By Melissa Whiteman
Director, Global Educational Development
Keeping up with changes in your software and learning how to use the system to do more is challenging. We’re all busy, and most of us don’t spend our working hours looking for new ways to do things, even though better ways usually exist. The workaround you’ve developed—or that note taped to your monitor—might work for you but is it working for everyone in the practice? It really is better for everyone if you use your software to the max. So whether it’s filing electronic claims; using electronic prescriptions or the charting module; or making the most of reporting, there are probably things that your practice could learn to improve your efficiency and keep everyone in the office in the KNOW. How do you do that? How do you bite off one piece at a time to get you where you need to be? PLANNING, of course!
Training is often the key to efficiency, but how do you get started so that it’s not overwhelming to everyone? Here’s what I recommend:
I’m a list person, so I’m always going to recommend that you make a list. On this list, put the following:
- Biggest challenges in your practice
- Things that take too much time
- Things more people should know
- Things you’re doing on paper that you could do electronically
- Things you’re doing better at home or in another office that will make a difference in your practice, too
- Things you get complaints about
- Share your list with others in the practice to get their ideas and to refine your own.
- Find out if anyone in the practice already knows how to handle any of the items on your list and have them train everyone else.
- Prioritize the list… you have to start somewhere, and it is unlikely that you can do it all at once or all this year!
- Put together your action plan to include the following:
- Log into the Carestream Dental Institute (formerly the MasterWorks LearnCenter) to look for classes and job aids that will help you. There is a lot available, and you might be able to check some things off your list. See what’s available and start there. If you don’t have an account, it’s easy to get one for everyone in your practice. Go to carestreamdental.com/dentalinstitute and click Register in the upper-right corner to request new accounts. You’ll receive a follow up email with your login information within two business days.
- Request a consultation with a trainer to discuss your challenges, priorities and goals and to find out which training could benefit your practice. Fill out this form, and one of our trainers will give you a call.
- After you have recommendations from the trainer, purchase and schedule training. You can do training live online or onsite, and these customized sessions will help you work through your list. Keep in mind that not everyone needs to participate in every training session. Determine who will benefit from the training and then require only those people to participate. If you schedule training during times when people usually are working, make sure they are dedicated to the training (not training between patients) so that they are attentive and receptive. Ensure everyone has an opportunity to ask questions and to practice what they learn. Follow up with your trainer if needed.
- After your training, implement what you learned. In other words, just do it.
- Check your list and move on to the next thing. If you are checking off as you go, you’ll see the progress you’re making and will be motivated to tackle something new. Keep your list manageable and each step achievable. Write goals and have deadlines. Reward those who participate in some small way so that they are ready to take the next step with you.
- Evaluate how it went—the training, the new way of doing things and how it has improved performances. Remember, some small steps are essential to make the big picture better, but evaluate after each step.
- Look back at your list and your training notes and schedule your next training session.
- Check your list, evaluate your progress and repeat!
If you plan right, the prescription for making your practice more efficient and a better place to be is regular training and implementing what you learn. I can’t stress enough how important the planning stage is, and—even though it can be overwhelming—I find that getting others involved makes it easier and more fun, and you’ll reap the benefits in no time.
Please let us know how it goes. We are always looking for success stories, so leave your comments in the section below on the progress you’ve made.