An Early Bite with Dr. John Paul: “What Candy is Good for Teeth?”

By Dr. John Paul, FDA Editor

One of my favorite patients was preparing for the holidays and since Halloween was yesterday, she called with a serious question. “My grandchildren got a bunch of candy trick-or-treating last night. What candy can they eat that will be good for their teeth?”

I said, “Now Mrs. Gruntbuns, there is no candy that anyone should have unlimited access to. No candy is good for your teeth, but what’s the point of having teeth if you don’t get to eat things that you enjoy?

“So, let the kids, young and old, enjoy the bounty they collected on All Hallows’ Eve — in moderation — but clean their teeth regularly. Clean both the parts they can see and in between where you have to make an effort to reach.

“Your teeth are supposed to last your whole life so until your dying day, far in the future, you can eat something you enjoy.”

Have a question you have a tough time answering? Send it to Dr. Paul at jpaul@bot.floridadental.org.

Know What’s Driving Your Dental Practice’s Inbound Calls

By Allison Doyle, Demandforce

Whether your dental office is staffed by two or 20, in order to maintain growth and profitability, you need to keep your chairs full with a steady stream of new and returning patients. Yet according to a Health Policy Institute study released by the American Dental Association, the projected growth rate of dentists per capita between 2015 and 2035 is 7.9 percent. This means that your practice will soon be (if it isn’t already) immersed in a competitive marketplace.

The modern Florida dental practice knows its patients and markets to them.
With more options for your patients to choose from when it comes to their dental health, it’s now more important than ever to know who your patients are, and what drives them to book an appointment. You not only have to attract new patients to your practice, but you also have to nurture relationships with your current patients to keep them coming back — and to keep referring you to their friends and family.

You may already be sending email marketing to your patients like recall promotions or referral rewards. You could even be actively posting on your Facebook page and running ads. These are all great ways to get your dental practice to stand out among the crowd, but how do you know which are the most effective, and which you could do without?

Call Tracking removes the mystery from your marketing campaigns.
Call Tracking is the ability to assign unique, trackable phone numbers to specific marketing campaigns, so you know exactly what’s driving your inbound calls. In some Call Tracking portals, you can even see helpful data such as call duration, caller name and a recording of the call itself.

Having this data not only helps you gain valuable patient insights, but also allows you to identify your most effective campaigns and make data-driven marketing decisions. For example, if you see that a certain email promotion has had success in bringing in new patients, you might try sending it to your inactive patient base as a recall campaign.

 

If you’re looking for a way to track campaign performance, or learn more about Call Tracking and other marketing tools designed specifically for Florida dentists, visit demandforce.com. Call Tracking is available to all Demandforce customers, and Florida Dental Association members receive special pricing on the Demandforce platform. For more information, or to set up a live demo, visit demandforce.com/FDA.

Providing Dental Services in the Hospital Setting

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

Lack of familiarity with hospital systems can pose serious risk management implications.

Patients present to an acute care facility for a variety of reasons, such as emergency care, admission for ongoing treatment, surgical procedures and specialized nursing care. Unfortunately, appropriate dental care often is overlooked or not identified as a priority at the beginning of a patient’s course of hospitalization.

Good dental care is an important component to maintain overall health and well-being. When unchecked and untreated, bacteria that forms on teeth often can lead to more serious health problems. Poor oral care has been known to contribute to cardiovascular disease and respiratory infections, as well as other serious health conditions.

Dentists and oral surgeons often are credentialed and included in a hospital’s medical staff roster to provide dental services to emergency department patients and inpatients when needed. Providing dental care for a hospitalized patient is uncommon, and dentists and oral surgeons are not routinely consulted to provide dental services.

Because of the infrequency of providing dental care in the hospital setting, many dentists are unfamiliar with hospital and medical staff requirements that apply to the providers who examine and treat inpatients. The lack of familiarity with hospital systems and medical staff rules can pose serious risk management implications for the dental care provider.

