How to Run Your Dental Group Practice
Dental group practices are formed in dozens of ways. Some as a result of long term planning where each office is thoroughly evaluated and measured to determine if it is a good fit for the group. Others occur suddenly due to tragic circumstances where everything is in a rush. No matter how your multi-location group practice was formed, now you may be looking for a more organized approach to management to make the most of your group practice status.
Benefits of solid management
As the dentist owner of a multi-location group practice, you are busy! Most likely you are seeing patients, coaching your associates on clinical care and case acceptance, keeping an eye on the bottom line and trying to make sure you visit each office regularly to stay in touch with your team and provide some leadership to the group. And, if you’re growing, you may also be meeting with advisors, considering new practices for purchase and meeting with your accountant to make sure everything is on track.
As you’re working as many hours as you can, you know there are many facets of business management that also need attended to, such as:
- Developing leaders among the staff – team leaders for each clinical team as well as a leader for each location
- Daily and monthly numbers reporting – you want to see the performance of each location, but you don’t have time to run the reports yourself
- Run effective meetings for staff and dentists to follow up on projects and make sure tasks get accomplished in a timely manner
- Manage all technology – evaluate purchases, manage installation and training and keep up with day to day computer/equipment issues
- Staff management – manage staff that ask for raises, handle upsets, coordinate the schedule and keep everyone on the same page
- Manage marketing – manage the budget, keep the website updated along with social media and videos, evaluate marketing programs and make sure all marketing programs provide a decent return on investment
- Financial management – manage bill paying and oversee the aging and insurance outstanding to make sure our income and expenses are meeting industry benchmarks and in the proper balance
- Staff training – identify practice needs (is it time to add another hygienist or assistant?), consistently train staff to meet both clinical care and customer service needs of patients
- Support dentists – facilitate meetings with agendas and follow up to help the dentists and specialists across all locations maintain relationships and work smoothly together
- Handle upset patients – deal with complaints in an effective, caring, confident manner
Who should handle these tasks? As group practices are formed and these management level tasks become essential for success, a dental administrator position can be created to handle these responsibilities. The dental administrator is primarily responsible for running the business side of the group practice – and the tasks listed above become the job description. The ideal candidate for this dental administrator position is someone who thinks strategically, writes well and manages people well. Often, in a group practice, there is at least one office manager that seems to rise to the top in management skills and this may be an opportunity to promote this person into this role.
Training for a dental administrator
What if this person needs training? In your group, whether you hired a manager-level person from outside dentistry or you promoted an office manager into the dental administrator role, you may need specific training for this person. Training on dental-specific knowledge such as dental software reporting or insurance management is essential for someone new to the dental field. And, for an office manager promoted into this oversight role, business skills are needed to handle the volume and variety of tasks required.
There are several helpful training resources available. From reading magazines and blogs, taking online courses, reading reports to attending conferences, your dental administrator can gain knowledge and skills. A great way to train your dental administrator is to find an experienced group practice administrator to show her the ropes. Through providing an organized training approach and being a personal resource for your administrator, this may be one of the fastest ways to train successfully.
Ongoing Management Support
Once your dental administrator learns management skills she can partner with the dentist owner to run the practice. With regular meetings and continued education by the dentist owner, the administrator will continue to expand her role – eventually recruiting new dentists and supporting the dentist owner’s special projects. One of the challenges the administrator will face is a rapid accumulation of new projects on top of regular responsibilities without falling behind. This takes the ability to delegate and train staff throughout the offices so all the work is completed in a timely manner.
If you are the dentist owner of a group practice and you like the idea of having a trained administrator on board, then you may be interested in my experience coaching a 4 location group and training their administrator:
Hiring an administrator for your group 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 weekly 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 18+ years of dental practice management experience, I’m open to your questions to help you run a successful dental office.