Sheri's Solutions: From prunes to practice reinvention

2013 08 14 15 37 19 36 Doniger Sheri 2013 200

"In this economy, any tips on how to survive?" Absolutely.

The pundits say we are slowly getting out of the economic slump that has plagued our nation for the past five or six years. It has caused banks to dissolve and businesses to close. The businesses that have survived (as ours have) have been involved in reinvention.

Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.
Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.

Have you added a new technique to your repertoire? Are you still using the same dental materials you have used since dental school? As difficult it is to accept change, it is just as hard to implement change.

Our best referrals are from word of mouth. If you add something new and exciting to your practice (even if you don't think it is that exciting), it will create a buzz with your patients. One good referral is worth a lot of excitement in the office.

Recently, we have added more technology. We implemented an intraoral camera that truly defines the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words." We are now adding digital radiography. Yes, some of you may think we are a little slow in adoption, but we are moving forward.

Focusing on oral cancer examinations is another important point. We all do intra- and extraoral examinations. We don't always "announce" we are looking for cancer, but why not? This is what we are doing. Why not let the patients know?

Another idea is purely on a patient management level. How is your chairside? Do you inspire or merely transact? Two of the biggest reasons people do not come to see us are financial and fear. If you are able to counteract the fear aspect, the financial will be achievable.

We treat all our patients as if they were fearful -- explain step by step the procedure that is going on in a soundtrack in our heads. This technique alone has garnered both respect and referrals.

Finally, if you have thought about adding a new procedure to your practice, go check it out online then take a course. There are so many technique videos online, as well as manufacturer's representatives who would be happy to discuss tips and techniques to add a new procedure to your already vast list of treatment paradigms.

Remember, it only takes one patient to spread the word within their family, workplace, or community to get you to be more productive.

When I think about reinvention, I think about the prune. What a horrible name for a fruit! People associate prunes with, well, lower digestive implementation, as well as good sources for a whole lot of vitamins.

The California Dried Plum Board recreated their fruit as "California dried plums." Now, this is not a stretch. A prune is a dried plum. There are many products on the shelves now that make eating a "prune" more palatable once it's called a different name.

I am not saying we need a total recreation, but changing a little bit of our range of treatments may lead to bigger and better options in the future. Talk more about what you are doing and add a technique or two. This may be a start to the recreation your practice needs.

Sheri B. Doniger, DDS, practices clinical dentistry in Lincolnwood, IL. She is currently vice president and president-elect of the American Association of Women Dentists and editor of the American Association of Women Dentists "Chronicle" newsletter. She has served as an educator in several dental and dental hygiene programs, has been a consultant for a major dental benefits company, and has written for several dental publications. You can reach her at [email protected].

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