Boosting Your Patient Recalls

Effective and reliable patient recalls are a critical part of your practice for many reasons:

  • Essential for ongoing patient care
  • Keep patients to recommended intervals and avoid slipping, often by many months
  • Minimise future pain and treatment through preventative care
  • Patient education
  • Relationship-building
  • Identification and discussion of patient needs, aspirations and future treatments
  • Practice cash-flow
  • Forward planning
  • Diary management
  • Minimise the time spent by back-office staff trying to fill white space

Here are some thoughts and suggestions to help improve and streamline your approach

  • Always encourage patients to pre-book their next 3, 6 12 month appointment
    • Significantly reduces the volume of recalls to manage on a monthly basis
    • Allows patients to choose convenient appointments which may not be available to them nearer the time
    • Appointments can be changed as necessary subject to your 24/48 hour cancellation policy
    • Make good use of the automated reminder services within your practice software and use firm but friendly wording about the importance of attendance within the reminders
  • Replace the word “routine”  with “essential” or “vital”
  • Replace the phrase “check-up” with “comprehensive dental review” or “consultation”
  • Make full use of the automated recall systems within your practice software
    • This will take care of maybe 80% or more of your routine recalls
    • Typical recall schedule for a June recall is:
      • Automated reminder in May
      • Automated reminder in June for those still outstanding
      • Automated “Overdue” reminder in July, which is more detailed,
        • Highlights the importance of regular attendance
        • Benefits of ongoing, preventative care
        • List of the many aspects of oral health care covered during a recall
          • Create/make use of a 16 to 20 point bulleted Dental Health Review summary, based on all the checks undertaken
      • Automated reminder after 12 months, which is more of a reactivation approach
        • Details of what is included in the “essential” recall using your Dental Health Review summary mentioned earlier
        • Highlight importance of ongoing care
        • Ask for contact to enable records to be updated
        • Seek confirmation if no longer wishing to remain as a patient so that their place can be given to others on the waiting list
  • Review and personalise your automated recall letters carefully:
    • Firm but friendly letter which reflects your practice ethos/image/brand
    • Highlight benefits and importance of regular attendance
  • Practice staff focus their time and effort on contacting patients, by telephone, who have not responded or booked their next appointment after the third, “Overdue” automated reminder
    • In the above example, practice staff would be making phone calls in June to patients who are still overdue for a recall from April 2017 (2 months ago)
    • Phone call should be on a patient-care/concern over missed recall approach
    • Check that patient records/contact details are up to date
    • Build relationship with the patient and establish a good rapport
    • Understand patient preferences/needs
    • Respond to any questions or concerns
    • Update records and close off if patients have moved away or no longer wish to be a patient
    • Book an appointment
  • Keep your dental records up to date with each attempt at contact and with feedback or comments from patients so that you can follow up and pick up on previous discussions. This also avoids multiple contact to the same patient within a short period of time
  • Use your practice software “follow-up” lists to diarise patients who ask for a call-back, or more time
  • Use your practice software to help track and monitor progress with recalls. Most will now produce comprehensive, interactive and visual reports to help
  • Build regular “treatment blocks” into your diary to ensure days are not fully blocked with recalls, leaving no time for longer treatments

In summary:

  • Review your recall messages/letters and make them firm, friendly and compelling
  • Promote the benefits of regular attendance
  • Highlight and summarise the many checks completed during your “Comprehensive Dental Reviews”
  • Make good use of automation for the majority of recalls
  • Keep records of all contact
  • Plan out your diary and create treatment blocks
  • Focus on the much smaller list of patients who are still overdue after 2 months and speak with them
  • Follow-up and persevere
Boosting Your Patient Recalls

Job Opportunity – Associate Dentist Leeds

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Self-employed Associate Dentist Required for Leeds Practice

2,000 UDA’s + good private opportunities

2 or 3 days per week including Fridays but some flexibility with other days

Due to continued growth, one of my dental clients in Crossgates, West Yorkshire, has an excellent job opportunity for an enthusiastic associate dentist to join a thriving practice in a busy high street location with great transport/road links.

This vibrant and successful mixed private/NHS dental practice operates from modern and spacious premises on the outskirts of Leeds being fully computerised with well-equipped surgeries and a committed, experienced team of dental professionals.

