What’s On Your Bucket List?

I screw up. Oh, I know, I’m sure I’m the only one. I can see you all in the comfy coziness of your glass houses. 

When I make mistakes, I like to evaluate what happened and what the root cause is so I can prevent a repeat performance. I look at the event, ask the 5 whys, consult my colleagues, and ALWAYS seek the counsel of my Mom. 

92% of the time (I made that statistic up, BTW), I find that my missteps can be traced back to my attempts to do too much. I’m either over-committing to aggressive timelines, forgetting there are only 24 hours in a day, sacrificing personal life activities for work activities, OR insisting on managing everything myself. 

Do you know what the corrective action is for each of these? 1 word: DELEGATION! You cannot be a master of all trades. Tiger Woods is a great golfer but I haven’t seen him win an Oscar. Peyton Manning is a heckuva quarterback but the expertise and dedication required mean that he’s probably not picking up his own dry cleaning or preparing the gourmet meal at Saturday’s dinner party for 10. I do a pretty darn good job leading a team of medical billers and heading up a customer support team. I run into trouble though when I also have to function as counselor, project manager, fitness coach, and everything in between. You just can’t do it all. At least I know I can’t. Neither can Peyton Manning or Tiger Woods so at least I’m in good company.

So what do you do? Again, you DELEGATE. Evaluate the tasks that make up your week & place them in 3 buckets. 

  1. Bucket #1 – These are tasks that only you can do. These should be high value activities that only you can do because of your unique education, licensing, capabilities, or experience. Think crown preps, placing an implant or delivering an oral appliance.
  2. Bucket #2 – These are activities that you can delegate. These can be low value or high value tasks. They are usually tedious, require very specific knowledge sets that you don’t inherently possess, or are absolutely necessary but can be managed by someone else. A few ideas that come to mind are medical billing for your sleep casesfinancial discussions about treatment, or completing your Medicare credentialing.
  3. Bucket #3 – This is stuff that you’re doing but NO ONE needs to do. These may be artifacts of the past. Don’t feel guilty about it. They probably made total sense at one time but they don’t really matter anymore. Get these tasks off your “to do” list. Kicking this bucket will free you up to work on things in Bucket #1 or work on that golf game with Tiger.

Create a Culture of Success

Me.  I. I try not to use either of those words, yet here I do it again…and again.  How do you turn Me and I into WE? The answer is delegation, cooperation, and training.

My business consultant made a comment to me the other day that got my attention.  Afterall, I do pay him each month; Rhonda says I should at least listen to what he says with an open ear.   “One great employee is worth three good ones.” My first thought was yeah, right. Then he went on, “How come I can consult two businesses that do the exact same thing; they have the same number of employees; yet one of those businesses does $8M a year and the other only does $2M?”

It’s the employees.  It’s YOUR employees.   Do you engage them in your DSM practice?   Do you let them interact with the patients?  Within the bounds of your state dental board, do you allow each of them to do as much as possible?  Or are you like most dentists, micromanaging your team and constantly looking over their shoulder? I hope not!

Here’s a quote from Herb Kelleher, perhaps you’ve heard of him; he’s the guy who started Southwest Airlines. “We have a strategic plan.  It’s called doing things.”

Strive to build a stellar team who engages a patient, each at some point along the preferred path, from the first phone call, to tracking down sleep studies, to verifying insurance benefits, to getting the Rx/LOMN, to scanning, to follow up, etc.  You are only as successful as your team.


Strive to be the best you can be

Assemble the BEST team possible

Be proactive; Be smart; Be efficient

My patient needs a crown but she has an MAD

We get a lot of questions about this. Your patient has a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) but they need a crown. What to do?

There are some proactive decisions you can make regarding materials that are designed specifically with this issue in mind OR thanks to our good friends at Dental Prosthetic Services lab (DPS) there’s another simple technique you can employ to save time and your patient’s appliance. Click below to check out a short video explaining both options.

HST: A Welcome

Let’s discuss the 3 primary ways you can use Home Sleep Testing (HST) in your practice:

  1. Utilize your own HST device
  2. Identify an HST company and utilize their system for referral
  3. Refer to a local MD who has HST

There are pros and cons to each of these options. Whichever method you use, dentists should be screening patients, and we should be using home sleep tests as titration methods for patients that we treat with OSA.

