Dr. Erin Elliott is on the podcast! Dr. Elliott is an absolute pro in the sleep apnea world, and in this episode she and Kiera discuss comprehensive dentistry and how to best introduce new skills and treatments into an office.
When it comes to teaching your team about a new treatment, Dr. Elliott recommends the following:
Find people’s strengths and match tasks with those strengths
Remove people who don’t fit
Being overwhelmed when incorporating a new treatment is fairly common, so Dr. Elliott and Kiera also discuss how to avoid the craziness. Learn how long it’ll take to incorporate the new treatment, what team champions are, and ideal third-party medical billing companies.
Learn more about Dr. Elliott
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0:00:05.7 Kiera Dent: Hey everyone, welcome to the Dental A Team podcast. I'm your host, Kiera Dent, and I have this crazy idea that maybe I could combine a doctor and a team member's perspective, because let's face it, dentistry can be a challenging profession with those two perspectives. I've been a dental assistant, treatment coordinator, scheduler, filler, office manager, regional manager, practice owner, and I have a team of traveling consultants, where we have traveled over 165 different offices coaching teams. Yep, we don't just understand you, we are you. Our mission is to positively impact the world of dental, and I believe that this podcast is the greatest way I can help elevate teams, grow VIP experiences, reduce stress, and create A teams. Welcome to the Dental A Team podcast.
0:00:50.5 KD: Hello, Dental A Team listeners. This is Kiera, and you guys, I have one of my favorite guests on the show today. She has done so many things. She is an awesome, awesome dentist. She also does a ton of sleep apnea. She's spoken at quite a few of my events, and I just adore her so much. She's phenomenal, she's masterful at what she does. So I'm excited to welcome to the show, Erin Elliott. How are you, Erin?
0:01:13.8 Erin Elliot: I'm actually really great. I had a day off today, and I'm excited to talk with you.
0:01:19.8 KD: Awesome. Well, so tell us... And I don't know this, actually. How many days do you actually do clinical dentistry? 'Cause you speak a lot. You also have sleep apnea. You put on a lot of really awesome events on sleep apnea. How many days do you actually do clinical dentistry now?
0:01:34.4 EE: So I do three... I work three days. That kinda came about because of the traveling. So I went to my business partner, and I said, "Hey, if I find an associate, what do you think about both working three days a week?" And he's like, "Done." So we didn't really think about it too much, but fortunately, as I've... Yeah. Fortunately, as I've progressed in my career, in age, I've also progressed in the procedures that I do. And by bringing in implants and surgery, and CEREC, and doing much more... And maybe it was a change in me, who knows, but I'm doing much more comprehensive dentistry, much more quadrant dentistry. And so... And delegating as much as I can. Therefore, in those three days, I'm doing just as much as I ever did in four days.
0:02:30.0 KD: Wow. That's amazing. I love that so much. That's a really fun way for you to do more comprehensive. You've kinda created this awesome life for yourself. So, tell me a little bit more about the comprehensive dentistry that you are doing, because I think a lot of people, when they hear your name, and if they haven't heard your name, they need to check out your sleep apnea courses. I recommend everybody, when anyone wants to get into sleep apnea, I say talk to Erin Elliott. She's legit. You have all your billing, all your pieces. You make it very simple. You also have the team training portion. But what do you kinda mean more on comprehensive care, 'cause I think you... I think there's a whole side of you that a lot of people don't know, and that's one thing I wanted to dive into today if I... Tell me more about the comprehensive care that you are doing, so people kinda just see the different side of dentistry that you're involved with now.
0:03:17.1 EE: Yeah, and that's... My dad was a dentist, and so I just saw him always working by himself. Like, in that era, I feel like dentists were the only doctor at the office. And so, having an associate was unheard of. But what I realized is that the way that my office runs, and the way that I've kinda set up my life, is that having another dental partner and an associate really helps our patients. And what I mean by that is, there's things that I'm drawn to. So I do all of the ortho and sleep, and again, I'm just keeping advancing my surgical skills. And my associate really loves veneers, and full-mouth rehab, and that kind of thing, so we always tease that she can work on the teeth and I'll work on the no teeth. And my partner kinda fills in there too, and so, I don't do root canals. And referring that out is a hassle for my patients, and I just really hate... I really hate endo.