The successful applicant will enjoy excellent working conditions, competitive private fee payments/UDA rates, generous contribution to lab fees, access to an established NHS patient list, excellent private practice opportunities, strong peer/referral support and the benefits of a strong and efficient management/support team.

The right candidate will be an existing NHS performer with excellent communications, skills, a strong team player with a commitment to professional and personal development.

To apply for this opportunity or for more information please send your c.v. and a covering letter to Leeds@yourdentalmanager.co.uk

Job Opportunity – Associate Dentist Leeds

Ready for the Unexpected?

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A robust Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is essential for any businesses and a Care Quality Commission requirement for all the right reasons. A BCP is also required under the terms of an NHS contract.

Your practice BCP helps to ensure that in the event of a “crisis”, “disaster” or “serious incident”, the team respond effectively, patients are impacted as little as possible and the business is able to professionally restore service by following a set of pre-planned guidelines.

Paper with words BCP Business Continuity Plan

Importantly, your BCP is prepared when all is going well and you have the time to think plans through methodically and logically for all kinds of “what-if” scenarios.

In the event of something going seriously wrong e.g. floods, loss of power, fire, IT or even something as simple as a telephone failure, the whole team can go straight to this document and have access to the right people along with guidelines on how to minimize disruption, danger and risk.

The BCP should be written to clearly and simply outline how the practice can realistically recover from a wide range of failures or disasters and will be different for each practice dependent on local and available resources.

Always appoint a named individual to be responsible for maintaining the BCP and hold primary responsibility for leading any crisis. Also name a couple of deputies to cover absences.

Maintain an accurate list of contact details for all team members within the BCP, including mobile phone and e-mail, so that you can quickly keep everyone up to date with developments and ask for support or keep people away.

Think about how you will make contact with patients booked in for appointments if you are unable to access computer files. Some practices print off patient contact lists each evening for the next morning’s appointments and keep in a safe place.

An up to date and accurate list of key support contacts, reference/contract numbers and any agreements for support is an essential part of the BCP so that you can react and implement quickly. This should include:

  1. Practice Insurance Company
    1. Claim and Help Lines
    2. Policy numbers
  2. Your Contingency site
    1. “Buddy” up with a local dental practice and agree to provide temporary accommodation/shelter and facilities to each other in the event of a crisis
    2. Confirm this agreement in writing annually
  3. NHS Local Area Team (if applicable)
    1. Any decision made to reduce or stop NHS services, must be communicated to the Local Area Team who will also update the NHS Helpline 111
  4. Care Quality Commission
  5. IT Support Team(s)
    1. Server/network support
    2. Data back-up/recovery arrangements
  6. Gas emergency telephone number
  7. Electricity emergency telephone number
  8. Water emergency telephone number
  9. Temporary heating facilities e.g. gas/electric heaters
  10. Security alarm engineers
  11. Fire alarm engineers
  12. Telephone and Broadband providers/support teams
  13. Plan Providers
    1. Can assist with patient contact details
  14. Essential tradesmen
    1. Electrician
    2. Plumber
    3. Heating engineer
    4. Builder
    5. Joiner
    6. Roofer

Crisis Recovery Concept

Within the BCP, consider various scenarios and outline how you want each to be handled and who is to be contacted. Many scenarios can be considered including:

  1. Inability to access or enter the premises for any reason e.g. police/fire incident/cordon
    1. Contingency sites
    2. Communication with team, patients and suppliers
  2. Loss of computer systems including viruses and server failure
    1. Have a back-up “paper” system ready, including template forms/records for clinicians and front of house/reception staff
    2. Robust back-up and recovery processes, preferably through an external third party provider
  3. Loss of telephone/Internet services
    1. Call diversions
    2. Use of mobile phones
  4. Loss of electricity
    1. Basic checks such as fuse box/trip switches
    2. External problems and timescales
    3. Can the practice safely remain open?
    4. Understand what will be impacted e.g. server may have short-term battery back-up
  1. Loss of gas supply
    1. Safety impact and timescales
    2. Gas leaks
      1. Location of shut-off valve
  2. Loss of water supply
    1. Safety impact and timescales
    2. Floods/escape of water
      1. Location of main/external shut-off valves
  3. Loss of fire/security systems
    1. Safety impact and timescales
    2. Additional security/surveillance
  4. Fire
    1. Incorporate your full Fire safety/evacuation procedures
    2. Fire exits and routes
  5. Unexpected loss of key suppliers/essential supplies
    1. Laboratories
    2. Dental materials/drugs
    3. Maintain an up to date list of contact details for all key suppliers
  1. Loss of dental records
    1. Back-up and recovery arrangements
    2. Safety and protection of paper and electronic records
  1. Serious injury or death of registered clinicians
  2. Serious injury or death of key staff members
  3. Simple, clear and effective communication plans in the event of any serious incident
    1. Emergency services
    2. Practice team and immediate families
    3. Patients
    4. NHS Local Area Teams (if applicable)
    5. Care Quality Commission
    6. Media relations

