• Case Study

    Perth Oral Medicine & Dental Sleep Centre

Dental Practice Case Study

How does a busy dental practice find good admin staff to help support the practice and its patients?

One answer is to add experienced and reliable admin people who live offshore, work remotely and use online technology to connect in as an integral part of your team.

Founded in 2010, the Perth Oral Medicine and Dental Sleep Centre has grown to become the largest private Oral Medicine practice in Australia.

Every dental practice requires very good administration staff to make everything run smoothly. Perth Oral Medicine and Dental Sleep Centre is no exception.

This busy practice has over 30 staff across four metropolitan locations in Perth. Finding experienced admin staff to run and support the practice is not easy.

In 2015, practice owner Dr Ramesh Balasubramaniam was faced with an additional challenge. He needed more admin staff but had run out of space in the current locations.

“We already had lots of people at the front desks, and we didn’t have any more front desk space,” Ramesh explained. “We had the old mindset of, ‘Where can they work from? Do we have to rent another space?'”

‘Let’s try this’

“Fortunately, one of my patients knew about Clear Admin People and mentioned that adding remote staff members could be a possible solution to our admin staff challenges. It’s all about timing, and we needed support. I went home and had a chat to my wife who manages the practices with another manager. And I said, ‘Let’s try this.'”

“We met with the management of Clear Admin People, and found them to be well organised problem solvers with a can-do attitude. It was reassuring to learn that I knew other people in our profession who also use them.”

“We started with one remote personal assistant in 2015. We currently have four Clear Admin People, and right now we’re looking at getting a fifth to add to the remote team.”

“Now when we need to take on more admin staff, the question for us is, do we want someone local in the surgery who needs to be face-to-face with the patient or can this work be done remotely, freeing up our Perth based staff to provide better care for our patients.”

“When admin work can be carried out remotely, that is our preference now.”

At Perth Oral Medicine and Dental Sleep Centre, the remote staff from Clear Admin People fulfil a variety of important roles including answering phone calls, scheduling appointments and appointment reminders, database management, arranging courier consignments, organising patient pick-ups and drop-offs, and more.

“As part of the practice, the Clear Admin People can do almost anything and everything. They help me out in so many ways, such as organising minutes and meetings, and editing and sending correspondence and reports. We do a lot of reports!” Ramesh added.

“The Clear Admin People can do almost anything and everything.”

In addition to his work at the Perth Oral Medicine and Dental Sleep Centre, Dr Ramesh Balasubramaniam is an Associate Professor at the University of WA and a Consultant at the Perth Children’s Hospital.

“I wear a few hats with my roles at the Perth Children’s Hospital and the University and private practice. And I write for various scientific and academic publications. My Clear staff support my university academic activities, such as editing some of my PowerPoint presentations.”

“If I see a study that I’m interested in, I’ll say, ‘Can you just get me a copy of that?’ And they do that, which would otherwise take me minutes or perhaps hours. I can dictate something to them and say, ‘Can you please take care of this?'”

“All these little things now get done accurately, quickly and efficiently. This extra support has made me far more efficient and productive, and it’s been amazing for our practice.”

“It’s been amazing for our practice.”

Training Helps Shift The Mindset

“As dental specialists, we’re naturally very conservative practitioners. When I first came across this concept of having a remote personal assistant and receptionist, it required a shift in our mindset as it’s something that’s not done routinely in dentistry.”

“The first steps are always the most challenging. How is it all going to work? How are we going to train someone who is not physically here?”

“The staff from Clear Admin People are already experienced in most areas of admin work. We also train them in our own work practices. For training, we’ve developed standard operating procedures and practice manuals.”

“We record videos for all staff training, and our local staff and remote staff all watch these videos. We have remote desktops, where we can share screens and share voices. Anything is possible with a computer and a phone. We communicate on a couple of platforms, like Zoom and Slack. We use Slack across all our Perth sites and remote sites as well.”

“The most important thing is finding the best person for the particular job, and make sure they have the skills and values important to our practice. Once we have found the right person, we train them in how we like to do things. Training is not difficult. It takes time, but it takes time for everybody, whether they are local or remote.”

“Once we have found the right person, we train them in how we like to do things.”

“We have found that because staff are well-trained, it does not matter where they are located. For example, one of our patients came in to thank the lovely lady who was so kind to them when giving directions on how to get to the surgery. The kind lovely lady was one of our remote offshore Clear Admin People.”

Shared Values Are Vital

Part of the success of Perth Oral Medicine and Dental Sleep Centre can be directly attributed to the active focus on the values which define the character and culture of the practice and its team.

“The way I see it, whether you are a remote or a local staff member, you have to be in line with the values of the practice. And they’re essentially based on my values,” Ramesh explains.

“Excellence; we expect excellence in everything we do. Dedication; show up on time. You’re there for the patient, you’re there for the practice, and you’re there for your colleagues. Empathy; you’ve got to care for your patients whether that is on the phone or face-to-face in the consultation rooms or treatment rooms.”

“Integrity; trust is so critical to the day-to-day function of the practice and success of the practice. And Innovation; we are constantly looking at ways to think outside the box, improve our service to patients and improve the care we can provide. And yes, it was innovative when we started to use remote staff.”

“All of our selection decisions are based on these principles.”

“All of our selection decisions are based on these principles. We take it very seriously when we interview and choose any new staff member, including the remote staff from Clear Admin People.”

Remote Staff Ran The Practice During Lockdown

The practice had unexpected benefits from its remote workers during the early stages of the COVID pandemic when Perth was in a full lockdown.

“Perth had a very strict lockdown for a while,” Ramesh recalls. “My local staff couldn’t go into work, so our remote staff from Clear Admin People called up all those patients and remotely rescheduled all of them. The Clear staff ran the practice remotely for those three and a half weeks of really strict lockdowns.”

“After that, all sorts of ‘what-ifs’ came into play, and it was good to always have the remote work option available to us. For a time afterwards, we still couldn’t see patients face to face, but being an oral medicine practice, we can do quite a lot of things via telehealth.

“During COVID, I didn’t feel very comfortable going into work face to face, but it didn’t stop us from consulting to patients via telehealth. That’s the advantage with the Clear support; we had the ability to manage patients remotely. All of the Clear staff worked. They stepped up. They were there, and it was very, very useful.”

All of the Clear staff worked. They stepped up.

A Fantastic Service

“I really believe that Clear Admin People have a fantastic service, especially as they totally understand the needs of dentists. Our practice enjoys many benefits working with them, and I am sure a lot of other dentists and dental specialists would also benefit from the service.”

“For anyone who is wondering about it, I say at least have a chat with them, and perhaps give it a go. I am so pleased we did. For want of a better word, we ‘took the risk’. But I don’t see it as a risk now. I see it as an opportunity.”

“I see it as an opportunity.”


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