Dr. Steven Rasner, a New Jersey General Dentist, discusses emergency patients, the future of teledentistry, transparent communication with key dental staff, patient reach out protocol, oral sedation permits, continuing education, adapting to the ever - changing environment, and more.
Liz Lundry, RDH - “Hi, my name is Liz Lundry. I'm the clinical education manager for StellaLife and a hygienist. I want to welcome you all and thank you for joining us on our innovative series. Today, we're going to be featuring a wonderful innovator. Dr. Steven L. Rasner of the Rasner Institute located in an area of the US, once ranked by USA Today as the second worst place to live, Dr. Rasner developed a practice considered by many as the gold standard of general practice. Surrounded by corporate or insurance driven patient options, his practice has remained fee for service by branding a message of trust and confidence to both his community and team. 39 years of practice and statistical evidence is a theory. Everything we do, now and when we return will be the moments patients remember for defining your career. This is the blueprint, according to Dr. Rasner. And here he is.”
Dr. Steven Rasner - “Thanks, Liz. Hi, everyone. I'm Dr. Steve Rasner, and I'm certainly pleased to collaborate with Stella Life to offer my colleagues some small assistance as we all try to navigate through these very difficult times. 15 minutes is certainly not a long time to spend with you, so let me give you my email. It's DrRasner@aol.com, and just ask me to send you the stuff and I will send you an elaboration of many of the topics I'm going to touch on briefly in the short time we have together. This is not an attempt to sell you anything. Trust me. I'm just sending you the information so that it's more meaningful to you. So let's get to it. Let's first talk about the interim strategies. What should we be doing like right now? And I want to say first, then this may be controversial to some of you. I don't think this is the time to piecemeal together strategies to up your revenues. And what I mean by that is if I'm going in to see emergencies, they're true emergencies, and they're not the kind of things I'm going to be charging for anyway. And I've seen things online where this is an opportunity to open up for emergencies and build your patient base. For God's sake. I couldn't be further from that stream of thought. No, that's not what we're going to be doing if you're listening to me. Beyond that, I've heard people discuss giving discounts during these times of balance owed to you. I wouldn't do that either. I think you should go on and continue the bill, and I would certainly have very light hands on asking for people to pay this month or next month as long as this thing goes on. I'm not doing that. I am sending billing, but I'm not certainly not going to get discounts so that patients will pay me some revenue during this time and even tele-dentistry falls kind of hollow to me. If you want to communicate through tele-dentistry to help your patients, great. I'm not interested or even care about whether I charge my patience for that at this time, I'm being honest. I really think it's an opportunity, long term, for your family's patient base to look back at you and see how you represented yourself during these unbelievable times, and I'm going to take the long road for it. You know, we're all getting hit terribly. It's not because I'm inundated with cash flow, I'm not. But we're all being hurt, and it's an opportunity to really be benevolent and altruistic to our communities, of our practice that we work so hard to nurture. What about leadership with our staff? I just think it's important that you communicate and you be clear and honest. They certainly should have known by now where they stand with unemployment and if you haven't done that, and I do know colleagues that don't know where they stand, you should know where you stand, your staff should know. You should communicate weekly with the entire team and daily or every other day with key staff members. I have a staff of 20 and I'm reaching out to, I would say, just three or four of them on every other day basis, letting them know that I've got their back, that we're going to have a place to go back to, and I'll be on top of whatever I need to do those type of things. I started it out with a letter that I crafted and I'm going to send it to you if you ask me to send you information that you can modify for your own staff. It's a letter of support, a letter of leadership and, you know, positive karma, positive vibes. So I would welcome the opportunity to send that to you. What about my patient? I've put together a Patient Reach Out program and, you know, we all hear online about "we're all in this together". Well, are we? Because team members, we need you right now. The doctor can't do all this alone. So I have four hygienists, voluntarily, offering an hour or two a week. They got a skin in this too, and are calling our patients, and the call is just a, "Hey, we're reaching out to hear how you're doing. I hope you and your family are safe. Don't worry about the appointment that you had." We're not even trying to reschedule the appointment right now. I'm not even worried about it. I know that will be more work for me later on. I want the patience to hang up the phone and say, "Wow, he wasn't trying to do anything except check on us," and that is what we're doing. And I have four hygienists doing that. They're not going to be able to get to our whole patient base, but they're going to get as many people that we've been in communication with in the last six months as possible. I also preceded that by a letter I'll send you that was a reach out letter to my patients assuring them that we're thinking about them, that when the time comes to return and it's in their world to go back to seek oral health care, that will do it at a pace that's comfortable for them, and we will exceed any ADA, CDC guidelines so they know they'll be safe. So again, I will gladly send all of that stuff to you. People ask me about at home CE training, what I would do there's no doubt anybody knows me, knows that I believe that an oral sedation