by ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH
The world of Debra Seidel Bittke, RDH, BS, changed in 2002 and provided her with the motivation to share an important message with dental professionals: "Without good oral health, other systemic concerns can arise." That year her mother developed a tooth infection and died from endocarditis. Debra felt that this was the catalyst to take her Dental Practice Solutions company, which she had founded in 2000, to the next level. Her commitment led her to create the program, "Delivering Extreme Hygiene: What Optimal Care Can Do for Your Practice," which addresses the needs of dental hygienists as team players in the practice while still providing exceptional care for patients. With exceptional patient care, the hygiene department becomes a profit center, not a loss leader within the practice. Debra feels that the hygiene department of any practice can be profitable with minimal stress.
Through this program she asks participants to:
- Address ways to attain hygiene productivity in a brief morning meeting
- Provide patients with the tools they need to create value for the hygiene appointment by using a step-by-step approach
- Gather the latest product information that can be used to educate patients about oral and systemic health
As a consultant for several years, Debra has been asked the same question by many dental teams — "How can we increase our case acceptance?" With her clients and research, Debra has found that approximately 25% to 30% of patients actually complete treatment in a timely manner. Patients often say the dreaded "I'll call you," and then the practice sits with thousands of dollars of uncompleted treatment that patients never follow through with.
Debra was convinced there is a better way, and she wanted to develop a system with proven methodologies so that dental teams could effectively communicate the importance of treatment to patients. She presents the program in two formats — one as a live lecture and the other as a self-guided study program. The entire dental team is encouraged to participate. The self-guided course consists of 12 weekly sessions, while the live program is presented as a three-hour program.
The course helps hygienists and other team members understand ways to communicate with the various patient personality types, how to convey important information such as disease etiologies and treatment recommendations during the appointment time, and how to present the delicate discussion of fees. The goal is to reduce team stress while increasing patients' "yes" response to treatment.
Her program is presented using PowerPoint, with handouts available through her website for attendees to download. She incorporates many group activities throughout the program to provide a fun, interactive experience for participants.
Debra is a graduate of USC Los Angeles School of Dentistry with a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene. She returned to the school a number of years ago to teach in the dental hygiene clinic and has taught practice management courses. She is a member of the Speaking and Consulting Network and has worked as a virtual assistant. Currently Debra has her own virtual assistant and shares with others about the advantages of having a VA.
Debra is passionate about giving to those less fortunate. She participates in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry's Give Back a Smile Program as well as in Open Arms, which is organizing a medical/dental clinic in Eldoret, Kenya. Debra would like to set up a prevention program in Kenya for children to be able to receive regular preventive care. She is a member of ADHA and believes that hygienists hold patients' lives in their hands; thus she feels the importance of providing high standards of education for dental hygiene students.
Debra enjoys sharing her knowledge with others and is always learning and growing in whatever areas she's involved in. Interacting with dental professionals from around the country enables her to live her dream and honor her mother's memory. For more information on Debra contact [email protected].
Thought for the Month
"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." — William James RDH
The Killer in the Night
The March IneedCE.com course, "Preparing for Medical Emergencies in the Dental Office," will receive a 50% discount for a course fee of only $10 (regular price $20) when readers use discount code ANMAR13
IneedCE.com April course is "The Killer in the Night." Please use code ANAPR13 for a 50% discount — regular price $20 with discount code $10.
The dental profession should be in the forefront of diagnosis and clinical treatment of sleep apnea. This continuing education course describes the insidious nature of this malady. Sleep apnea has been shown to be a modifiable risk factor to many of the largest contributors to death in the U.S. This course describes often-overlooked clinical symptoms that can be easily recognized by the dental team when they know what to look for. The dental professional does not necessarily have to treat the patient for sleep apnea, but should be aware of the symptoms to refer the patient to a sleep physician. This is a potentially life-saving referral for the dental patient. Airway problems are thoroughly presented and comorbidities are described. A screening process for the dental office is presented, along with a discussion of treatment modalities.
ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. She presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. Ann-Marie is collaborating with several authors on various books for dental hygiene and can be reached at [email protected].
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