Friday, 8 November 2019

Why Keith is the Best Husband! (Well this week anyway!)

This month I really need to give Keith a massive pat on the back and a big thank you!  I've been saving up with my friends from uni for the last 6 years to do a big trip to celebrate our 40th's.  It's only taken us a year and a half to organise it - none of us are 40 anymore - but last Saturday we finally headed off.  We had an amazing time - Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Rockefeller, Tiffany's, The High Line, Greenwich Village and a show - we did it all in just 4 days!

But I have to say I was just a little nervous on the plane home thinking about how Keith would have coped working and looking after the kids, cooking and washing and tidying up!  I had envisioned spending the next week catching up on everything and explaining to the teachers why the kids hadn't done their homework/hadn't made it to gymnastics/dancing last week!  But when I got back he'd done an amazing job of seeing patients, running the kids around, helping with homework, doing the washing!  I did also notice a strategically placed pile of my clothes ironed and left on the floor of our bedroom that I tripped over as I walked into it - I suspect placed there just in case I hadn't noticed he'd done the ironing too!!

He also wallpapered and finished painting our sitting room which we've been trying to get done for weeks! (And because he's a dentist and has great attention to detail it was pretty damn perfect too!)

So I've decided that clearly I'm just a hindrance to him and perhaps I should go away more often...😜

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Why “I don’t know how to do that” is never the right answer.

I had an experience today that no customer ever should have.  

As you may have noticed in our waiting room we have a TV screen which gives mouth hygiene advice, fun facts and information about the services we provide.  We have some great new before and after photos of patients we’ve treated and some new patient experience videos that I wanted to share with all our patients on the screen.  Theoretically this should be a straightforward thing to do – go into the programme, upload the files and voila - new photos and testimonials for the waiting room.  Unfortunately, as we all know, technology more often than not doesn’t play the game and I spent an hour trying to make the system do something it clearly didn’t want to. 

It’s all OK though I thought, I’ll call the support line.  Now I have to say that in the past I’ve had a pretty good experience with this company, Medivision.  They’ve always been quick to answer the phone and helpful with advice.  Today, however, was a whole different kettle of fish.  
“Em, actually I’m not that familiar with this system, I’ve been working with our new system PicBox , which is so much more user friendly.”  Was the initial response accompanied by a little self-indulgent chortle. 
“OK, is there anyone there who does know this system?” (bearing in mind that I’d only upgraded to this version about 18 months ago)  
“Um no, it’s just me that’s here.”
“I suppose I could go onto your system remotely and see if I can work it out.”
“Well that would be helpful.”  I replied.

And so it went on, 15 minutes of I’m not really sure what to do here, I’m not really sure why it’s not doing that, perhaps this will work, oh no it didn’t.

Talk about frustrating!! It wasn’t really what I expect when I call a company’s support line.  When it seemed like we really weren’t getting anywhere and at the point where I would have expected him to say : “Can you leave this with me and I’ll find out for you and call you back to solve the problem”, he turned around and said “ You should really just upgrade to our new system, it’s much better.”

I was so angry!! Here’s a great marketing strategy, lets make our support so unhelpful that it forces people to pay to upgrade to our newest system.  No, that is not a way to win business!  In fact it’s a downright turn off!    Can you guess what I’ve just spent the last half hour doing – that’s right researching other companies that provide the same service – I have a face–to–face meeting with Veronica from one of them in 2 days.

What Medivision have failed to realise is that the way to keep your existing customers is to provide a service that is second-to- none.  Make yourself incomparable and indispensable.  It’s only once you do that that you create a bond of trust with your customer.  As a customer it’s only when you have that trust in a company that you invest in their new techniques and propositions.

It’s the same in any business and thinking about it it’s exactly the same in dentistry.  We, as a business and healthcare provider need to work hard constantly to support and help our patients in order to build a bond that means when we offer new services and treatments they trust us that we have their best interests at heart.  It’s all very well bringing in new technology and new services that we know will make our patients’ experiences easier and improve their oral health but if we haven’t cultivated this bond with them in the first place then they’ll never trust us enough to try new services which will ultimately benefit them and then we’ve created a lose-lose situation. 

If I’m honest it’s only really as I’ve been writing this that I see how much this really applies in dentistry and to our practice.  Keith and I are in the process of the 2 biggest equipment purchases for the practice we’ve ever made.  We know that the advantages they are going to bring to our patients are huge and I’m hopeful that the relationships our team have and continue to build with our patients, will mean that our patients will really benefit from the new techniques this equipment will allow us to share.