0:04:24.7 EE: And so, we can do more comprehensive care. Well, as I got into implants, thanks to Cone Beam... I don't think I totally would have done it before Cone Beam. But now that I'm doing more implants, I'm doing more full-arch into overdentures, I'm doing sinus bumps, and now, connective tissue grafting, and DVR, and all this stuff, so that my patients don't really have to go anywhere. Plus, I get to do the kind of dentistry I like to do. And what we have in our practice that... You know, you were saying that you sent people to our course. I think what really sets us apart, and I say us, it's... I teach under the 3D dentist umbrella. But what really sets us apart in anything we teach is that we're all practicing general dentists. We're in the same boat as everyone else. And somehow, we we're able to empower our team members to help them with the practical workflow of implementing sleep and ortho in anything that we do. It really is simple, practical, implementable, cookbook. [chuckle] That's where we kinda shine, because I'm right there too. I'm in the trenches, just like everyone else.
0:05:44.2 KD: Right. Well, and I love that you guys do the team approach, because I think so many people, Erin, will say, "There's no way I can implement this. How am I supposed to kick it off?" And that's something that I love that you guys do. So how did you come about that approach? Did you just have a rock-solid team? What do you feel you did... And this is me selfishly asking you. How did you make it to where you have this highly accountable team that can do a lot of these things? Like, ortho and sleep is a lot of team-driven approach. How did you get your team to want to buy into this, 'cause I think a lot of docs are scared of, "Oh, we're gonna add more to our team's plate. They're too busy. They already are overworked." So what were some of the things that you found that worked for you, specifically? Because you're right, you're right in the trenches of all the doctors that we work with, all the people that listen to this; like, you are them. How did you get your team onboard with that?
0:06:30.1 EE: It was funny, as... When you were... Going towards the team, like, "Man, I need to share with them how... " I didn't share with the team at first. I started sleep in my practice 13 years ago now. And I knew we were gonna do it, and I didn't care what anyone threw in my way; we were gonna find a way. So I think first, that's the attitude you have to have; there's no quitting, there's no failing. 'Cause even if... Medical billing seems to be the biggest hangup, but for some reason, we can sell ortho cases, so why can't we apply that to sleep?
0:07:02.7 KD: Agreed. I totally agree.
0:07:03.3 EE: Going back, I was too afraid to ask them, 'cause you're right, they're so overworked. They're... I mean, having them make the next appointment seemed to be such a burden, and so, I was like, "Ooh, I'm just gonna... I'm just gonna do this myself. I don't wanna bother anyone." But that's when I was young and didn't have any guts. [laughter] But I did have an assistant that really took to this, and we kinda were a team. It was just the two of us, so anytime anyone answered anything about sleep, it was like, "Uh, I don't know, ask Crystal or Dr. Elliott."
0:07:42.5 EE: So, it was really when... I did what I teach, and this was probably nine years ago, but we started... We brought the home sleep testing into the office; I own my own units to make it easy to get screened and tested for sleep apnea. So, I screened the team and their bed partners. And turns out a lot of 'em had it. [chuckle] Yeah, and their bed partners too. So it really became like, "Oh my gosh, this is not... Like, this is necessary for our patients' health." And we kinda have a very fun but professional culture. And so, it really... Bringing up sleep, all I need the hygienist to do is identify it, start a conversation while they're cleaning, even, and so, it doesn't take any more time in the operatory, and reschedule 'em for a consult; just get 'em to say yes to a consult, and that's all they have to do.
0:08:37.7 KD: Clever.
0:08:38.2 EE: They can do that. And then, for each procedure that we do, we have this champion mentality, and that's where a team member kinda has... Gets to be in charge of something, and honestly, I think they kinda like that they don't just have a job, that they are basically a provider. So I have a sleep champion, I have an ortho champion. My ortho champion was in ortho for 25 years. She lost her job, and I needed someone for maternity leave, and she's like, "I'm too old to learn general dentistry." Turns out, she loves lab work. She's our CEREC champion. She makes all the implant crowns, and she does ortho, so... Everyone... I just... For me, I think it... Maybe as being a soccer player, where... I played in college; I still play, in fact. I have a game Sunday. I hate shooting, and I don't really like dribbling, and so, I am a very, very good... I get open, and I distribute. I basically am a perfect center mid.
