds and drive them to achieve consistent execution. The right place, people, processes, and technology are integrated and utilized efficiently and effectively.

mullinsRhonda Gonano Mullins is the CEO and Managing Partner of Dentrepreneur Solutions, an Atlanta based design consulting firm for Dental Entrepreneurs. Her contribution to Solo, Multi and Large Group practices nationally has been, and continues to be, a passion with great persistence in impact and innovative solutions for this industry and it’s providers.