Watch the video below to learn more about Home Sleep Test methods!

Collaboration is Key

The bottom line is this. You must learn to collaborate with the physicians in your community if you are going to succeed in treating patients who have sleep-disordered breathing. Let’s talk about a few things to help make you more successful.

GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE: We lecture to thousands of dentists across the country, and it still amazes me that dentists think they know less than physicians. You have to remember that physicians, outside of those who are board certified in sleep, get little, if any education about sleep medicine. There is more information packed into DS3 than most Physicians get in their lifetime about sleep. Just yesterday I did a lunch and learn for three cardiologists. I started my PowerPoint presentation and started talking The Talk. I was getting a bit of that deer-in-the-headlights look. “What’s up, guys?” I asked as one of the cardiologists sheepishly said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t know what AHI means. I think you have assumed that we know more about this than we do.” So Walk the Line between talking the talk and not patronizing someone, but understand that you know a lot more about this than you think you do and you need to start acting like it. Put yourself in front of doctors and start talking about how you can help patients. You’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and start spreading the word.

WRITE MORE LETTERS: Correspondence is how physicians communicate. Most dentists only write a few letters a year, and that’s not enough to help you succeed in dental sleep medicine. Letter writing is hard and it’s time consuming. DS3 has tried to make this as automatic as we can but it still takes time. But it is time well spent. The best marketing tool besides meeting someone face-to-face is writing letters about the mutual patients that you share with physicians. I just checked my performance report in DS3 and it tells me that in the first three months of 2016 my office produced more than 1,000 letters! Dentists ask me all the time “How do you get so many referrals?” Well, there is your answer.

ENGAGE YOUR TEAM: Many of them have their own physicians, and most of them are married to someone who snores. We all have people at arm’s length who have snoring or sleep issues. Make dental devices for them and for their spouses. Get them to believe in what you do. That all starts with you as the leader of the team. You have to believe in what you’re doing, and you have to feel comfortable about the fee that you charge. Remember that there are hundreds of questions asked in a dental office every single day, but very few of them are asked directly to the dentist. The more knowledge your staff has the better they can answer questions about snoring and sleep and the more patients you will start seeing and the more devices you will start making. It’s really that simple.

Unintended Consequences

Last week I listened to a lecture from a PhD in Communications about the unintended consequences of connectivity: internet, smartphones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Honestly, what she said scared me a little. Just a few stats for your Saturday morning coffee:

One hundred college kids were asked to “unplug” themselves for 24 hours: 72% could NOT do it. Not for a single day. “Why would you even sign up for social suicide like that?” a friend asked a participant.

Cyber bullying resulting in teen suicides. High school teachers bemoan trying to teach in a class where half are phubbing (you might have to look that one up). Teens spending the equivalent of a full work day on social media platforms every day. These are all negative unintended consequences.

Let’s switch gears, now that I’ve got your blood moving a little (social media effects is a hotly debated topic that few agree on) and talk about the unintended consequences of treating snoring sleep apnea patients in your practice.

Unintended Consequences of Treating Snoring and Sleep Apnea in your practice:

  • Screening for sleep disordered breathing creates an atmosphere that you care more about your patients’ lives than you do their teeth
  • Facilitating sleep testing for your patients creates goodwill, better relationships, and builds trust
  • Goodwill, better relationships, and trust, simply means that your patients are more likely to get the work that you recommend done
  • Patients who snore less create happy bed partners. If that bed partner is a patient of yours, she likes you more. In fact, you may be her new superhero

Treated patients who snore less and sleep better talk to their neighbors, their friends, fellow church members, to their doc-tors. This leads to more new patients, and the doctor part leads not only to a new referral source for sleep patients but patients in general.

I never said that creating a successful dental sleep medicine practice was easy. It takes work, but what most of you don’t realize is that a successful DSM arm of your practice makes the rest of your practice more successful, too.

Doing the right thing and for the right reasons is seldom the easiest thing to do, nor the path of least resistance. But it remains the right thing to do.

Screen. Test. Treat. Bill.

Saving lives, one dental device at a time! I’ll bet your coffee is still warm.

