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5 tips for effective practice management

by: Dr. Kunal Shah

In order to ensure effective day-to-day running of a practice you need adequate infrastructure and processes in place, particularly when providing dental implant treatment. In my experience, successfully managing the team and the delegation of responsibilities helps ensure the delivery of excellent patient care. This requires careful preparation and implementation of efficient protocols.

Dental practice management

5 tips for effective practice management

1. Ensure your team is delivering the right message  

All members of the dental team need to be on the same page when it comes to the various benefits of the treatment options that you offer, as they need to be able to provide patients with at least basic clinical information when they make enquiries.

This is particularly important when it comes to dental implant treatment, as the modality can require a greater investment of time and money by the patient than other treatment options. If the team member they speak to is confident about discussing the process – regardless of who they are within the practice – this is more likely to instill confidence in the patient to proceed.

All members of our team are therefore trained to deliver the same response to certain questions. This standardizes the patient experience from the moment they ask about treatment through to appointment booking, clinical examination, treatment and on-going care. The team also know how to explain differences between treatment options to patients who can either have the treatment performed by myself, or through a student clinic at a reduced cost and they are made aware of what each option would entail from the outset.

Not only does this standardization improve the patient experience, it also streamlines the experience of referring dentists. All members of the team can describe the different ways in which we work with referring practices and the state-of-the-art technology we use to provide a good service. This ensures complete clarity for the referring dentist from the very beginning, no matter who picks up the phone or deals with the email.

By managing the team in this way, it has had a big influence on our practice growth.

Dental team work

2. Be prepared with your stock

I prefer to be prepared for any patient who walks through the door, in particular potential dental implant patients, by ordering implant products in advance and in bulk. I find that if you have the components ready to go, you appear better organized and professional to the patient. It also means that treatment can be offered much quicker – the patient can take as much time as they need to make an informed decision, but once the decision is made, treatment can commence at their earliest convenience. Most people are happy with the efficiency of such a service and are less likely to shop around.

To complement this, I have developed a good relationship with our dental laboratory and the technicians further ensure a fast turnaround time for any prosthetic work requested.

3. Delegate and share responsibility

I’d say one of the greatest challenges of practice management is compliance with the ever-growing number of regulations. There is a lot of red tape to get through and while it is absolutely necessary, it does occupy considerable time. Balancing the administration tasks with clinical care is difficult – particularly for a smaller practice such as our own – but it can be achieved with careful management of the diary and delegation. Our head dental nurse, general dentist and I are trained on compliance issues and share the workload.

As a fairly new practice we don’t have a dedicated practice manager, but for those who do, this person can take on a lot of the compliance and daily management responsibilities. This allows the clinicians to focus more on patient treatment.

Dental patient

4. Make the most of positive patient reviews

In my experience patients trust other people’s reviews more than practice-led marketing efforts. The vast majority of new patients who come to our practice do so as a result of word-of-mouth, meaning we rely heavily on positive patient recommendations. Aside from this indirect method of promoting our practice, our website offers more information to support any details provided by the team to the patients.

5. Use trusted products and systems

Our practice was initially set up with simple equipment and products that would streamline day-to-day processes. For example, our practice management software is easy to use and helps in the day-to-day running of the practice. It provides seamless integration with our imaging equipment and makes it easy to monitor different areas of practice performance – such as how many implant treatments we complete each month – so we know exactly where we stand.

We use Nobel Biocare implant systems and teach other clinicians how to use them on the SmileTube.tv online platform. We also have all the necessary equipment and tools should a clinical complication arise so that we can deal with it efficiently. And Nobel Biocare doesn’t only provide quality products and solutions; they also provide exceptional practice management support. They go above and beyond to deliver what we need and you just don’t get that level of service from a lot of other providers.

Keep it simple

In conclusion, keeping protocols as simple as possible is what makes my business easier to manage. Equally important is ensuring that all members of staff are on the same wavelength as this is what makes managing daily processes easier – we are a well-oiled machine!

About the author

Dr. Kunal Shah

Dr. Shah is currently the Principal of LeoDental in London, where he accepts referrals for implant planning, surgery and restoration. He enjoys mentoring and guiding colleagues through their first few implant cases on SmileTube.tv. In addition to his interest in dental implantology, Dr. Shah offers facial esthetic and Invisalign treatments. He is also a finalist at the 2018 Dental Awards in the Best Young Dentist category.