Struggling With My Thinking

Episode 072

Over the last few weeks I have been struggling with my thoughts. So much, they have been waking me up in the middle of the night. I’m not sure if my subconscious mind is trying to tell me something or not. Listen in to episode 72 of the Business of Dentistry to find out about my struggle and see if it may sound familiar…

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I don’t know if you have this same thought so I wanted to talk through it and get your feedback. What I’ve been working through about how we think is tactical vs. strategic. I’m comfortable thinking at the tactical level, like how to fix things.

That’s part of our training: we work in microns and millimeters and procedures on everything from dentures to crowns, etc. All of our training leads us to how to do something, how to work out the step by step of a procedure. But do we get into this profession because we think like that, or does our profession train us to think like that?

The counterpoint to this way of thinking, the tactical approach, is strategic thinking: why are we doing what we are doing? And that’s the piece I struggle with the most.

For example if you go into any of the online dental forums we’re all a part of and look at the questions being asked, most of the questions are related to the tactical thought process. There are far more questions related to the tactical side of things then to the strategy. And I’m comfortable with that thought process and that way of thinking, as most of us probably are.

However I get uncomfortable when I start to think of the why, what is our purpose. I’ve noticed that is something you don’t see much of online: the strategy. Which I understand, at least for me it’s hard to make the transition from tactical to strategic.

I don’t know if you do the same thing but I struggle with what am I going to do long-term? Like what is my real long-term game plan for my practice? I’m opening up and telling you this: I have some ideas but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the long-term view. This is something we all have to think about, we all have to think about our exit strategy and have one in place.

I haven’t played with my exit strategy enough: do I want to work part-time eventually? Do I want to go into academics part-time? Do I want to get a job with a government agency? Do I want to get out of this entirely and do some other line of work? Do I want to sell my practice? Do I want to get an associate and sell it to them? When do I want to do this? I’m 50, but do I want to do this when I’m 55 or 60?

I struggle with those answers, but I need to know them and you need to have a game plan for yourself. It’s never too early to start looking at your exit strategies. Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Where are you going with it?

I challenge you to think strategically, consider your exit plan and think about your long-term plan.

After you listen to episode 72 of the Business of Dentistry chew on that concept and those questions for awhile, no pun intended! And then let me know your thoughts.

Tweetable: “It’s hard to go from thinking in millimeters to thinking in years!”

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Introduction To Medical Coding

Episode 071

Hey folks, this episode we jump into the topic of medical coding. Now, don’t go worrying… I know medical coding is a complex topic but we are only covering the basics here. We will use a specific pathology case and go over the way I would approach the International Classification of Diseases Revision 10 (ICD-10) and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes. Thanks for listening to episode 71 of Business of Dentistry!

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The reason for the topic today is because I am in a few closed Facebook groups with other dental professionals and many of them have questions and a lot of interest in how medical coding is done. Personally my office uses medical coding because we do oral surgery. In fact, we use it every day.

When I was an oral surgery resident they made us code, and I hated it (at the time)! Of course now I can see the benefit in my private practice, knowing the coding and understanding how medical coding works has helped me since going into private practice.

Let’s talk about the basics of medical coding: there are two simple components, the diagnosis code and the procedural code. The diagnosis code comes from the International Classification of Diseases, better known as ICD. The latest revision is the 10th and it’s known as ICD-10. ICD’s coding will be a combination of alpha numeric numbers.

The procedural code is based on the Comprehensive Guide for Current Procedural Terminology, better known as CPT. This code is 5 numbers.

You list your diagnosis codes to support your procedural codes; a lot of medical insurances look at ICD 10 to tell the story of what is going on with the patient, that determines whether it is a covered benefit or not for that case.

Now let’s talk about a specific case I saw online.

The case was posted with a picture of a soft tissue neoplasm. I call it that because the photo showed an anterior maxilla which had attached gingiva between the anterior teeth, pinkish red and non-ulcerated). The picture was posted asking what we thought it was and what should be done.

Personally if I were submitting this I would submit my pathology as general categories: soft tissue neoplasm vs hard tissue neoplasm.

In this instance it would be soft tissue neoplasm. In the medical diagnosis code they want to break it down even further, they want to know if it is malignant, benign. I use the code of unspecified behavior because that is really what I am looking at. I’m looking at a bump on the gums of a patient, it’s soft tissue and it’s soft tissue neoplasm but I do not have a definitive diagnosis.