0:09:45.9 EE: And so, saying that, why would I put someone that doesn't like to shoot at forward? I really feel like you can celebrate the strengths and not focus on what they don't do. Like, my ortho champ doesn't do blood, so I'm not gonna make her come in and do extractions with me. We can work around that. And so, when I walk by, and I hear her say, "I really... I love my job," I'm like, "You know, that's pretty cool." And I have an implant champ, I have a social media camp, I have a Healthy Start Kid's Pediatric Airway Program champ, Botox and Juvederm, and so, it's not just me. So, I think it's two-fold: Finding people's strengths and matching something to that, so they're more than just a job. The second is me getting out of the way and not micromanaging. And the third is, honestly, firing people that don't fit in, that want just a job. In my intro of any lecture, I kinda tease about the curse of the staff photo.
0:10:54.5 KD: [laughter] It really is true. It just happened to me too! [laughter]
0:10:57.4 EE: So I show this progression of staff photos, and how I figured out a way to make it easy to sub people in and out, but just like every other office, you don't always find the all-stars, and honestly, right around now, you kinda put up with stuff you wouldn't have before.
0:11:14.5 KD: For sure.
0:11:15.5 EE: But I think it's... Celebrating what people do bring to the table, empowering them... I have a very young assistant that honestly was on the brink of not continuing on with us, and she took to implants like no other. She's just confident, and I told her, like, "Man, it's such a change in you." And she said "Thank you" to me for giving her the confidence to step up and kinda own something, so she's amazing with my implant cases.
0:11:47.8 KD: That's awesome. And I think a few things I wanna highlight are, number one, I love that you bring champions in, and I love that you call them champions. I really love that you realize not everyone wants to do all the things. I think we try so hard to make everybody masterful at all of them, but then they aren't good at anything, and so it's like, really having somebody own that. I also love that you give autonomy to your team. Speaking from a team's perspective, that gives me kinda just like a free runway of like, "Alright great, I'm gonna own this sleep. I'm gonna figure out the best system. I'm going to get our whole team rallied around it." So I really think it's fun, and I hope people listen to you, and you're a dentist. You're just like people; this isn't scripted, this is what you actually do.
0:12:27.0 KD: I am curious, 'cause a lot of people want to do what you do, so they want to implement sleep, and they want to implement ortho, and they wanna implement implants, but they feel like they kind of... And I've seen this, so a lot of people get all jazzed, they go to a CE course, they learn sleep. Then they go to a CE course and they learn ortho, and then they come back and try and implement it all at the same time, and none of them really take off. And so, how do you get... And then the hygienists, they're like, "Oh my gosh, Dr. Elliott, you want me to scan all my patients, you want me to ask about sleep, you want me to schedule a consult, you want me to talk to them about implants." So how do you work with all the different facets in your practice and not have it feel like they're trying to do 100 things and not actually accomplishing anything?
0:13:11.8 EE: Yes, and I... That's what I was always afraid of. Well, here's the first thing. I'm 44 years old. I graduated in 2003. There was no social media or internet. We did waste some time on Myspace during the workday, but...
0:13:24.8 KD: [chuckle] Oh, Myspace. [chuckle]
0:13:27.0 EE: People hardly... People hardly emailed, so I didn't know what I was missing out on, or what I should feel anxious about what I'm not doing. I didn't know. Back then, you really were a general dentist and referred most things, right?
0:13:42.2 KD: Sure, absolutely.
0:13:43.1 EE: So now, we have this concept of the super GP, and so, those... The things that I implemented were over time, so I said sleep 13 years ago, ortho was probably eight, nine years ago. And then implants was... Ever since we've had Cone Beam, three or four years, so I slowly kinda introduced it. What I would tell you is to avoid the overwhelm. So, two things to that. Dentists get all excited about sleep. They talk to every single patient about it. They educate... So they say, "I don't understand why patients won't move forward! I mean, I educate them... " I said... As soon as I hear that, I hear the dentist talking, and the patient listening, maybe, and the hygienist getting ticked that... 'Cause they need their operatory for the next patient. And I always tell dentists, respect your hygienist's time in their operatory. You need to get the patient talking and find what their pain point actually is, because that's the only way they're gonna find value in what you're providing and wanna move forward.
