I know it sounds crazy. But the longer I practice, the more I am convinced that we, as dentists, are ready to fail at each new pursuit.
Allow me to explain.
When I try out a new dental technique, update software at the office or install new systems, I always do it on a Monday. My office is open on Fridays and closed on Mondays, so any installations or changes to are complete on Mondays. This allows me to completely focus on the task at hand. If training is involved, my staff can focus on that. It is easier when there are no patients to take care of, no hygiene checks, etc.
I recently had a friend add text/email patient reminders to his office. He had read my blog on the subject and was excited to try it out. Within a few weeks, he had failed to successfully integrate it into his office. It took him a few weeks to figure out what went wrong, but I knew the first day that he would fail.
He had scheduled his computers to be updated and his staff trained on a regular work day. Yes, his staff was supposed to learn new software in between making hygiene recall appointments and setting up for crown preps. He was supposed to be on the phone with the software company in between recall exams. Do you think he and his staff saw the new software recall system as a benefit or a hindrance?
The introduction to a new piece of equipment, software, etc. is important. You and the staff must see it as a positive experience. How positive do you feel about constant interruptions? That is how my friend rolled out the new system. When I called to see how it was going, he told me that his staff had never really taken to it so he discontinued the service. We’ve all been there. We go to a continuing education course and are excited about a new concept. We think about how great this will work in our office, but the idea falls flat.
Where does this pattern start? I blame dental school. Remember the first time you tried prepping a tooth for a crown in lab? Or your first cavity prep? Were you encouraged by the faculty or discouraged? Did anyone ever congratulate you on a great first try? Or were you just told you would need to try again? It seems that every time we tried something new, we were trained to fail the first time around.
I overcame this in dental school by trying to learn to succeed. In lab, I noticed very quickly that nothing ever got signed off before 5 p.m. They wanted you working away in lab despite your best initial effort. But when the professors wanted to go home, everything was suddenly good enough to sign off on.
So a buddy and I (who shall remain nameless) would sneak out of lab, go grab a drink, and go bowling on campus. We’d return at 4:45, just in time to hear our instructors explain how much our work had improved! I learned that sometimes it is okay to get things right the first time around.
Do yourself a favor. Set yourself up for success. Dedicate the time necessary to introduce new products or techniques into your office. Nothing is more is more disappointing than having YOUR idea, which YOU are paying for, fail because YOU sabotaged it.
Andy Alas, DDS