Remember to share your BCP with all members of the team and make it readily available within the practice – a red cover can effectively highlight its importance.

Key members of the team should have a copy of the BCP available at home for “out of hours” emergency use.

Hopefully your practice will never need to make use of the BCP, but if the unexpected and unwelcome does happen, you and the rest of your team will appreciate the clear guidelines and quick access to known people who can help you through.

A well thought through and written BCP will help minimise disruption, focus the mind, deliver a professional response to future crises and could one day even be a lifesaver.

There is plenty of help out there to plug any management gaps including Your Dental Manager, so please do get in touch if you have any concerns or want to further improve the overall management/efficiency of your practice: info@yourdentalmanager.co.uk or check our on-line calendar to book a complimentary chat.

Ready for the Unexpected?

Your Dental Manager Embraces South West England

We are delighted to announce that from 1st May 2017, Your Dental Manager has expanded its reach into the South West of England through an exciting and valuable alliance with well known Plymouth dentist Charlie Fox and practice business manager Edd Jones.

Charlie and Edd will be delivering a wide range of strategic and business management support, coaching and mentoring under the Your Dental Manager umbrella, to independent dental practices across the South West and we welcome them warmly into the YDM family.

Charlie and Edd’s experience, skills and knowledge, combined with those of the established Your Dental Manager team and resources, will quickly bring added benefit to existing and new client practices.

Dr. Charlie Fox BDS (U Birm.) LDSRCS (Eng.)

Charlie has been a dentist for 27+ years, having qualified via the Royal Navy in 1990.

Charlie initially worked in Scotland after leaving the  Navy in 1995. He moved to the South West in 1999, where he continued to work in various practices.

Charlie bought his own dental  practice in Plymouth in 2003, Hartley Dental.

Since owning Hartley, Charlie has built a fantastic environment for his patients, offering the highest levels of care and customer service.

Ensuring that his Practice is profitable, without compromising customer experience, is the key to Hartley Dental’s success

Charlie@yourdentalmanager.co.uk

Edd Jones

Edd came into the dental industry with extensive business and customer-service management experience.

This experience  includes working within the security, gaming and leisure Industry, all of which are  highly  competitive and customer-service driven industries.

Edd prides himself on offering simple, effective and measurable business, operational management and customer service advice, specifically designed to help your business grow and move onto the next level.

Edd has a proven track record of increasing profitability, reducing costs and effectively managing teams of people during his career and is a nominee for 2017 Practice Manager of the Year.

Edd@yourdentalmanager.co.uk

“Charlie and Edd of C & E Consult are delighted to have joined with Your Dental Manager.

We will make full use of the extensive business management resources and experience of YDM to bring maximum benefit to our clients in the YDM South West region.

We look forward to working closely with YDM and practices across the South West to help your business grow.”

On-line booking of introductory calls and practice visits is now available for Charlie and Edd to discuss their work and availability in the South West, or contact them directly by e-mail.

For appointments and enquiries in the rest of the UK and Ireland, please continue to book your appointments through the main on-line calendar or e-mail mark@yourdentalmanager.co.uk.

We all look forward to supporting many more practices across the thriving independent UK dental sector.

Your Dental Manager Embraces South West England

Job Opportunity – Practice Manager, Leeds

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This Position is now filled

My client in Guiseley, Leeds is looking for an experienced, well-organised and professional part-time Practice Manager to join and help lead an established, friendly family dental practice for 3 days per week.

