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December 1, 2020

The Peak-End Rule!

I love helping dental teams co-create a happier, healthier, and higher performing service culture.  Our culture is a result of practicing a consistent set of values to deliver consistent experiences.  However, not all experiences are not judged equally according to the peak-end rule!

The peak–end rule states that people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (its most intense point) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.  The peak-end rule highly influences how we remember our experiences.  We believe we are accurately recalling facts when it really has more to do with our emotions during the experience.

Our memories of positive and negative experiences are dependent upon two things: what we were feeling at the most extreme (peak) point and how the experience ended. Our memories are typically not an average of the experience or the amount of time we were engaged in the situation.

We can actually be irrational in our recollection and memory of events.  Our memories consist of a series of highpoints rather than a thorough record of facts and events.

We won’t know what the peak experience will be that will impact our team or patients.  However, we can plan the end experience.  Which is why it is imperative for the team to end the day on a high.  It is even more important than how we start our day.  Same with our patients.  We must not only welcome them warmly we must also have a warm farewell.

Let’s start with the team.  What can you do at the end of the day that will make a more positive end experience?  Maybe a heartfelt thank you, a high five for a job well done or even taking a moment to do a TA-DAH together!

The end experience for your patients usually involves paying their bill or a future bill.  Many patients have a difficult time parting with their money, which is why it is so important that the process flows smoothly.  Otherwise, it can become a negative end experience if handled poorly.  Which is why it is so essential that you have a confident and knowledgeable team member having the financial conversation.  Doctors you may have built rapport with the patient and they are excited to move forward with treatment.  Only to have it end at the financial discussion.

It is so important to role play this experience.  Also, make sure you have the tools you need to have a successful conversation.  My favorite tool is the Payment Options Form that Care Credit offers.  I love that you can customize it to include only the payment options you want to offer.  The form is so organized even a brand-new team member could confidently review payment options and sound very professional and knowledgeable.  It also includes all the legal information you will need to make payments arrangements.

You can find it at https://www.carecredit.com/providercenter/contactcenter/.  Enter the code JKM and request information on the Payment Options Form.

Here are a few steps to take to ensure not only a positive experience but a WOW end experience.

  • Delineate the final patient experience
  • Discuss and agree on verbiage and flow
  • Practice role playing and the physical walk through to build confidence and competence.

Whatever the end experience; following these simple steps will help ensure it is a WOW experience!

November 1, 2020

How to Thrive as The New Kid on The Block!  Part 2

How to Thrive as The New Kid on The Block!  Part 2

Last month we focused on the first three steps to thrive as the new kid on the block.  They were building confident trust relationships, learning systems and processes, and balancing your role as the associate.

The fourth step in fitting in is by avoiding gossip.  Gossip is sharing anything that is negative or private about another person.  Listening is gossiping if you are not in a position that allows you to resolve the issue.  The listener plays a 50/50 role.  Because it stops if the person complaining has no one to tell.  I have found it works best to refer the person back to the source of concern to work it out instead of listening.  Instead of listening ask them if they have tried to talk to the other person.  If they say no, ask them to do so and stop the conversation.

People who engage in workplace gossip often have a strong need to “fit in” and feel that gossip will help them achieve this. Gossipers often suffer from low self-esteem and think that talking negatively about others will make them look better. If we truly grasped the devastating fallout from gossip, we would no longer accept it as the norm for any culture!

Gossip affects:

*             Patient care and experience

*             Team communication, performance, and relationships

*             Practice performance

*             Morale

*             Trust

*             Respect

 

The fifth step to fitting is to be approachable.  Do daily or weekly check ins with your team and owner doctor.  A simple question to ask, “Do you have any questions or suggestions for me?”   Avoid becoming defensive even if you disagree or feel hurt.  People will avoid defensive people.  You have a role as an approachee (the receiver of information).

The Approachee’s role is to start out by thanking the approacher (the person approaching) for respecting you enough to come to you. It is important to recognize that the approacher’s intent is good and to realize that it is not easy to approach someone.

Listen intently to hear.  Make eye contact with the other person.  Don’t take offense.  Instead of defending, deflecting, or blaming someone else consider how your actions or lack of actions affected the outcome.   Be honest with your response.

Acknowledge you heard and understand them.  Never assume.  If you are unsure ask questions until you clearly understand.  If you are thinking I think they mean this…ask more questions.

Don’t take it personal.  If the concern pertains to the patients, the practice, or the team it is necessary to address.  It can be difficult to hear when we are not meeting the standards or expectations.  However, it is necessary to address in order to create and sustain a happier, healthier and higher performing culture.

Take it seriously.  It may not seem important or be a priority to you, but it is for the other person.

