The major cause of stress in most practices is not "difficult" patients. It's outdated, undocumented, or improperly used practice management systems. When systems are not working properly, the results are inefficiency, miscommunication, and poor coordination among team members -- all of which contribute to stress.
Review, update, and document systems to alleviate stress. As practices go through both positive and negative changes, management protocols must also be changed to keep everything running smoothly with minimal stress. Start with the scheduling system, which has a direct bearing on almost every aspect of your practice's operation. Then move on to other key systems. As systems are updated and documented, train the staff to use them efficiently -- day-to-day stress in the practice will decline. Even "difficult" patients will be easier to handle, thanks to improved systems.
Don't accept stressors as being unavoidable. When team members feel stress, they should take note of what (or who) is causing it, think about why it's causing stress, and bring it up in a staff meeting. This will begin the process of eliminating a cause of stress in the practice, rather than allowing it to continue.
Dr. Roger P. Levin is CEO of Levin Group, a leading practice management and marketing consulting firm. To contact him or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit LevinGroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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