Welcome to "How I Grew My Practice," a podcast presented by NexHealth, where industry experts share their experiences and strategies for success in the dental field. In this episode, Cornelia Cone, Vice President of Nuance Dental Specialists, will shed light on her unique perspective on in-office time management, drawing from her experiences in running a successful practice and navigating the ever-changing landscape of dentistry.
Trash, Trim, or Transfer Your Tasks
According to Cornelia, there are three big levers you can toggle on to manage things: money, people, and time. “Of those, you can find ways to make more money and hire more staff,” says Cornelia, “but the only thing that is finite is time.” So the most challenging part is maximizing your staff’s time.
Cornelia likes to follow the “Trash, Trim, Transfer Method.” Twice a year, Cornelia and her staff use either an app or a traditional stopwatch to track daily operations like answering an email or requesting a medical record and analyze how the team spends time. From there, decide if they should trash, trim, or transfer that task based on how much time is spent and how much it impacts the practice.
Leveraging Offsite Support Staff
To overcome staffing limitations and enhance flexibility, Cornelia has embraced the concept of remote work. By implementing out-of-the-box solutions, she has created a virtual support team that operates from different locations and time zones.
This approach has enabled her to tap into a larger talent pool and assemble a highly skilled team. Cornelia's remote staff handles various tasks, including phone answering, insurance claims, paperwork, schedule management, and administrative support. Their remote work ensures that essential tasks are completed round the clock, optimizing overall practice efficiency.
Finding Reliable Remote Staff
Finding reliable remote staff can be a challenge, but Cornelia has found success through various methods. In some cases, she leveraged personal connections, such as former colleagues or military spouses who shared a similar transient lifestyle. These connections allowed her to tap into a pool of talented individuals looking for remote work opportunities.
Additionally, Cornelia suggests exploring platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, or specialized companies that curate pools of remote employees. These platforms can help practitioners find reliable remote staff who are invested in the team's success.
Technology as Enablers
Cornelia attributes the success of her remote work model to key technology solutions like NexHealth. NexHealth streamlines scheduling, paperwork, and patient communication, optimizing the patient experience. Technological tools empower Cornelia's team, including remote employees, to operate efficiently.
Task Allocation and Outsourcing
Cornelia strategically allocates tasks based on time zones and skill sets. Staff members located in the Eastern time zone handle phone calls, ensuring efficient communication with patients during regular business hours. Meanwhile, her remote team member in South Africa handles non-time-bound tasks such as insurance claims and paperwork, leveraging the time difference to accomplish work overnight. Additionally, Cornelia employs an executive assistant based in Missouri to manage speaking engagements, travel arrangements, and other logistical support, allowing her to focus on core responsibilities.
Environmental Pressure and Necessity
Cornelia's decision to explore remote work was driven by environmental pressure and necessity. As a prosthodontist in Portland, Maine, she faced challenges associated with limited staff availability and small office space. By thinking outside the box, Cornelia aimed to expand her applicant pool and create a system that did not require a physical presence in the office. The COVID-19 pandemic further validated her approach, as the shift to remote work became more prevalent. Cornelia's practice was already well-prepared for this transition, benefiting from advancements in technology and virtual collaboration tools.