This post was written by Jamie Westfall, Dentrix Enterprise Software Training Manager

If you attended the Business of Dentistry Conference this past weekend, I guarantee you had at least one takeaway you wanted to implement in your practice. Some of you learned multiple new processes or items you want to take back to your organization. The challenge is to find ways to retain this information and implement what you have learned. With these simple strategies, you can begin to do just that.

If you are like me you took notes and downloaded some of the slides from your sessions at the conference. But more times than not, I leave the conference, file the notes somewhere, and never look at them again. And this is a shame- because of the wealth of great information that was shared. That information has the potential to make great improvements in your organization and your current use of the software.

So how do you keep the momentum going, and implement all of the great things you learned?

6 Tips to Help You Implement What You Learned: 

1. Conduct a Debrief

If we feel overwhelmed, we typically won’t take action, right? The second I got on the plane to leave Las Vegas, I was feeling a bit of information overload, and I started to write it all out. I wrote about ideas customers brought to us, why it was relevant for multiple customer types, how I could apply the information to my training plans, and to discuss it with our internal development teams.

Try it! The first step you should take is to start writing down what you learned, why it was relevant to you, and how you can apply the information into your office and organizations. This is a great exercise to do alone, or with your teams.

You can review the slides for each course to help you remember what was taught. You can download slides from the BDC 2019 app.

2. Look for Common Themes

Our first step was to collect notes and write down our thoughts and ideas. You can now start to pinpoint those common themes that resonated with you from the conference. Again, if you had team members with you at BDC, I think this is a great way to create themes based on what you took away as individuals.

The second step is to look for common themes. Maybe you found throughout your notes that there are some themes around workflow efficiency. Or maybe there are themes around revenue cycle management, improving appointment cycle management, or better reporting for multi-location practices.

I like to use Microsoft Planner to sort my themes. If you aren’t already using Microsoft Teams and Planner to collaborate and plan projects with your teams, you should check them out!

There are a multitude of alternative online programs like Trello and even Pinterest that allow you to group ideas, make lists, and continually add new notes and content for each theme.

For hand written notes and printed content, I suggest doing something like tagging pages with different colored post-its or creating binders for each theme you have.

You can now divide your thoughts into actionable sections.

3. Brainstorm the Pros and Cons

Now it is time to think about how the things you have listed and grouped can add benefit to your role, office, or organization and what drawbacks they might have. There is a reason for this.

You need to be selective about what changes you want to make and for what reasons.  Deciding what the pros and cons are helps you prioritize (which is the next step) your themes.

For example, suppose one theme is to improve your insurance plan estimate outcomes. You could have an entire theme of action items and plans surrounding the lessons learned during Janice Chipolla’s course on Improving Financial Outcomes with Dentrix Enterprise. (I have a feeling many of you do! I noticed so many nodding heads as she spoke; it looked like a room full of bobble heads.) 

The potential pros might include improved estimate accuracy, increased collections, less manual calculations for each patient visit, and a more effective use of the payment tables. Do this for all of your themes to the best of your ability. At the end, you should have a greater clarity about the impact each theme will have with your daily tasks and outcomes. 

When you think about cons, of a theme, think if it involves additional hardware or subscription purchase approvals prior to starting. Also consider the culture of your office and whether or not a new process will be accepted.

4. Make A Plan Of Action and Add It To Your Calendar

One of the reasons we struggle to make permanent change is we often try to launch into multiple full-scale process or workflow changes. We really need to make small, strategic, slow changes. If we have a strategy and plan obtainable changes that can be measured, that will result in changes that stick! 

The fourth step is to look through all of your themes and pick the one that had the biggest impact “Pros” on your list.  Identify the actions from that theme and identify the steps to translate the changes into your workflow. 

For example, if you wanted to improve your appointment cycle after attending my course of the Appointment Cycle Best Practices in Dentrix Enterprise, here are some sample steps you can take to make it happen:

  1. Define your internal financial and clinical readiness review items for your organization. 
  2. Schedule a remote training session with a Certified Trainer to create a strategy that works with your specific organization to incorporate your internal guidelines into the workflow.
  3. Plan and define the training plan to roll out the new workflows with all of your teams.
  4. Schedule the date for the training and roll out of the new workflows.
  5. Measure the outcomes of this change and watch your productivity soar!

Sometimes, our lists or themes can end up looking a little vague. 

We have all heard of SMART goals, right?  Make sure your action steps are SMART- Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Focused, and Time-bound.

Carve out time in your calendar to complete the tasks of your plan. If we do not make time for it, the chances of you actually taking action are pretty low. (We’ve all been there, right? It can’t just be me!?)

Don’t fall victim to the “law of diminishing intent,” which says, “the longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.” This law of diminishing intent effects the teams I work with every day. 

5. Take Action

I know this step is pretty obvious, but it is also the one step most teams fail to do. All of the other steps we have reviewed are basically useless if you don’t take the needed action. 

Remember there is a learning curve. You’re not going to implement everything you learned perfectly the first time around and you might not even get it right the fifth time around. But if you keep following these steps and working towards applying what you have learned, you WILL get it right and see BIG results in your practice. 

Follow step 4 and break your plans into smaller steps. Do not place a ton of changes or too high of an expectation on yourself or your teams. That is the fastest route to giving up. 

6. Measure Often and Sustain Changes

One thing I, and the practices I work, don’t do enough of is think about the “why” behind what we are doing and if it is successful or not. When you complete a step of your action plan, take time to think about how it went and if it is helping you meet your goals.

I suspect the items you listed out and broke into themes were sparked by a specific outcome or result you desired to achieve in your practices.  Once you have your plan, scheduled the steps, and are ready to take action on implementation, be sure to measure your starting point. 

Using the scheduling example above, what was your “why?” Clinical readiness, increased collections, the ability to schedule more efficiently?

Report or track where you start and continue to monitor the data as you implement and continue to follow your new process. If you attended Jessica Napiza’s course on the Top 10 Dentrix Enterprise Management Reports for Multi-Location Practices, I am certain you already have a report in mind to assist you with measuring and sustaining your change. Measuring often allows you to identify if you are on the right track, if you need to adjust your workflow or steps, or celebrate your successful implementation!

If you follow these steps, it will allow you to keep the momentum of the conference going, and create a plan for taking action on the themes that ignited your excitement for growth and change within your organization. 

I cannot wait to see you all again at the next Business of Dentistry Conference and hear how you implemented your lessons learned!