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Gossip and the Profitability of the Dental Practice

Let’s face it, we all like a good story but at whose expense?  Certainly if it were something about you that was personal and you didn’t want it discussed it would hurt to find out others were discussing your private affairs.  Gossip is a form of bullying when it hurts the victim to the point that they lose self-esteem and or credibility.  Gossip of any form is a negative that can affect the practice’s profitability in the following ways:

  1.       Patient perception.  Patients are aware of discord in the practice whether they are told or not, they hear, see and sense it.
  2.       Morale of staff is down; particularly the person being bullied will experience more absenteeism, and more illnesses.
  3.       Being short staffed puts pressure on the rest of the team to pick up the slack which increases gossip toward the absent staff member.
  4.       Gossip can increase in frequency and intensity if left unchecked and can explode in violence or mayhem.  At some point the victim may quit or take action against the perpetrator(s) in the form of lashing out or even hiring an attorney to suit the practice.

What can we do to eliminate this morale busting possibly litigious behavior in our dental teams?  There are a lot of possible contributors; lack of leadership in the practice, lack of policy manuals and accountability for behavior are common denominators.  Being overstaffed with loose or non-existing job descriptions can cause territorial behavior toward preferred job duties.

An analysis of the positions of the practice and writing detailed job descriptions to determine accountability will help.  If the practice is seeing 22 patients a day but there are 3 people at the desk, that is one maybe even two too many.  Avoiding tasks that are seen as unpleasant like following up on unpaid claims, writing appeals or calling patients that owe money is common in offices without written job descriptions and accountability.

Outsourcing insurance filing and patient billing can alleviate the necessity of multiple staff members depending on patient volume and also help to eliminate office gossip.  EAssist Dental Billing has systems in place that ensure accountability that reports to you daily.  Insurance filing, verification, and appeals outsourced can free up an average of 3-4 hours of the front desk time per day.  This amount of time comes from a time and motion study of a typical solo to two doctor general practice seeing up to thirty patients a day.

A smaller, focused, busier team doesn’t have the time for idle gossip.

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