The 3 Primary Ways You Are Abusing Your Email Inbox

By Randy Dean, MBA, The “Totally Obsessed” Time Management Tech Guy

As a time and productivity management speaker and author, I see it all the time. People just don’t use their inboxes properly. And these mistakes lead to significant distraction, lost time and rework. Most people use their email inbox in four specific ways, and only one of those ways is correct:

1. (The Correct Use): Receive and process new messages. The key reason you have an inbox is to receive new items in that inbox. Your goal is to quickly and efficiently figure out what those items are, and then properly process them. If you’ve ever attended one of my courses, you know that you handle the quick ones immediately, and you put the longer items on either your task list or your calendar, thus allowing you to plan and prioritize. After you either get them “done” or “tasked,” you can either delete those messages or file them for later reference. And if you don’t have a good place to file them, you make one and put it there. This is really the only way to use an inbox.

2. As your de facto, yet highly disorganized daily task list. So many people use their email inbox as their default task list. It isn’t at all built for that. It is hard to prioritize individual items in an inbox, so you end up looking at the same items multiple times, trying to figure out which ones are important and/or urgent, and which ones aren’t. Most tasking programs, including tools like MS Outlook, Toodledo and Google Tasks, allow you to see your tasks in priority order by either date or by project (I teach courses on this!). Very quickly, you can figure out what is either most urgent or important. (Even a properly designed paper task list can do this!) Thus, you can understand why I’m trying to get people out of the habit of “inbox tasking” and into the habit of building a smarter daily task list using an appropriate task tool each and every day.

3. As your de facto, yet highly disorganized general file box. The other thing people are doing with their inbox is using it to store everything — or nearly everything — with no consistent filing or organizational strategy. Most people have made a few folders, but they rarely file everything they should in the folders they have already created. And they leave literally hundreds of emails, many that have already been attended to, just sitting in their inbox for no good reason. The two big problems with leaving read emails in your inbox: 1) You’ll likely read them again, even if you’ve already dealt with them — a pure waste of time. 2) As you continue to add more and more emails into this inbox, you will lose more and more efficiency. You will “slog” to a halt. How about this instead: Once that email is “done,” put it away. If you can’t do it now, add it to your task list or calendar. Then, put it away — or delete it! It isn’t rocket science.

4. Final mistake: Checking that inbox far too often. A recent study I read found that somewhere between 20-25 percent of working professionals check their email 20 or more times per day! That’s every few minutes if you do the math! How can you possibly maintain any productivity or focus when you are literally distracting yourself every few minutes? Studies have shown that incessantly checking your email and other electronic inputs literally makes you stupid. You have to get off of these “crazy trains” or you will literally lose YEARS of productivity through these abusive inbox activities.

Here’s how:

  1. When checking email, process them the first time you look at them. If they are something you can handle quickly, do them now. If not, add them to your calendar or task list. Make decisions from your calendar and task list — NOT your inbox.
  2. Once you have that email either done or tasked, file it if you might need it for later reference, or delete it. And if there is no good place to file it, MAKE ONE and put it there.
  3. And, stop checking email so often! Get on some form of a regimen that balances your needs to be responsive with your needs to get things done.

This isn’t rocket science, but it does require some discipline, process management and a few new habits. With these new habits, you can get off the email “crazy train” and end your inbox abuse!

 

Randy Dean, MBA, The “Totally Obsessed” Time Management Technology Guy has been one of the most popular expert speakers on the conference, corporate, and university training and speaking circuit for several years. The author of the recent Amazon email bestseller, “Taming the Email Beast,” Randy is a popular and engaging time, email and technology management speaker and trainer. He brings 22 years of speaking and training experience to his programs, and has been popular with programs, including “Taming the Email Beast,” “Finding an Extra Hour Every Day,” “Optimizing Your Outlook,” “Time Management in ‘The Cloud’ Using Google and Other Online Apps,” and “Smart Phone Success and Terrific Tablets.” Learn more at http://www.randalldean.com.

