Finding Better Ways:
A Model for the Future
Bob Fontana and Aspen Dental Management, Inc. make laboratory technicians an important part of their team.
The delivery of health care is changing in this country because consumers are demanding it. In dentistry, large corporate models continue to gain momentum, and Aspen Dental Management, Inc. (ADMI) is showing that this is a viable career path for dental technicians.
“Patient-centric models such as ours are well-positioned for long-term growth and success,” ADMI CEO Bob Fontana says. “For the Aspen Dental brand, the strategy has always been about trying to find different and better ways of doing business, consistent with what consumers—both patients and employees—want.
“We have been able to grow and be successful because we understand the changes that are happening and what consumers want from their health care. The Aspen Dental brand has always been about doing things differently, and ADMI supports dentists and technicians who believe in a patient model that is built to break down barriers and make it easier for patients to be able to get the care they need.”
One key to ADMI’s success has been a renewed emphasis in recent years on creating alignment around culture and values.
“For any successful organization, culture is the biggest competitive advantage,” Fontana says, “and we have made significant investments in ensuring that all team members—whether they be in Aspen Dental practices or at ADMI—are clear about why they come to work every day and the values that we hold dear. Perhaps most importantly, those values serve as a guide for every business decision that is made.”
Part of ADMI’s culture is making sure that every member of the team has clarity regarding his or her role and how their contributions directly impact the success of the practice. Every member of each office team has access to an individual report card—a set of key measures that include both team metrics and individual metrics. Each day, a laboratory technician can look at that report card to see statistics such as how many patients accepted treatment the previous day, as well metrics such as their percentage of denture remakes.
“That kind of visibility gives laboratory technicians a real sense for how they are helping their office team achieve success,” Fontana says.
A Career Path for Technicians
That team culture starts from a technician’s first day at Aspen Dental. ADMI created a laboratory technician training program because they realize the importance of technicians in the delivery of quality services and that there is a growing shortage of skilled technicians in the US.
“Our mission at ADMI is to care for the people who care for the patients, and so we are committed to giving laboratory technicians the support and resources they need to be successful,” Fontana says.
The laboratory technician training program takes approximately 48 weeks to complete, but trainees with experience can graduate sooner. There is no cost to participate, and trainees are compensated with a competitive income and health benefits.
“From Day 1, trainees are mentored by a laboratory technician manager and work alongside dentists and team members, from training and interning right through graduation,” Fontana says. “Throughout the experience, trainees learn how to fabricate quality dentures, see first-hand how their work impacts patients, receive immediate feedback on their products and progress, and receive an income and benefits. Additionally, they are guaranteed a job at an Aspen Dental practice upon graduation.”
Recently, ADMI announced a program to support employees in attaining their Certified Dental Technician (CDT) designation in Complete Dentures. Beginning in December 2016, ADMI will reimburse technicians 120% of the cost associated with the application process and exam fees. Once certified, they will continue to be reimbursed for annual renewal fees.
A Team Environment
A primary benefit of working as a laboratory technician for an Aspen Dental practice is stability, but another is being a core member of a team within the practice.
“They work in a team environment, right in the office, where patients are receiving care,” Fontana says. “A real sense of reward comes along with that. It is not about just manufacturing the denture; it is having an opportunity to get to know the patient and see how that denture may change their life.”
Working for a thriving, growing company cannot be understated either.
“We are unwilling to accept the status quo and are driven by a relentless belief that there is always a better way—a better way to deliver care, a better way to support our employees, and a better way to create team success.
“That shows up when you look at our track record. It’s why 10 000 new patients call for an appointment at an Aspen Dental practice every single day. It’s why a new Aspen Dental practice opens every 5 days. And it’s why hundreds of dentists and laboratory technicians will join Aspen Dental this year alone.”