Control your emotions.  If you are upset don’t just walk off in anger or frustration.  Instead, let them know that you need a little time to process the information they shared, and you will respond later and give them a specific time.  Try respond within 24 hours.

I like love to utilize the L.E.A.R.N. acronym when being approached.

  • Listen intently to hear what they have to say
  • Empathize by acknowledging their emotions
  • Apologize for the situation
  • React by sharing what you will do
  • Notify those that need to be aware of the discussion and decision

Here is an example how you can use L.E.A.R.N.  Your assistant is frustrated because she just started working with you and doesn’t understand what instruments you want and when.  It makes her uncomfortable because she has been an assistant for years and this makes her feels inadequate.  The conversation might sound like this.

“Thank you for respecting me enough to come to me with your concerns.  I can understand how uncomfortable this must be to work with a new doctor.  I am sorry that this is frustrating for you.  We will take some time to discuss what instruments I need with the different treatments we offer.  During the procedure I will ask for what I need.  We need to learn how to work together and that takes time.  So, let’s agree to have patience and support each other.  I will make sure I speak with the other assistants about tray setups as well to keep us all on the same page.  This will ensure that we all have a great day!” 

Instead of constructive criticism (which is an oxymoron) use positive verbiage and have a constructive conversation.

Following these five steps will help you thrive as the new kid on the block!

October 1, 2020

How to Thrive as The New Kid on The Block!  Part 1

How to Thrive as The New Kid on The Block!  Part 1

Congratulations your the new kid on the block!  You are a recent dental graduate who just got hired as the new associate to work with Dr Wonderful and her team!  It’s your first glorious day!  You are ready to take on the world and deliver exceptional service and care.  Oh, but wait a minute.  There are these people you now must rely on…called your team!  There was no mention of team relationships.  No one told you in school that you were going to be dependent a team.  You were just planning on focusing on dentistry.  Surprise!  That’s not how it works.  The success of a practice is largely based on how well you work together as a team.  So how do you build happy, healthy, and high performing relationship with an existing team.  Some of who you may have not hired in the first place.

It is important to remember that you are the outsider coming into their world.  It’s like being the new kid on the block.  You must figure out how to fit in with the existing team culture.  Fitting in takes time and patience.  The team is going to check you out because they don’t know you or trust you.  They will be watching your every move to see if you will fit in.

The first step to fitting in is to focus on building confident trust relationships with each team member.  The dictionary defines trust as instinctive unquestioning belief in and reliance upon something.  The trust I am suggesting is not one of blind faith but instead one of confidence!  Confident trust is based on consistency!   Consistency of good reasons to trust based on significant past evidence and experiences.

Think of the people in your life that you confidently trust.  Take a moment to reflect why you feel confident in trusting them.  Confident trust does not just happen overnight.  It takes time to nurture and grow.  However, breaking one’s trust can happen in a heartbeat.  The great news is that trust can be rebuilt.  It takes a sincere daily commitment to be transparent, consistent and realistic.  An actionable and measurable process is to assess your every action, attitude, and conversation by checking off the following list.

*             Am I being transparent

*             Am I being consistent

*             Am I being realistic

*             Am I doing what I said I would do when I said I would do it

 

Some examples of behaviors that build confident trust are:

 

*             Be transparent by keeping the team in the loop

*             Be consistent with daily tasks

*             If you have a concern talk to the person

*             Help when you see help is needed

*             Ask for help when help is needed

*             Ask don’t assume

*             Take ownership – do what you say you will do when you say you will

*             Focus on the greater good instead of WIIFM (What’s in it for me)

*             Don’t gossip

*             Tell the truth and be compassionate

*             Don’t be late or absent for trivial reasons

 

The second step to fitting in is to learn the current systems and processes.  Spend time talking with the doctor and each team member to learn why they do what they do.  For at least the first 90 days immerse yourself in learning their ways instead of making suggestions.  It will give you time to build trust while you learn.  The team is often suspicious of the new doctor.  They are afraid the new doctor is going to want to change everything.  After all you’re the new kid on the block…you should have to fit into their practice.  Many team members may be older than you.  Show them you respect their experience and expertise by being open to their guidance.

Once you start making suggestions remember that the team may like to do things their way.  Even if it may not be the most effective or efficient.  It’s their routine and they can do it on auto pilot.  Which is why your suggestions may be resisted even if it is an improvement.  New changes slow them down and take more focus and effort.  Don’t firehose the team with suggestions or requests.  Start with a simple change that will be easy to do and benefit them greatly.  They will see it as a positive and be more open to the next change.

