5 Simple Steps to Holding an Effective Dental Team Huddle

dentist pointing to analytics in morning huddle with assistant and hygienist watching

5 Simple Steps to Holding an Effective Dental Team Huddle

Devoting just a few minutes per day to a team huddle can dramatically impact the production, revenue, and culture of your dental practice, but not all huddles deliver the same value. On this page, we’ll go over some of the basics and outline how to hold an effective huddle, so you can start moving your office in a thrivier direction right away.

What’s a Huddle?

The morning huddle is the dental industry’s answer to the daily standups or daily scrum meetings seen in other industries. It’s a brief 10-15-minute meeting held each morning to ensure everyone on the team is primed to work together to overcome the challenges of the day, provide the best care possible, and help the practice achieve its business goals.

Why Does My Dental Office Need a Huddle?

data-driven morning huddles boost production by 30%

Prior to holding daily huddles, offices typically depend on other communication solutions. For example, the hygienist might pop up to the front desk before starting her day to check for changes, or the front office may print out schedules with notes and distribute them. These solutions help, but huddles have lots of benefits.

  • Production: Data-driven morning huddles boost production by 30 percent per Dental Intel.
  • Smoother Days: Huddles present the opportunity to spot potential issues ahead of time and come up with solutions.
  • Patient Care: Huddles cover things like treatment needs and special concerns about patients. By covering them as a group, patients have a more positive experience with your office.
  • Teamwork: Team members step in to provide solutions and assistance as potential trouble spots are brought to light.
  • Morale: As teamwork improves, people in the office naturally start feeling more supported at work. Huddles are also a source of empowerment and allow staff to be more proactive. All these things boost morale.

5 Steps to Holding Effective Dental Team Huddles

Now that you’ve got some background on huddles, let’s dig into how to ensure the ones you hold deliver all the benefits above.

1. Start with the Right Resources

Make sure you have all resources you need before you begin.

  • Location: Choose a space everyone on your team can comfortably meet. Since you’ll likely be discussing HIPAA-protected data, ensure you can’t be overheard.
  • Software/Analytics: Practice analytics are essential to productive huddles. Check with your practice management software to ensure you can get the data you need from it.
  • Information Distribution: The team should be following along on the schedule throughout the huddle. If you’re using cloud-based dental software like ThriveCloud, the team can use their cell phones or practice tablets to view information. If not, you may want to consider distributing paper copies or sharing information in other ways. Just be mindful that anything you print may have HIPAA-protected data, so it can’t be left out where others can see or read it.

2. Perform Pre-Huddle Prep

"Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation." -Zig Ziglar

As the famous Zig Ziglar quote goes, “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” Do a little legwork prior to your huddle to ensure you’re getting the most from your time investment.

  • Tell everyone on the team about the huddle. Let them know that attendance and punctuality are required and give them an overview of what to expect.
  • Check messages before the daily huddle. That way, you can make any changes to the schedule prior to the meeting.
  • Use chair-fillers. If you still have openings on the schedule in the morning and no patients have called to take them, take action to get them filled. With ThriveCloud, it’s as simple as hovering over your Fill Chairs button at the top of the schedule, selecting a list, and then sending out a mass message to people who fit your criteria.
  • Check metrics and info. Various people on your team will be responsible for sharing data during the huddle. If you’re using ThriveCloud, just about anything you might want to share will be found in the Huddle module or on patient dashboards that appear at the top of the schedule when a patient is selected.

3. Assign Roles

Assigning huddle roles gets the team invested in the outcome and provides a sense of empowerment. You can change up the roles depending on the structure of your practice but it’s best to rotate who fulfills each role on a daily or weekly basis, so each person has the opportunity to learn, lead, and shine. The following roles are a good start and may be all a typical practice needs.

  • Facilitator—Leads the morning huddle, sets the agenda, checks in with other roles to confirm they’re prepared and provide support, distributes information, and ensures the session stays on track timewise.
  • Front Office Representative—Presents information related to the practice overall, including metrics, schedule, marketing, and chair-filling efforts.
  • Hygiene Representative—Presents information related to the hygiene side of the practice, including patient, treatment, and schedule concerns.
  • Doctor Representative—Presents information related to the dentist’s side of the practice, including patient, treatment, and schedule concerns.

Each person should be familiar with the practice’s goals and have information on how the area they “own” is contributing to the goals as well.

4. Create a Huddle Agenda and Run with It

There’s lots of information your practice can share. If you can’t cover it all every day within 10-15 minutes, create a schedule and rotate some or all of the long-term goal topics.

The outline below can serve as your huddle agenda as-is or you can use it as a checklist to ensure all important topics receive the coverage they need.

Pro Tip: Rotate huddle roles, so everyone has the opportunity to learn, lead, and shine.

Facilitator

The Facilitator should open the meeting and distribute any materials the team needs. Always start off on a positive note.