Starbucks, Fishing Line, and Dental Sleep Medicine

Some years ago, Grandpa (my dad) was with me and a couple of my boys, and Garrett wanted to stop at Starbucks. His lawn mowing money was burning a hole in his pocket, and he just had to have a Vente Froppa Loppa Chino. WHAT? $7 for a cup of coffee? Later, I stopped by a fishing tackle shop and bought some braided fishing line….for $250. What? $250 for fishing line? “Well, I guess I can go ahead and die now” I remember hearing my dad say. “I never thought I’d live to see that!”

Funny; time marches on, and we soon become our parents. I found myself saying just the same thing the other day. You see, I pay a guy $2750 per month to manage my digital presence. What? I never thought I would live long enough to say that. I was listening to a financial guru give a talk recently, and a spritely young college kid in the audience asked what he thought the next big money idea would be. The guy didn’t even hesitate. He said “It doesn’t exist yet; the next big thing to make money in the next five years does not exist today.”

That got me thinking about where I may be five years from today, and how different dental sleep medicine will be. Or will it? “Eat right; get some exercise, and get a good night’s sleep.” We’ve been saying that for over a hundred years now, and I imagine we’ll be saying It a hundred years from today. When I made my first dental device 17 years ago, dental sleep medicine was much less sophisticated, and the number of dental devices was far fewer. Today, thanks to dentists like you, yes, YOU, awareness of sleep disordered breathing is increasing at a faster pace. More dentists are screening their patients; more dentists are visiting the physicians in their community and educating them about how effective a dental device can be, and the volume of evidence based medicine supporting the efficacy of dental devices simply can no longer be ignored.

So we are gaining ground. Patients are more aware; dentists are more aware; physicians are more aware, but we still have a long way to go. We need to continue to fight for a larger market share. 5% is not enough. We need more dentists to pick up the phone and call the patient’s primary care doc and discuss a plan to get their mutual patient sleep tested and treated. If just 1000 dentists did that once a week, a year later, 52,000 physicians would be more knowledgeable about dental devices and more likely to refer a patient to the dentist.

Let’s get this party started!

  • Screen your patients
  • Call the patient’s physician and have a meaningful conversation (I promise that it WILL help your practice grow!)
  • Get out of your comfort zone and start speaking to public groups

Overcome Dental Sleep Medicine Obstacles

Setting goals is a part of life. Obstacles on the path are a part of life, too.  Let’s just face it. It’s how we choose to view and deal with these obstacles that will determine how and if we overcome them.  When a dental practice makes a commitment to add Dental Sleep Medicine (DSM) to its list of services it’s important to understand that will obstacles might surface, and there are ways to move past them.  There is no obstacle large enough that it should prevent any dental practice from offering this life saving treatment. Control what you can control and minimize barriers. There will likely be enough of them with insurance or difficult patients.

Here are a few tips to help prepare a team in advance of encountering DSM-related obstacles.

  1. Education: Do this together as a team. It is essential to provide everyone with a foundation on which they can grow together. Understanding the clinical aspects of DSM is just as important as understanding all the processes involved with a successful DSM practice.  Before the team starts talking about Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) with patients, an education plan needs to be established.. This education can be done remotely or live in person. Or both. It just needs to be done TOGETHER.
  2. Coaching: Ongoing coaching and support for the dental sleep team is vital to success. If the dentist is solely responsible for DSM in the practice, it will create a road block. DSM is largely team-driven. It takes a village. Be sure to team up with an organization that provides continual, ongoing coaching to help with everything from clinical aspects of DSM to case presentation and medical billing.
  3. Software: DSM has a lot of moving parts. Using a software developed especially for DSM in a dental practice will allow streamlining of all the processes and allow the team to stay organized so nothing falls through the cracks.  From screening tools to electronic medical billing, make sure the software is cloud-based, simple and easy for the team to use.
  4. Support: This includes utilizing a 3rd party medical biller to manage the medical billing process. Let the experts handle the medical billing. The nominal fees most charge are worth your team’s sanity and time.  Who better to help overcome DSM medical billing obstacles than an experienced medical biller who specializes in billing for DSM for dental practices?

To get started on the right path, contact me at 877.95.SNORE x2.  Our industry experts are available to provide all the education, coaching, software, and support to dental practices committed to making DSM a priority.