Emotional Decision Making In Your Practice?

Episode 028

Have you ever made a decision or reacted completely based on emotion? You probably have, but have you ever done it in your practice? I have and it took a complete stranger to help me see the impact it was having on my practice, and the other areas of my life.

On today’s episode I share my personal experience regarding emotional decision making and explain how that complete stranger (at the time) helped me adjust my thinking. It’s a very candid and personal conversation today on episode 28 of the Business of Dentistry.

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Recently I had an outburst in my office, and it was in front of a man who I had hired to work with me. I brought him on to help me grow my practice. Through a discussion with him I learned I was making decisions based off on my emotions and responding in a certain way to certain triggers because of principles and values I have.

Issues arose when the people I was communicating with didn’t know I held certain principles in higher esteem than others; so I wouldn’t argue about certain things, but I would respond emotionally about others.

That kind of response would lead people to believe I was reactive, unstable and a hot head. Having a conversation with this man helped me to see I have this pattern and it has been negatively impacting my practice and the other areas of my life. By working with him I learned how to communicate better, how to check my emotions and be objective at work and at home.

In our conversation I also realized that it is best to manage the things within my control and let go of the others. This was something I already did but by talking with him it raised my awareness level of myself so I can see it more often, and so I can also be more objective when making decisions.

You might be wondering what this has to do with running a dental practice so let me give you an example. I value being on time, and being punctual. I’ve been in the military for many years and it’s something that is ingrained in me, and it is something I am very big on. You can say it’s a strongly held principle in my life.

But it isn’t for other people, including some of my staff members. So in the past if someone was late I would allow it to trigger me and I would maintain a perception that this person was constantly late. I would make decisions based on that perception, and that emotional trigger – rather than actually checking the facts to find out how often they were late. So now we track how often people are late so I can see whether or not my emotions and perceptions are based in truth.

If any of this resonates with you take the time to find out how you respond to conflict, find out if you are making decisions and reacting based on facts or based on your emotions. You can do this by talking to your significant other, your family and close friends.

Once you find out if you react emotionally like I have been doing, it will help you improve your communication and your decision-making process. You can go from making decisions based on emotions to a more objective decision-making process. And when you get to that point, a lot of areas of your life will get better including your practice.

Now instead of responding based on my emotions I do my best to get all the facts and the data, take that information into account and process it before making a decision. It’s not possible to take all the emotions out of a decision but I’ve learned to not respond solely based on an emotional trigger.

Doing so has made me more profitable, more productive in my practice – and it’s helped me to leave the office at the office and not take it home with me! So that’s my action item for you this week: check in with yourself and see if you are making decisions based on facts or based on emotions.

There are more personal examples and real life stories that highlight the benefits of checking your emotions and being more objective on today’s episode of the Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “Understand how you make decisions and why you make them.”

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Brightsquid Fans

Episode 027

In today’s episode we discuss improving the security of our emails when we send patient information. Do you have a HIPPA secure way to do this? Many practice management software programs have secure email built in…but what if it does not (like mine)? We have found a solution and its called – Brightsquid. Check out today’s episode to see if Brightsquid may be right for you and your practice…

Dental Squid

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To kick off the show today I give you an update on a few things I said I’d look into from previous episodes including check cashing services and my Camtasia video being featured on Techsmith’s web site. A big thank you to Dr. Shawn Van De Vyver for sharing my video and then passing along my information to Techsmith when they contacted him.

But the heart of today’s show is about being HIPPA compliant with your email communication, and how we do so in my practice. We’ve tried a few different options but the one that’s worked best for us so far is Brightsquid.

I was introduced to this technology by another oral surgery colleague. He had purchased the license to have Brightsquid for his referral base, and opted to have 5 accounts with his purchase. He has an account and then there are four accounts for his staff members to use. If you want more details you can check their web site, the link is in the Resources section below.

Brightsquid is appealing because it has secure email messaging to protect your practice and  the confidentiality of your patients’ health records. It also has unlimited data storage, 500 MB attachments and has a remote access option for when you aren’t in the office.

Another feature we love is the ability to track the status of emails. You can see when a message has been sent to another office, when it’s been opened and viewed. So if you send an email and you haven’t heard from the recipient you can follow up with them to let them know the email has arrived and is in their inbox.

We purchased it for $2000 which included a $500 discount because we are contacted with Dentamax, an insurance provider who offers the discount to any office who works with them. To be transparent with you that is the only discount or incentive we have received for Brightsquid – we aren’t an affiliate and we don’t receive any kind of financial incentive if you listen to today’s show and sign up!

Of course if you do sign up for Brightsquid you will need a system in place to make it work most effectively for your team. Here is an example of how we use it in our office:

A client comes in and has a CT done. I review the CT and do a screencast video using Camtasia. I edit and save the video. Then I add it our internal shared drive (the drive can only be accessed by our internal staff). From there a designated staff member picks up the file. It is part of her job to check the drive often and when she finds files there she attaches them to their corresponding patient files.

Next she will send it to email to referring doctor’s office. She checks to see if they are opened within a day or two. If not she will reach out to offices that haven’t opened their messages to let them know the message has been sent, and she requests they review it as soon as is possible.

She continues to follow up until it’s been opened and then we wait for their communication back from that referring office. We proceed as necessary after receiving their communication.

Whether you choose to follow our operating procedure for using Brightsquid it’s important you have a policy in place. My action item for you this week is to examine your electronic communication: are you using Brightsquid or something similar? If not, are you willing to update?

