Dr. James Anderson
eAssist Dental Solutions
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Leadership Roles of the Dentist Entrepreneur
By James V. Anderson, DMD, Founder and CEO of eAssist Dental Solutions

“You have achieved greatness, not when you can see it in yourself, but when you can clearly see it inside everyone else on your team.” – Rod P. Worley

Every member of your team has the ability for greatness within them. Being an effective leader means taking the time and focus necessary to bring it to the foreground.

Take a moment to reflect on what is fundamental for you, what is at your core.
Before you can ask yourself what kind of leader you are, you must define your leadership style. Next, ask yourself who you consider to be a great leader. After you define the kind of leader you are, compare it to the person(s) you would follow as a leader. Does it match up?

When speaking to fellow dentists, many have said they never thought of themselves as leaders, only clinicians and employers. They expect employees to do their jobs as they are supposed to, not cause any drama, and take care of patients. If they don’t they are dismissed, and leadership doesn’t come into the picture – so they think.

The enormous cost to find, recruit, train and onboard unfamiliar staff is often too much for many practices to absorb on a regular basis. Let’s face it, when you are short-staffed, things just don’t get done. Considering the average time a dental assistant stays in a practice is about two years, this can be quite a hefty sum over the life of a practice.  This does not take into consideration the emotional impact on the morale of remaining staff and patients, who start to wonder “what is going on over there?”

In dental practices, employees’ work is usually defined by their job descriptions. For many dentists this is just not enough. I have often heard, “I wish my dental assistant (or other employee) would think outside the box and could complete tasks without being told. I have to tell the front office to work the AR – shouldn’t they do that anyway?” One dentist remarked, “My employees show up on auto pilot – they do their work but don’t give an ounce of extra unless there is a bonus involved.”

Would being a better leader of your practice make a difference? In her book “Multipliers”, Liz Wiseman says: Multipliers are leaders that make everyone smarter by expecting their people to achieve extraordinary results. People will get smarter and more capable around Multipliers.

Multipliers vs. Diminishers
Multipliers: These leaders are genius makers and bring out the intelligence in others. They build collective viral intelligence in organizations.
Diminishers: These leaders are absorbed in their own intelligence, stifle others and deplete the organization of crucial intelligence and capability.

To improve my leadership skills, I took the test (see the link below) and scored a 28.
10 – 20: Probably not an Accidental Diminisher
21 – 30: Likely an Accidental Diminisher
31 – 50: Most certainly an Accidental Diminisher

Is it possible that despite good intentions you’ve been accidentally diminishing the people on your team?

According to the test results, I am likely an Accidental Diminisher. This was a shock for me, as what I thought was great leadership skill was in fact holding people back and stifling their abilities. 
According to Wiseman, the good news for the Accidental Diminisher is that simply raising your awareness will put you on the path to becoming a Multiplier. You can refer to the specified sections of the book (Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter) to discover ways to adjust your leadership practices and get vastly more out of your team’s intelligence and capability.

Multipliers, meanwhile, counteract this effect by explicitly giving people permission to think, speak, and act with reason. They generate an intensity that demands high-level work from the team, but they also have a high tolerance for mistakes and understand the importance of learning along the way. So, they create mental spaces in which people can flourish. 

As effective leaders, we never stop learning and improving. We want our teams to also keep learning and improving their skills and knowledge. Giving them the opportunity to learn, share their knowledge, and build leadership skills helps all to succeed. 

Want to discuss how outsourcing dental and medical insurance billing will improve your revenue flow and give you more time with patients and staff? Contact eAssist Dental Solutions today for more information. We are here to help you.

James V. Anderson DMD is a practicing dentist in Syracuse, Utah. He has built nine dental practices in the last decade and is the CEO/Founder of eAssist Dental Solutions, the largest national dental insurance billing company (www.dentalbilling.com) in the U.S.

He can be reached at james.anderson@eassist.me

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Amy Wood
ACS Technologies, LLC
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HIPAA: As Easy as…PPT?
By Amy Wood, President of ACS Technologies, LLC

Wouldn’t it be great if HIPAA was as easy as 123 or even ABC? Well, turns out it can be as easy as People, Process and Technology – or as I like to call it, PPT. Additionally, when you have PPT in place, it benefits many other aspects of your practice as well.

