Where “We” Are Going – Part 1
The Paradigm Shift
If you intend to thrive in a free enterprise model, then you must seek a comprehensive service-driven paradigm, not simply continue down the reimbursement-driven path.
In Prescription for the Future, Moore, Rey, and Rollins state the components of transformational change are Strategy, People, Technology, and Process. We have adapted that model to include Services, Process, and Resources (Talent, information technology, and Environment).
Effective leadership of a practice begins with a clearly articulated, compelling vision of your ideal practice. A properly written vision includes the desired outcomes of the practice in serving the needs of its target market.
To create that practice you have to move your practice from where it is to where you want it to be through implementation of various strategies. Each strategy must take into account the best use of process and resources to deliver specific services.
In 1987, one of our clients had a vision of becoming the most service-oriented practice in his northwest Indiana community. To clarify his direction, he utilized the feedback from a focus group of current patients. With that feedback, we implemented a “Guest-Centric” paradigm in his practice and many others since that time.
You might wonder about the term guest. In the absence of pain, swelling, or bleeding, dentistry is an elective service. The term “patient” has a medical connotation of someone who is sick and seeking a cure. The term guest connotes a distinguished visitor to whom hospitality and service are extended. In this case, treating patients as guests included being seen on time, receiving care in the most excellent and expeditious manner possible, and being able to leave the office as soon as care was completed.
The technology of today enhances this paradigm significantly. We have created a “Point of Care” approach. When this approach is implemented properly it greatly simplifies the practice of dentistry. You first identify the market niche where you are able to deliver world-class service. Then every decision you make in delivering care to that niche is evaluated on the basis of “If we do this, will the guest benefit?” If the answer is no, don’t go there. If the answer is yes, then design the process; integrate the resources component and deliver the service.
For example, if a key ingredient to your service is punctuality; one strategy would be to reduce the time it takes to check a patient out at the end of treatment. Current computer technology allows you to have a “Point of Care” workstation chair-side to document treatment, post charges and payments to the account, and schedule the next appointment before leaving the treatment room. All the guest would have to do in that scenario is to pickup walkout documents. No stop at the financial secretary or the appointment secretary required. And to go one step further, a “front-deskless” practice is very possible.
To implement this process change, the right computer solution is required and the clinical team must be trained to properly post and appoint. If the software has a comprehensive clinical record system, there is no wasted team time in filing or locating records, the information is just a few mouse clicks away at any computer in the office or from home.
In this scenario a properly trained team member can
This approach creates a horizontal integration of tasks and enhances the relationship with the guest. This role is known by some as a treatment coordinator, we have created a role known as a “care-guide.” This team member is charged with a mission to do whatever it takes to educate and deliver care with excellence.
Proper integration of digital “high tech” with a warm and caring “high touch” team allows you to move from a vertically oriented “silo” practice to a horizontal “guest-centric” value stream practice. You can shift the focus of care from acute and chronic disease to a long-term care plan built upon the desired outcomes of the guest.