Growing Your Practice

Making the Most of Your Morning Huddle

Morning HuddleIf someone told you that holding a well-executed morning huddle could impact virtually every aspect of your practice, would you believe them? Whether it was improving patient care, team collaboration, or practice profitability, if that single recurring event was guaranteed to positively influence many of the crucial Key Performance Indicators in your practice, how willing would you be to make your morning huddle a priority?

Even better, what if a good morning huddle only required fifteen minutes of your day, could be done at low-to-no-cost, and didn’t require advanced training or expensive equipment? Would you be committed to participating in it?

How about this for motivation? Practices who participate daily in a morning huddle, on average, outproduce practices that don’t by 30%! The lowly morning huddle can be a “force multiplier,” meaning that participation in a huddle can improve almost every part of your practice. Here are just a few of the many common issues that an effective huddle helps to resolve.

  • Holes in the schedule
  • Patients on the schedule with unscheduled treatment
  • Cancellations & no-shows
  • Team collaboration

But just holding a huddle isn’t sufficient. Standing in a room each morning and talking about numbers is good, but not good enough. What you discuss in your huddle and how and when you meet as a team matter a lot. So, what are the keys to an effective morning huddle? Which KPIs should you be paying attention to? Who should lead your morning huddle, and what should they share? What is the role of the practice owner/dentist in a huddle? This article will attempt to address these questions in order to empower practice owners and team leaders to hold an effective, data-driven team huddle.

As stated in the American Dental Association’s 2016 Guide to Quality Measurement Guidebook, “Healthcare providers work hard to deliver skilled, thoughtful care. Measures pave the way for providers, showing where systems are breaking down and where they are succeeding to help patients get and stay well. Measurement forms the basis of evaluation and has become one of the foundations of current efforts to improve healthcare quality.”[1] The first step toward success is learning what to measure. There are dozens if not hundreds of possible things to track in a practice. The key is knowing which metrics matter most, and how to use those numbers to benefit patient health and team performance.

After working with over 5,000 U.S.-based dental practices, Dental Intelligence has discovered several common elements that are critical when holding an effective morning huddle. These steps aren’t revolutionary or difficult to implement. In fact, just the opposite. Anyone can do these – no user manual required. These principles are applicable in any size or type of practice, whether brand-new or well-established. But doing > knowing. Having a map for how to get somewhere is an important beginning, but unless you actually get in the car, start the engine, and begin traveling toward your destination, that map isn’t going to be of much value to you.

Four Principles of a Successful Morning Huddle

  1. Discuss what happened the previous day
  2. Discuss what is happening today
  3. Make sure you and your team are prepared for tomorrow
  4. Unite and motivate your team

Although these seem simple, there are critical underlying steps that must be taken in order to maximize the impact of each of these principles. Based on current data, practices that learn to master these steps through consistent effort will experience significant, sustainable improvements over a broad range of KPIs.

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Comparison of practices holding a daily huddle vs. those not doing so

What Happened Yesterday

As you look back and discuss the previous day’s performance, what should you be looking for? With so many numbers to pay attention to, which ones are the right ones to focus on? Additionally, how should you talk about those numbers? This is more important than it might seem. The top-performing practices in the country follow a 3-to-1 formula in their discussions about practice performance: Three celebrations and one area of improvement. This approach has a significant impact on team collaboration and culture, both of which are vital to the overall success of a practice.

 What’s Happening Today

Who’s on today’s schedule? Seems like an easy question to answer, right? How about this – Of those patients coming into your practice today, how many of them have current unscheduled treatment? How many have unscheduled family members? What is their current remaining insurance available for the year? Knowing the answer to these and other important questions can transform your morning huddle. Instead of merely noting who’s scheduled, now you have actionable insights that can be acted on immediately.

Get Ready for Tomorrow

Having a successful tomorrow is all about managing the schedule, correct? Meaning, the measure of success is every chair filled, all day long. The answer may surprise you. Knowing who is coming in, who each patient is scheduled to see, and for what, are certainly important. And having a full schedule would seem to be an obvious preference to having holes in the schedule, right?

Here’s where an effective huddle can become incredibly powerful. Imagine if instead of just jumping on the phone and dialing until someone finally picks up and agrees to come in, your best scheduler called the patients most in need of treatment AND who also had significant remaining insurance AND who had other family members with unscheduled treatment AND who had a prompt payment history to try scheduling them to come in tomorrow. Isn’t that the patient you’d most like to have on the doctor’s schedule for tomorrow? Your morning huddle is where all of this can be discovered and discussed with a plan to act.

Ready, Set, Huddle!

Several years ago, Dental Intelligence CEO Weston Lunsford was visiting a top-performing practice as part of his efforts to assist a struggling dentist located nearby. His question was an obvious one: “Why is one dentist successful and one not nearly as much?” Two discoveries he made during this visit were instrumental in the later formation of Dental Intelligence. First, he noticed a whiteboard on the wall in the breakroom that was filled with different metrics. He asked the owner to explain what they represented and learned that each number represented a KPI he and his team were focusing on each day in their morning huddle. Second, while attending this team’s huddle, Weston noticed how engaged each team member was in the huddle. They clearly owned their performance. Interestingly, the owner said very little, but it was clear that he fully supported what was happening and was quick to give praise and encouragement to his team.

Success isn’t a secret. It is the result of consistently following proven business principles. As your practice implements these steps in the creation of an effective morning huddle, growth, progress, engagement, and energy are sure to increase.

To learn more about how to make the most of your morning huddle, and to request your free Morning Huddle playbook, visit here to get started.



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