Team Goals for Smooth Transitions New Procedures in the General Practice
Kaveh Ghaboussi, DDS
Integrating new procedures into the practice can be frustrating. Team members must learn new clinical skills and the flow of the appointment may also change. The complexity of adding a new procedure is complicated by the fact that human nature is often to return to the status quo. If no plan is in place, whatever changes are made will revert back to the way things were always done, and the new procedures will not become a successful part of the office’s offerings.
I wanted to add implant services so that I could treat my patients more comprehensively. I had many patients who would not follow through with treatment at specialists’ offices, but they still wanted and needed treatment. I also noticed there were downward economic trends working against profits and I wanted to counter that trend.
For any practice owner thinking about implementing new procedures, a big part of success or failure will be the ability to integrate them into normal office flow. The following steps can help make integrating new procedures a success:
1. Decide far in advance the types of procedures you want to do in your office and create a timeframe that will allow you to focus your office on successful integration. I would not recommend adding more than one major procedure per year.
2. Designate a specific employee to lead the integration of the new procedure. Take your team to the continuing education course.
3. Create an integration vision and mission. How many cases do you want to be doing on a monthly basis and how will you get there? Set aside one day per month to focus ONLY on this new procedure so your team will not be interrupted or distracted by a busy practice day.
4. Find a mentor who already does the procedure and have them help with your first few cases.
5. Document your early cases to use for marketing and encourage referrals.
6. Review progress and adjust what you are doing as needed to improve systems and meet goals.
Continuing Education is Key
I planned about a year in advance before starting with implants. The start-up costs and time involved were significant for me as I had just started my practice and recently gotten married. Planning CE a year in advance allowed me time to research what was available and figure out what CE would have the biggest impact on my practice. It also allowed me to keep family commitments, save money for the CE and new equipment, and block out time for my team to attend with me. If the team members are not involved in the CE, it becomes more difficult to get them to understand what you are trying to accomplish.
If you don’t take your entire team to CE, then at least take the key players. I had an assistant who showed interest about the prospect of placing implants, so I put her in charge of integrating implants into our office. She was responsible for making sure we stayed on task as an office. She also came to equipment meetings and all the implant CE. It was her job to make sure the rest of the team was all pulling in the same direction.
I created short-term and long-term office goals. I knew statistically about two-thirds of my patients would be missing at least one tooth and if a fraction of them accepted treatment, we would be able to place at least five to ten implants each month just from our existing patient base. Our short-term goal was to get used to the implant workflow by placing one or two implants a month on friends, family, and specially selected patients who agreed to treatment and understood we were still learning. The ultimate result of our short-term goal was to be able to integrate implants into our normal office workflow.
Once our CE was completed I wanted to be able to place simple implants right away, so we identified patients who were interested and in the year leading up to our implant CE we made a list of these patients and collected diagnostic information. We identified one day each month that we didn’t work and made that our implant day. We started by only booking one or two and after about 4 months we were comfortable booking three or four. At 6 months, we reevaluated our goal and were comfortable enough with the procedure to start booking appointments during our regular business hours.
At this point I was fairly comfortable with simple implant placement but I wanted to accelerate my abilities, so we found a mentor to come to my office for two implant training sessions to practice more advanced procedures. The two sessions were a few months apart. The first one had ten patients over 1.5 days. The entire team came in for a half-day lecture and the clinical team stayed the entire time. The second training session was also 1.5 days but only had two patients who we completely edentulated and placed multiple implants and implant-supported temporaries. Involving the mentor significantly accelerated our ability to provide implant care to our patients.
We carefully documented all of our implant cases and collected testimonials from these patients to use in internal and external marketing. These testimonials and before and after photos have helped significantly in recruiting new implant patients to our practice.
Patients appreciate having implants placed that help them eat, smile, or socialize again without having to go to someone else’s office. By following my method of integrating implants into your office you should be able to have similar great results.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kaveh Ghaboussi, DDS, has a private practice in Madison, Wisconsin. Dr. Kaveh was awarded elite mastership in the American Dental Implant Association. Only 2% of dentists in the United States qualify for membership and less than 2% qualify for mastership.