dental team meeting on business
Many dental practices could benefit from a team meeting on the business of dentistry.

I was talking with a group of dentists recently about strategies for case presentation that drive acceptance for higher levels of care. One of them mentioned that he sometimes felt he didn’t have the full support of his team in presenting advanced care, that there were people on the staff who didn’t want to be involved in what they saw as “selling” dentistry. Other dentists in the group agreed that they, too, had come up against this mindset in their practices.

This is a serious misalignment of vision that calls for immediate action, in my opinion. It’s one thing to have to overcome patient objections and to educate them on the value of great dentistry. You shouldn’t also have to deal with resistance about matters of core principles from the very people you need to rely on to help deliver that message.

If you feel that you have less than one hundred percent understanding and support from your team on this central issue, I suggest devoting a good part of a team meeting to achieving clarity.

First of all, make it clear that it always starts with clinical integrity, and you are never going to over-diagnosis or recommend care that a patient really doesn’t need. But there is a big difference between unnecessary treatment and discretionary treatment that could have a huge impact on the patient's well-being. It is, in fact your obligation as a dental care provider to ensure that every patient is always aware of all their possibilities, to the best of your ability to diagnosis and present.

Next, point out that, while it is never just about the money, a dental practice is a business, and being able to deliver high quality care depends on being profitable. Aside from the cost of becoming a dentist, in terms of education debt and acquiring a practice, there are the ongoing costs of doing business: monthly lease or mortgage obligations, supplies and utilities, equipment and technology purchases, continuing education, not to mention providing competitive compensation to attract and retain good team members.

The main point to get across, then, is that we have to get rid of the idea that there is some kind of zero-sum game at work – a tug-of war between serving the patients’ interests and serving the practice’s interests. The fact is, it is all connected – clinical excellence, team excellence, and business excellence are all inter-connected and interdependent. It’s no coincidence that the top practices in the country for production and profitability are also among the top practices for patient and team satisfaction.

So if you are going to be committed to being a high-quality practice – and I don’t think any team member would disagree with that ambition – you should also be committed to being a practice that operates on sound business principles. You should never apologize for achieving economic success, because that success is what drives further possibilities – for you, your team and your patients.