Friday, 30 August 2019

New job, new challenge, 1st blog!

This months blog is brought to you by Jill Reid, our new practice manager and Patient Care Coordinator.  You should have seen her face when I asked her to write it!  But she's done a grand job!  Here she shares her thoughts on becoming a new practice manager.

Becoming practice manager. Wow where do I even begin! It has been an absolute whirlwind of an experience ever since announcing to all the staff at the beginning of this year. I have learned so much about myself and how far I can be pushed before (the ice woman as some would call me) is broken and crushed, or in my case ended up with shingles!  
Seriously though I am extremely grateful to work for such a forward thinking, highly motivated and ambitious couple! I am honoured that Gillian and Keith see the potential in my abilities to not only run the practice but to help drive it forward to be the best possible Trust me that is always my goal in life to be the everything... which becomes a problem for Keith and Gillian, as you can imagine I want to do it all, and most of the time right now. 
I started my career in dentistry as a Dental Nurse in 2013 which came as a shock to most as I have always been extremely nervous about my own dental treatment. I absolutely love Dental Nursing and find everything dentistry so exciting! Soon after I completed my dental nursing, I did an Oral Health Education course to further my career to become an OHE. This wasn’t the career path I ended up on however has given me endless information on how best I can advise patients on caring for their smiles.  
Moving to Coatbridge Family Dental Care has been my best career move so far, allowing me to assist Keith with even cooler dental treatment such as implants and not only learning about Invisalign but having this done for my wedding last year. This was also the best move ever, cI an't recommend Invisalign enough for straightening teeth, but I'm sure I can write another blog on that!  

So back to practice management, I'm not going to lie, I am winging it! I start my course the middle of September which will help with all the regulation etc and Gillian has been a huge help teaching me everything I know so far. I have to say a huge thank you to our team for their patience and understanding but I am learning as I go along, I won't always get it right first time but that’s ok, I am a quick learner. Our staff have done extremely well over the past few months a lot of changes have happened with new computer systems, practice inspections, new staff members and performing CPR on a team member which I'm glad to say all ended well.  
This has been a completely new experience for me in management but one I look forward to, and I have a newfound respect for Gillian having done this role for the last 10 years, it's definitely not as easy as I first thought. As well as Practice Manager I will take on the role of Patient Care Coordinator at the practice. This will allow me to be there every step of the way for our patients' dental journeys and only a phone call away to answer all your dental queries.   
So here I am 500 words later, and another learning curve, I am rubbish at short and sweet blogs, I do apologise I obviously like to blab a lot. But I suppose the short and sweet version is I love a challenge, and this certainly ticks all the boxes to keep me on my toes! 

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Can you Improve Yourself with a Book?

I'm obsessed with books - I absolutely love to read.   Unfortunately nowadays it takes me a lot longer to get through a book than it used to as the only time I have a chance to read is just before I go to sleep at night.  It's usually a sure sign that I need an early night when I re-read the same page of my book for the 4th night in a row and fall asleep halfway through it!  I'm sure a lot of you are the same - maybe you don't even have time for half a page.

In recent years I've become captivated by self improvement books.  As someone who struggles with anxiety and running a business in equal measure - I find myself drawn to books about confidence, psychology, leadership and business management.  I discover books via: Facebook; friends' recommendations; Amazon and dental business coaches, and read every one dreaming that I'll find the golden key to ridding myself of my anxiety and self-doubt or becoming the perfect leader.  Of course deep down I know that will never truly happen but I do always pick up a little tip or 2 out of each book and try to bring them into my daily life.

Like my favourite from "How To Win Friends and Influence People".  When you would like someone to do something for you: "Action springs out of what we fundamentally desire... First, arouse in the other person an eager want.  He who can do this has the whole world with him..." Which basically means when you are asking someone to do something for you, find out first of all what is in it for them - and tell them that if they do this thing for you, this is what it will mean for them. Ultimately people only do things which will benefit themselves.  I love the fact that a book that was first published in 1936 - nearly 75 years ago is still relevant today.

Then there's my most recent purchase "The Worry Trick" where David Carbonell, a renowned clinical psychologist recommends setting up an appointment with worry. It's amazing how when you actually sit down and allow yourself to worry about things for 10 minutes you eventually run out of things to worry about!  And speaking the worries out in front of a mirror really makes you see how silly some of them really are.

