I hope you are like me, because I love clinical tips and shortcuts that insure a better result in less time. Before we start, let’s set the rules. It has to create a better result (higher quality than you currently get). Speed without a measurable improvement is just plain wrong without an improved finished product. It is true that speed comes with repetition. But practice does not make perfect. You have heard and we have been told, “practice makes perfect”. The real truth is that it makes permanent, not perfect. Only “perfect practice”, makes perfect. This is why you see plateaus and poor clinical results from doctors with decades of “practice”. These plateaus also extend to practice management in the form of failed protocols, systems, and financial results. This group of doctors forgot to read the labels and follow the instructions. Their default is to keep doing what they have always done, even in the face of mediocre results. This is so very common with dentists as to be tragic.
There is another way to improve. Just make more mistakes faster than anyone else has and make the correction to fix it. Kind of an act, measure, correct strategy. Pretty much any tip I offer was the result of not listening to the smart clinicians and business owners the first time because I assumed that I had it figured out. But I discovered that I had a great self-image for no apparent reason. These tips come from the house of hard knocks and redoes.
In the military in the mid-sixties the Marine Corps started a mantra that was later adopted by our special-forces troops. “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast”. Basically, this is the foundation of a successful “life and death” gun fighter. Their concept is that if you learn a particular action slowly and perform it smoothly, the muscle and mental memory will automatically make it faster. This is a mantra we should also adopt in dentistry. For this group of people “slow is smooth, smooth is fast” is a life and death training regimen. In the business world where we are measured by numbers and spreadsheets, death takes many forms: unrealized potential, unintended results, and average performance resulting in a life with few choices.
In Dentistry, we are seeing the penetration of insurance reaching somewhere between 70 to 80 percent of the population. These same insurance plans have continued to garner an increasing share of the populace year after year for decades. As the spread of insurance has grown, the reimbursements on every procedure have dropped. If we factor in cost of living indexes, this true reimbursement loss is huge. If we add in the adjustment for inflation, anyone can see that clinical efficiency and speed is a necessity. In fact, the only way you can compete with a large percentage of your practice being in managed care is to “out run them or out gun them” (This is from my friend Bill Rossi). Out running them is to be able to do procedures at least 25%-35% faster with the same or better results. To out gun them is to offer services and products that they do not cover. Just to make this absolutely clear, I am not advocating that you or anyone else should be insurance driven. What I am saying is that there are many locations where not being in network will drastically affect your growth and productivity. At the same time, I can give you example after example of great practices, even ones that take every insurance plan and produce as much as a $1,000,000 a month and still have overheads in the 50%-60% range. So, we are talking real world practices with real world pressures in every corner of every state in the US and using them as a benchmark for clinical competence.
I might add that doing things 25%-35% faster is not limited to just clinical systems and procedures. Doing things better at a higher rate really begins with overcoming limiting beliefs and old habits that continue to hold us back. Everything we do is precisely designed to give us the result we are getting. So no stone can be left unturned. These articles are going to be a sort of spring-cleaning of clutter obsolescence. And yes, this is practice management.
One of the things that will hold each of us back will be limiting beliefs. Your staff has them and you have them. We tend to resign ourselves to believing that our past will just keep repeating itself like a Halloween “Ground Hog Day”. You just keep reliving the same day over and over, and for most of this, it isn’t great. The first thing we need to do is erase the past and assume that there really is a “do-over button” and that some of the do over requires a new attitude of embracing change. As Zig Ziglar said: “You need a checkup from the neck up and you need to get rid of the stink’n think’n”.
On the road to taking advantage of these opportunities, it will become apparent that your quest has to become the quest for the team. It is not enough for you to realize a change is overdue and the results you are getting are not going to carry you into a successful future. We have to create a vision that encourages your team to commit to that vision and act on the information I will supply. This is a huge leap in modus operandi from what you do now to what you will need to do. This commitment needs to be an all-in, never turn back assault on the status quo. I am going to show you how to be a Tarzan in a managed care jungle. It is time to put on your big girl panties and deal with it. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS
PS. About a month ago (Dec. 19) we offered to take at look at your practice numbers to help you get a running start on the New Year. Maybe you were just too busy over the holidays, or maybe you’re just a dedicated procrastinator. But it’s not too late to begin the process of taking your practice to the next level. The Summit Practice Solutions Growth Analysis Spreadsheet will provide a snapshot of where you are today. Just click this link to download the spreadsheet then save it. The first page is just general information that should take about ten minutes to fill in. It is important that you fill in all of the areas we are asking for. What you place in the spaces provided will generate conclusions at the end of the spreadsheet. This is a “garbage in, garbage out” sort of thing. The conclusions and results depend entirely on how correctly and completely you fill in this spreadsheet. On page two of the spreadsheet we are looking for information from each month of the most recent 12 months. Don’t skip a month and don’t leave any of the boxes (cells) empty. This could take your front desk person about 45 to 60 minutes to fill in. Don’t forget to fill it in completely. Once you are done with the first two pages, you are done. The third page will be automatically populated with the information and conclusions from the first two pages. It would also be very helpful to see a recent practice P&L report and copies from 4-5 days of the practice schedule. This is our gift to you. There is no cost and no obligation. After we receive the information from you, we will schedule a phone call to discuss our findings. You really can make 2020 THE BEST EVER!