The practice is within easy commuting distance of Leeds and Bradford, with excellent transport links

The successful applicant will support the Principal Dentist and team to deliver increasingly high standards of customer care, ensure all systems and procedures are kept updated and adhered to whilst maximising business opportunities and enhancing team performance.

Previous dental experience is preferred but not essential. Strong management, people and organisational skills are. If you have proven leadership skills, have successfully managed a team of people in the past and looking for a part-time position, we would like to talk with you.

Salary range is £20k – £22k (pro-rata) dependent on experience

Key Responsibilities:

  • To guide, direct and successfully manage an existing team of motivated and happy people
  • To ensure all non clinical systems within the practice run smoothly and efficiently, constantly improving these
  • To ensure we always give practical support and care to our patients, ensuring their experience is constantly improving
  • To enhance the financial performance of the practice
  • To manage compliance within all regulatory requirements using established processes and procedures

The successful applicant will be required to undertake an enhanced DBS check

If you would like to apply for this position, please forward your CV and a covering letter outlining how you think you can help the practice to leeds@yourdentalmanager.co.uk.

Job Opportunity – Practice Manager, Leeds

CQC Hotspots – March 2017

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Reviewing a further sample of 56 CQC dental inspection reports published over recent weeks, highlighted a number of compliance breaches which can easily be avoided, but which are still catching out some practices.

Of the 56 practices sampled, 5 practices were issued with breach notifications. Clearly the vast majority of practices are still getting things right, which is great news. All notices reviewed this month were issued for breaches within the Well Led standard.

In the spirit of continuous improvement and to try and help 100% of practices achieve a clean pass, here are some of the key-findings and recommendations from these very recent inspections, which might just keep another practice out of trouble.

  • Every month, two or three practices are being picked up on inadequate recruitment and staff induction procedures. Follow simple checklists and procedures to demonstrate that you are doing things correctly and keep records in staff files.
  • Ensure you are receiving, checking and taking action on relevant MHRA/CAS patient safety alerts. Dental practices don’t receive many but there must be a robust system in place to show that you identify and respond to any that are published.
  • Ensure that all sterilisation and clinical equipment is externally validated by professionals/suppliers in addition to the recommended routine/daily/weekly checks you are required to undertake.
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  • Audits are still seen without essential evidence of learning and action points. Don’t treat audits as a box-ticking exercise, use them to identify and resolve short-comings.
  • X-ray audits for quality and justification should be undertaken for each dentist, not on an individual surgery/equipment basis, as this could leave some dentists unchecked. Records should show all dentists are regularly audited.
  • Prescription and controlled medicines/drugs must be locked away and closely monitored.
  • Management of sharp injuries are regularly checked. Ensure procedures are in place and communicated to all the team. Incident/Accident Reporting records must be updated for each event.
  • The practice Health & Safety risk assessment must be kept up to date and where new or changed risks are identified, actions put in place to resolve quickly. Don’t delay as once identified, you have a responsibility to correct.
  • Check your electrical system inspections and certificates are all in place and up to date including Portable Appliance Testing. Frequency of re-test will be confirmed during each visit/inspection. More details from the Health & Safety Executive here.
  • Inspectors continue to come across missing or partially-completed, mandatory risk assessments including Sharps, Fire, Clinical Waste, COSHH and Manual Handling.
  • Remember to date and review all of your practice policies and procedures at least annually. If nothing has changed simply re-date to show that you have been there.
  • Don’t forget that associate dentists, therapists and hygienists should also have annual appraisals to review performance and identify training requirements.
  • Collecting and responding to patient feedback and comments is essential. Don’t just rely on the NHS Family & Friends test, which is just one specific measure.
  • Make sure that the Registered Manager/CQC lead has adequate time to complete all their duties and responsibilities. Practices have been picked up where the Principal dentist/owner has day to day responsibility but is in surgery for the majority of the week.
  • Take care with “Off the Shelf” or “In a Box” Policy and Procedure packs. They are an essential and valuable source of material for many practices, but each policy/procedure must be reviewed and personalised to the practice and the way you work.
  • Make sure that all the named individuals/leads in your policies/procedures still actually work at the practice. Update and replacement is essential.
  • The practice is responsible for overseeing CPD training – make sure you keep records of where everyone is within their CPD training cycle.
  • Keep on top of your fire log book and mandatory checks of fire equipment including  alarms and emergency lighting.
  • Ensure your fire procedures make provision for evacuation of patients with disabilities.
  • Don’t forget to book regular team meetings into the diary – ideally monthly – and keep records of agendas, minutes and action points from each. It is not enough for staff to say that everything is discussed and resolved informally during the working day.