  • Wins from yesterday. Any cases finished, happy patients, or team triumphs?

Front Office Representative

  • Last-minute changes. Cover any changes to the schedule that occurred near the end of your last day open through this morning.
  • Balances. Do any patients or families coming in today have unpaid balances? If so, do you have a plan to collect or are you prepared with a payment plan?
  • Holes. Quickly review any gaps on the schedule and what you’re doing to fill them. Also, cover any unconfirmed appointments that might result in no-shows.
  • Production goals. Review the practice’s production goals and percent to completion for yesterday, today, and the month. If you’re off track, discuss what can be done to address it. This is a great opportunity to include the team to increase buy-in toward goals and personal ownership for reaching them.
  • New patients. Review new patients you’re seeing today and any details the team needs to know. Also, go over your goals for total new patients and if you’re on track for meeting them.
  • Other metrics. Lots of different things contribute to the overall health of your practice. You’ll want to touch on the following metrics every so often to ensure everyone knows how they contribute to the success of your practice and review them when your office is falling being or performing above expectations.
    • Pre-Appointment
    • Same-Day Hygiene Re-Appointment
    • Treatment Acceptance
    • Collections and Billing Stats
    • Reviews

Hygiene Representative

  • Potential patient additions. The hygiene representative should take a look through the doctor’s side to see if any patients are due for a cleaning that can have it worked in today. It’s also a good idea to review family members of patients coming in today. They may be able to fill open spots or the visiting family member can get them scheduled while in the office.
  • Treatment additions. Ensure all patients on the schedule are booked for all due recare procedures, including cleaning, bitewings, FMX/ pano, and fluoride. If not, adjust the schedule to allow time or recruit help to ensure the procedures can be performed without putting the team behind schedule.
  • Medical concerns. Cover any medical concerns, such as allergies and premedication needs, that impact the team and patient care today.

Doctor Representative

  • Potential patient additions. The dentist’s representative should take a look through the hygiene side of the schedule to see if any patients coming in have outstanding and unscheduled treatment. If so, they may be able to fill vacancies on the doctor’s side or should at least be revisited with the patient and, ideally, scheduled.
  • Emergency time. If your practice is using time blocks to reserve space for emergencies, openings should be apparent to everyone. If not, or if all blocks are filled, discuss when an emergency may be worked into the schedule.
  • Potential tight spots and resolutions. The doctor may need to weigh in here to let the staff know if any treatment has the potential to require additional time. For example, if a filling may become a crown or crown is likely to become a root canal. Seasoned staff may be able to pinpoint times that may become tight as well. If any are identified, the team should work together to find ways to alleviate strain and keep the doctor on schedule.
  • Lab cases. ThriveCloud’s lab case tracking system puts an alert on the schedule if any lab cases for today have not yet arrived. If you aren’t using this, the doctor’s representative should check the schedule for case needs and physically confirm all cases have arrived.
  • Medical concerns. Cover any medical concerns, such as allergies and premedication needs, that impact the team and patient care today.

All

  • Crossflow patients. Briefly discuss any families coming in or patients who are on both the hygiene and doctor’s schedule today. That way, extra attention can be placed on time, so neither side falls behind waiting on the other.
  • Patient news. If any patients have birthdays or interesting Fun Facts saved, these can be shared with the team to be used as icebreakers or to provide more personalized care.
  • Team news. Celebrate team members with birthdays and employment anniversaries or other exciting things happening.

When all essential details are covered in the huddle, be sure to end it on a positive note. Practices sometimes close with details about happy patients, cases that recently finished, quotes, riddles, or jokes.

5. Get Feedback

Ask the team for their feelings on your morning huddles. This can be done one-on-one or kept anonymous with surveys to increase the likelihood of getting honest, constructive feedback. For example, you could use something like Google Forms to create a questionnaire and have the team rate your huddles on a ten-point scale across areas like:

  • Provides me with the information I need to manage my time better.
  • Helps me provide better care.
  • Promotes a positive work environment.
  • Makes it easier for me to contribute to practice goals.
  • Helps the team work together.
  • Expands my knowledge and empowers me to perform my role better.
  • Is the ideal length of time.

Then, leave a space below each to allow the respondent to elaborate on how they might improve it as well as space at the end for additional ideas.

You’ll want to request feedback often in the early days, so you can adjust and improve your huddle processes to make the most of your time together. You can spread surveys out to quarterly, semi-annually, or annually once ratings stabilize and remain high.

See ThriveCloud’s Huddle Feature in Action

From the huddle feature to data-rich patient dashboards and reporting, ThriveCloud makes it easy to assess the health of your office, share information, and build a stronger practice. It’s also loaded with tools that drive production while elevating quality of care.

Request a complimentary ThriveCloud demo to see the Huddle feature in action.

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