I know in my mind what I think may be based on clinical and historical data, but I don’t know for sure. So when I submit this case for coverage of a biopsy I submit it as a diagnosis code of neoplasm of uncertain behavior.

Then there are several categories in the ICD-10 coding book. They break it out into lip, tongue, salivary glands, even into submandibular, sublingual, etc. They have one that is a catch-all and it’s called other specified sites in the oral cavity which means gingiva, palate, gum, mucosa, cheek, alveolar, process, etc. That particular catch-all code is more in line with this specific case.

I’m highlighting my use of medical coding here because I want you to see how I use it, and how I do it in such a way that the patient can get benefits from their medical coverage if their dental won’t pick it up (or if they don’t have dental but they have medical).

So in this particular case I would use the ICD-10 and would use the code for a soft tissue neoplasm (and I use neoplasm instead of cyst or granuloma). And I would use the code for uncertain behavior in other specified sites in the oral cavity (there’s no specific code for anterior maxilla). In our example this would be D37.09, which gives information about the actual diagnosis.

To hear what CPT code I’d use and why it’s important in terms of your reimbursement listen in to episode 71. You’ll get a clearer picture of the basics when you do along with an explanation of a common form my staff created to help with coding in our office (the same one you can get by clicking on the photo above).

Feel free to email me with any questions, comments or insights you have about medical coding. Thanks for being here, I appreciate you listening to this episode of the business of dentistry!

Tweetable: “Understanding medical coding has helped in my private practice.”

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Sitting Down With Dr. Chad Williams

Episode 070

In this episode I have the privilege and honor of speaking with my friend and colleague Dr. Chad Williams.  In our discussion he gives his story on how he went from an associate to practice owner and then we delve into some of his experiences over the past 16 years.  I think you will find what he shares informative, educational and entertaining.  Give a listen to episode 70 of Business of Dentistry!

2017 Staff Photos 031

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I asked Dr. Chad Williams to join us for a number of reasons. He’s my top referral, and one of my closest friends. Because he’s has been in practice for 16 years, he has plenty to share about what he’s done right, what he’s done wrong and what advice he has for someone in the first few years of their practice – and he’s talking about it all on today’s show.

We are both located in Lebanon, TN. He arrived in town after graduating from dental school in Louisville, Kentucky. But before settling down here, he tried to join the Army Reserves in Clarksville, TN. The Army wouldn’t take him because of multiple knee surgeries, so when he heard about a dentist in Lebanon who was leaving his practice to become a firefighter, Chad jumped at the opportunity. He’s been here ever since.

Those first few months and years had their rocky moments though. Originally he was given five months to work in the practice before deciding if he wanted to continue, walk away or buy the dental practice outright.

A few months in Chad decided he wanted to buy it. He liked the people in town, and the proximity to Nashville. So on January 1 of 2002 he bought the practice.

It didn’t take long for his new practice’s office to need an overhaul though. The original dentist hated being a dentist, and hated having a practice so he did the bare minimum in terms of services, and spent as little as possible to keep the practice running. Chad gave it a complete makeover from the carpeted floors to the outdated wallpaper.

Plus the office was in a residential area; the original dentist had remodeled a family home into a dental office so by 2005 the practice was at maximum capacity. Chad had only 1.5 rooms to work in so he and his wife Betty looked into all their possible alternatives.

They found a piece of property on the main drag of the town and thought it would be a perfect place to build a new office. It was about 1.5 acres, so he built 5,000 sq. ft. of space to lease to others, plus 4,400 sq. ft. for his dental office. They loved it and got to work on the design in 2006 and started building in 2007.

He says the entire process was as smooth as broken glass! The economy took a downturn so they struggled to fill the additional office space. They had been looking for service professionals to complement a dental practice: dental specialists, medical specialists, CPAs, lawyers, etc.

They turned down 200 liquor stores, tobacco stores, and other non-professional service businesses. Because of that they were the only tenant in the building for a few years, but recently they signed a lease with a hospice that will occupy for the front 3,000 sq. ft. and are hopeful the rest will soon be occupied as well.

We also talk about his two pieces of advice if you are in the first 3-5 years of your private practice. His first bit of advice is to lose your ego, put down your pride. He admits his practice has always done much better when he’s put aside his pride.