0:14:52.7 EE: And so we just... That's why I say get 'em to say yes to a consult, so then we can bring 'em back, talk to them, find their chief complaint, their chief motivator, and then explain what it is we even do and why we care. That should not be done in the hygiene chair, 'cause again, they're teaching 'em how to even pick up the right end of the toothbrush, and why they need this crown that they've needed for the last year, and scaling every little click off, so you don't wanna overwhelm 'em. So, our biggest thing for that is to only choose one patient a day. So, in each column, just choose your candidate of the day. It doesn't have to... It should not be everyone. Sure, you can mention it, but to avoid the overwhelm of that "I can't do it, so I'm just not gonna do it at all," just one candidate a day. Choose the patient that has... Is on hypertension medication and aspirin for their heart... Or diabetes medication. Choose one patient a day. And that's a lot of patients over time to create awareness in.
0:16:05.8 EE: And so, we kinda... Again, just try to eliminate the three barriers that patients have and get them to come back for a consult. So usually, the three barriers are; one, they think they need to go spend the night somewhere, so I tell 'em, "We can look into doing a home sleep test for you at the comfort of your own home." And when they look at me, I say, "Oh, no no no, it's like a little machine that goes home with you, because if I go home with you and watch you sleep, that's gonna cost a whole lot of money." And then, the second is, they think they need to get a mask or a CPAP, and so, I show 'em an appliance, and "You may be a candidate for this." And the third is money. And so, I say "We utilize your medical benefits, so let's get you back so we can talk more about it."
0:16:49.0 KD: Hey, Dental A Team listeners. We decided to get a little unconventional and come to all of you guys, because guess what, the Dental A Team is hiring the best of the best for traveling consultants. So, if you know of somebody that you work with, that you've worked with in the past, that you think would make an incredible Dental A Team consultant, please email us, [email protected] We do not hire people working at offices that we work with, so we're just putting that out there. But we do want you guys. If any of you know of anybody who you think would be an incredible consultant, that would love to positively impact the world of dentistry, that they've worked with the front office as an office manager, a treatment coordinator, a scheduler, a filler, and they have back office experience, send 'em our way, [email protected], and guys, like you, we're looking to hire our unicorn, and thank you all for helping us out. Here's and cheers to hiring all of our unicorns and making this year our year to build our most incredible teams.
0:17:48.4 KD: So, Erin, that's really great, and I've got two questions on this. I'll ask my first question of, how do you schedule your consults? Because a lot of doctors feel scheduling consults actually is a waste of time, is taking production time. And I really love that you said respect your hygienist's time, don't take it in there, because a lot of hygienists are like, "I don't wanna do sleep. I don't wanna talk about ortho, because doc's gonna come in, our exam is gonna be 10-15 units." So, they're... Because we've made a pain point for the hygienist, they don't wanna talk to this patient about it, or doctors are trying to get three exams done at one time, 'cause they've got three hygiene, because they're trying to catch up from COVID, so they're hygiene-slammed, or whatever is going on that day, and so, the hygienists don't wanna talk about it. So, how do you schedule your consults to make sure that you're still productive and you have that time? Do you schedule on days when you're still producing? Do you schedule it on different days? Where do you put your consults in?
0:18:40.0 EE: So, in the past, I had a sleep champion that was also clinical chair-side, and so we weren't busy enough with sleep that I could release someone just for that, and so, we would just do it Thursday afternoons, and then it became all-day Thursday. And then it became half a Tuesday, and all-day Thursdays. Well, I loved those Thursdays, 'cause physically, it was amazing.
0:19:05.5 KD: Yeah, you felt like a million bucks. [chuckle]
0:19:07.5 EE: Yeah. But there came a time when I'm like, "Okay, I need... Things aren't getting done, and we're getting busy," so I have a dedicated sleep champion, and that's their job. And so they have their own column. So it's easy to set up consults, I do an operatory of consults and sleep patients while I'm doing two columns of dentistry. And she pretty much does the majority of that, and she does the interview with the patient. So, we set up... If they've had a diagnostic sleep study within two years, we set up a little bit more time, because we wanna take scans and records that day. But if they haven't had a sleep study yet, they don't even know if they have sleep apnea, we set up 40 minutes of time. And that's enough time for her to get the paperwork done, and go through the interview, and I come in and talk to 'em and do an exam. So I spend about five minutes.