Risk Management Strategies

  • Be wary of “curbside consultations” in which informal collaboration may find its way into the medical record. Consulting dentists have been sued by patients that they neither met nor examined because of inaccurate documentation by other providers in the medical record. If you are asked for input on a specific patient situation, it may be best to request a formal consultation so that you can document your thoughts and opinions in your own words.
  • Communicate clearly with other providers on the expectations regarding your involvement in patient care. Once you become a part of the care team, the lines often get blurred among providers regarding who is responsible for each aspect of care. Key information often can get lost in the transitions of care that occur in a hospital among caregivers. Clarify your role in the record, and communicate with other providers when there is confusion or cause for concern.
  • Familiarize yourself with the medical record beforehand — ask for training. Electronic medical records (EMRs) present unique nuances and special challenges to a user who is unfamiliar with the system. There may be templates or designated sections for your documentation. The EMR may not be easily navigated, so it is helpful to take the time to learn the various sections that you will need to use. It can be a powerful tool for provider collaboration if you know where to look for information.
  • Understand your documentation requirements. How often are you required to document your care of the patient? When does your documentation need to be finalized and available in the medical record? What do you need to include in your consultation notes? This information should be provided at the time of your appointment to the medical staff.
  • Request updates and revisions to processes and systems. Hospitals regularly update and revise facility operations as well as clinical policies and processes. Make sure that you periodically request updated information regarding any facility or patient care-related changes. Notice of physical plant changes may prove extremely helpful to you when you need to locate your patient to provide dental services. Notice of process changes will help you fulfill your obligation as a medical staff member to follow current policies and procedures.
  • Have a go-to person to contact for assistance when needed. Despite taking appropriate steps to be prepared to care for your patient, there are always unexpected challenges that may occur. Get to know your medical staff department coordinator or the facility risk manager. They can prove to be great resources when you need quick access to information. Also, if you can’t find someone for assistance after regular hours, reach out to the hospital administrator on call who will connect you with someone who can assist you.

 

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

The Value of Your Current Patients

By Jackie Ulasewich, Founder, My Dental Agency

There are a lot of reasons to want to bring in new patients. Maybe you want to expand your practice enough to hire an associate, maybe you want to open a second location or maybe you want to make sure your practice is established enough for you to have a healthy retirement when the time comes. Whatever the reason, you need to remember the people who have already helped you grow your practice: your current patients. Bringing new patients through the front door is useless if your current patients are sneaking out through the back.

Why They’re Valuable
If you’re lucky, your patients are loyal to you. With patient loyalty comes regular visits, more involved treatments and those sought-after referrals. If you are not loyal in return, then what’s to stop them from switching to another practice?

How to Create Loyalty
Your patients have tons of dentists from which to choose. Some of those dentists may offer discounted treatments, some may be closer to home or work or some may have a stronger marketing game. What makes your practice unique is YOU, but you have to be willing to remind your patients that you’re there for them beyond their semi-annual appointments and you have to let them see who you are when they’re not in your chair. The following ideas will get you started.

  • Use Facebook multiple times a week. Only 20 percent of your posts should “sell” a service or product; the other 80 percent should be fun posts that show the personalities of both you and your practice.
  • Use targeted emails. Have you spoken with clients about a treatment such as implants or adult orthodontics who haven’t followed through? Reach out to those people via email to remind them of your discussion and encourage them to seek treatment.
  • Use email regularly. Once a month, reach out to your current patients via email. The content can be educational, but keep it fun; you’re trying to keep your patients informed and make them feel connected to the practice, not overwhelmed by information.
  • Use customized content. Nothing says “I’m just phoning it in” like mass-produced marketing content. Using customized content on your site, social networking platforms and emails is another way to set yourself apart from the other practices and let your patients know who you are.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to grow your practice. In fact, the same tricks that help your current patients feel connected to you also help potential patients know why your practice is unique. But instead of putting all of your efforts towards bringing in new patients, remember that you have current patients who need a reason to stay loyal.

 

With over a decade of experience in corporate dental laboratory marketing and brand development, Jackie Ulasewich decided to take her passion for the dental business and marketing to the next level by founding My Dental Agency. Since starting her company, she and her team have helped a wide variety of practices all over the nation focus their message, reach their target patients, and grow their practice through effective marketing campaigns. When she isn’t helping dental practices reach their full potential, she can be found at the beach with her three dogs or immersed in everything food-related with her large Italian family. For more information, call (800) 689-6434.

 This article originally appeared on DentistryToday.com