For example, whenever he sits down with a patient and looks at them as a peer, it changes the dynamic in a positive way. He talks to them about how he can help them, and what they need done, rather than telling them what he could do for them. Then he listens to their questions. All of this helps his patients to be less nervous and more agreeable to his treatment plan recommendations – that and his use of humor, something he is known for!

Hear the other piece when you listen in to today’s show. You’ll also hear how he works 3.5 days a week, how presents his treatment plans for greater patient buy-in, and the three hurdles that patients have. Dig in to that and more on episode 70 of the Business of Dentistry podcast!

Tweetable: “Learn from your ears, not from your mouth.”

Episode Resources

Dr. Chad Williams’ website
Dr. Chad’s practice on Facebook
Eaglesoft Dental Software
The Alan Mead Experience
Patient Activator from 1-800-Dentist
Solutionreach Total Patient Relationship Management
Platelet Rich Fibrin Basics course

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Are You Doing A Quarterly Review?

Episode 069

This is the first installment of a weekly double header. In this episode I wanted to touch base and see if you were getting quarterly business statements from your accountant. I go over a few things I look for in mine on episode 69 of Business of Dentistry podcast.

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I will start this episode off by saying I’m not an accountant – nor do I play one on TV! – but I recommend using quarterly reports. They help me understand where my practice is at so I can adjust accordingly. Let me explain how I use them and how I tailor my practice with the information in my quarterly reports.

James is my accountant and he does quarterly business statements for me, these statements are actually called “statements of revenue and expense on an income tax basis”. He runs these for me every quarter.

I suggest doing these every quarter because it gives you a snapshot of how your business is doing compared to last year at this same time. I like that fact, it breaks up the year into smaller chunks and gives time to recognize any trends in profits (good or bad). Because I do these quarterly I can adjust to those trends much quicker than if I waited til the end of the year to review everything.

Now here’s what I’m looking at when I look at these quarterly reports: first is income, then is expenses and then finally net profit.

Regarding income I look at what we collected in this year’s quarter versus last year’s, did we go up, down or stay flat? I look for trends and potential reasons why we increased or decreased, and then I either continue those trends if they helped us increase or I look for the solutions to any decrease.

For example in the first quarter of 2017 versus the first quarter of 2016 we went up 10%. I was happy with that – it’s double digit growth so of course I was happy! But I began to think back to 2016 and realized I took more time off in the first quarter of last year than I did in the first quarter of this year. So that 10% is a little misleading. If I factor in my time off from last year it could make that income be flat rather than 10%.

Next is expenses followed by net (or the bottom line). In my report expenses are covered, things like CE for my employees, payment for staff uniforms, computer improvements, marketing & advertising, service charges, dues and subscriptions, the various forms of insurance like malpractice, disability, etc. any license expenses, office supplies, etc. Those are all expenses.

Naturally we want less money spent on expenses if possible, that will give us a better net profit overall.

Finally, a the end of all of this, I look at our net income for this year’s quarter vs. last year’s quarter at this time. The first quarter of 2017 saw our practice have a 41% net increase over last year’s first quarter. We lowered our overhead, generated more income and had a better overall net income as a result – exactly where I wanted this practice to go!

I have a few qualifications, which I explain on today’s show. You’ll hear a specific example of why I stress having an emergency fund/savings for your business, and how my fund was useful for the practice earlier this year.

Listen in for that story, and then let me know if you are doing quarterly reports in your business. If not, why aren’t you? Everyone has their own way of running their business so I’d love to hear what you do differently, and how it’s working for you. Hear my thoughts on that and more on episode 69 of the Business of Dentistry.

 

Tweetable: “It’s the barometer of the health of your business and your practice.”

Episode Resources

Platelet Rich Fibrin Basics course
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Finding An $11K Mistake

Episode 068

This week I discuss a recent gap in our practice systems that revealed an $11K mistake. I also do a little self promotion about my new PRF course. Listen in to find out more on episode 68 of the Business of Dentistry.

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Usually I like to think of my office as a smooth and well-oiled machine with no problems, but recently I realized that was just me burying my head in the sand! So today’s episode is about how I came to that realization, how I found the “holes in my game” so to speak, and what we did about it in my practice.

Over the course of the last week we found a big miscommunication problem regarding some insurance claims.

One day between surgical cases, I was walking down the hall when I noticed a group of my team members were standing in the computer room. This is the room where my assistants usually go to enter the electronic patient data, patient health questionnaires, etc. It’s basically an admin room for my clinical staff.