0:20:07.7 KD: That's awesome.
0:20:08.8 EE: So it's just like another hygiene exam, really. And so, it's totally possible to do right alongside dentistry. But I did like setting aside that time too, 'cause it was just a nice, easy afternoon; a great way to finish the week. And so, we did try to... We did keep it separate for a while.
0:20:28.5 KD: I like that. That's a really brilliant idea to, again, empower your assistant to take that column on, to own that column, to learn how to do really great consults, and then it's fun, because you're also teaching them how to do, basically, treatment planning as well, so it's like so many cool things added in there, then they're going to be the one helping that patient. And sleep and ortho, I really do feel, are highly assistant driven, so it's not something that takes a lot of doctor time. So that's kind of dovetailing into my second question I had for you of, how long should a doctor... What do you recommend... And this is just "Thoughts With Erin." This is not... You don't have to have anything specific to back it up. But I'm just curious, how long have you found for it to really sink in? So if I'm trying to implement sleep, how long should I really work with my team to get sleep mastered before I'm gonna layer on ortho, because I feel like I hear so many doctors right now, I watch them, they'll do "Okay, we're gonna do ortho."
0:21:22.9 KD: And they give it about three, four months, and then they get bored, the doctor wants to go do more CE, so they're a CE junkie. They go take on sleep, then they come back, and we haven't even figured out how to do ortho. We're still trying to learn how to scan, and now we're supposed to scan for sleep on top of it. And then they're like, "Oh my gosh." And guess what, guys, I just found out that we can start to do PRF, so we're gonna start learning how to draw blood and start by adding... So people just get stressed. So how long... Like you said, you implemented this over time, and I think right now, we're in a day and age where we just want instantaneous results. So what would you suggest... Like, if I'm an office and I really wanna master sleep, how long should we really get solid in an office before we layer on another one, or can we layer just by having those champions from your perspective?
0:22:09.0 EE: I think we can layer because of the champions. My implant champ... We have a diabetic hygienist, and she lets us practice drawing blood on her all the time. [chuckle]
0:22:18.4 KD: That's awesome.
0:22:21.0 EE: My implant assistant is the one that knows... Is the specialist with that. So, the ortho champ wasn't even overwhelmed at the thought of doing it, because she's doing her ortho, so I think that does kinda help take away some of the "Oh God, now what?" But sleep actually is a slow growth. You need a long runway, and you need to be patient, because it does work. I'm here to tell you it works. We did... I have to be honest, I lost my sleep champ, because she... Totally good reasons. I'm very proud of her and happy for her in her next adventure, but... There's the downside of champion, but I have someone, I have an assistant that stepped up, and she's doing it part-time, so... And I'm doing it a lot more than I normally do. But we scanned for 10 appliances in the last six days I worked. And so, it's... It starts to just...
0:23:14.7 KD: And just so people... Just so they know how much is a sleep appliance like, so you scanned 10 in the last six days, and how much on average is a sleep appliance?
0:23:23.6 EE: Well, we make kind of a range, but our average, I'd say, is 2800, and the overhead... I kinda get nicer appliances that are about 500 to 600, so that's 2100.
0:23:40.7 KD: Exactly what I was gonna say. Like, easy math, let's do two grand. You do 10, that's 20 grand in six days of minimal per... Time of doctor that's production by an assistant that's not a hygienist as well. That's insanity! That's so cool!
0:23:53.0 EE: [laughter] But you do need a long runway. My point being like, when you first start something, I feel like it's an event, so when I first started doing implants, I'd set aside Thursday morning, so I'd come in Friday mornings, or I'd block out everything aside next to it, because I was really focused on this, or when we did our first ortho case, we'd... It was kind of a bigger deal, but now, it's just routine for us. It's uneventful, and that's what... I had a very uneventful day, but I did three implants or whatever... Where it's just... Kinda becomes routine. So with sleep, you do... It does become uneventful, and you kinda have the system that you just do with every case, and it works. But it does take time to get to that point. So, even if you were to come to my course on Monday morning, start talking to patients, you have to get this... You really have to give yourself, at the very minimum, six months up to a year, honestly. You cannot give up until then.