 

The third step to fitting in is balancing your role as an associate.  You may feel like you are in the middle, torn between the owner doctor(s) and the team.   You are doctor and a leader.  Yet you don’t make the decisions.  Some decisions you may be more aligned with the team than you are the owner doctor.  The team may treat you like one of them and even tell you negative things about the owner doctor.  The owner doctor may complain to you about their team.  It is imperative that you not allow yourself to get stuck in the middle.  Always reinforce what is positive about the other person.  You may not always agree on every decision.  However, it is imperative that you support the owner doctor decisions in attitude and actions, or you will undermine them.  It is easy to judge when you have never walked in someone’s shoes.  It always looks easier when you are observing.  Leading a team and making the right decisions can be very difficult at times.  There are often many paths that can be chosen.

Tune in next month for the 4th and 5th step to thrive as the new kid or for that matter any team member in the practice!

July 31, 2020

Implementing & Sustaining Change!

Implementing & Sustaining Change! 

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein

I love this quote because it reflects what I often see when working with dental teams. A current system or protocol is no longer working and holding the team back from excelling. Yet it continues to be done the same way. When I ask why the usual response I receive is; “we have always done it this way”!

Similarly, our level of performance in life is defined by our willingness to question and challenge the status quo. We get good at something and it feels comfortable. Comfortable feels safe and is the downfall of excellence. Stop doing what you do just because it is comfortable and challenge yourself to excel.

A team meeting format including the following three steps is an effective way to review, evaluate, and update current systems and protocols.

Step One:

Establish a clear vision for what you want to achieve.

Start by asking; how can we do this in a way that will improve effectiveness, efficiency, and enjoyment? What does the change look and feel like? Define even the smallest details. I am going to refer to your vision as your boat. Describe your boat. What does your boat look like? When and where is it going? How fast is it going? What crew members do you need? What are their roles? What capabilities do you want them to have? What character traits do you want them to demonstrate? What is the purpose of your boat?

Step Two

Create a systematic step by step action plan for all training, tasks, and responsibilities necessary to achieve the changes.

Introduce one idea at a time and go deep enough to resolve any obstacles and create a step-by-step action plan. Avoid doing a data dump of many ideas left unresolved that you must continuously revisit. Be precise, practical, and realistic with the action plan.

As a team discuss and decide on the following:

·     Who on the team is going to do it

·     Which patients will you do it for

·     When

·     Where

·     Why

·     How

Also evaluate whether you have enough time and people to accomplish the action plan. If not, what changes would you need to make in order to succeed?

Most of us want to excel at what we do. It’s the unrealistic expectations that often get in the way. For example, let’s say the goal is to deliver an over the top experience to patients checking in as well as patients calling because it is the first interaction and impression most patients have with the office. If there is only one person handling all the calls and checking every patient in they are limited in the amount of time and attention they can give any individual patient. The limited staffing coverage impedes them from excelling. Another example is adding an additional procedure to a hygiene appointment protocol that is already at capacity. Either add time to the appointment or remove a procedure. These are examples of unrealistic expectations that can frustrate even the best of employees to the point where they lose their passion to excel. We are setting them up to fail. It is important to always evaluate time and staffing and set precise, practical, and realistic expectations to empower the team to excel!

Step Three:

Establish accountability.

Accountability starts with everyone agreeing to support the change and being held equally accountable to the ideas, systems, protocols, and standards. No double standards for anyone including the doctor or manager or you divide the team. Doctors and managers sometimes shy away from addressing what’s not working or not being done to the standard. Often to avoid what they believe to be micromanaging or conflict. This only delays what would have been a simple conversation and allows the situation to fester until it is ready to blow at any time! If a non-supportive behavior or attitude does not get addressed by the doctor or manager, it may be considered acceptable by the team. Address any concerns with attitude or behavior as soon as they happen (within a 24-hour period if at all possible). It is important for the entire team to maintain the new ideas, systems, or protocols. There is no individual opt outs! If something is not working for an individual, rely on the team to help to resolve. You may find other team members have difficulty as well and it may be necessary to adjust the protocol. Sometimes things look great on paper and yet don’t work well in real life.

If we want to achieve more than we ever have in the past, we must be willing and open to change. Changing thoughts, beliefs, and habits can create a sense of groundlessness and uneasiness. Our first impulse will be to revert to old habits because they feel comfortable. Our goal is to hang in there until the change becomes a habit. The average habit takes 66 days. Make a commitment as team to support the new change for a minimum of 66 days before evaluating whether it was successful. Implementing and sustaining change is only a habit a way!

What is one thing you can you stop doing starting today that will make the biggest impact in implementing and sustaining change? What is one thing you can you start doing starting today that will make the biggest impact in implementing and sustaining change? In the end, change requires letting go of what we have always known and done to allow in something new!

