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Dentists: How to Lead Remote Teams

Dentists are having to figure out how to do business in ways they never imagined. One of the biggest challenges has been figuring out how to operate while under a stay-at-home order because of COVID-19.

Kristine Berry, RDH, is the founder of Getting It Done Remotely. She talked with Patient Prism CEO Amol Nirgudkar about the right tools, infrastructure and skills needed to run a dental practice with a remote team.

She also wrote a guide for dentists on how to lead remote teams. Click here to download it.

Identify Dental Services & Jobs That Can Be Done From Home

Teledentistry: Dentists are investigating teledentistry services that allow them to perform virtual consultations for emergency dental patients. Click on each company name to learn more about these options: The TeleDentists, TeleDent, Simplifeye CONNECT, PatientPop TeleHealth. 

Dental Professional Jobs: Anyone who has the ability to log in to HIPAA-compliant software from a home office or laptop can work remotely during this time. Some positions that may be able to work remotely with the proper equipment and HIPAA-compliance include:

  • Practice managers
  • Receptionists / Appointment schedulers
  • Insurance coordinators
  • A/R Collections & Billing representatives
  • Marketing team members
  • Regional managers / district managers
  • Dental consultants

Now’s a great time to review job descriptions and update them to meet the evolving needs of each position.

Identify the Tools & Training Needed for Remote Teams

When working remotely, it is vital for team members to have a clear understanding of human resources (hours, breaks, levels of connection), operational policies, network security and processes and technology. Although some dentists may want to let employees use their own devices, there are many cyber security and HIPAA concerns with unmitigated network access and device usage. All healthcare providers still need to follow the guidelines for HIPAA and PHI (Personal Health Information) and it’s more important than ever to make sure there are no security breaches.

Checklist for working from home:

  • Cybersecurity software
  • A dedicated workspace
  • PC/Laptop & computer supplies: cords and chargers, surge protector bars, extra ink
  • Smartphone
  • Good lighting
  • An ergonomically-comfortable chair
  • High Speed Internet Connection
  • VoIP or softphone
  • Ability to remotely access network
  • Web cam (internal/external)
  • Printer/Scanner (optional)

Virtual Collaboration and Communication Tools:

Video conferencing services like Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting and Fuze are easy to use. No matter which one you choose, make sure all team members take the online training classes so they know how to correctly set up their accounts and enable protections like password-protected meetings.

Applications like Slack Chat, Whatsapp, and Skype are popular ways to communicate.

File Sharing: The best choice would be a virtual private network (VPN) that allows remote access into the dental practice’s computer system. Less secure methods include Dropbox and Google Drive. Check with your legal representative to confirm there are no HIPAA restrictions. 

Best Practices for Remote Teams

Communication: Non-verbal communication is just as important in virtual meetings as it is in face-to-face meetings.  Because of that, let everyone on the team know your expectations for having web cameras turned on. Seeing people creates camaraderie and a sense of personal connection. 

Establish Work and Meeting Schedules: Let people know when they are expected to be online, what they are expected to accomplish, how they will report that information, and when you will be having online meetings. If you always started the day with a morning huddle, then you may want to continue that tradition via a video conferencing service. It’s important to hold people accountable for getting the work done, just as you would in-office.

Professional Attire: If webcams will be on, then set expectations for how people should dress. Should they follow the same professional standards that you have for in-office work? 

Create time for fun: Everyone is incredibly stressed out. Working at home can lead to a feeling of isolation and not being connected to the entire team anymore. Starting meetings and calls by asking how everyone is doing or hosting a “virtual lunch” where people can just chit-chat like they used to do in the breakroom can be very valuable in maintaining personal relationships.

Additional Resources

To learn the top mistakes that new work-from-home people make, click here.

For more interviews with dental industry leaders, COVID-19 resources, and training materials for your team, visit Academy.PatientPrism.com

To prepare for the pent-up demand in dental services, visit PatientPrism.com/Overview

About this Industry Leader:

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Kristine Berry, RDH, MSEC

Founder, Getting It Done Remotely™

Kristine Berry RDH, MSEC is a coaching executive who trains, coaches and supports team leaders and teams who work remotely or virtually.  She has been in the oral care space for over 30 years, first as a clinician and now a successful accountability coach and speaker. Kristine understands many businesses have limited time, resources or capability for training & development and or coaching. For the time-crunched, results-orientated professional, she hosts remote and virtual coaching sessions and programs.  She can be reached at www.kristineberry.com or via email at kristine@kristineberry.com

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