0:24:58.1 KD: That's so good to hear.
0:25:00.3 EE: And dentists do it out of order. So they jump straight to, "Hey, what's your favorite appliance?" And I'm like, "You know, it doesn't matter what appliance you use if you don't have a patient to put it in, right?" You need to understand the process to getting there, and if you're not tracking, then you don't know where your barrier is. So, we kinda break it down into the... Sleep into a four-step process. The first is creating awareness, the second is getting a diagnosis, the third is the financials, and the fourth is treatment. And so, a lot of things have to happen to get to that treatment point. In awareness, if you track how many people you're talking to and then, how many people are actually coming in for a sleep consult, okay, are we choosing... And it's not a very good closure rate. Are we talking to the right people? Is our verbiage off? Is there a different way to approach the patient so they take ownership and realize that they do have it, 'cause you're gonna get patients that are in denial and kinda push back, and so that's not the patient to talk to. And that's okay. And that's okay.
0:26:09.9 EE: So then, you can kinda diagnose what's going on there. And then, the second step from that is diagnosis, and so, are you making it easy to get a sleep test? And I'm telling you right now, the magic is when they see the results for themselves. When all of a sudden, they go from, "I don't have a problem, it's you that has the problem with me," to "Holy crap, I don't even wanna go to sleep tonight, 'cause I think I'm gonna die, and I need to do something about this." Sometimes, I create too much urgency. I never threaten that they're gonna die, I merely take the data that they showed me and translate it to their story, and making it personal. And the light bulb goes off, and the patients go, "That's exactly what's going on, and now I know what I can do about it." So, if you're not getting enough people into diagnosis, maybe it's too difficult for them to get the home sleep test, or you're sending 'em to the sleep physician, and they're not gonna go, 'cause that's...
0:27:11.7 KD: It's inconvenient.
0:27:11.8 EE: They don't even think they have a problem; it's inconvenient. So then, as we go from diagnosis to financials, are we saying... Are we creating enough value, if you're not getting enough patients moving forward? Are you making it affordable? Every patient should have the opportunity to make it affordable. The same patient that is saying no to a $2500 appliance is going and buying an $8000 mattress to try to sleep better, when really, they just need oxygen. And the whole reason they would go buy a mattress is 'cause, first, they kinda see the value in it, and second, they do it in monthly payments. If you had 500 down, you could do $50 a month till eternity. So it's an affordability issue versus an actual financial constraint, and that's not even talking about medical insurance.
0:28:05.2 EE: So, are you utilizing medical insurance? And really, that's where the patience and tenacity really take... And I think that's just the competitor in me. I'm like, "Oh, medical insurance, you're gonna pay. You will pay." So, once we started really utilizing medical is when things really took off as well. And then, lastly is the treatment, so if you're not getting someone from the financials to treatment, then we have... We can diagnose where we're missing there, so think of it as a funnel. You have 100 patients in awareness, you're taking 40 to diagnosis, talking finances with 30. How come you're only doing one appliance a month? And you can really kind of evaluate the workflow, I guess, in that way.
0:28:58.6 KD: Sure. Well, it's all those steps, and I think it's really brilliant that you pointed out, you've gotta have a lot of people in that awareness, because it's gonna filter down, and it's gonna have less people that will actually go through diagnosis, and then less people who have finances, and so many people are like, "Well, I wanna have so many new patients that are referred," and I'm like, "Well, you gotta send out a ton of referral cards. You've gotta be cranking those referral cards out to get that number of patients that you wanna have in." Same thing with ortho. How many scans are you actually doing on patients, so that way you can show it to them? And like you said, are we making it affordable? And I also love that you point out those four steps, because there might be a broken system within each one of those steps. There could be a verbiage, and usually, it's just like one or two little changes that will actually start to get more people to say yes.
0:29:44.5 KD: So, everybody's always questioning, and Erin, I don't know, you're the one I always text for this; I literally find you on Facebook, I'm like, "Who's your medical biller?" So if people are already doing this, I know a lot of people feel that they need to have the medical billing in play before they start, which I know you'll probably say is not true. To me, that's just like... But it could be helpful. What are some of the best medical billing companies? I know you guys have a company that you use; you guys recommend it. What's your... Who are your top people for medical billing?
