A successful dental practice owner has to manage both the clinical and management aspects of the clinic. Unfortunately, quite a few dentists focus on one area to the detriment of the other. Improving your clinical skills and learning the latest techniques are important to grow your patient base. At the same time, can you afford to ignore best practices in management like hiring the best staff or creating effective marketing campaigns?
The opposite situation also happens distressingly often. Some practice owners devote all their time and energy learning management skills like case presentation. But they don’t invest in clinical skills at all. They may not bother to continue their education or train staff members. What’s the point of attracting hordes of new clients if they don’t stick around because you cannot fulfill the promises you made?
The Relationship between Clinical and Management Aspects
Dentists tend to forget that any clinical decision will have consequences on the practice management side and vice versa. For instance, suppose you introduce a new technique for polishing composite resins. The new system takes less time and provides a better finish. It will have a direct effect on patient satisfaction, decrease turnaround time, reduce the need for follow-up appointments and so on.
All of this will impact your bottom line. Can you schedule more patients with all the time you saved? Something as simple as a new material or process can have far-reaching consequences in multiple areas.
Let’s consider a situation where a practice management decision affects the clinical aspect. Suppose you hire external consultants to create and manage a new marketing campaign. As a result, your office is flooded with new patients. If you don’t prepare for the influx of new patients, most of them will not come back to your practice.
You might have to hire additional dentists, hygienists or other staff members. You may need to invest in new equipment that reduces the time for certain procedures. Just as in the other situation, a change on the management side will affect clinical aspects of your clinic.
A Delicate Balancing Act
It’s not easy to walk the fine line between managing the clinical and management needs of your practice. But mastering this balancing act is the key to growth and success. Dentists go through years of rigorous studying and training to become experts in their field. You attend seminars and conferences to keep abreast of the latest developments in the industry. You expect your clinical employees to continue their education as well.
Sadly, many practice owners don’t pay as much attention to training and education for staff members on the management side. Consider the example of a receptionist in the front office. In most clinics, the receptionist handles calls from new patients and existing clients. They are responsible for scheduling appointments and answering questions. But when was the last time your receptionist had a training session on handling calls correctly? Could your office manager benefit from attending an HR conference on hiring best practices?
A well-rounded dental clinic will offer a superior experience for patients from the first contact. It includes every management aspect – from answering calls, welcoming visitors with a smile, appealing decor in the waiting room to paperwork that is quick and easy to complete. It also includes clinical aspects such as having trained employees to perform procedures, offering the latest innovative techniques in dentistry, and reducing the time each patient spends in the chair.
Many practice owners make the common mistake of isolating the clinical and management aspects. A better approach is to synthesize them as they both affect the office environment in different ways.