The Three C’s Need A Little Work
By: Allen Vean, DMD
It certainly does not seem like almost four years ago I became temporary and then co-editor of our quarterly publication. In that time, I have reviewed journals, blogs, websites, newspaper articles, social media posts, and other educational outlets in hopes of providing you, the members, appropriate content that may help in your professional and personal endeavors. This year, the Articulator will focus on leadership, the different faces of dentistry and challenges going forward in our chosen profession.
Historically, our profession has a record of outstanding achievement in advancing patient care at seemingly super speed, both from a clinical and technological aspect. However, over the last few years I believe that we need to improve in three important areas. I identify them as the three C’s and they really do not have anything to do with dentistry. They are common sense, communication and civility. They are intertwined with each other and difficult to separate.
Barry Newman-Sparks, the manager director of Frontoftheq, posted a beautiful chart of the ten common sense traits that require zero talent in people seeking a job. They include: being on time, work ethic, effort, energy, body language, passion, doing extra, being prepared, being coachable and attitude. Most of us take these traits for granted. In whatever position you are associated, think about the workplace with colleagues having these attributes and how special it would be. I am of the opinion that this has become a challenge. For example, those of you who have the responsibility of new staff hires, how many times has a prospective applicant arrived late for an interview without so much as an apology or even worse, not even shown up without explanation. We have all been associated with people that bring a negative attitude into the workplace bringing everyone down. We are only as good as our weakest link. Our patients are extremely aware of the office environment from the time they enter to the time they leave. As one of my mentors advised, we are not allowed to have a bad day. This has nothing to do with dentistry and has everything to do with people. The search for staff and creating a workplace culture that portrays these qualities is one of the challenges that will be explored in a later issue.
The Internet has dramatically changed our lives. Social media has become intertwined with us in ways that we are not even aware. Artificial Intelligence seems to know more about us than we know about ourselves. Search engines can be customized for your practice and patients from their average income all the way down to how many bathrooms they have in their house. Communication seems to have become so impersonal. It appears that email and text have become the first choice. The technology is incredible and efficient and it works. However, I know that referring doctors and patients sincerely appreciate a handwritten thank you or note of appreciation for a referral Old school, yes. Classy, you bet.
As I strolled through the Expo Hall at the Rocky Mountain Dental Convention (RMDC), I was impressed with all the technology upgrades from how we communicate with our patients to dramatic upgrades in radiography. How often has a patient reviewed a treatment plan, questioned a procedure, or asked if there are any other options multiple times? Technology now allows the patient to access all of their records and treatment plan on their computer with full explanations from the practitioner. Along with state of the art radiography, the predictability of each case will be enhanced. This type of communication technology should be embraced.
Another technology application that I believe may have a place in improving patient communication is “live chat.” You are familiar with this feature as many companies employ this on websites where customers may literally talk to a representative regarding an issue, whether it be billing, delivery or order status. The efficiency of this technology is beautiful. Answering a patient of record’s inquiry regarding any practice matter in a matter of moments. This is customer service going to the next level.
Civility or professionalism, in my humble opinion, needs to be addressed. Social media, television, and newspapers constantly are airing stories regarding behavior of our fellow dentists. The most recent being a dentist in Alaska extracting a tooth using a hoverboard, filming the procedure and proclaiming that this will become the standard of care. I am not sure if he thought this would be humorous and obtain social media acceptance. However, we all know how unprofessional and wrong this is on so many levels beginning with patient confidentially and rising to outrageous conduct. Incidentally, the dentist was investigated by the Department of Human Services and convicted of Medicaid fraud. This case is one of so many that are reported on a weekly basis. I recently saw an advertisement offering a lifetime warranty on dental work or another with a five-year warranty on veneers. Incredulous! “We are better than this.” I am saddened not to see the stories of all the wonderful good that the vast majority of you do for dentistry and the kindness and generosity that you give to other human beings. It is so easy to do the right thing. Keep doing it!
Dr. Allen Vean is a retired pediatric dentist and co-editor of the MDDS Articulator magazine. Dr. Vean is a long-time member of organized dentistry and owned a private practice for over 30 years in Denver, CO. In addition to volunteering with MDDS, he donates his time to a number of community organizations including Special Olympics Colorado.
The Metro Denver Dental Society is a not-for-profit component society of the American Dental Association and the Colorado Dental Association.