0:30:11.7 EE: So, two companies, essentially: Hootan from CODE, and, I think... I'll have to look up the email address, but CODE, Cross Over Dental Billing. And then, Pristine Medical Billing. So, Pristine kinda holds your hand and all that. Well, and I was gonna say how dentists tend to jump to the end before they've even laid the foundation. I was also gonna say that a lot of dentists think that they have to run out and get referrals from physicians, and sleep physicians, in particular. And I'm... We're like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. You need to earn the right to ask for those referrals. You need to know what the heck you're doing with that patient. You have to have things in place that you're sending letters to those physicians if you expect referrals.
0:31:04.1 EE: And I'm sure there's plenty of dentists that have already talked to that sleep physician. So, there are so many patients within your own practice, within your four walls, that need your help, that you could be busy for three years before you even ask for a referral outside, so you really have to get the system down. And like you pointed out, medical billing really is... What really helped launch that for us and figuring it out, but you need a third-party biller, but you also need a very astute admin person in your office that really doesn't mind the challenge and wants to not let those evil insurance companies win.
0:31:47.3 KD: I agree, amen, preach on.
0:31:50.2 EE: And if you follow the policy and have the documentation, you will get paid. So, it can be frustrating, for sure, but don't let that defeat you, 'cause it is possible. Heck, if I can figure it out, anyone can. So, the third-party biller definitely helps with the manpower, but you still kinda need to know what you're doing. And here's the thing: Start out with patients that you know, that love you and trust you and know that you're beginning, and just say, "Hey, we're gonna bill your insurance, be patient with us. And if something were to happen, we'll write it off, you owe me a testimonial or whatever," so, just... You kinda have to count some of that investment in the beginning, and sometimes, just writing things off as you figure it out. But it does work. You can make money, it's very team-driven, and most importantly, you get to change people's lives.
0:32:42.9 KD: Agreed. I totally agree. It's one of those things that I think so many doctors don't realize that this is something you can do that's really life-changing. Yes, I think fixing teeth and doing fillings and root canals, that is life-changing as well. I am a testimonial. I have a phenomenal dentist who helped me bring back confidence. But sleep and airway and having oxygen is... That's life, and so... And I love that you're such a proponent of this, and I also love that you're a realist too. Guys, it's gonna take six months to a year to really kick this off. Yes, it is team-driven. Looking at those four areas that you talked about, Erin, and making sure you really have a team champion... I love that you call them champions. I'm definitely gonna snag that and have offices start implementing that.
0:33:26.6 EE: Well, I stole it from T-Bone, so it's all good. [chuckle]
0:33:28.5 KD: T-Bone... I do love T-Bone as well. You guys are just awesome at what you guys do. And then also, the medical billing, because... But again, that's like where you have a champion who helps take this on, and learns all the different pieces, and can help us realize what do we need to do, how can we implement this, what needs to happen? And that way, it's not all pressure on the doctor. So, Erin, I know you do a great job. Your course is, like I said, top notch. If anybody asks me, they're interested in sleep apnea, Erin Elliott is the person that I just say. I don't... I'm sure there are other people, you just do it so well; you're down-to-earth, and I feel like you make it fun, and you also bring in the team for it.
0:34:04.4 KD: So if people... Okay, guys, she said six months to a year. She also told you, six days, 28 grand, team-driven. To me, that's worth trying. And also, I think the biggest piece is, this is a huge opportunity for your patients. It's life-changing, it's helping them. So, Erin, if people are interested in wanting to get into sleep, and a lot of people are bored right now... They just have an itch that needs to be scratched, and like, "Hey, take on a six-month to 12-month challenge," how do they get involved in sleep? What do you guys do? How can they connect with you? How can they take the course? What does your course even look like?
0:34:38.0 EE: So, as you know, you can find me on Facebook and Instagram, erinelliottdds, two l's, two t's. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Two l's, two t's, two d's, so erinelliottdds. Then, my course is found at 3d-dentists.com. And we only have kind of the first half of next year on there, but I'll be out in Raleigh in about a month and a half, and then we're taking the show on the road; we're gonna be in California in February, and Florida in April.