 

Please visit www.PracticeSolutionsInc.net if you would like to learn more about how Judy Kay can help you cultivate a happier, healthier and higher performing culture.

July 1, 2020

The WE Team!

The We Team!

 I refer to the leadership in a practice as the We Team! The We Team may consist of the owner doctor or doctors, practice administrator, manager, team lead and any other leadership roles in the practice. However, I will be focusing my message on the doctor/practice administrator relationship. It is imperative to develop a cohesive We Team. Without cohesive leadership performance expectations will be ambiguous and the team will conform to the lowest standards or expectations. Before you hire a practice administrator (PA) make sure you are ready to support them. I do not mean just financially. Consider the following questions before starting the hiring process:

·     Can the practice financially afford?

·     Are you ready to let go of some tasks and not micro-manage?

·     Will you take the time to empower someone else co-lead your team and practice

·     Will you support your PA in front of the team (any disagreements need to be behind closed doors away from the team)?

The relationship between the doctor and PA will be confusing without open communication and clear expectations. Many doctors hire a practice administrator without having clear expectations.  They believe the PA can manage without direction. The only guidance given to the PA is to let them know when they are doing things wrong. This lack of leadership sets the PA up to fail as it is confusing for them and the team. I receive a plethora of different answers when I ask doctors and team members what they think is the role of a PA. The role varies greatly from practice to practice.

Doctors make a list of the tasks you would like your PA to do before you start the hiring process. This will enable you to write and ad that clearly defines the role. Or if you already have a PA and have not defined their role do it now. You can also use this list to discuss strengths and future expectations.

Clearly define your goals and expectations. I would suggest creating a task management list that include the following. For a more detailed list email me at judykay@practicesolutionsinc.net.

·     Personnel/team management

·     Overseeing patient management

·     Practice management/productivity/promotion

·     Property/facility management

·     Any additional duties

Doctors and PA’s before agreeing to work together discuss the following:

·     How well do your core values match?

·     How aligned are your passion and purpose?

·     How well does the PA’s strengths match the expectations of tasks and responsibilities?

·     Do you both understand and agree on the role?

·     Does the PA really want the role, and have the capacity to excel in the role?

 

I am blessed to have worked with hundreds of dental teams nationwide to help them build a happier, healthier, and higher performing culture with my Culture Camps. Here is a link to my Rise & Shine Culture Camps (https://www.practicesolutionsinc.net/culture-camp.html) The best results are dependent on having an aligned and cohesive We Team.

Start by clarifying your roles as a We Team.

Doctor’s Role:

The doctor’s role is to create a clear vision for the practice. Choose four core words that reflect the core values you want to have in your practice. They are important to define what they mean to you and prioritize. These core value words will help guide you and your PA in decision making. I have found that four core words are much more powerful and effective than a rambling vision statement. Email me at judykay@practicesolutionsinc.net if you would like my Core Values sample list.

PA’s cannot meet your management expectations without ongoing communication. Every doctor and every office are unique. How could the PA possibly know what you want them to do? Schedule adequate time to meet with your PA on a weekly basis. This will allow and opportunity for the doctor and PA to:

·     Focus on the big picture and long-term goals

·     Share thoughts and ideas

·     Discuss and problem solve

·     Review practice statistics and adjust goals

·     Share patients and team kudos and growth opportunities

·     Define marketing opportunities

·     Discuss current projects and timelines

·     Give feedback on PA’s performance

·     Support your PA when confronted by a team member

 

PA’s Role

The PA’s role is to support the vision of the doctor in words, actions, and attitude. Support by inspiring, engaging, and empowering the team to implement the doctor’s vision. Which is why it will be imperative for the We Team to meet on a weekly basis to get and stay aligned.

A PA’s role includes the following:

·     Sharing new ideas with the doctor

·     Monitoring practice statistics

·     Introducing new ideas to the team in a team meeting setting

·     Utilizing a process/system to implement the new ideas

·     Creating accountability processes

·     Resolving issues

·     Communicating with the entire team individually and as a group to keep everyone in the loop and aligned

·     Creative problem-solving schedule obstacles

PA’s capitalize on your first 90 days by meeting with each team member individually to build relationships. Review current systems and processes and ask for feedback from the team on what is working well and any obstacles. Implement new ideas that are a positive for the team and easily achievable. This will help your team view change more positively. Take time to communicate with the team daily to keep everyone aligned and in the loop. At least 30% of your time to be spent working with team members. Be transparent and follow through with what you said you would do to build high trust relationships. Schedule time for social outings to have some fun together which will go a long way in building good will for stressful times. Share your knowledge and expertise and provide resources to empower your team to succeed!

