Your Winning Practice Playbook: Part 4 – Clinical Team

Well, we have finally arrived to the arena where most of the points are scored.  This is not to take anything away from any other part of the practice or stage of the experience.  We know that every team member and every step builds on the next one in order to result in success.

The culmination happens here, with the Clinical Team.  The fact is no dollar of dentistry gets done if it isn’t first diagnosed and discussed “in the back” and no patient accepts help if there isn’t enough clinical value built with a clinical yes achieved in the clinical arena.  

It also happens to be where the most points are left on the field and the most offense is missed.  Which is why I’m so excited to share with you the Playbook for the clinical team.

Let’s continue with our approach to the four principles for your team this time from the clinical perspective.  First, we begin with the end in mind and start with…


Future focused takes on an entirely different life in the clinical area because there are so many different components to consider.

In concept, this has to do with owning your patients, knowing your schedule, seeing your day in advance (whether the day before or the morning huddle), and having executed on your chart reviews.  This goes beyond just looking at the details in the chart but really knowing your patients and visualizing what you expect to happen with each one.

Now, you can get as detailed as to who you will get reviews from and ask referrals of to the basics of x-rays, pictures, and unscheduled treatment.  From the clinical perspective, future focused has to bring your clinical philosophy to life in every way from the start of the day to the end and from the start of the patient visit to the end.

Then you have being future focused with where the patient is going, who the next team member is and what you can do to help them be successful.

This is advanced work on the Triangle of Trust.  It requires methodical and detailed discussions between clinical team members and the doctor about how they should be set-up when they walk in the room or what they are going to say in hygiene, for example.

Future focused also means being more aware of what is going on around you whether that is the clock and timing or patients in a chair or out front waiting.  It doesn’t mean not being present in the moment; it means not only being present in the moment but also seeing ahead to happens next.

Then you also have being aware of roles and responsibilities that require future planning such as labs, supplies, schedule management, and re-appointing patients.

Of course, the most obvious part of being future focused is knowing what’s next for your patients and always thinking about not just what they are there for but where the patient should be headed in appointments to come.

That brings us directly to your discipline of being…


What you and your clinical team do inside of the treatment room has the single greatest impact on everything else you do, the goals you will achieve, and most of all the degree to which you actually help your patients get healthy.  Offense is won when we have a creation minded clinical team. 

There are three key concepts that must be embraced in order to maximize the potential of your practice from a clinical creation stand point.

First, everyone has to be on the same page with what success looks like.  In order to create something, we have to have a vision of what we want to create first.

You understand that, but do your patients?  Creation is getting your patients to see your vision and building the value around why it matters.

We have the customary tools like pictures, proof, pain, and all the diagnostics.  The shift happens when you move from problems-based dentistry to possibility-based dentistry.  That is where opportunities to help your patients expand.

Next, you have the power of asking engaging questions.  Done properly, they will even create a vision for themselves and open their minds (not just their mouths) and become a participant.

When you compare their mouth and health with a standard you have designed, it gives everyone something to base success on.  Then open the doors to creating the need, then want, then deserve levels around it.

The third key to being creation minded is to be willing to use a different set of tools (that are most often conversational) to open up opportunities to create ways to help your patients.

This could be suggesting or bringing up things like, “have you ever thought about…” or “you know what would be really amazing…”  This can be from something small like whitening or a toothbrush or bigger like veneers or ortho and anything in between.  Another tool is to share stories about patients who were in their similar situation and state of health and what you and your team did to help them.

The big lesson I want to emphasize here is we aren’t just taking what we get instead we are taking initiative to be creators with patients through both facts and feelings, through diagnostics and a vision of what’s possible.

The next principle should become a baseline expectation for everyone in the practice, especially the clinical team, and that is…


I will tell you unequivocally this is the difference from just getting by to achieving breakthrough after breakthrough.  It’s the difference between great teams versus just the good teams.

While creation is the initiative to make something happen, the discipline of opportunity awareness is simply about capitalizing on and making the most of every chance you get.

If you are paying attention to every detail, have trained your brain to notice key scenarios, and committed to the discipline of looking for opportunities to help your patients then you will discover them.

We could start with a question: what opportunities you most often miss?  Or, as a different way to look at this, what opportunities are you committed to finding and helping your patients with?  I would ask both.

The trick for everyone being on the same page is to practice, role play, go through treatment plans, review x-rays and pictures together, revisit patient charts, cases that went great, and cases where something was missed.  You can help train each other on how to spot other opportunities and what you are going to do to capitalize on them.

Some teams see their day as what is there to be produced in the schedule.  Some teams see that plus their unscheduled treatment for the day and will ‘try’ to make it happen.  Other teams, the best teams, they take inventory of every opportunity to help their patients every day and as individuals they own that outcome with the patients they are responsible for.

It’s not enough to do what’s in the schedule, instead it’s about doing what is in the patients’ best interest and giving them a chance to say yes to all the possibilities they have to get healthy. 

That leads us into the final discipline showcasing one of your clinical team’s most valuable strengths and that is always striving for…


I could dedicate an entire Weekly Report for the clinical team to be on offense proactively.  While each of these disciplines that we have gone through all require being proactive in order to really bring them to life and score as many points as possible on offense, the real essence of taking pro-action with your roles and responsibilities as a clinical team member is applied to every single thing you do.

You have to focus on being proactive with health, first and foremost.  Every team member should be conveying to patients the benefits of proactive dentistry and why it matters.

No one wants a reactive doctor waiting for things to get worse.  This must be embodied by the clinical team and used as basis for case acceptance, value building, and to showcase why this is in the best interest of the patient.

Being proactive from the clinical team’s perspective also has to do with helping each other and having a culture of collaboration in the clinical arena of the practice.

It has to do with taking pictures before you are asked because you know someone will need them.  It has to do with talking with patients before the doctor walks in.  It has to do with setting the next team member up for success by being proactive with what you have explained to your patients.

One of the game changers in patient case acceptance and getting complete treatment is making sure the patient isn’t confused and has no remaining questions.  That means being proactive with them by not leaving it up to the front desk team to do all the heavy lifting on the back end.

As I have pointed out with every position and team member, the blunt principle behind being proactive is not being a procrastinator and not doing just enough to get by.  Instead, do what you know is right, what you know will be effective for the next team member, and what you know will be in alignment with the philosophy of the practice.

Do not put off until the tomorrow or until you ‘get around to it’ or until the patient’s next visit – what you can say, execute, take action on, commit to today.

You will find your ability to be future focused and not picking up tasks from the past to be the greatest leverage point for reducing stress and making you more effective.  That all comes from this committed behavior right here.

These four principles are a great start for developing a clinical team that scores more points, works at peak performance, makes high value dentistry happen, and ultimately achieves incredible victories for the team.

Clinical offense is really embracing and living out the same principles that you tell your patients to do every single day – let’s do it before we need to do it.

Teams that run up the score have a clinical team that is not just built to produce and not just playing defense by trying to fight through the schedule, but instead are built to create offense by helping patients get health and make amazing things happen by controlling your future – all while having fun doing it.

Now it’s your turn to take these principles and build your own playbook for how you can enhance your execution in the clinical arena. 

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