Are You Practicing Ostrich Dentistry?

You’ve no doubt read and heard plenty about making resolutions for the year and keeping them, so I’m not going to do that. Instead, I want you to ask yourself a very simple question: What didn’t work last year?

It sounds simple enough, but it takes some reflection. If you aren’t achieving all your practice goals and enjoying doing dentistry, then you’re doing something wrong. If your new patient numbers are flat or decreasing, or your case acceptance percentage is below average and dropping, or your team is unmotivated, it’s time to take action. At the risk of pointing out what you’ve no doubt heard before, doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. I call that “ostrich dentistry”, pretending that change won’t happen to you if you just Ostrich Dentistrydon’t acknowledge it. If something isn’t working, you have to be ruthless in your analysis of your day-to-day business activities (and perhaps yourself), and make some changes.

Is one employee poisoning the attitude of your whole team? Fire her tomorrow.

Are you becoming inconvenient to your core group of patients, who need evening or Saturday hours? Shift your schedule around to be more accommodating.

Are you bored? That means you’re not challenging yourself. New technology is often the answer. Invest in CAD/CAM or cone beam technology, or even a good soft tissue laser, and start to use it, and suddenly dentistry will become fun again. Or take the clinical course that you keep telling yourself you don’t need (that usually means you’re afraid you won’t learn instantly and might have to struggle—and you’re right!) This goes for team members as well as dentists.

Spend a day shadowing the best dentist (or assistant, or office manager) you know. Learn to do facial aesthetics. Try a different lab. Get an associate. Remodel your reception area.

Still stymied? Read what people say about your practice online. That might give you a clue what to change. You could also get a copy of my book for every team member, and go over one chapter a week as a group. Or get Dr. Howard Farran’s DVD, the One-Day Dental MBA, and watch one disc a week.

In the next two weeks I’m going to lay out two foolproof methods I know for effective change: one I learned from Tim Ferriss, the author of the Four Hour Workweek, and the other I learned playing Angry Birds.

By the way, if you haven’t subscribed to this blog, and want it to appear as email every week, just go to the box in the upper right and put in your email address, and then do the confirmation when you get the signup email.

And of course, keep doing what’s already working!

8 thoughts on “Are You Practicing Ostrich Dentistry?

  1. I think taking action is key. When you do this, it’s not failure. You learn as you go. As you said. Re-evaluate and then make changes. The passion and desire has to be there, or your practice will flounder.

  2. Fred, You signed your book for me @ the ADA mtg in San Fran. I admit I didn’t even know who you were. I read your book on the way home and I loved it! You have nailed the typical dental consumer! I have since installed an auto air freshener, purchased larger, more comfortable chairs, got a new pretty front door, got a website and etc. and I am reaping the benefits! Thank you!

    • Thank you, Mary! I love it when someone gets practical right away and starts applying the ideas in the book. But sure to subscribe to this blog so you get it emailed every week. See you next year!

  3. Hi Fred,
    It’s a very interesting post. But you can’t control what you can measure. In the case of latinamerica dentists still live in paperland so measure becomes pretty hard. They fear or don’t perceive the value of IT. I’m about to start a blog for helping them to understand IT and lost the fear as a first step towards evangelization for them to leverage the internet and social media potential for the growth of their practice. It would be awesome if you allow me to translate some of your posts to spanish. Thank you for you passion!

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