0:35:10.5 KD: So fun.
0:35:10.8 EE: And then back in Raleigh in June. So yeah, our courses are... I think my jokes are hilarious, but...
0:35:19.4 KD: And of all of our presenters, you're one of our favorite every single time. We ask people who they love the most to speak at our events, and Erin, you are always in the top of them. That's why I keep having you back, 'cause I'm like, you're so fun, and you're so just down-to-earth, and you're hilarious. [laughter]
0:35:35.3 EE: So yeah. It's a two-day course. Basically, take you through the steps so that anyone can learn it; it is the basics, but also honestly, I just feel like my job is to go learn all that technical cerebral stuff and then just break it down into what's really important and what matters to your patient; what is practical. And so, that's just kinda... And then we do go over medical billing, and I started realizing that... There's always follow-up teaching that we do. We have a group, a forum where there's just ongoing education, and I did a poll on "What's stopping your patients from moving forward?" And it's always "We don't know what to quote 'em out of pocket." And so then, I was like, okay, let's create worksheets where we have to figure out what to quote the patient based off of the medical insurance information we have, and so... I always try to... T-Bone's just like, "More hands-on, more hands-on." And so, that's kinda what we try to do, is keep it fresh, fun, you won't fall asleep; there is still some lecture. You still have to listen to me, 'cause there's still enough head knowledge you need to learn, but we try to make it as hands-on as we can as well.
0:36:47.4 KD: That's amazing. And you guys do parts for teams, right? So do... Is it just doctor that comes to the forum, and then team after, or do they bring their team members with them?
0:36:58.3 EE: Oh, they bring their team with them. We do have an online version, but man... Coming to the course... Anytime a doctor's coming by themselves, we always call and say, "We highly recommend bringing the team." And every time a doctor comes by themselves, they say, "Man, I wish I brought my team."
0:37:15.2 KD: [chuckle] Like, we told you!
0:37:16.5 EE: If anything... Yeah, if anything, at least one hygienist assistant in admin, like, one from each department. Because the hygienists are... Every team member is key. And so, they can at least bring the information back. You get your team tested, so they see why it's important, and not just one more thing. That they find their why. And have someone hold everyone accountable. Like, you get all excited, you talk to people, patients about sleep, and then it just falls down by the wayside when you get busy. And so, in the morning huddle, make it a priority and a constant that, "Okay, who's your patient of the day? Who's your patient of the day?" If you stay with it and consistent with it, they're gonna soon realize that, "Okay, I'm just gonna go ahead and have my patient of the day ready." [chuckle] They're not gonna drop it.
0:38:11.1 KD: Yes, I love it. Well, guys, I really think you should try out sleep apnea. It's something that I'm highly passionate about. I love it. I think it's just the next layer of dentistry. I think that so many people should be involved in that. I think it's a great way to give back to your patients. And Erin, I just love that you talked about how you get your team onboard to implement these things, how you have successfully grown it in your practice, what it can look like. I also love just the reality that you brought to this, and then also how people can do it. So guys, go check Erin out. Every time Erin's anywhere, I try to fangirl at her. She's such an incredible human; just very down-to-earth, and Erin, that's what I like about you. You're very tactical like I am, you're very down-to-earth, you're very much like "Anybody can do it," and you make it very easy and very fun. So guys, go check her out. 3D... It was 3d-dentist, is that correct?
0:39:01.9 EE: -dentists.
0:39:03.0 KD: Okay, and that's plural, with an s, so 3D-dentists. Go check it out, guys. Message Erin, she's amazing, she'll get back to you so fast, like, lightning fast. So, Erin, thanks for being on the podcast tonight. I just appreciate you personally, so you're somebody I look up to a lot. I think that you're just this rockstar out there in our dental community. And also, for giving back to our Dental A Team family, so thank you for being here tonight. Alright, guys, as always, thank you all for listening, and I'll catch you next time on the Dental A Team podcast.
0:39:38.2 KD: Alright, Dental A Team listeners, that's a wrap. Thank you so much for listening, and if you love today's podcast, go leave us a review. It takes you five seconds, and your review helps more offices, more practices, more team members just like you find out about the Dental A Team. Thank you guys so much for being a part of my Dental A Team family.