Mr. Dean is an FDC2018 speaker, and will be presenting two courses on Saturday, June 23, 2018. “Smart Phone Success and Terrific Tablets: Finding More Productivity with Your Devices” will be at 9:30 a.m., and “Taming the Email Beast Using MS Outlook and/or Gmail: Key Strategies for Managing Your Email Overload” will be at 2 p.m.

Is Your Patient a Victim of Human Trafficking?

By Amy Wasdin, RN, CPHRM, Patient Safety Risk Manager II, The Doctors Company

Most health care providers are aware of their role and responsibility to identify and report victims of child abuse, elder neglect and domestic violence. However, there is another type of abuse that is on the rise and reported in every state throughout the nation. In 2016, human trafficking cases reported in the United States rose by more than 36 percent from 2015, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline statistics.

Human trafficking occurs when a trafficker exploits another individual with force, fraud or coercion to make him or her perform labor or sexual acts. Victims can be any age (adults or minors), any gender, and from any cultural or ethnic group. The trafficker, or abuser, might be a stranger, family member or friend. This criminal industry is extremely profitable, generating billions of dollars worldwide. Lack of awareness and misconceptions by health care providers allow opportunities for identification of the victims to go unnoticed and unreported.

Victims of abuse rarely find opportunities to interact with other persons without approval from the abuser. A visit to a physician or dental practice may provide a rare opportunity for a patient to receive the help that he or she desperately needs. Research published in the Annals of Health Law in 2014 revealed that 87.8 percent of trafficking survivors reported that they were seen by a health care provider during their trafficking situation.

Human trafficking victims commonly are seen in medical and dental practices with the following conditions:

  • trauma such as broken bones, bruises, scars, burn marks or missing teeth
  • poor dental hygiene
  • pregnancy
  • gynecological trauma or multiple sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • anxiety, depression or insomnia

Victims usually are afraid to seek help for a variety of reasons that usually stem from fear, shame or language barriers. Health care providers and their staff should be trained to recognize the signs of human trafficking and know what steps to take.

Red flags to look for from the victim include:

  • fearful demeanor
  • depressed or flat affect
  • submissive to his or her partner or relative
  • poor physical health
  • suspicious tattoos or branding
  • lack of control with personal identification or finances
  • not allowed to speak for himself/herself
  • reluctant or unable to verify address or contact information
  • inconsistency with any information provided (medical, social, family, etc.)

Victims may be fearful and untrusting of their environment, so it is best not to directly ask an individual if they are a victim of human trafficking. Instead, the Department of Health and Human Services recommend questions such as the following:

  • Has anyone threatened you or your family?
  • Can you leave your job or home if you want to?
  • Are there locks on your doors and windows to keep you from leaving?
  • Do you have to get permission to eat, sleep or use the restroom?
  • Has someone taken your personal documents or identification?

Human trafficking is a federal crime and violators who are prosecuted receive prison sentences. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act was enacted in 2000 and provides tools to address human trafficking on a national and worldwide level. Many states also have laws and penalties for human trafficking.

If you suspect that a patient is a victim of human trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888.373.7888 or go to https://humantraffickinghotline.org/report-trafficking to report online. The hotline is not a law enforcement or investigative agency, but will take any possible steps to aid the victim and could result in a report to law enforcement.

Health care providers should follow state laws regarding mandatory reporting to provide notification of patient abuse or neglect situations. Unless calling the authorities is mandatory, it is recommended that you do not do so without the patient’s permission.

For resources and information on assessment tools, go to the National Human Trafficking Hotline’s Resources for Service Providers or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

Reprinted with permission. ©2017 The Doctors Company. For more patient safety articles and practice tips, visit www.thedoctors.com/patientsafety.

The guidelines suggested here are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each health care provider in light of all circumstances prevailing in the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.

Mid-level Providers: Why Membership in the ADA Matters

By Cesar R. Sabates, DDS, FACD, FPFA, FICD

“Access to dental care” has been a growing concern for many years. Foundations and many other individuals have frequently used the same catchphrase to propose a new provider be introduced within the dental team to meet the challenge. “Mid-level providers” (aka “dental therapists”) are being touted as the solution to this nation’s access-to-care problem. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation has committed millions of dollars to advocate and promote this “solution.”