Now I have often seen my staff in that room but they usually drop in to say hi and then move along. But not on this day. On this day I did both of my procedures – simple single tooth extractions under sedation – and they were still in that room after I had finished up.

I could tell by the way they looked at me that they were nervous about something; I got a feeling that something was going on. After I had finished with my last patient I went in to computer room to talk with them, and find out what was going on.

When I asked if someone needed to tell me something two of my admin staff said yes, if I had a few minutes to talk. I told them I did and asked them to follow me to my office. I could tell they were both very nervous, so I told them to relax because it couldn’t be all that bad!

With some trepidation they both began filling me in on what was happening and what they had found. My implant coordinator told me she had been looking for a claim that had been filed; she wanted to follow up on it. As she looked into it she saw the claim had been filed but it had not yet been paid. The work had been done but the claim hadn’t been paid yet.

Next she called Paul, our office manager, and asked if he had done anything with the claim. He said he hadn’t and that it was his understanding Meredith would handle those claims. It was then that she realized there was a miscommunication: she thought he was handling them, and he thought she was!

Next she ran a report and realized there a few implant patient cases that hadn’t been paid. And as she looked at this report she could see there were several pages of unpaid insurance claims. Meredith took it to Becca, my admin team lead, and they looked at it together. They were pretty nervous about what they were looking at because they were afraid to bring it to my attention.

While I’m not proud to admit it, they were afraid to bring it to me because I’d lost my cool in the past. I’m much, much better now because I understand that what’s done is done and getting upset won’t change anything.

We looked into it and figured it was a miscommunication and a failure of systems; everyone thought someone else was doing this job so no one was doing it.

Our next step was to find out the details about this: was this going to cost the practice money? I was under the impression that this was going to cost us money because some of the procedures were over a year old, I thought we had forfeited the claims. But we looked into it and discovered everything had been filed with the insurance companies, but not all the claims had been paid.

They looked into each case over the next few days and realized we owed some patients refunds, we were out about $200 and we had thousands in outstanding claims with several insurance companies. In fact, when they got in touch with those companies they found about $11k owed to us!

Now I tell you this to let you know these things happen on occasion, there are glitches in the system. I’m very proud of my team in how they manage the office and the business. So when this happened we worked through it. And I hope our example gives you an incentive to look at your unpaid insurance claims report  this week and track it appropriately! Let me know what you find, after you listen to episode 68 of the Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “Continually look at your systems and your processes.”

Episode Resources

Platelet Rich Fibrin Basics course
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A New Resource and My 1st Uber Experience

Episode 067

This week I have a new resource for you. I call it the Implant Patient Business Packet. I put it together after several listeners asked me to share the forms I talked about in the last episode, and after that I get into my first experience with Uber. Tune in to hear the details on episode 67 of the Business of Dentistry!

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As I mentioned today’s show is about listener comments and feedback. I revisit several topics including the implant patient forms, in-house financing and credit card offers that continue to arrive in my office mail.

All of these topics I share with you and revisit because I appreciate your feedback, your questions and even when you challenge me on something. Your input – whether you agree with my thoughts – helps me with my mindset and my practice, and I hope I do the same for you because I want this show to be a win-win for all of us.

And I wrap up with my thoughts on customer service. Recently we were invited to a social outing – my wife and I – for my kids’ school and we went to downtown Nashville. So we opted for Uber because traffic down on a Friday night is awful.

Plus I thought I thought I might have a cocktail and my wife wanted a glass of wine. Instead of worrying about traffic and a designated driver we elected to take Uber, which is something we’ve never done before.

I talked my wife into it as it’s only a 10-minute ride to downtown. We opted for Uber Black, which is a little higher end. I knew if a 20-year old kid showed up in a beat old Camry my wife wouldn’t be impressed so I went for Uber Black.

Our driver arrives, and backs into our driveway because it’s raining. He hops out of the car, is wearing a suit and tie, and is well-groomed. He opens an umbrella, walks over to us and escorts my wife to the car.

He is very professional and pleasant. Because I’ve got an entrepreneurial mindset, I started to ask him questions about being an Uber driver. He tells me the requirements for being an Uber Black driver: car has to be a certain age, certain insurance, etc. It was a very high end service, and we were impressed.