As always, remember that if something is not recorded or evidenced, in the eyes of the CQC and other external bodies such as the NHS, it didn’t happen, even though you may know full well that it did! This continues to catch practices out, leading to frustration and avoidable stress for all!

Findings from previous inspection reviews can be found here:  CQC Hotspots

There is plenty of help out there to plug any management gaps including Your Dental Manager, so please do get in touch if you have any concerns or want to further improve the overall management/efficiency of your practice: info@yourdentalmanager.co.uk or check our on-line calendar to book a complimentary chat.

CQC Hotspots – March 2017

Making Tax Digital – Impact & Opportunity

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With the financial year end fast approaching for many practices owners and self-employed associates, therapist and hygienists, so starts the annual rush to pull all the reports, invoices, bank statements, cheque books, pay-in books and NHS schedules ready for sending into the accountant to find out how much profit you have made and just as important, how much tax you will need to pay over the next year.

This traditional year-end calculation of tax by your accountant is soon coming to an end as HMRC moves quickly towards a system of quarterly tax reporting with almost “real time” tax calculations and payments.

Consultations over the new system came to a close in November 2016 and the changes are moving towards a start date of April 2018 with legislation and final details due to be published in the 2017 Finance Bill later this year.

Under the proposals, all businesses with turnover in excess of £10,000 must move to quarterly electronic profit reporting, although this threshold may increase in the final legislation.

April 2018 is the first key date when all sole-traders and partnerships will need to be ready for what is a major change.

Corporation tax does not move across until April 2020 and so any practices or self-employed clinicians who are set up as limited companies will have an extra 2 years to prepare.

Many businesses are familiar with, and set up for, electronic quarterly reporting through completion of VAT returns  and the production of monthly or quarterly management information. For the VAT-exempt dental sector this will be a challenge, particularly as many practices don’t track financial performance through the year.

A further complication for NHS dental practices, will be the accurate reporting of profit. The monthly payment which drops into your bank account on the 1st of the month from the NHS rarely reflects the true earnings from NHS work over the last month, due to all the deductions you see on your schedule including superannuation payments, remissions, patient payments, levies, debt and repayment.

Where you are under or over-performing on your NHS contract, further adjustments are needed to reflect.

The good news is that the advent of Making Tax Digital should encourage more dentaldreamstime_xs_51946471 practices to start using electronic accounting software such as QuickBooks and Xero.NHS adjustments can easily be made on a monthly basis to reflect true delivery.

As most of my clients will know, I am a big fan of monitoring both financial and non-financial key performance indicators (KPIs), which give you a powerful insight into the business. You and your practice manager can easily see what is going well and where you can best focus your attention to grow the practice and nip any problems in the bud.

Accounting software quickly produces all the financial KPIs you need and when used alongside non-financial KPIs such as chair-occupancy, staff/patient satisfaction and waiting times, helps place you right in the driving seat with vital information at your fingertips in an easy to read format – often known as a Dashboard for all the right reasons.

Bank reconciliation is straightforward, with all transactions automatically downloaded from the bank, categorised and matched against invoices.

Once you have accounting software in place, you can easily create annual forecasts and instantly track actual performance against what you expect or hoped for. No more surprises and far more time to react, plan and make changes.

If the plans for Making Tax Digital help to give practices a better insight into their business whilst encouraging better planning and monitoring, you can start to see the opportunities appear.

As with PAYE, HMRC will be introducing basic on-line software for entry of quarterly information but with all the extra benefits arising from better management and financial control of your practice, now is a good time to take the plunge and try it for yourself ready for 2018 onwards.

I support and work with clients successfully using both QuickBooks and Xero and can help you set-up and run your new accounting software in conjunction with your accountant.

You can find out more about how QuickBooks On-Line works here, including the opportunity to test drive a demo, so that you can see for yourself just how easy it is to use.

If you are interested in finding out more, please get in touch through mark@yourdentalmanager.co.uk or book a complimentary telephone call using our on-line calendar.

Making Tax Digital – Impact & Opportunity