permit in your state or country is one of the most powerful services you could ever offer and I will send you my protocol because I would seriously doubt that most of you are familiar with my protocol, which is Triazolam, Atarax and Benadryl. I will tell you, I've used it for 24 years. We've also had IV sedated patients for ten years. We don't charge for oral sedation. It is an amazing source of new patients, it is an amazing source to practice dentistry comfortably. I've never had one un-toured incident ever in 24 years of employing the protocol I use. So I would go online and see if your state offers any courses that you can knock out during this time or certainly ask me for the protocol and read it. What about when we go back and open? That's got to begin with everybody being on the same page. I believe that most of us will probably have to rehire our teams in stages based on the demand when we are allowed to reopen and I'm going to make that clear to my team. I don't want anybody coming off unemployment and being disappointed with hours, I need to be as clear as I can. I'm certainly praying and hoping we can bring everybody back, I don't know right away, but we'll have pre-opening, Zoom meetings where everybody knows the protocols. How does the patient enter the office? What do we ask them before they come back to the office? What parameters from temperature taking and what other tests are evolving in the next few weeks, I hope, to make everybody feel safe. So everybody has to know that. Things like this and when I get to this part, I want to say this to you that I think you need to look, when you go back, as if you're reopening your practice, this is important, for the first time and this is what I mean by that. You're talking today with a doctor that is known for extraordinary productivity for 36 of his 39 years in the area of the United States that was once ranked as the second worst place to live economically in the US. So how I've been able to do that, and yet I'm saying to you, I'm willing to know that I'm going to take some hits as long as I can pay my bills. Just like when we opened up our practices. So what do I mean by that? I mean specific things. Like we're going to answer the phone on the second ring, we're not going to use tape machines when we're with patients, we need to communicate with live voices to people. We will embrace the protocols I've always embraced of calling people back within the hour if for some reason we can't give them an answer. How about post-pandemic treatment planning? And this is huge. I would advise you to go back to that first year in practice, an error on the side of being conservative. So let me elaborate with that. You must be aware that patients, a lot of patients, not all of them, are going to be financially injured from this, and they know you've been injured as well, and they can't feel any pressure. That doesn't mean you shouldn't, in fact, you should continue, certainly my approach, of a comprehensive care examination. They break a tooth. I'm looking at their whole mouth just like I did pre pandemic. But when it comes to what they're really going to do, it comes down to me being more flexible than I probably have been in a long time. I might be doing a single crown instead of a quadrant of gold. I might be doing an extraction of a tooth and temporizing the area with grafting and site development, maybe not an implant right away. I'm prepared for this. I might even end up doing larger restorations if I think, really, that the patient could get away with that. Now that being said, remember what I'm telling you, I'm not telling you to change your protocols on not abiding by a comprehensive care approach. I think you should. And by the way, please check out my lion hearted dentist podcast because I have extensive information on these approaches I'm alluding to. So I was about to tell you, there will be lines in the sand that you have to draw. In my practice, lines in the sand are a refusal to treat periodontitis. So if somebody comes in during this time and they need a crown or two crowns or whatever it is, even general restorative, but they had periodontitis, I'm not going to overlook that. The post pandemic doesn't change that, and the patient will incur the expense of that. But that's not a line in my practice I'm willing to overlook or what I think is relevant, dangerous mythology that they now might be aware of. That's a line in his sand I won't cross as well. But maybe I won't do a full rehab case at this time, or maybe I'll do more quadrant dentistry or parts of a quadrant. Whatever it's going to take and for however months it's going to take, I'm prepared to do that because I know that when it's over, and it's going to be over, I will have probably a more trusting and thriving patient base that I've ever had, because I'm willing to slow down a little bit if I have to and I know that's not easy for all of us, because it kind of depends on how financially solvent each of you are. But I think it's really important to have in the back of your mind solid parameters that these patients, not all of them, some of them are going to be fine, are going to expect you to be sensitive to the fact that they've been injured by this financially, and the obvious is beyond that, they're going to want to feel safe in the environment of your office with the post pandemic protocols that you've established. I'd love to do more of these. I thank you, Liz, for including me with StellaLife. And again, my email is DrRasner@aol.com, I'd love to stay in touch with all of you. Good luck and God bless and I know we're going to be okay. Just you ready to fight a little bit. Fight for our independence, fight for what we once signed up for. Thanks.”
Liz Lundry, RDH - “Thank you, Dr. Rasner. This is such a great forum because we're getting so many different opinions and viewpoints as to how to move forward as we're returning to our businesses. So next week, we're going to hear words of wisdom from Dr. Alan Farber, and that is going to be here next week. Friday, the 24 April at 03:00 p.m.. Eastern. So please join us at StellaLife Facebook live, have a wonderful week and stay healthy and safe. Thank you.”