By ADMC Member Shirley Feuerstein
Welcome to the future of the dental practice? Automation, it is everywhere. Today’s technology is so advanced that a dentist can now produce a beautiful crown in one day, show a patient the before and after pictures of what their smile could look like, be completely paperless and are able to promote their practices in every avenue of communication and touch on every demographic and age category.
Having this automation and technology in your practice may come with a price tag. That price tag is a lack of outstanding patient care or as I like to refer to it as OPC. We have automation now to contact our patients thru email and text messaging. We send claims and get payment thru the internet. We outsource our billing and our accounts receivable clean up. All of these areas of a dental practice used to be the “personal touch” areas where staff personnel spoke directly with each patient individually. The connection.
With practice acquisition taking a different fork in the road, the larger practices, staffing multiple dentists as well as specialists, under one roof will help the patient in their quest for wonderful dental care. However, the OPC must be stronger in these practices.
The way in which to provide OPC in any size practice, starts with the actual location and staff. What needs to be outstanding and precise is the physical office looking updated, clean, organized and patient oriented. The staff must look crisp and cohesive. All correspondence leaving the office should be organized and up to date. But most importantly, every staff member needs to be trained in delivering OPC. Every communication, patient office visit and follow-up with that patient should be with the intent of providing that patient with undivided attention with outstanding communication to leave that patient with the “WOW” factor. This takes time to accomplish if done properly.
Practice staff should not be bogged down with internal management and for that matter neither should the dentist. Hence the creation of virtual services. Today just about everything is turning into a virtual reality. You can obtain a college degree while at home sipping a cup of coffee. You can attend a lecture, give a lecture or learn about a service through the virtual process. Virtual services have entered the dental practice world and are being embraced by dentists and staff around the country.
A virtual office manager can provide all the services an actual in-office manager can provide, right down to the staff meetings. With the use of the internet your virtual office manager can be conversing with a staff member or even a patient via a computer. They can see each other, so it’s as if they are in the room together. The VOM have access to the office dental software which allows them to monitor appointment scheduling and reports without having to ask anyone for help.
Having a virtual office manager serves a financial plus for the practice. A VOM would save the practice at least ½ of an in-house office manger’s salary and benefits. Many practices are hiring less experienced business personnel because they have a VOM working the technical part of the business office. They would much prefer to have a person with the ability to deliver OPC onsite then having them reviewing reports and processing billing which is done by the VOM. In other words your in-house staff are the concierges of your dental practice.
There are many office managers that don’t like their position because they are management and can’t really be “one of the group”. They have a fiduciary responsibility to the practice owner but must also be able to motivate the staff to do what is needed. Some consider this position being between a rock and a hard place. Having a VOM makes this task so much easier on everyone. It also allows the staff to focus on quality of care for their patients.
A Doctors Helper, LLC was created many years ago. The company has evolved into providing the necessary teaching on how to become an OPC provider. Staff is trained, systems are updated, and then the Virtual Office manager process begins. It is a win-win for patients, staff and the practice owner.
This article is contributed by ADMC Member Shirley Feuerstein
I have been in the dental field for over 40 years, starting as a CDA then advancing to an RDA. I was an office manager in my husband’s dental practice for over 30 years. During that time I began my practice management career helping dentists sort out the everyday issues of running a dental practice. I turned to practice management full time 12 years ago developing programs for staff, recare, collection and insurance, startup for the new dentist, goal setting and better “quality of life” scheduling. To complete the cycle, in 2006 I became a transition consultant for the leading transition company in the county. I receive great satisfaction at being able to help a professional start their career, enjoy their practicing years and gracefully exit their profession.