The We Team relationships that soar are those that consistently take time communicate what they need from each other to successfully co-lead.

 

June 1, 2020

The Human Side of Dentistry

I am blessed to have the privilege of working in the dental industry since the early 1980’s!  Working in the dental industry for many can become just a job!  We must never, even for a moment, disregard that we are human beings caring for the health of other human beings.  It is not just about fixing teeth.  There are humans attached to those teeth!  It is important that we focus on the human side of dentistry and become advocates for our patients’ health.

I would love to see every medical and dental team instilled with an advocate mindset.  However, many of us have experienced a caregiver objectifying a patient by treating them like an object than a human being.  For example, they make decisions for the patient instead of educating and asking questions to understand what matters to them.  They have conversations about them in front of them and act as if they aren’t present.

I had a not so human experience during a recent visit to a radiology department.  It started out great with the x-ray techs introducing themselves as they ushered me into the room and explaining the process.  However, all manners and niceties stopped when the doctor who was going to be taking the x-rays entered the room.  He did not slow down enough to take a moment to introduce himself or ask me if I had any questions before he started.  He proceeded to rapid fire commands at me and then walked out of the room without further discussion.  There was no compassion or connection.  I felt objectified.  As if I were just a task that he was in a hurry to complete.  I understand that this may be a daily routine for him, but it was not for me.

It is vital that we remember when we are caring for our dental patients that they are more than just a task to complete to get on to the next one so we can finish our day.  We are dealing with their health.  What may be routine for us may seem scary or concerning to them.  It is essential that we recognize the human side of what we do.  It is our responsibility to take time to develop meaningful relationships with our patients, which allow will allow us to provide better and more comprehensive care.  When we do this, we become an advocate for our patients’ dental health.

Here are five essentials to help you become your patients’ advocate.

 

  1. Be happy to serve. Do you seem happy to the people you serve, both team and patients?  Think about it for a moment.  Would your patients and team describe you as happy?  Do you greet others warmly with a smile?  Are you happy to come to work and grateful for what you get to do?  Do you focus on the positive and celebrate daily?

 

  1. Get to know the human attached to the teeth. Ask questions to get to know more about what’s important to your patient.  What has been their past experience?  What are their goals and desires for their dental health?  What are their concerns about treatment and what matters to them?

 

  1. Educate your patient by having a conversation not giving a presentation. That means asking and answering questions as you go along to avoid assumptions.  Stop the data dumping and present information in bite size pieces.  Avoid industry slang and communicate on their level.  Verify time, sequence, cost and compliance (what they need to do to support).

 

  1. Focus on the WIIFTP (What’s in it for the patient). Show up 100% by being present in the moment.  Always contemplate what would make your patient feel more welcome, more comfortable in the moment and help build a stronger relationship?  Keep your patients in the loop by informing them what you are doing and why.  It’s what we say or don’t say that creates the patient’s perception.  We lose value when we don’t let our patients know what we are doing.  If we don’t say it to the patient it doesn’t exist.  For example, when you do an oral cancer exam explain to your patient what you are doing and the reasons why.  Even for those patients you have seen for many years.  Inform them every time.  The why must always be a value statement highlighting the benefit for the patient not the practice or the team.

 

  1. Address complications as soon as possible. Come from a real place of care, concern and curiosity versus judgment and criticism.  Always consider what it might feel like if it happened to you.  How would you treat them if they were a family member?  Let me clarify, a family member you like!  LOL!  Start out by asking, “How may I help you?”  Then be present, listen and hear what they are saying.  Share with them how you can help them by saying, “I can help you and this is how.”

When we focus on being advocates for our patients, we will develop more meaningful relationships that will enable us to provide better and more comprehensive care to our patients.  A win for the patient, practice and team!

May 1, 2020

Communication to Stay Safe & Sane

Whew!  What a year 2020 has been so far!  I don’t know about you, but I feel like the rug was pulled out from under my feet.  All my hard work and carefully laid plans disintegrated when the Covid-19 storm hit.  My emotions were like a roller coaster ride ranging from anger and frustration to fear, confusion and sadness.  That’s just to name a few.   Normally I maintain a very positive equilibrium and I was definitely off kilter.  I knew I had to get a handle on the negative emotions to get back on track.  Otherwise, the negative would crowd out my optimistic outlook.