As confusing as HIPAA may be, especially for smaller practices to decipher, it can be broken up into three simple things: People, Process and Technology. If you look at all aspects of HIPAA with these three things in mind, it becomes easy to decode and then implement in your practice.

Let’s start with People. As an employer, if you properly train your staff and then provide tools to enforce that training, your people will become one of your strongest defenses. When training your team, you have many options to choose from. There are pre-recorded videos, webinars, and consultants that offer live trainings to review the basics of HIPAA – where you and your staff can ask pertinent questions and receive personalized answers. In addition, it is imperative that you review the Process and Technology parts of your Compliance Program with your staff, meaning your HIPAA Policies and Procedures as well as the technology vulnerabilities and security. When it comes to training, the best offense is a good defense.

Next comes the Process. The Policies and Procedures that you are supposed to be training your staff on must be created. You could purchase a manual with stock templates or try to find them on the internet, but I’ve found the most comprehensive policies are a joint effort between the practice staff, the doctor, a HIPAA consultant and the IT Provider. This way, what is written on paper is actually what is being done.

For example, if your policy says you will have Business Grade Anti-Virus on all computers that is updated at least daily and documented as such (as is recommended), but you buy an anti-virus license once per year and set it to ‘auto update’, your policy really isn’t being followed.

Last, and often most confusing, is the Technology. While this part of HIPAA is only about 20% of the puzzle, it tends to be the most talked about because it’s constantly changing. Think about it – ten years ago you were just implementing computers to schedule appointments, and now you are doing appointment reminders, patient health histories, and 2D/3D images of the teeth and head. You can access it from home and send it to colleagues to collaborate. The changes over the years have been incredible.

Unfortunately, the same goes for cyber threats. As information becomes easier to create and move, the more vulnerable that information becomes and the more frequently you have to adapt to new threats.

What exactly is the best way to secure your technology?

It used to be that locking the door and buying an anti-virus program was enough to keep the bad guys out. That’s not the case anymore. Now there’s encryption, cages and cables, firewalls, patching and updates, ‘smart’ equipment and lots of backups. Unless you are fluent in Geek, this can be daunting. Many of the programs and tools that automate this are only accessible to larger businesses.

Fortunately, many IT Providers are adopting a Managed Services Provider Model, where they provide a set of these programs and tools within your price range because they can be aggregated across many clients. This type of IT Provider essentially acts as your Systems Administrator, meaning they are an outsourced IT Department for your practice. 

This is a different type of engagement than most dentists are used to and is still relatively new in this space. Most dental practices are used to calling the tech guy when something is broken. Personally, I miss those days. We were the smart guys who were like knights in shining armor. Things have certainly changed in the last few years. With all the malware, ransomware and hacking that has been happening, now if something happens we are the guys who ‘let you get hacked’. It’s no longer about fixing broken things; it’s about preventing things from being broken into. 

There is baseline security that can not only thwart most attempts to get into your business, but can also have all the tools in place proactively if something does get past all your defenses. I call this the ‘Magic Bullet Theory’. If you remember the initial reports of the JFK assassination, they talked about this ‘Magic Bullet’ that had an abnormal and impossible trajectory. Using that same theory, if you think about a threat to your Protected Health Information, in a secured and managed system, that threat would have to get past multiple layers of defense that have different points where they overlap. With all of these defenses in place, the likelihood of something getting through is extremely low. 

If your IT Provider isn’t doing these things, someone needs to – whether it be you, your team or another vendor. You stay up on current standards of care for patient treatment. It’s worth it to have a conversation regarding the current standards of care about your digital security.

Amy Wood is President of ACS Technologies, LLC. She utilizes her experience as a Data Breach Consultant and a Healthcare IT Provider to provide comprehensive education with real and relatable examples, ensuring that practices are addressing HIPAA proactively, rather than reactively, in a reasonable and appropriate manner.

Amy educates to private practices and clinics, dental associations, study clubs and disability groups as well as to vendors and Business Associate practices. She runs ACS with her husband, Scott, and lives in Santa Rosa, CA with their three daughters. 

Amy can be reached at hipaa@acsdt.com

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