The American Dental Association (ADA) remains steadfast in opposition to the mid-level provider. ADA Policy on the Mid-Level Provider (Trans. 2008:439) states: “Resolved, that the ADA’s position on any proposed new member of the dental team shall be an individual supervised by a dentist and be based upon a determination of need, sufficient education and training and of scope of practice that ensures the protection of the public’s oral health.”

Many who advocate for mid-level providers use the argument that “there is a shortage of dentists.” A recent report by the ADA Health Policy Institute demonstrates that the number of dentists practicing per 100,000 people today has climbed more than 4 percent from 2003 to 2013, is projected to increase by 1.5 percent from 2013 to 2018 and 2.6 percent by 2033.

However, such arguments are simply not valid. Consider an article from the ADA Health Policy Resource Center, written by authors Thomas Wall, MBA, Kamyar Nasseh, PhD and Marko Vujicic, PhD, “U.S. Dental Spending Remains Flat Through 2012.” The article contains invaluable results of extensive research and is extremely effective in countering such inaccurate claims made by others. The highly acclaimed ADA Resource Center, in doing expansive research and sharing of such important information, is yet another membership value and benefit of belonging to organized dentistry.

In spite of the ADA’s opposition to the mid-level provider, the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), an independent entity recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the national accrediting agency for dental, allied dental and advanced educational programs, adopted standards by which programs that educate mid-level providers can apply for accreditation.

To give you an idea of what the scope of practice of a mid-level “dental therapist” would be, I ask you to read the following, taken directly from a document entitled, “CODA Accreditation Standards for Dental Therapy Educational Programs.”

At a minimum, graduates must be competent in providing oral health care within the scope of dental therapy practice with supervision as defined by the state practice acts, including:

a. identification of oral and systemic conditions requiring evaluation and/or treatment by dentists, physicians or other health care providers, and managing  referrals
b. comprehensive charting of the oral cavity
c. oral health instruction and disease prevention education, including nutritional counseling and dietary analysis
d. exposing radiographic images
e. dental prophylaxis including sub-gingival scaling and/or polishing procedures
f. dispensing and administering via the oral and/or topical route non-narcotic analgesics, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic medications as prescribed by a licensed health care provider
g. applying topical preventive or prophylactic agents (i.e., fluoride), including fluoride varnish, antimicrobial agents, and pit and fissure sealants
h. pulp vitality testing
i. applying desensitizing medication or resin
j. fabricating athletic mouth guards
k. changing periodontal dressings
l. administering local anesthetic
m. simple extraction of erupted primary teeth
n. emergency palliative treatment of dental pain limited to the procedures in this section
o. preparation and placement of direct restorations in primary and permanent teeth
p. fabrication and placement of single-tooth temporary crowns
q. preparation and placement of preformed crowns on primary teeth
r. indirect and direct pulp capping on permanent teeth
s. indirect pulp capping on primary teeth
t. suture removal
u. minor adjustments and repairs on removable prostheses
v. removal of space maintainers”

All of this can be accomplished by an individual with just three years of post-secondary education! A bit alarming, wouldn’t you say? How about “m. simple extractions”? Who can define the term, “simple?” I can remember one of my oral surgery professors telling me, “Son, you can only say it’s a simple extraction once you have that tooth sitting on the bracket table.”

It is time that we all wake up! Those of you who are members of the ADA, I applaud you for your investment in your future. Those of you who are non-members I simply ask you: “What are you waiting for?!” Your profession needs you! Don’t wait until it’s too late.

In a recent commentary published in Dental Abstract, Vol. 60, Issue 1, 2015, Dr. Frank Catalanotto states that, “Organized dentistry at the state and national level has opposed virtually all efforts to expand access to care to underserved individuals. And, in many cases, the Federal Trade Commission [FTC] has stepped in to help prevent this restraint of trade. Great examples of FTC intervention in the past decade or so can be found in Alaska, Alabama, Minnesota, South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida. Dentistry PACs [political action committees] are in full battle mode. Just get a copy of ‘The Dental Workforce Cook Book,’ if you can. I have only heard about it, but have not seen it.”

