After dental school and grueling board exams, we entered the profession to help people with their oral health. But it didn’t take long to learn that running a full-scale small business entailed more than we imagined. The COVID-19 pandemic added intensity, and we’re still struggling with problems that extend indefinitely.
Healthcare requires relationships and hands-on support in a clinical setting. However, most areas continue to experience a deficit of workers, and many medical facilities are currently understaffed. Whether we’re a small physical therapy practice or a corporate dental group, we’re bound to face a limited labor market with increased competition for healthcare workers.
Our best focus is to recognize the primary headwinds while setting our sight on what we can control. Our teams are highly capable, but stretching too far can result in frustration and anxiety. In the grander scheme, we need to encourage further training programs and recruitment drives by our professional organizations. And more immediately, we can run ads for human resources on our social media platforms and at local schools. There is no quick solution to the labor deficit, but the greatest impact comes from within our circle of influence.
Pay attention to the following three key points to retain a sense of direction and keep your operations in check. Manage by increments; initiate small changes and investments to keep your business on the right trajectory.
Create A Place Worth Working
We’re aware of the significance of a brand in our minds. When you hear a known brand name or see their ads, you quickly form a judgment. Patients also form impressions when healthcare brands are mentioned in their respective communities.
But this doesn’t apply to patients alone.
Potential employees take note of a brand’s reputation when entertaining career options. If a hygienist is contemplating more working hours, is your practice reputation appealing over the other five healthcare practices in drastic need of her services? Or, if your front desk requires a financial coordinator, does your practice stand out from the rest of the practices in town?
Online reviews create a perception regarding your enterprise that communicates across the digital space. Probable employees may evaluate the reviews made by the customers they will serve. Review-generating software platforms, like RevenueWell, offer an efficient mechanism to help people share their experiences online for potential patients and employees to read. However, other types of reviews can influence career choices. In fact, 80% of job applicants in the US focus on reviews from present or previous employees on job platforms, like Glassdoor. For small businesses, even a single review may prove sufficient to tilt the scales in their favor.
In a temporary recruitment crunch, don’t ignore the power of social proof and the effect of your brand storytelling efforts. Create a living history via social media posts that clearly outline your setting and culture. Remember, just one promising hire at a crucial moment can enhance practice trajectory and morale.
Streamline Tedious Tasks
Our practices face time-consuming tasks and we manage many of them by default. Duties are generally performed in a particular way simply because various practices have a historical mode of operation, right or wrong. However, a critical review of our workflow offers an opportunity to reintroduce or adjust fundamental functions of our day-to-day processes.
What we unearth often surprises us.
Employees can spend more than 40% of their time searching for information contained in files. And in some healthcare practices, a blend of digital and paper records creates unnecessary complications. For instance, digital appointments and reminders may be used, but a HIPAA form and health history update may be handed to patients on a clipboard. The incohesive blend may create more tedious work for an understaffed team, especially if something goes missing.
Replacing commonly used manual forms with digital ones frees up time for your organization as your teams adopt these new efficiencies. For example, various forms can be created with drag and drop simplicity in a few mouse clicks. Patients can fill out their details before heading to the office, and that frees up time for your employees. In addition, the “paperwork” can be easily retrieved from the patient’s digital file since it’s filed automatically. Everyone knows where to look for information and filing errors all but disappear.
Hyper-Focus Your Services (For Now)
Dentists are taught to offer multiple services and serve many needs, and many providers enjoy incorporating various procedures. However, more services require additional skills, supplies, and support. For instance, a dental office providing root canals, CEREC crowns, and third molar extractions on the same day needs a versatile support team compared to one specializing in periodontics. Assistants must master various operatory set-ups, supply ordering, and treatment workflows.
Expanded general dental care may overwhelm an understaffed practice.
As practitioners, we need to assess our overall capabilities depending on the situation. If we’re adequately staffed, our team may move smoothly through the day. However, if we’re short-staffed or working with new hires, we may need to focus our services. But with the right strategies, we can still be more productive with minimal stress.
Audit incomplete treatment from existing patients and filter for procedures that work best for your present staffing model. Explore the various features in your software that help detect, educate, and prompt patients back to care. If you’re intensely focused on a limited treatment mix when there’s a staff deficiency, an intentional strategy can increase your efficiency and productivity.
You can also send email workflows to patients on beneficial procedures that need little chair time, such as Invisalign®. A short-term plan to refer intricate procedures and nurture productive services that demand minimal support can help overcome challenging stretches.
Healthcare Workforce Shortage Remedies Begin Internally
We’re aware that our people are essential workers in every sense, every niche of healthcare is searching for solutions to labor shortages. Almost 1 in 5 healthcare staff took a step back from their careers following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and others continue contemplating future options. We can’t control the larger social and economic forces, but we can develop places where patients and employees love to be. If we equip them with the tools they need for optimal efficiency and focus our operations on sustaining our productivity, we’ll continue to thrive in every environment.
Method Pro offers comprehensive support to help create focused internal and external marketing that drives growth towards your vision. We also help teams add vital tools and staff training to increase efficiency, fulfillment, and profitability. Contact us to discuss where your practice is going next!