A few hours later we were going home and Jimmy, our first driver, wasn’t going to be available. I knew because I had already asked him on our drive into the city. So I did the general Uber and we got a ride.

The driver arrives and it is pouring rain outside; he calls me when he gets there. He says he’s outside in a black car, but there are like 7 black cars outside! I asked which one he was and eventually found him. But there was no umbrella service this time! The guy doesn’t open any of our doors, we even had to give him directions.

As you can tell our two Uber experiences were very, very different. I’m bringing this up to highlight that customer service matters, and it doesn’t take a whole lot to have better customer service .

The next time you’re impressed with the customer service somewhere pick their brains and ask them about it. Take notes when you have great experiences and tweak them to make them fit your practice. Brainstorm with your team too and come up with ideas that will set you apart from the rest. And then let me know what you did and how it worked out. I thank you in advance for doing so and for being here on episode 67 of the Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “There are lots of ways to make ourselves a little better every day.”

Episode Resources

The implant patient business packet
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Patient Communication Struggles

Episode 066

Communicating with our patients is an area where we continually struggle. This week I discuss some of my shortcomings in this area and describe some of the ways we are trying to improve. Listen in for that and more on episode 66 of Business of Dentistry podcast.

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Because we’ve focused on the big issues in our office we’ve been able to focus on smaller details, like patient communication. Recently a few things have come up in our office that I wanted to talk about with you and get your feedback.

The first one is my 8 hour rule about sedation: no food or drink 8 hours before your surgery and anesthesia. Yes that’s an old school approach so some people may instruct their patients otherwise, but it’s the rule I use with my patients.

However we routinely have people who don’t follow this. We make sure they are told this rule at their consult and it’s written on their pre-op instructions. They are also reminded of the 8 hour rule when we confirm their appointment. So we make sure they are told about it numerous times before the date of their procedure.

Yet people misinterpret it, and I don’t understand how! Typically two to three times a month we send people away because they’ve told me they’ve eaten or drank something in the previous 8 hours. And I won’t put them under sedation when that’s happened.

Now my bigger concern is these are the people who tell the truth, there must be some who just don’t tell me! I worry about how often that happens.

The other area I regularly see patient communication issues arise in is with financial agreements. This is especially true with implant patients. In our office we run into problems with patients starting the process with us; they’ll tell us they want to work with Doctor A so we reach out to that doctor. Doctor A coordinates with us and tells us they will do X as part of the procedure. So we plan accordingly and do the Y and Z parts of the procedure. We then provide the patients with an estimate based on the Y and Z parts we are doing.

But then the patient will come back to us and tell us they’ve changed insurance and changed doctors. So rather than working with Doctor A who we’ve already been in communication with and coordinated with, they now want to work with Doctor B. But Doctor B doesn’t do what Doctor A does so now I have to do doctor A’s work and charge for it, it’s an additional fee.

So of course the patient gets upset about it, even though the fee changed because the patient made a change of doctor.

Along those same lines an issue often arises when we talk to our patients about their payment options. With some patients we let them pay in increments, and we have the conversation and discuss their options. Later on they act as though the conversation never happened and they don’t know about the payment plan we discussed and agreed upon.

To help with this we’ve developed consultation sheets that explain everything. The form specifies what we talked about and then we have them sign and date it, so even if they say they didn’t agree to the payment options we now have a signed and dated form that says otherwise. It has helped a bit.

In general, I try to break communication down into simple terms. Can you think of anything else that can be done? Where do you see patterns with patients forgetting communication or complaining about something, and how do you address it? Any ideas you have I would love to hear, leave a comment below or email me.

Tweetable: “Documentation is key.”

Episode Resources

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Back In The Saddle

Episode 065

Yes, I’m still alive and well. Thanks for asking. After several weeks I’m back in the saddle with a discussion on unsolicited credit offers, Tricare dental, an idea on alternative financing for new practices, and my answer to a hiring question. Hear it all on episode 65 of the Business of Dentistry. Thanks!

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The first thing I want to talk with you about is the mail, specifically offers for credit cards and lines of credit. Recently I was going through the mail at my office, after my staff had pulled out all the insurance-related pieces, when I noticed a plain white envelope. I thought it might be the new replacement debit card I have been waiting for. My old card had expired and I was waiting for the new one to be mailed to me. I thought they may have made a mistake and sent it to my office instead so I opened it up.

