Featured Image - Taking notes, learning, meeting

Sometimes you have more room to grow than you realize. That' what oral surgeons Dr. Eric Reed and Dr. John Contino discovered after connecting with Spear Education. They learned that being busy didn't mean they had hit the limit of their possibilities. 

After partnering and opening a practice in Naples, Florida in 2001, they opened a second location in Bonita Springs and felt they had hit capacity. Now, on the 20th anniversary of their partnership, they continue to see sustained growth and recently brought aboard a new associate to help them embrace the possibilities that still lie ahead.

Recently, Spear Digest spoke with WestShore OMS Specialists Drs. Reed and Contino about their recent addition to the practice Dr. Daniel Winokur, their Professional Relationship Director (PRD) Paulette Drasba and a leader in the Spear community of PRDs, and their office manager, Janne Sharp — as well as their journey with Spear.

On the pace of change

Dr. Contino: “I told a patient today that I have done probably 20 implants in the last three days. When I started in practice in 1998, I did that many in a year. Dan [Dr. Winokur] has probably done more in his training than I did in my first year out of residency. It's just a different world now and it keeps changing rapidly. That's why keeping current is so important.

“I remember there was a time when Eric and I would stand in the parking lot at the end of the day and say, 'Can you imagine if we could do X number of dollars a month? How great life would be?' Well, we've surpassed those early dream goals multiple times over by now. And there are still always new goals to reach. It's gone by fast, but it's been enjoyable and rewarding, and it's been fun.”

Group meeting, taking notes, study club, learning

On the benefits of leading a Spear Study Club

Dr. Reed: “John and I were looking to lead a study club because we wanted to build relationships with referrers. We found that the beautiful thing about the Spear Study Club model is that it provides relevant material. Club meetings are not just us speaking about what we do to a group of people.

“So, we are not only building those relationships with referring doctors but also creating a similar mindset with them. We know we are all thinking the same way when they send a patient to us. We all treatment plan the same way and look at cases very similarly.

“We look at more comprehensive cases. Instead of one or two implants or extractions, we look at the entire mouth and face using Spear' Facially Generated Treatment Planning (FGTP) approach. Now, referring doctors see things they didn't before and send patients to us because we have their confidence and trust. Seeing results of this kind because of the study club, made it an easy decision to start a second study club. Now, with Dan here, we just started our third study club.”

On using the Study Club as a team development tool

Dr. Contino: “Our implant coordinators go to at least one study club meeting a month. I think it helps align the team on how we all work together and how it doesn't just happen in the chair — the work we do happens outside of the operatory too.

“When implant coordinators are face-to-face with referring doctors a better bond is created. The referring doctors get to know the person who calls or faxes them regarding treatment plans and follow-ups. When it's someone they've met, someone they know, and not just another name from a practice, the referring doctors are more likely to take their calls and respond to messages.”

Dr. Reed: “A study club is also great for training new team members and getting them aligned on how we do things. When we bring new people on — for instance, a new treatment coordinator — they go to a study club meeting to learn how we treatment plan and how we work with referrers. It's a great experience for new hires, and it gets them on board with our philosophy.”

Janne [Office Manager]: “Spear was new to me when I joined this practice, and I can honestly say it really helped me grow as an administrator. Attending Spear Study Club meetings helped me make connections with other practices and gave me an opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with referring doctors to find out what they needed from us, how to help them be more successful, and how to make processes easier.”

On the value of a Professional Relationship Director

Dr. Contino: “When Spear introduced us to the concept of the PRD, we were at a point where we were so busy we couldn't go out and have lunches with referrers. It was a time when many newer, younger dentists were coming into town, and we didn't have the time ourselves to establish a connection the way we would have liked. So, it was perfect timing to establish the PRD position.”

Dr. Reed: “As we got busier, we had to focus on what we were doing, so it was great to rely on Paulette to take on the responsibility of relationship building with referrers and to be the face of our practice within the community. Paulette helps run the study clubs and organizes annual meetings. She also started the hygiene and the office manager study clubs. There was no way we could have done it all without having the PRD role. And then, when Dan came aboard, she was instrumental in his transition, too.”

Dr. Winokur: “Getting out there with Paulette made things a lot smoother and easier for me. Paulette is a well-known face in the community and with our referring teams. You walk into an office, and everyone knows her. She helped make my transition to the practice easy. As opposed to just some new guy showing up and trying to get a meeting to meet the doctors and assistants. She made things a lot easier in terms of me getting established in our community of referrers.”

Paulette [PRD]: “Actually, not only did it help Dr. Winokur, but it helped me a lot too. When out there in the field, showing up with our doctor adds value to my role. I even asked if in the future if Dr. Contino and Dr. Reed can come with me because I think it adds trust, so when referrers see me, they relate me with the surgeon.”

On pivoting to virtual learning during the pandemic

Dr. Contino: “I can't believe how fast Spear put together so much digital content. They just kept putting out material that enabled us to prepare for the return of patients. We had our study club members join online courses that were open to everybody, and I think our referring doctors appreciated it, as did we. I think that experience showed us how education and interaction can be done effectively in an online format.”

“You think you're busy and maxed out, but what we learned is if you are willing to open yourself up to new ideas, you find there is always room to grow.”

On two big secrets to success

Dr. Reed: “When I think of what we get from Spear to help us grow, two things come to mind. The first, the nuts and bolts of how to optimize our time in the practice. When you have a well-planned and thought-out scheduling template, it can make all the difference. You realize you can be doing a lot more without working more hours just by being strategic with your time and optimizing everyone's contributions on the team.

“Secondly, just being around successful people and seeing what is possible helps us grow. I remember early on talking to Dr. Martin [Mendelson] and saying, 'Why do we need to do this? We're already busy. We can't get any busier than we are.' Then Spear showed us a whole new level beyond what we envisioned. We have a different perspective and a different definition of success now.”

On numbers telling the story

Dr. Reed: “In our first year working with Spear's specialist program, our revenue went up well over 35%. So, it didn't take long to see real results. Overall, we've grown at least 150% during our time with Spear, probably closer to 200%. As I said, you think you're busy and maxed out, but what we learned is if you are willing to open yourself up to new ideas, you find there is always room to grow.”

Aimee Fletcher, M.A.Ed., is a member of Spear Resident Faculty.