Holes in your associate dentist schedule?
Just last week I talked with Susan, a young dentist who joined her father’s practice in Florida about a year ago and was looking for some help since her schedule still had significant holes. With her father’s agreement, she asked me to evaluate their practice and share some suggestions for how to improve.
Thanks to the fact this practice uses Dentrix, I was able to connect remotely and run a series
of reports to help the dentists identify strengths and opportunities for improvement. Most of these reports are found in the Dentrix office manager under Reports and by running each one and looking at the results, we could create a nice profile of this practice.
Evaluating the practice using Dentrix Reports
Production & Collection
Looking at production and collection for her, her father and the whole practice, she was right, there certainly was room for growth. I also found that her collection was running about 25% while her father’s collection rate was 160%! Overall, the whole practice was averaging 94% for the past quarter, so a little low.
Upon further review, i could see that payments were entered to the father only, so now that she had joined the practice, it was time for some updated training on entering insurance and personal payments to the provider.
The aging looked good for current, over 30 and over 60 days. The over 90 days aging looked high (almost the same as the current category), but that may be how the staff has handled accounts that didn’t pay over the years.
Dental Insurance aging
The team was doing a great job with staying on top of outstanding claims. All categories of over 30, over 60 and over 90 days were very low. I suggested the dentists thank their office staff for doing such a great job on insurance follow up.
This was an area that could use some help. I ran just one week of the unscheduled treatment plans report and found twice as much production as the associate dentist was producing in a full month! So, it looks like the office is doing an excellent job of diagnosing treatment and entering it into Dentrix, but perhaps a stronger follow up system would help fill schedules.
Looking at the production for each hygienist and then comparing it against the compensation suggested that the entire hygiene team was doing a nice job.
When I ran the recall reports to compare the number of patients due with and without attached appointments, I found their recall success to be at 66%. Not bad. Unfortunately, I found that the office was only using one type of recall: the prophy. In today’s day and age of taking care of patients who have had full dentures or have been through soft tissue management or periodontal scaling, there are several other recalls that can be used. In fact, Dentrix can be set up to run a recall on anything you can imagine you want to follow up on. This is definitely an opportunity to fill schedules.
In analyzing the practice’s new patients, I found that they were averaging about 45 new patients per month. Im sure Dr. Susan would feel better if they were closer to the benchmark of 30 new patients per dentist, so investing in marketing or considering joining an insurance plan might help these numbers. On the bright side, I found that almost half of their new patients were self pay! This is absolutely wonderful!
The only bummer about their existing new patients was the fact that the staff did not document the referral source on any new patients at all. In fact, when I ran the Dentrix Referred by Dr/Other Report, it was empty! So, I recommend they start investigating the health histories of their new patients, especially the self pay ones, to identify the referral sources. I’m guessing they ask on their health history, “How did you find out about our practice?” but just didn’t document this in the family file.
Once they find out what is working to bring in these patients, they can invest in similar programs and hopefully increase their new patients again!
Reports tell the real story
It can be disappointing to look at your schedule full of holes and wonder what you could do to make things better. But when you really begin to analyze your practice using real numbers, you can quickly discover many opportunities to improve. And, if you would like someone to do the analysis for you, just give me a call!
Coordinating between teams is just one way to run a successful dental practice. If you’re interested in new ideas on running a dental practice, please subscribe to my blog:
One of the biggest challenges to managing a dental practice is managing dental insurance. With dental insurance handled, then dental marketing for new patients becomes a primary focus. In today’s day of online reviews, handling patient complaints well is essential. As your practice grows, hiring dental staff becomes more important. With 16+ years of dental practice management experience, I’m open to your questions to help you run a successful dental office.
Feel free to email me.