After some reflection, I realized I needed to search out the positive in the current situation; and let go of the negative that I could not control.  I focused on the positive upside of more “time.  I now had time to:

  • Spend with my husband and dog
  • Call and zoom with family and friends
  • Social distance with neighbors
  • Complete projects around the house including organizing and cleaning
  • Work in my yard
  • Take more walks
  • Work out more
  • create newsletters, articles, webinars and presentations
  • Volunteer complimentary help to my clients

I stopped focusing on the downside and things I couldn’t control such as:

  • Uncertain future
  • Loss business and income
  • Limited interaction with others
  • Restricted travel

I am sure I am not the only person struggling with trying to stay positive.  There will be a wide range of emotions when we go back to work.  The wheels are going to fall off if we pretend nothing happened and we just bury ourselves working to catch up.  It will be critical to schedule time to communicate daily as a team.  This includes the doctor(s).  A huddle, first thing in the morning creates the perfect opportunity to check in with each other.

Have the entire team share their emotions.  How are they feeling in the moment and why?  Do they have feelings of fear, anger, judgment, sadness or hurt feelings etc.?   What does the team need from each other to feel safe and work together better?  What can they do to help each other more?  It is important for the team to be sensitive to each other’s needs.  We tend to think others have the same feelings and needs.  Avoid judging and criticizing if someone is more emotional and needs more reassurance to feel safe and comfortable.  There is not a right or wrong way to feel.  Feelings are feelings!

Trying to stuff our emotions and pretend we are all okay will lead to meltdowns.  If we don’t discuss our emotions, we will eventually burst, and everything will come spewing out.  When we reach that level, we are often no longer coming from a place of care or concern, but instead a place of anger.  When we act out in judgment, criticism, anger or negativity we can expect a like response.  This is what I refer to as an emotional reaction cycle.

We can avoid emotional reactions by taking time to start our day with a team huddle.  Initially we may need to extend our normal huddle time to accommodate discussing our teams needs and emotions in addition to our patients.

Be mindful of tone and body language when asking questions.  The questions I suggest are:

  • How are you feeling about being here today?
  • Tell me why you feel this way?
  • What leads you to believe…?
  • Tell me more about…?
  • Help me understand why…?

These questions work great at home as well.

Do a recap of the prior day to discuss and fine tune systems and processes.  This will help build clarity and confidence among the team.  What worked and what didn’t?  Define action steps to overcome obstacles.  Avoid the blame game.  We are all in this together and the more we help each other the better off we will all be.  Practice verbal skills, role playing and the physical walk through to be proficient when interacting with patients.  This will help the team feel confident which will ensure the patients feel confident and safe under their care.

Together we will rise up!

March 24, 2020

Covid-19 Resources to Stay Safe and Sane

Covid-19 Resources to Stay Safe and Sane

Emotions are running high and there are many different opinions on the severity and treatment.  Dentists our burdened with decisions regarding patient care, their practice and team.  It is imperative that we not go into panic paralysis.  Instead let’s focus on steps we can take right now.

The lifter in me always looks for a rainbow after the storm.  The good news is that this storm will not go on forever.  We live in a very resourceful country.  There is a national focus (government and private sector) on generating an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, respirators and ventilators.  Our leaders are deploying ships and transitioning buildings to help beef up the health care delivery system.  Scientists are working on medicine to treat and prevent Covid-19 in the future.  Our current status may seem daunting.   However, we will not only survive this pandemic we will thrive and be more equipped to handle any potential future outbreaks.

I am saddened and frustrated and even angry at times.  Maybe you feel those same emotions as well.  Those of you who know me well know that I am not one to stay in the poor me victim mentality.  Instead I prefer to be a creator and act. Therefore, I have spent the last week reading and watching videos to learn as much as I can about Covid-19 to help keep teams and patients sane and safe.

Here are suggestions and resources (ADA, OSAP, CDC and Judy Kay) that you may find helpful in staying safe and sane!

Create a patient flow protocol with your team for when you are back up and running.

  • Consider what will make our patients feel safe, welcome and comfortable?
  • Intake protocol questions to ask
    • Have you traveled outside of the country in the last 14 days?
    • Have you had contact with anyone with confirmed COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
    • Have you had any of these symptoms in the last 14 days?
      • Fever greater than 100
      • Difficulty breathing
      • Cough
    • “Remember Mrs. Jones, if you’ve had the flu or a cold in the last 14 days or you’re not feeling well before your next appointment, please call and we’ll reschedule so you have time to recover.”
    • “If you have flu-like symptoms, or if you’ve been exposed to a sever cough or cold by someone you know, please call to reschedule your appointment to a later date.”
  • Utilize posters, signs & floor decal communication
    • Communicate hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
    • Place a sign at the entrance to your office and strategic locations to let patients know they can reschedule if ill
    • Use personalized floor decals to create social distancing.  Create a unique positive message about your safety on each decal. https://www.stickeryou.com/products/indoor-floor-decals/689
  • Emergency care of patients – if more than one doctor – create mini-teams that work separately in case of exposure.  It will prevent the need to quarantine the entire team.