And just today, after spending the last few weeks in a constant battle with our 12 year old  trying to get her to do what she's asked and not sit and stare at the screen of a phone, I picked up a book I bought when she was just 7 called "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk".  Given that I'm only managing a page a night at the moment maybe I'll just give it to her to read and she can tell me where I'm going wrong - she's very good at that.

The best thing though I rediscovered in the last year or so was audiobooks and Audible.  I fondly remember listening to Enid Blyton audio cassettes as a child on long journeys and I'm sure I even had some 12" audio books I used to play on my Get Along Gang record player.  Oh and not forgetting all the Harry Potter books that Keith and I listened to travelling through the red centre of Australia - there's nothing quite like dreaming about being at Hogwarts!  My journey to work is about 40 mins and it's perfect for listening to a self improvement audio book - at least it means I get through more than a page at a time.  I sometimes even listen to them when I go for a run - I run a bit slower but I come back with loads of great ideas to bore Keith with!

So for me - and I know there's many who will disagree- I love self improvement books and the great ideas I get from them. And try an audio book on your next car journey - it's awesome! And at least if you're driving you won't fall asleep after the first page - hopefully!

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Guest Blog - Invisalign: A Patient's Perspective

For a wee change this month we have a guest blog from Gillian Cowie one of our lovely patients.  Gillian's Invisalign treatment finished in January of this year and she has written a great account which we really feel could help other patients thinking of having their teeth straightened.  When I called Gillian to ask if she had any photos I could share of her after her treatment she laughed and said she had so many to choose from because she just smiles all the time now!! A great story!

My treatment lasted 8 months, pain free, easy to use and one of the best investments I’ve ever made. 
Invisalign teeth straighten aligners are an alternative to metal wired braces and are virtually invisible. Only when I pointed the aligners out to family and friends they noticed I was wearing them.
I can’t recommend Invisalign enough, along with the Professionalism, Guidance and Care of my Dentist John Broers of Coatbridge Family Dentist. To say I am over the moon with the results is an understatement.
My teeth were overcrowded top and bottom, also I had a discoloured baby tooth that was hanging on by a thread! In fact, all my teeth were stained and yellowish in colour and not a pretty sight! John and I had talked at length at my options from removing the baby tooth, straighten my teeth and teeth whitening, something I wanted to do for a very long time. John talked me through my options, Invisalign appealed more to me.
He also showed me a 3D scan of my teeth pre-and post-treatment, when I saw the potential end results, I knew instantly this was the treatment for me. The fact the aligners are invisible and removable allowing to eat, brush & floss instead of unsightly wires, that I imagine would be painful when tightened. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to get started.
I signed up and nervously attended my 1st appointment for impressions, after a few weeks I received my 1st 1-4 week aligners, at this point John removed my baby tooth and filled in the gap in my aligners that looked like a tooth. I was shown how to fit my top & bottom aligner for week 1, I couldn’t believe how easy it was and I continued at home changing the aligners on a weekly basis.
An added bonus was when wearing the aligners it really makes you think twice about removing them just to eat for the sake of eating. This helped me focus on my eating that fitted in nicely with making healthier choices, eating and exercising. I couldn’t believe how much snacking I done between meals. You must keep the aligners in for 22 hours and after eating brush and floss, I mainly stuck to 3 meals a day and drinking lots of water.
I religiously brushed and floss my teeth after every meal and believe this aided on my pain free treatment with no inflammation or mouth ulcers.
At the end of my treatment, John fitted my bridge where the baby tooth was and fitted fine wire retainers top and bottom behind my teeth that can’t be seen, also retainers to wear overnight to minimise any natural movement. I finished off with a 6-8 weeks of teeth whitening.
For the first time in my life I am smiling with complete confidence and I love my teeth. My friends and family continue to comment on how good they look and the noticeable difference.
With the support from my Dentist John Broers, I found the whole process extremely easy, pain free and one of the best investments I have ever made, I wish I had done it years ago.
Should anyone be considering straightening their teeth I would highly recommend John Broers from Coatbridge Family Dentist and the Invisalign Treatment.
Thank you so much from a very happy smiley
Gillian Cowie 

Friday, 1 March 2019

How A Patient's Story Can Change Your Outlook On Life.

