Looking at the Current Landscape
What’s changed in the dental landscape in the last 2 years?
We can’t help but acknowledge the impact that COVID has had on the world, let alone the dental industry, over the past couple years. With COVID came a new set of challenges, along with amplifying ones already facing the industry – increased government regulations, rising supply costs, and competitive labor markets have made practice overhead difficult to contain.
There have also been some interesting shifts in how practices operate.
Changes in the data – In the last few years we have shifted away from personal engagement and personal patient relationships to a world of “auto”…auto messages, auto voice…engagement with a “bot” became the primary patient communication source and we are seeing the impact of that shift. Even before COVID we saw drawbacks with auto, but it’s increased over the past couple years. Unscheduled patient bases on the rise (300,000 patients off our servers alone that have fallen off their recall cycle, now 5 recall cycles behind)
Illusion of being back to normal – Unfortunately, the stats aren’t getting better, but practices think they are ok because they have stages of being busy. Unscheduled patients are rising, due and late patients are rising, missing appointments are rising…this stuff is coming down the line and will catch up eventually.
Automated Messaging – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
So, while all of the above mentioned challenges were amplified by COVID, it also brought to the forefront something the industry needed…getting back to the basics. People quickly realized how personally interacting with one another was taken for granted and we all benefit from bringing a human element to communication…which was an interesting turn when you look at the “automation” movement of the last decade. But it’s no coincidence that along with the convenience of automated recalls and confirmations came the rise in overdue and unscheduled patients. We all love easy, so we all bought in.
We should take a step back and ask the question – If there are so many companies out there that offer these automated solutions, and most practices use them, why are we in the state we are in? It’s simple – we all bought in that automation was going to be a schedule/production miracle cure…but it isn’t. If it was able to do everything companies claim it could, we would never need another consultant, course, or staff member again…but here we are.
Don’t get us wrong, automated patient communication has its place and it is convenient in many ways, but what was once a supplement to our personal communication quickly became the only communication and that’s where things fell off. It’s also become so common place we find personal engagement refreshing again. People out-perform auto service when it comes to filling schedules about 4-6x. Automated messages result in a booked appointment around 5% of the time, but personal engagement nets 20%-30% success rates. Using automated messages as a supplement or in tandem with personal engagement gives you the best of both worlds.
So where does automation work best? Automation was invented to save time and reduce strain on human resources. It was intended to save time on things that were time sucks and that didn’t produce much benefit for personal engagement so your team would have time to do the personal engagement where it matters most…filling schedules. Automated messages work well for confirmations, surveys, reputation management, forms…basically anything but filling schedules.
The Great Resignation – Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill
Right now in dentistry we are seeing a lot of strain and issues when it comes to staff shortages and people resigning. So, if that personal touch is still so important, how do we best navigate this? This is where having the right processes and resources in place come into play.
Having the right training resources and training processes in place allow groups and practices to expand their hiring pool. You can focus more on hiring the right attitude and fit for your culture, and then the training comes after. You might ask… “well wouldn’t that be a time suck on current staff to train people up?” Not if you have good training resources and processes in place. Things like an education portal where new staff can go step by step to learn the skills necessary for their job – what to say, who to say it to, how to action things, and the why behind it. And if you don’t currently have something like that, there are tools out there that help supply those resources. RecallMax™ has our own LMS tool and our new RecallMax™ Platinum allows practices to take advantage of an advanced education portal with classes and quizzes that help build staff’s knowledge and skills. Not to mention premium support to help staff navigate the portal so that current management doesn’t have to take the time to do it themselves.
Invest in the Right Tech – Work Smart, Not Hard
This goes hand in hand with the section above. One of the fastest ways to be able to get staff trained up and ready is to invest in a platform/tool that helps do that and has all the features needed. You hire for attitude and train for skill…by getting really smart tech. Some places build out their own LMS (learning management system) but that can be time consuming and expensive. There are companies out there that already have the info in place to help equip your group and practices from a knowledge perspective. That way you have the blueprint and the tools to help execute your trainings right from the start. At RecallMax™, our groups and practices receive access to our LMS and if they are on our Platinum product, get access to advanced trainings and support to help get staff trained up and hitting on all cylinders. Other groups may utilize companies that offer courses for staff members to attend to receive their trainings instead of utilizing a platform to do it. Either way, it’s important to help get your new staff trained up quickly so you eliminate downtime.
Manager Oversight – Inspect What You Expect
Now, even if you’re able to solve the staff shortage problem by getting the right people in place and training them up, it would all be for not if you don’t have oversight into how your team is performing.
As an owner or an office manager, you will have access to loads of stats and reports that tell you how the business is doing…but there can be very little available in the way of staff oversight. Which is surprising since the insight into “people performance” is a critical aspect of business health. Look for ways to measure a team members understanding of their role and the processes they use to carry out their job. Knowledge checks and quizzing is a great way to ensure that initial training or even process changes are heard and understood. Part of the “smart tech” mentioned above involves analytics on staff performance and not just the dollars and stats of how the company is doing. Onboarding and training of new team members is already hard enough, especially if having to do it multiple times due to turnover. Invest in tools that will not only help you train but give insight into the performance and understanding of your staff. It will save you in the long run.
So as we look at the current landscape of dentistry and how it’s changed over the past couple years, practices are facing new and existing challenges each day. It’s important to see how you can better tackle those challenges to not only help your practice thrive, but also your staff.
To get a demo of how we help your group and practices overcome these challenges and tools we provide your staff,
email firstname.lastname@example.org, or book your demo at https://learn.recallmax.com/demo/groupdentistrynow/
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