How to Gamify Your Dental Practice

By Chad Wooters

Games are a crucial part of most cultures, whether it is sports, board games, card games, online games, or any other type of games. Games permeate every region of the world. In his book “Actionable Gamification”, Yu Kai Chou discusses what he believes are the eight factors that drive human behavior and are all aspects of the best games of history.

As we grow older, it can get harder to find time to “play” but the reality is there are challenges and comforts in everything we do. There are motivating and driving factors that are responsible for us moving forward towards an action, skill, or career path. Yu Kai Chou presumes that if we are intentional with these ideas and understand what things are important to us or those things that we interact with, we can have intention in “designing” our interactions with others. He calls this intentionality of experience “Gamifying” or the process of making something “game-like.”

If you have a few minutes, watch this Ted Talk with Yu Kai Chou on the driving, motivating factors and the framework he calls “Octalysis.”

Why should I “Gamify” my Dental Practice?

First, I think that it is important to answer a few simple questions. Ask anyone in your practice this question (I’m sure you’ll have the same answer as them): “Do you like to have fun?”

Obviously, the answer is yes.

Now, the next questions are, “Can this be achieved at work?” Can we have fun and be productive at the same time?

The answer is “yes”. In the octalysis framework we referenced above, there are several “drives” that we can touch on that relate to work and motivate the team. Additionally, by adding what we will call a “mini-game” to our practice we may be able to accomplish a few bonuses. These bonuses may be increased team morale, more cohesive teamwork, higher productivity, increased production, and even an increase in referrals to the practice from existing patients.

When a patient has fun and feels welcome in your practice, they are more likely to refer their friends and family to see you for their dental work. So, let’s show them that we can get work done, provide quality care, and still have fun.

How do I “Gamify” my dental practice?

There are many ways to gamify your practice. Specifically, there are things that we can do to change the dynamics inside of the office and within our team. Before we talk about the actual games, we need to talk about the types of goals and rewards for a mini-game.

Types of Goals in a Mini-Game

There are four dynamics that we must recognize for setting goals of the game. First let’s look at the dynamics of motivation for individuals to be competitive within the team and also motivate them to succeed together.

Individual vs Group Rewards and Goals

If we reward our team members for a performance that is measured by their individual productivity or the production they generate as a single unit, we will often inspire the competitive side of their nature. Usually, this will hit on the accomplishment, empowerment, and social influence; the rewards for this could be a physical prize, a voucher for some activity, PTO, or even a small bonus.

It is also best practice to make sure that those competing are on a “level” playing field. If you are doing a competition within the hygiene department, and there is one hygienist who is full time and three that are part time, then the goal should be a percentage of visits to teeth whitening, instead of the amount of whitening that are sold.

Sometimes an individual competition has the potential to create a negative environment. If that is the case within your team, then it is best to do a group competition.

When working with a group, you want to make sure that you are considering two major factors.

  1. This goal must be one that everyone contributes to. You may need to spend time helping teammates see what their role in the goal is. This is worth the time and effort because it will help everyone be on the same page and hold each other accountable and possibly result in team members encouraging each other.

  2.  The reward must be exciting to everyone. If it is not then not everyone will want to participate and it can cause a “divide” in the team. If everyone is excited then they are more likely to work together.

Regular Goals vs Stretch Goals

Most offices have goals. In the process of gamifying, we may have more incentive than just “that’s what we need” but these normal goals are just that, normal. When we set goals we want to make sure that they follow a framework that makes them clear and understandable by the whole team. We recommend the “SMART” Goals framework.

What is a stretch goal?

If you are like me, then stretching (the physical activity) should be considered a workout. A stretch goal should be something that your team has to work for, it should be something just beyond the reach of the team performance when your team is performing at their “normal”. The reward should be proportionate. 

An example of a normal reward versus a stretch reward would be a pizza party versus a $50 bonus on everyone’s paycheck! Now someone is thinking, “that’s a lot of money!” It can be, but if youre goals are set appropriately then it’s a small amount compared to the increase in production, productivity, and (most importantly) team morale.

Creating Your Dental Office Game

Now we will talk about a few examples of games that have been played. By this point, you have an idea of the framework we are talking about, you already know what is most important to your practice, what numbers make the biggest difference, and what procedures are generating the most revenue. 

We will look at some examples that we have seen in dental practices but if you want this to really work in your practice you need to look to your people and see what rewards they would like. You can ask the question: what is something that would excite you to push yourself to the next level (individually or with the team)?

Examples of Dental Office Games:

  1. Goal: Hygiene dept had a 1-month goal of screening 80% of patients for airway concerns
    Reward:
    Lunch catered for the office from a restaurant of choice

  2. Goal: A dental practice has a goal of referring/ completing 20 home sleep studies this month.
    Reward:
    Pizza party for the office (from the local place who makes pizza that makes your mouth water)
    Stretch Goal: 30 home sleep studies referred/ completed this month
    Stretch Reward:
    Happy hour after work at the end of the week

  3. Goal: Start five (5) oral appliance cases this month.
    Reward:
    Movie Theater Tickets and popcorn for the team & their “plus one”
    Stretch Goal:
    Start ten (10) oral appliance cases this month.
    Stretch Reward: A limo ride to a “day at the racetrack” for the team

If you have any examples of how you gamified your practice please let us know! Remember the goal and reward needs to make sense for the practice but everyone can win and succeed together!

How are you going to gamify your practice?

Let us know on social media, or schedule a call with a sleep coach to get help make your first mini-game!

If you're not sure how to gamify your practice, then use the button below to talk to a sleep coach to help build your first office game!

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