Short term thinking in dental healthcare leading to stressed dentists

Short and Long Term Thinking in Dental Healthcare

I’m hearing a few conversations about about patient belt tightening and one or two ‘big cases’ being postponed and this is hardly surprising, given everything that we know about economic cycles and what you need to do to shepherd your business through them.

So what do you need to do? Well, that depends upon your business model, with the potential for short term business strategies that focus on only short short term results being exposed. On the other hand, I’m also overseeing two non dental healthcare businesses that are thriving right now because valuable long term customer relationships are somehow less susceptible to belt tightening, in any sector. But of course long term customer relationships require long term planning and the same goes for our dental clients who have all been working on having the right mix of patient needs and attitudes towards recruitment and retention.

Looking back at previous downturns and the Covid era however, there are plenty of signs that point towards what the best leaders have and will continue to do differently:

  1. Pause for breath. Start with fixing something rather than everything and look further ahead than everybody else, it’s what your team will want from you. Know where you are in order to know where you are heading. The right amount of data will help you plot your way through this.


  1. Check in, with you. If you wouldn’t recommend your current thinking patterns to others then you need to change them. Think about what you want to be known for and allow that to shape your behaviours and guide you towards what you really want.


  1. Make sense, not noise. Be clear about what you expect from your team, but don’t constrain them. Nobody can think and be at their best if they are being watched over. They need to hear ‘thank you’ and the quietest ones need a voice too.


  1. Keep moving. No matter how much you are moving, you are moving and that can be all the difference you need to make a difference. Tear up anything that no longer makes sense or is justified only because ‘we’ve always done it that way.”


  1. Know who to ask. Google searches aren’t going to fix everything when width of perspective and depth of knowledge are needed. Get your questions answered and your answers questioned.


  1. Listen to your patients. Healthcare is always in demand, but priorities do change. Know what it is that your patients and community want right now.


  1. Do better things. Simply doing ‘more’ is too short term, we have to do better things too. As money becomes even more scarce, we think more about who we spend it with. The longer term health of our patients and our planet may have slipped out of the headlines, but they both still matter.


Unfortunately, this is unlikely to magic a nurse by Monday morning or produce next weeks UDA’s, because these are short term resourcing problems that not even Tony Robbins is going to high five you out of… sorry, it is just a case of muddling through, but, it’s never too soon to think long term.

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