With all due respect to Dr. Catalanotto, I would disagree with his statement: “Organized dentistry … has opposed virtually all efforts to expand access to care to underserved individuals.” As a past president of the Florida Dental Association (FDA), president of Florida’s Donated Dental Services, vice chair of the ADA’s Council on Access Prevention and Interprofessional Relations, and a general practitioner in private practice who has devoted most of his professional life advocating for access to the underserved, I could not be prouder of the ADA’s leadership role when it comes to advocating for “access to care.”

Please take time to look at the following publications by the ADA and the FDA Action for Dental Health initiative:

  • “Breaking Down Barriers to Oral Health for All Americans: The Community Dental Health Coordinator”
  • “Breaking Down Barriers to Oral Health for All Americans: The Role of Finance”
  • “Breaking Down Barriers to Oral Health for All Americans: The Role of Workforce”
  • “Breaking Down Barriers to Oral Health for All Americans: Repairing the Tattered Safety Net”
  • “Action for Dental Health: Bringing Disease Prevention into Communities”

… just to name a few.

I am almost certain that Dr. Catalanatto meant to say that the ADA has opposed all efforts to bring in mid-level providers/dental therapists. And, if that is the case, I would agree with him!

To quote the ADA president, Dr. Maxine Feinberg: “The ADA believes it is in the best interest of the public that only dentists diagnose dental disease and perform surgical and irreversible procedures. Through Action for Dental Health, the ADA and its member dentists are implementing solutions that have been proven to help address the multiple barriers that prevent many Americans from attaining better oral health.”

The issue of access to care is a complex one. I applaud and respect the efforts of anyone and everyone attempting to eliminate the barriers that prevent all Americans from suffering needlessly from a totally preventable disease. I hope and dream that, as a profession, we can continue to work to bring about the changes needed to provide the necessary education and care to those who need it.

This article first appeared the the South Florida District Dental Association’s Newsletter,  Volume 57, No. 2, Fall 2015.

Dr. Sabates can be contacted at fdacesar@gmail.com, or you can contact the FDA Governmental Affairs Office at gao@floridadental.org.

 

 

What is “Plan B?” The New Normal in a Post-Irma World

By a Fellow FDA Member

Call it intuition, but I had the feeling we —and the entire east coast of Florida — dodged a bullet last year with Hurricane Matthew. It just seemed like a matter of time before our 13-year dry spell was going to end.

I desperately wanted to be wrong, as I watched CNN every evening for the latest update on Hurricane Irma, and the National Hurricane Center for the more elaborate interpretation.

The memories of spending another post-Labor Day weekend away from home (Hurricane Frances, 2004) sadly is still too vivid in our memories. I worked as a dentist a total of four days that month, and two of those were without air conditioning — which is a testament to the determination of my staff and my patients to create a sense of “normalcy” in the aftermath, despite the obvious disruption to our personal lives.

Doctors, it is time for “Plan B.”

Depending on where you are in your practice career, it may not make economic sense to “build over” before or after your insurance adjuster has given you the final assessment. For dentists with more than 25 years of practice, the return on investment may not be in your favor at such a late period, as the current tax laws for business owners after 50 provide decent “catch-up” provisions in a defined benefit (like a government pension) and defined contribution (401K-type) plans that would be more beneficial.

For a mid-career solo practitioner, you have been faced with rising overhead costs since 2007, and along with diminished income (ADA Health Policy Institute has the data), the time is ripe for a multi-doctor practice formation, which should always be created with expert legal and financial advice.

Look “around the neighborhood” and reach out to other dentists who may share the same dilemma you do. If you have damage to your office, and someone nearby does not, now would be the time to construct a well-defined contract that outlines the term and time limit for this new arrangement. And if the relationship works on a limited basis, you may find the new arrangement something you want to solidify.

Likewise, if your office came out unscathed, reach out to your colleagues in this period and strategize. This is not a DIY project, so retain the professional advice you need to make this happen. Involve your bankers and financial advisors for expert advice.

In closing, I want you to know that I understand what you have gone through, and I look at 2004 as a defining year in my professional career. The decisions I made after these disasters guided me to where I am today, and my family is better for it.

Make the right choice for your loved ones and your staff members, and don’t be afraid to execute “Plan B!”