A Way of Playing a Winning Game


Each of us has his or her own parameters for treatment. I have mine. You have yours. And as long as we are successful at restoring the patient to full function, desired cosmetics, and a healthy dentition, we are helping patients accomplish a unique and valuable goal.
It is your integrity that is most important. Learn, learn, learn. If you make an error, that is part of learning. And if you make an error, your owning up to that error and making it right with your patient is the beginning of public relations. . The next stage of your public relations presence is the written word.  What you write has meaning to anyone who chooses to read what you have written, particularly new or potentially new patients.  Doing good things for your community increases your value to your community beyond that of your practice.  Marketing that builds upon your public relations efforts will differentiate you.
You are in this for the long haul.  Your long term success has everything to do with the integrity that you bring to your patients and to your staff. Marketing without integrity brings short term gains at best with a downside risk that is far greater than those short term gains. Your staff, when they see you working honestly and fairly with your patients as well as themselves, can be your biggest asset.
Let there be no confusion to whom your loyalty shall be. It is to your patient. Those who tell you that your loyalty is to the referring dentist as a priority are dead wrong. In fact, this may be the largest integrity point that you encounter. Your patient comes first.
The proposal that I make regarding Director of Dentistry can be challenged. That challenge might take the form of something like this.  “You don’t need to be a periodontist to be a Director of Dentistry.” That may be true, but it is the well trained diagnostician who is most likely to ease into the role of Director of Dentistry. The periodontist is the most likely specialist to accede to that role in my opinion.
I admire those who invent, test, develop, and market a new device or procedure.  While I agree that the profession may advance with the advent of such devices and procedures and they should be studied to determine their value in each periodontist’s armamentarium, each is only a potential component of a milieu of procedures that the periodontist chooses to offer as part of his or her overall mission. The timely incorporation of new, exciting, and tested devices and procedures may bring with them the bonus of “marketability” of the practice as the practice is perceived as being ahead of the curve. Taking the leading edge role has its risks as well as its rewards, and informed consent must accompany that device or procedure. One must keep in mind that a single device or procedure has its introduction, its development, its plateau, and its decline as it is replaced by a new device or procedure.  In my  experience as a clinical periodontist since 1980, there have been many more promises of advancement than actual advancement.  Consequently, one should be very careful when considering the decision to replace valid procedures that have long-term data that supports those procedures with “leading edge” procedures that have not as yet stood the test of time.
The Director of Dentistry has the opportunity to incorporate any device and procedure.The Director of Dentistry emphasizes ethics, expertise, entrepreneurship, cooperation, and thinkingness as its five fundamental tenets.
The responsibility of Director of Dentistry is sorely needed in your locale as I have seen as a primary care periodontist  for the past 13 years. There are a lot more patients and a lot more dentistry out there that needs to be done for those patients whom the system failed to help. They left the system that failed to diagnose them properly, that emphasized procedures over treatment planning. They therefore take the initial step with you very carefully, reticent to trust and be disappointed once again. Therefore you must be different from, must be better than, what they experienced in the past.
As I postulate that a successful business model must accompany a philosophy to validate its application, I’m happy to state that our model will again have achieved double digit growth this past year,  all without dependency upon insurance companies. Certainly we continue to refine our business model, and it remains independent of forces save the doctor/patient relationship. The combination of high level dental principles combined with high level business principles is a winning combination in my opinion.
Those business principles include detailed training, detailed job descriptions for each of the procedures that we do, managerial training, communications and sales training, systems for every possible aspect of the practice, as well as public relations and marketing systems that bring the most needful patients to you. If those systems are in place, the thinking is done only once, at the time of creation of those systems. And when those systems need to be refined, the details of that suggested change come from the staff member closest to the system, because she knows how it can be improved far better than I. Approval of that change comes from me however.
Why systems? Because calling “audibles” all the time takes too much time, confuses staff, and does not produce better outcomes. Because we will need to streamline our method of delivery. Because patients will increasingly demand efficiency as they see more efficiency in every other aspect of their lives. You see that yourself in other businesses that you frequent, don’t you?
You have staff meetings that are true planning meetings and you have a staff that is motivated and ethical just as you are and are continually trying to better themselves by bettering the practice.
You are continually making your service better, and you differentiate yourself by providing the level of service that few others are trained to, or perhaps, willing to provide.  You have biological training to make correct prognostications. You are assuming the role of Director of Dentistry.
Coming up next: How You Can Start to Become a Director of Dentistry Tomorrow