Working Together, Profiting Together
What makes up a good dentist-technician team, and how can successful collaboration benefit your business?
If dentists are the architects of the mouth, then it does us well to work with the best “interior designers.” In dentistry, as in life, our reputations precede us and can also reflect on our business associates. For example, Pinhas is widely known as a world-class technician, making not “just teeth” but using his expertise and craftsmanship to create works of art for each patient. His reputation helps boost mine when people see that this expert is working with me. It works the same way for him, being able to utilize my reputation as a clinician who will only work with the best. Both our businesses benefit.
Good communication is by far the number one factor that makes for a successful collaboration within a team, whether among clinicians, dental technologists, surgeons, etc. With today’s technology, which includes digital scans, file sharing, recorded video, and live video chat sessions, there is no good reason not to stay in contact with each other and ensure everyone is on the same page. Even using a smartphone to FaceTime with a technician while I’m chairside allows them to see the movement of the patient’s mouth to identify potential issues and troubleshoot on the spot. While it’s not quite the same as having a technician chairside, it’s about 95% as good and still makes an impact in outcomes.
Getting this all done during existing chairtime, rather than scheduling another appointment and taking up both the patient’s and technician’s time, is a real boost to the business side as well. Patients are happier because they don’t have to come into the dental office as often and they can get their new smile more quickly, while still getting excellent results because we’re working with a top-notch laboratory.
While technology certainly enhances being able to work together as a team, it is not a “sure thing” when it comes to profitability. Making clients happy is always the most important way to build your practice. They will help make your business successful so that you can invest in the technology—not the other way around. Collaborating with a laboratory that has this same focus on patients goes a long way toward having successful cases and a successful business.
When collaborating with a dentist or within a larger team on a case, it is incredibly important that you are all speaking the same language. It’s not just a matter of terminology; it’s also having the same vision or purpose to prioritize the best possible outcome for the patient. Ultimately, everything comes down to the patient; anything else is just a tool to help us ensure they’re happy with the results. That is what will benefit your business most: excellent outcomes and patient satisfaction.
While anybody can buy the new technology that’s come onto the market, a collaborative team effort is irreplaceable. Utilizing communication technology aids that collaboration. Being able to communicate quickly and in real-time with clients through video is so valuable. Sharing pictures of the patient isn’t always the most helpful; I’ve found that a live video feed of the patient in the dentist's office can be so much more informative. For example, if an impression was not accurate, sharing video of patient movement in action will allow the team to immediately address the issue.
This kind of real-time communication not only works best for the patient, it’s definitely improved my efficiency and bottom line as well. I rented laboratory space adjacent to a dental office for over 20 years, and even being so close, I had to charge very high fees in order to turn a profit. Now that I’m able to spend most of my time on-site at my laboratory, I can work with dentists from all over and use my time much more efficiently, so much so that I’m now able to charge less but be much more profitable—4000% times more profitable than last year, in fact. As with any kind of business investment, choose only those that will truly improve productivity and efficiency, which is what I’ve done by utilizing communications technology more in my business and teaming up with dentists that do as well.
It also makes a big difference when everyone on the case team is committed to continued learning and being flexible in their approach to each case, like I’ve found when working with Paul. In the end, it doesn’t matter whose idea was whose, as long as each contributor finishes by feeling they’ve done their best work for that patient.