Keith had a patient in a few months ago  who was telling him about his son.  While he was young, he worked as hard as he could to make sure his little boy had everything he thought he needed.  He worked long hours, and was often away at weekends, all with the best of intentions.  When his son turned 18, he happily told him that he was getting on a bit so he was going to start winding down at work and maybe they could start spending some time together.  His son turned to him, dismayed and said, "Dad, you're too late.  I don't need you anymore, where were you when I really needed you?"  Keith's patient was devastated.  It's a hard lesson to learn and one that often comes too late in life.  All I could think when he told me about it was the lyrics of Harry Chapin's 'Cats in the Cradle' - which should be a song released for every generation just to remind us all that actually what your kids need from you more than anything is your time.

Running your own business is hectic.  Work doesn't just start at 8.30am when the first patient comes through the door, nor end at 5.30pm when you close the door behind the last.  Especially in these days of remote communication; it's too easy to log onto the practice computer system to catch up on patients notes, write treatment plans for life changing smile makeovers and chat to prospective patients through social media from home in the evenings.  And Keith and I often find ourselves sitting at the kitchen table, chatting about the direction the practice is going in, what have been our wins for the day or how are we going to deal with whatever situation has arisen with a patient or the team that day.  The kids next door watching telly.

And I know we're not alone in feeling that there are some weeks that go by and you never actually speak to each other about anything other than work, the weeks that you robotically do what the kids need you to do - but are you really listening to what they are telling you?

It's too easy when you're running a business too to be scared to take a holiday: what if something goes wrong when we're away; how will the business finances cope when you're not there generating the income thats needed?

But if you don't take time off and spend it with your family, the time quickly passes and before you know it, they're gone and as everyone and their granny keeps telling me - "you don't get that time back."

2 weeks ago was half term for us, our local council have wisely matched up 3 local holidays with 2 inservice days, meaning the kids get a full week off and usually it's the week before the English holidays so it often means a cheaper deal!

We took the plunge and decided to go on a skiing holiday - a first for the girls and I!  It was brilliant fun and totally different to anything we'd done before, but the best part about it how much time we got to spend together as a family.

We all skied together at the pace of the worst skier (me - kids have an amazing ability just to point their skis downhill and not worry about the consequences!).  When we got back to the hotel we all sat and played stupid games together and they all slagged me off for being a big feartie at the top of most of the runs. Just the 4 of us sat together for every meal and we managed to catch up with what's been happening in the life of our kids and each other.

The skiing was fun - but actually the best bit was all being forced together and enjoying the same activity together, it didn't really matter what it was.  Keith's patient hreally brought home to all of us how important family time is - whether it's a holiday abroad together, a campervan round Scotland together (I think that might be our next trip!) or actually just all chilling out together with some board games on a Saturday night.

I hope you all enjoy your time with your family this weekend.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Learning to Trust at a Difficult Time

This time last year was a difficult time.  Our youngest daughter Chloe, a gorgeous bubbly blonde 8 year old, had spent the previous 12 months randomly waking up through the night with severe stomach pains and vomiting, to the point that lime green bile was often all that was left to come up.  She was finally diagnosed with a blocked ureter - the tiny tube that takes the wee from your kidney to your bladder and scheduled for surgery in January last year.

There's nothing quite like taking your baby to the big, fancy, shiny new hospital on a cold January morning in the hope that they're going to fix her and make her feel better.  Handing her sleeping frame over to the anaesthetist to be whisked through the door into a theatre full of gowned, masked staff; cold, sterile instruments; and painfully bright lights.  It's a lonely walk back out in the opposite direction.

Walking in a haze around the wee Marks and Spencer food shop, pretending to be hungry for a sandwich, as people bustle around you, coming and going with their own distractions.  And then sitting in the soulless parent's room pretending to read a magazine, all the while worry constantly gnawing at you, having to trust that the people taking care of your little girl know what they're doing and have her best intentions at heart.  Because at the end of the day they are just people like you and I.

But there's really nothing quite like that endless time being over and the first time you see her again, drowsy and disorientated, but ok and in one piece.  And there's nothing quite like the gratitude that you feel for those people, people just like you and I, who make it their life's work to take care of others and to do their best to fix them and remove their suffering. No there's not a feeling like that in the world.

I've often thought about this over the last year and I often think about it from the other side and how it applies to us here at Coatbridge Family Dental Care.  It makes me feel proud that people are willing to put their trust in our team as healthcare professionals to fix them and make them feel better.  And it makes me feel proud of our team that they make it their aim in life to take care of our patients and have their best intentions at heart.  Because they're just people like you and I.

P.S.  we're very lucky Chloe is fine now - she hasn't been sick for a whole year!

What a difference a year makes!