When I did I found it wasn’t the new debit card, but it was an offer for a line of credit. It was an offer that was completely ready to be used – it had my name on it, an account number, an expiration date and a security code on the back! And it had a little sticker for activation by phone. The line of credit was for a substantial amount of money.

Now I didn’t ask for it, and didn’t apply for it but there it was in the mail anyway. My first thought was to ask how they could send me this, and if this was even legal? Then I got suspicious and wondered if someone else was trying to get a line of credit in my name.

I shredded the offer but am sharing it with you so you can be aware. If you haven’t seen an offer like this come to you it could be in the future. Be sure to look at your mail and watch for credit cards and offers for lines of credit like this one, and shred the material when you get it if you don’t want the offer and don’t want anyone else to get your information!

The next topic I cover on this episode is the Tricare fee schedule changes.  We are still on the look out for ours but I have heard it’s going to get worse as they move to United Concordia from MetLife. I’ve been able to be profitable as a PPO office and I believe you can be to a certain point.

However there’s a tipping point where your reimbursements are so low you can’t maintain a profitable business, so you have to draw that line in the sand. One of the ways I’ve drawn that line is to look at the state Medicaid program. If you’re a commercial insurer and you pay a lower fee schedule then the state Medicaid then I won’t participate in your network. Otherwise you are paying to work!

Speaking of fees and being profitable, I’ve been seeing a lot on social media about student loan debt for new dentists (and by new I mean those who are 3-5 years out of school). Some of these people are unable to get loans to start their own practices because they have so much student loan debt. And others who do get loans are getting terrible deals, or what I call “predatory lending” with sky-high interest rates.

Which made me wonder why can’t we – the established dentists – become the lenders for these guys and gals? I don’t know how we’d do this exactly, I’m just throwing it out there because it’s been on my mind. I’ve been thinking about how to fund new practice owners and help them out as lenders. I don’t know if this is even possible but it came up in social media so it got me thinking about why or how we could do this for our fellow colleagues.

I’d like to believe there is some way to create a mutually supportive situation that helps new folks get better loans and helps those of us who are established to grow our financial portfolios. If you’ve got some ideas I’d love to hear from you, even if it’s to tell me this would never work!

Lastly I wrap up the show with an email I got from a listener who needed a new front office desk member. You’ll hear me talk about the pros and cons of hiring a lesser-qualified person who seems to be a better team fit. I also talk about the best places and strategies I’ve found for hiring staff members, and whether or not I include my team in the hiring process. Listen and let me know what you think of episode 65 of the Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “I tend to hire on character and train on skills.”

Episode Resources

Episode 48: Identity Theft and Personal Finances
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Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

Episode 064

A steep learning curve is one of the biggest hurdles when implementing new technology into your practice. This week I discuss a new adventure. The old adage of “teaching an old dog new tricks” pretty well describes my introduction into 3D printing. Have a listen on episode 64 of the Business of Dentistry.

3D Printer business of dentistry 3D printing dentistry

 

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In today’s episode I’m the old dog and the new technology I’m about to launch is 3D printing! I think of 3D printing as an advanced technology, and it’s something I’ve been watching, learning about, listening to and paying attention to for awhile now.

And from what I’ve learned – my impression and perspective – is that this is not something that is easy and quick to implement. Because of that, it’s not been easy for me to pull the trigger on bringing a 3D printer into my practice. But I recently bought a FormLabs Form 2 3D printer, along with some of the guys I interact with on social media, we’re all launching these printers and learning them together in the same time frame. So we’ll all learn as we go, together!

If you’ve been here for past episodes you know we’ve talked about implementing technology: how to do it and how to get a return on your investment. It’s the approach I use for all technology purchases in my practice and the same one I used when buying the 3D printer.

My rationale with the 3D printer was to have better outcomes for implant patient cases (from a restorative standpoint), and improve upon the outcomes and fine-tune the process. We’ve had great success but the 3D printer could make our implant process even better. The process could become more predictable and save me time surgically by doing the pre-planning and the surgical guides upfront.

That is my focus with the 3D printer: building a workload to do surgical guides, to make surgeries quicker and bring about better patient recovery because we’re spending less time in the surgery itself. I’m also looking for better time management through reduced overhead and an increase in overall production.

I’m not new to technology, and if you’ve listened before you know I am a tech guy so I’m not gun shy about new gadgets and toys. But with the 3D printer I am gun shy about building the workflows to make it effective and productive in my office. That’s where the 3D printer is still shaky for me. In fact, I haven’t even unpacked the 3D printer! It has been in my office for the last week, the two boxes it came in still sitting there untouched and unopened (as you can see in the picture above).