Some practitioners don’t use technology for paperwork and that’s fine, just decide if what you are doing is working and make adjustments as necessary. We work with non-tech-oriented offices in my practice and on today’s episode I explain why it’s important to have different systems in place to do so. Listen in to hear that and more on episode 26 of the Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: Check out your email’s HIPPA-compliance and shore it up if needed!

Episode Resources

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Discounting Yourself?

Episode 026

Do you have a policy for discounting fees in your practice? Check out today’s episode to find out my take on discounting fees and see how I have changed my philosophy. Thanks for tuning in…

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When I first opened my practice I gave discounts to many different groups. Everyone from military personnel to senior citizens to fellow healthcare practitioners got lower rates when they had work done by my office.

But over time I’ve phased out discounts of any kind for any group, and I’ve done so for a number of reasons. Whatever you choose to do within your own practice is your choice but on today’s show I’ll talk about why I no longer offer discounts, and how to evaluate whether lowered fees for special groups is appropriate for your office.

Originally I gave discounts to fellow healthcare practitioners but I soon found this wasn’t a two-way street. When they came to me I gave them lowered rates than other people, but when my family used their services we paid the full price.

That’s one of the things to consider when you’re evaluating your discount policy: make sure the arrangements work in favor for both parties, and they aren’t one-sided.

Also as you’re reviewing your discount policy make sure it’s set and is clear to your staff so they can communicate with your patients clearly. Be certain everyone knows who gets what discount (if any) and what can or cannot be discounted. When you make the policy clear to everyone they don’t have to come running to you every time someone asks for a lower fee and there isn’t any confusion on how much of a discount is given and for whom.

If you’re going to be offering a cash discount make sure your staff and your patients understand what “cash” means: does it literally mean just cash? Or does it apply to any payment that doesn’t have to go through the insurance company first? Our office it meant cash and cash only – NOT credit cards, not checks, only cash.

But some clients didn’t understand that, they thought it applied to checks and credit or debit card payments too. At times there was confusion and misunderstandings ensued. Today to clear up the confusion we simply don’t offer the discount.

Which raises another consideration: if you choose to eliminate discounts like we did then I’d urge you to consider sending professional letters to the groups you used to give discounts to. That’s what we did when we removed reduced fees as a payment option. In the letter we also provided an effective date after which we’d no longer offer the discount, and we gave our reasons for doing so.

Whatever you end up doing with your practice is up to you; and this week’s for-action item is to look at your policy. Who are giving discounts to? Why are you doing so for that group? And if you don’t have a policy in place be sure to create one or be crystal clear with your staff that your discount policy is there are no discounts.

As you consider your options also be sure you know your business’ numbers, as I’ve said so many times before on the show you have to be profitable to be in business! When you know your numbers you’ll know if you can even afford to offer discounts.

Listen in for more details on how to transition from discounts to no discounts, and how to work with your staff to keep your policies effectively in place. All of that and more on this episode of Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “You have to be profitable to be in business!

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Episode 25 Potpourri

Episode 025

Welcome to what I consider a milestone for the podcast…Episode 25.  Today’s potpourri consists of lessons I have learned over the past 25 episodes and then shifts to answering questions about banking, payroll, and accounting.  It also reveals an area that I have been delinquent in tracking…until now. Thanks for tuning in!

25

 

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As I drove into work I pondered what to talk about on this particular episode. Because I wasn’t sure I’d make it to 25 episodes of the show, today marks a milestone for me and for the podcast. So I thought I’d talk about some of the things I’ve learned from doing this show, as well as answer questions from you the listener.

One of the most important things I’ve gained from doing this show is the connection to like-minded people. It’s been a great way to connect with other similarly-inclined dental practitioners, all of whom have been supportive and helpful.

As a solo practitioner it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we are not in this alone. Although I have a great staff, wonderful family and friends, they are not in practice like you and I are so it’s been extremely beneficial to have other dental practitioners to connect with. Doing this show has given me many opportunities to do so, including joining some masterminds.

Another valuable result of this show is self-discipline. When I started the podcast I committed to posting an episode every Friday. And even though there were some weeks when I thought it wouldn’t matter if I was a day late, I still kept my promise to myself and released an episode.

There are a few other benefits I’ve gotten from the podcast including helping me to be a better student, a better dentist and business owner as well as a better person. I detail each of those areas on today’s show, and then I spend the latter half of the episode answering your questions including being fully transparent about an area I’ve been delinquent in!

You can listen in to hear those topics including whether or not I use a check cashing service, and other payroll and accounting-related questions. But the area I’ve been delinquent in is our treatment plan acceptance rate.

Recently I was asked to do a survey and after I completed it they offered me a free 30 minute consult as a token of appreciation. In that consult one of the questions was about our treatment plan acceptance rate. When asked what our rate is I didn’t know for sure so I had to dig in and find out.

Rather than looking though months of data I pulled up the month of March. In that month we had a 70% overall treatment acceptance rate. It’s not a bad rate but it could be better so we’re putting in reporting structures and looking at trends to improve it.

I wanted to bring this up to show you that there are areas I’m still working on, so you need not worry about being perfect!

My question for you is do you know your treatment plan acceptance rate? If not find out what it is, and keep track of it. If you know your rate does it need to increase? Reach out and let me know your answers. I love hearing from you, thank you for connecting and thank you for listening to this week’s episode of Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “Being transparent is a very important thing!

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