Think of a song and tap it out on the desk or counter in front of you. Now ask one of your team members to guess what song it was. 99 out of 100 times, they won’t be able to name that tune. It’s no surprise. They can’t read your mind, and while the song is playing through Bose stereo in your ears, to them it sounds like random pitter-patter.

This is similar to what happens in many dental practices when the dentist attends a seminar and returns to the office with grand plans to implement the new product or procedure they learned about all weekend. They had the entire course and the subsequent weekend to consider what the end result will look like. With a sleep apnea course, dentists oftentimes head into Saturday evening with plans to treat dozens of patients each month. The lecturer told her that most of the heavy lifting will be done by the team and the whole thing will be Easy-E.

The team wasn’t there to hear the message. Nor were they inside the doctor’s mind while she plotted the grand strategy. Then when she arrived at the office Monday, an emergency in op 1 was followed by the 9 o’clock patient arriving an hour early yapping about “my toof don’t feel right after you did that crown last week.” At best, the process of dental sleep medicine integration gets a passing mention during lunch. This is a recipe for wasted time, wasted money, and wasted opportunity.

After seeing situations like this play out in practices across the country for everything from short-term ortho to whitening to sleep apnea treatment, I looked at what has worked in some of the most prolific practices in the country. I also explored best practices in businesses unrelated to dentistry. Eventually, a framework for success became clear. Because there aren’t enough acronyms in Dental Sleep Medicine already, I coined this one G.O. D.E.E.P. Below is a brief description of what each of these letters represents and how they serve as the lodestar for dental sleep success.

Generate a Vision: Getting everyone on your team to move in lockstep starts with generating a vision for the practice. Kick it off by defining your “why”, and conveying this message to your team. You’re not talking about how easy sleep is going to be or the workflow. That all comes with the “how.” Share the epiphany you had at the course. Share how your mother passed away prematurely and how, if you’d known then what you just learned at the CE course, she’d still be alive. Open up about not wanting another daughter or son to suffer the way your family has. That’s what you want to tap into. Don’t sandwich the talk between patients or pass it along via the office manager. Schedule a special team meeting to drive home that this is not a drill. This is for real.

Outline the Path: This is where you start diving deeper into the “how.” Both solo and as a team, you’ll work to map the route forward. Which software will you use? Who will get trained to use it? Which third-party biller are you going to use and who on your team will be their main point of contact? What steps will you take to secure physician referrals? Who’s responsible for that task? The list goes on and on. Eventually you’ll develop a checklist that holds everyone (even you) accountable for the results. Remember, the devil is in the details. However, salvation is also in the details.

Delegate: Think about how ridiculous it would have been if the St. Louis Cardinals’ Hall of Famer manager Whitey Herzog insisted on playing every position during the 1982 World Series. That’s ridiculous. Even if he was physically able to excel in shortstop or as a center fielder, 9 players have to take the field and every last one of them was more capable than him. His designated role was team manager, and the players were entrusted to play their positions. You want to develop a team of all-star future hall of famers. This means you have to delegate appropriately which has nothing to do with barking orders or micro-managing people until they hate you. You’ll hire the right people, fire the wrong people, ensure everyone has clear direction, is empowered to get the job done, and has the necessary resources to make it happen.

Execute: Analysis paralysis handicaps so many dental sleep professionals. They aim and aim again until the target has moved out of range. These are the dentists that think attendance at one more mini-residency or another alphabet of postnominals are all they need before they finally get started treating patients. Bullshit. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is right now. Make like Nike and just do it.

Evaluate: It’s crucial that your practice has key metrics established so you can set goals and track your progress toward attaining them. This enables you to identify what’s working and what isn’t. From the volume of new patients and the number of referrals per physician’s office to the number of patients screened each month, these metrics provide accountability. If the patients treated last month went down, you’ll be able to identify where the breakdown occurred. Properly evaluating the right metrics also goes a long way in delivering powerful reviews to your team members. That which is measured improves is a business axiom for good reason.

Pivot: You’ve evaluated what’s working and what isn’t. Now it’s time to take that information and change direction where warranted. You’ll be in good company when you pivot. Companies like PayPal and Netflix have become household names because of their ability to shift gears when necessary. If physician referrals have dropped, you can work together to find out what happened and then map the way forward. Do you need to pay a visit to each of your referring docs? Did one of them retire? Is it time to hire a fulltime physician liaison? All pivots are different but continuing to do the same thing expecting different results is the definition of…dumb.

This a 50,000 foot overview of the G.O. D.E.E.P. process, a sound strategy that has proven effective in many businesses and practices like yours. If you want a deep dive and actionable plans to implement every one of these steps, order your copy of my new book, Transform Dental Sleep: The Step-by-Step Guide to Doubling Your Sleep Patients, Increasing Physician Referrals, Simplifying Processes, and Improving Your Life. That’s your first step. The next step is to take action, and practice these principles in all your affairs.

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