Engage your patients during your down time – Try to touch base with your patients on a weekly in the following ways.

  • Contact (call yes call on a real phone) all patients that have been affected by the shutdown (canceled appointments).  Reassure them that you will be there in the future to take care of their needs.  Reinforce what you are doing to keep them safe in the future.  Share the protocols and patient flow processes you are implementing.
  • Share the same information in short bite-size pieces on social media and a blog on your website.  Take videos of team members utilizing standard universal precautions as well as new precautions.
  • Send an email and or letter to all your patients sharing this same information

Here is a great example of a letter my client emailed to their patients.

Coronavirus Update‼️‼️

Due to the recommendations from the President and the American Dental Association, we have updated our office hours and protocols to keep our patients and community safe. Read a list of our updates below.

Effective through _______, our office hours will change to _____________ for emergency/essential treatment only. Our goal is to help keep our patients healthy, keep dental patients out of the emergency rooms so that doctors can keep their spaces open for Coronavirus cases, and minimize the potential risk to our patients and staff.

We will continue to communicate to our staff and patients regarding our plan to return to normal business hours. Appointments will be rescheduled until April and May with additional dates/hours being opened based on the need to accommodate our patients in a timely manner once we return to a normal schedule.

Our practice has always followed the strictest protocols regarding infection control in the dental practice. During this time, we have increased our disinfecting protocol for waiting rooms and patient areas. Patients will be asked to utilize a “virtual waiting room” by calling the office upon arrival. They will be taken directly to a room, and our lobby will remain empty to prevent any unnecessary contact.

We have limited staff at this time and will only see one patient at a time to minimize exposure risk. Patients will be screened via phone, and those who are experiencing symptoms will be not be seen. Upon arrival, we will take patients temperature to make sure that those that we see are not experiencing any infection. We have phone lines open to handle your dental concerns until our schedule returns to normal.

 

We will do our best to accommodate you and ensure that you stay healthy and pain free! For dental pain, please contact the office at _______________

We appreciate your patience as we manage this unprecedented time. Our goal is to keep our patients safe and healthy. We are in this together! We look forward to serving you again soon!

 

Engage your team during down time – try to touch base with the entire team on a weekly basis.

  • Have weekly remote meetings (I like Zoom)– to connect and check in as well as discuss new protocols once you are back up and running.
  • Create clear protocols for airborne, droplet and contact precautions for clinical and business area.  What will do in addition to Universal Precautions?
  • Practice verbal skills, role playing and the physical walk-through.

 

We are all in this together.  The more we stand together and support one another the quicker we will rise above this storm.

March 1, 2020

False Assumptions!

False assumptions run rampant and are often negative.  Mary leaves at the end of the day without saying goodbye!  I know what that meant!  She must be upset!  How do I know?  Because I would never leave without saying goodbye – unless I was upset!

What happened here?  I judged her behavior and assigned meaning based on what it would mean if I exhibited that same behavior.  Maybe, just maybe, Mary had an important appointment she was in a hurry to get to…or maybe she had a hot date!

Consider these other familiar interactions:

A co-worker with whom you normally have lunch doesn’t make room for you to sit with them.  Do you assume something must be wrong?  In their reality, they likely assume that you would have asked them to make room or would have made room for yourself if you wanted to join them.

A co-worker asks you to do something in a different way.  You’ve tried it that way before and it didn’t work.  Do you refuse?

You have an encounter with a brother, sister, parent, child or spouse where there is a disagreement because of a difference of opinion.  Of course, you believe you are right, and they are wrong!

We have surely all experienced scenarios like these!  They are all examples of false assumptions based on our personal truths.

False assumptions based on our personal truths are the number one breakdown in communication.  When we interact with others, we are always coming from a place that is dominated with our own experiences.  Our expectations differ because of our unique and individual beliefs, opinions, and assumptions based on our experiences.  These expectations become our personal truths upon which we base judgments of right and wrong.  (Think B.O.A.T. – Beliefs, Opinions, Assumptions become our truths.

We all have unique and individual experiences, yet we expect each other to think, act and respond in the same way that we would.  These false assumptions get us into trouble when we think others must behave in the same manner as we do, or their behavior is wrong.  We think others must believe what we believe, or they are wrong.  Once we understand that our personal truths, how we judge the world and what we believe to be right and wrong, are based on the unique and individual experiences we have, we can no longer believe that our answer is the only right answer.

