Back To School For Your Clinical Philosophy

Here we go, to round out our Back To School Monday Huddles we are talking about the literal foundation of everything that happens inside of your practice.  This is the origin of your existence and it defines the capabilities you have to help people.

No matter how nice you are, how many people like you, or even how great you are at getting patients to say yes, everything boils down to the degree of your success being based on your Clinical Philosophy. 

Very much like a fundamental subject in school whether reading or writing or arithmetic, your clinical philosophy is the cornerstone in which you build everything else upon. 

Why do I say that? 

It’s very simple, because it dictates how you do everything.  From your diagnosis to your cashflow to your production in the schedule to how many patients you “need” to achieve your goals and even how “big” your practice needs to be in size, space, and team. 

I listen to doctors all the time that say they “do” comprehensive dentistry but what they really mean is that they “talk about” or they “know how” but they do not actually “do” because you can see it in their schedule and you can count it in their money. 

When a practice has average visits or hourly values that are anywhere from an exam to a filling to a crown, you can’t call it comprehensive.  When you have dozens and dozens of new patients but not much dentistry to show for it, when your average treatment plans presented aren’t actually complete – you can’t call it comprehensive. 

Only our specialists get off the hook on this.  Still though, sleep, tmj, ortho, implants, endo are often exceptional at seeing the bigger picture and totality of health. 

Here’s the deal, I’m not here to judge or dictate clinical philosophy.  I’m only saying that you must go back to school on yours and make sure that you; 

A – Have one defined and solidified 

B – Live it in every way 

C – Talk about with effective language  

D – Bring it to life (5 D’s from last week) with your patients 

E – Engineer every part of your practice to execute it 

So often this is the actual problem. 

Case in point, teams brag about the “high percentage” of case acceptance and I always come back to the fact that case acceptance on what is more important than what percent.  A big percentage of a small number is still a small number and a small percentage on a big number is still a big number. 

This is more than just begin with the end in mind for your patients… it’s begin with the ultimate purpose and mission that you have as a practice.  About what success looks like from a clinical perspective in your practice. 

I want you to be able to say… 

“My clinical philosophy is…” 

“Our clinical approach to excellence for our patients’ complete health is…” 

And everyone should know, word for word, every pillar, exact protocols, and precise processes that bring it to life and deliver it. 

What I know is you can’t expect to hold a patient to a standard of health if you don’t hold yourself to it first.  You can’t let a patient’s quality of care and completeness of diagnosis be left to the whim of a good day or bad day.  This is the part of your practice that must be the most consistent and rock solid in every way every time without exception. 

I challenge you to think about your diagnostic approach the way a pilot thinks about his or her checklist over an airplane before they get it, fire it up, and take off. 

No pilot says, “Looks okay from here, let’s go.”  Or, “I’m in a hurry today and we’re going to be late, we’ll skip this part today… I’m sure it’s fine.”  Or, “We’ll catch it next time around.” 

Every single day, every single time, every single point on the diagnostic list and part of the process in the experience is executed with every single patient. 

There should be a Clinical Philosophy Manifesto in every practice.  No doctor should be able to lay a hand on a patient or a glove in the mouth until there are principles guiding their objectives. 

It’s not enough to be educated or have all the certificate or the continuing education… what matters is the application of those and how you execute them with patients. 

Here’s the morale of the story, from last week, patient health is only as good as your clinical philosophy and more specifically your clarity about what you do and your ability to communicate to your patients. 

So, back to school, aside from everything I have laid out so far, here are three tactical ways you can study up, pass the test, make the grade, and take your clinical philosophy to an entirely new and higher level of success… 

1 – Team Treatment Planning and Diagnosis Meetings to Review Patients; not just charts but every aspect of the clinical experience 

2 – Track and Monitor Your Results and Know Your Averages; to compare against what you expect based on your clinical philosophy 

3 – Practice “if this, then that” and “if that, then this” type of scenarios related to complex cases based on your clinical philosophy. 

To me this is how you make magic happen.  We can talk all day about systems and strategies or communication and verbiage but you’ll only ever be as good as your clinical philosophy will allow. 

Go to work on this and build a healthier practice and ultimately patients. 

We’ll finish up our Back To School lessons next week.  Stay tuned. 

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