The main reason I haven’t unpacked the boxes yet is because I’m also preparing to leave for vacation for a week: I’ve been focused on getting everything done and ready for my time away. When I do set up the printer I want to have the time to devote to it, and I just don’t have it right now.

Also I am considering documenting my experience with the 3D printer: from opening the boxes through the entire process of setting it up and building the workloads for surgical guides. I haven’t found anyone else online who has done this but if you know of anyone please tell me because I’d love to watch it! But if that option is not available, then I’ll do it myself and hopefully someone can learn from me.

I’d also love to know if you have a personal experience with 3D printing and 3D printers: do you have one up and running in your office? Are you going to buy one? Do you have any specific reasons not to? I’m interested in hearing your perspectives on both sides of the issue!

On episode 64 of the show you’ll also hear what my staff does when new technology for the office appears, why I allow them to call me out if I don’t follow protocol and why I’m doing more self-directed learning now then I ever did during my formal education.

Listen in for all of those topics and then let me know what you think about old dogs implementing new new tricks like 3D printing to increase productivity, improve patients outcomes and become more efficient! It’s all here on this edition of the Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “As we’re learning we are growing.”

Episode Resources

FormLabs Form 2 3D printer
Blue Sky Bio Academy Facebook group
Dr. Corey Glenn’s YouTube videos
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Business of Dentistry on Facebook

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Let’s Get Political

Episode 063

Don’t let this week’s title run you off…we will discuss a proposed bill in the U.S. House of Representatives related to the dental insurance industry. We also take a quick, and easy, look at your practice to make sure you are headed in the right direction for 2017. Thanks for listening to episode 63 of the Business of Dentistry.

More About The Business of Dentistry

In general I’ve avoided talking about politics on this show but today’s episode is different! And the reason it’s different is because of an automated message I received from the American Dental Association via the Tennessee Dental Association about legislation currently before Congress.

And I wanted to talk about to you about this same legislation, HR 372. This bill was introduced in January 2017 and is meant to restore federal anti-trust laws to the business of health insurance in an effort to protect competition and consumers. This act is cited as the Competitive Health insurance Reform Act of 2017. HR 372 includes and specifically mentions the dental industry

Basically this act repeals exemptions for health insurers, including dental insurers, which are currently in place. The automated message from the ADA (via the Tennessee Dental Association) asked me to send a letter to my representative in support of this bill, and I did.

My understanding is that this bill wants to make sure that health insurers, including dental, are subject to the same anti-trust laws and unfair practices that other businesses have to comply with.

I haven’t asked people to do anything political in the past because I believe we all have our different views, but sometimes we have to get involved and take action. Sometimes we have to step up and give our input. So on this episode I’m asking you to educate yourself on HR 372 and go talk to your elected officials about it. Get involved based on your own evaluation of this bill because it’s important we all be aware of it and we act accordingly.

There are people – our lawmakers – who make decisions on how we practice dentistry and how we run our small businesses. And they have no idea what we do, no idea how we’re impacted by health insurance, by Medicare and Medicaid changes, and they have no idea how to run a small business. It’s up to us as a profession to help educate them on how we are impacted.

When people in our state legislative branches and at the federal levels are making decisions that affect the way we practice and make a living, I’m going to give you my 2 cents and them. I encourage you to do the same – get familiar with the bill, reach out to your representatives and let them know what you think.

For the second half of the show I shift focus to the business side of dentistry. I want to know if have you any idea about how you stand in your production and collections in the first two months of this year as compared to January and February of 2016? Do you know if you brought in the same amount, brought in less or produced more versus last year? If so, by how much?

To be transparent, in January of 2016 I was a little more productive and had a bit more collections then I did this January. However, we’ve been much busier this February so overall in these two months of 2017 my collections are up 8% and the practice is up 10% in production. The general trend for the first two months is a growth phase, an important point to know.

Listen in to hear which other months are busiest for me, which are least, how often I check this data and why paying attention to trends in your business is important. You’ll also hear an update about the position of my office manager! Tune in for all of that on today’s Business of Dentistry.

 

Tweetable: “Educate yourself on HR 372 and talk to your elected officials.”

Episode Resources

Congress’s web site
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