It is important to understand and respect other personal truths to communicate effectively.  Here is a three-letter word that will resolve 90% of your communication problems.  ASK!  When you get that twinge in your gut and you think… “Hmmm…I wonder what they meant by that?”  or you find yourself saying “I think they meant this” – you don’t know!  Stop yourself immediately from wondering and speculating and ASK!  You will be surprised how many of your initial beliefs, opinions and assumptions are incorrect once you hear their intent.

Once you ask, listen to them with an open mind.  Let them share why they feel the way they do or did something a certain way.  We must stop judging with a mindset of right or wrong.  Some things may seem 100% right to me and to you they may seem 100% wrong.  Who’s right? The reality is that in many cases there is no right or wrong.  Our judgment is based on our past experiences.  If something I experienced in my past was positive, I will believe it will be positive again.  Another person may have had the same experience, but it was negative.  They will assume it will be negative again.  Therefore, if we both described the same situation, it would differ greatly.

Let me give another example.  I went on a hot air balloon ride in Napa Valley when I turned 50.  It was a gorgeous day and I did not want it to end.  I look forward to going again someday.  Another friend of mine went on a hot air balloon ride, the weather was terrible, and the flying was scary.  She has no desire to ever go on another hot air balloon ride again.  I think balloon rides are awesome, she thinks they are awful.  Who is right and who is wrong?  See what I mean?

In your office, one team member may have had good experience doing something a certain way while another did not.   It is important for them to come to an agreement to create a consistent process, system or protocol.  They can start by sharing their personal truths about the experience.  They must listen openly to each other and agree on an answer or solution that works for both.  To come to an agreement, we need to understand it will never be perfect for anyone but can be good or effective for everyone.  If we want our version of perfection, we will have to work alone!

It is important that we as individuals make a personal commitment to be open, respectful and understanding of each other’s personal truths.  This is what enables us to communicate and interact effectively with others.  Our success depends greatly on how well we communicate in our personal and professional lives.  When we communicate openly, positively, and effectively we inspire connections and build sincere, strong, sustaining relationships.  Our ceiling for success is instantly raised and the sky’s the Limit.

February 3, 2020

Love Your Heart to Health!

February is Heart Month!  Most of us focus on the love part.  I am going to switch it up and focus on the health part.  It is the perfect time to learn about your risk for heart disease and the steps you can take to be healthy.  The perfect time to love your heart to health!

This has become extremely important to me as my husband Steve had several heart attacks in November.  We felt blind sighted. He eats healthy and works out most days.  Steve feels and looks healthy and goes to the doctor annually for checkups.  We were hiking daily in the hills of Sausalito two months prior to his heart attacks.  He felt great.  Everything seemed to be good.  We were utterly shocked when we found out that what we thought was indigestion was really a heart attack.

We feel very blessed that he survived.  The surgeons performed an Angioplasty resulting in placing two stents and opening other areas.  They refer to the 90% blockage Steve had as the Widow Maker.

We are so appreciative that several of my clients and colleagues suggested we read “Beat the Heart Attack Gene by Bradley Bale, MN and Amy Doneen, ARNP, https://beattheheartattackgene.com/. Reading the book has created a much better understanding of heart disease.  I followed up with reading “Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!”. which supports the same information. The standard of care is geared to treat end stage disease.  Who wants to wait until end stage? Instead, “Beat the Heart Attack Gene” focuses on prevention and what causes heart disease.

A quick checklist to see if it is time for you to request more thorough tests.

  • Waist measures 35 or more for women and 40 or more for men. (no this does not mean your belt size.)  Use a flexible (sewing) tape measure to measure.
  • High blood pressure – 130/85 or higher
  • Low HDL – less than 50mg for women and less than 40 mg for men
  • High Triglycerides – greater than 150
  • Fasting blood sugar greater than 99

If you have 3 or more of these symptoms don’t delay schedule an appointment today!  It likes 3 strikes in baseball…you are out!

 

The following tests are highly recommended by Amy Doneen and Dr Bale if you strike out.

  • A Cholesterol Test. A high LDL has been the focus on cholesterol as standard of care.  The more important cholesterol number is your total cholesterol and HDL ratio (TC/HDL ratio).  Divide total cholesterol by HDL.  Based on studies they consider a TC/HDL ratio of 3.5 a desirable target and number below 3 to be optimal.
  • An Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) to monitor how your body responds to sugar after fasting.
  • A Carotid IMT test to check plaque levels in arteries.
  • A blood test for Lipoprotein A
  • A Coronary calcium scan
  • A Genetic makeup test to test for the heart attack gene 9P21

Doctors will be able to take a more preventive approach once they know the results of these tests.  The treatment will no longer be based on the average person but instead customized to your specific health needs.

Love you heart to health!

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