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practice intelligence

Practice intelligence: an understanding of how key performance indicators (data gathered by your practice management software) can show you ways to grow your practice.

You see them everywhere. You know, those “before and after” pictures of people who have supposedly used the “best diet ever” to lose 100 pounds in four weeks? “No workout needed!” “Eat what you want!” “Look like a movie star!” Probably smart to be skeptical about those claims, right?

How about a “before and after” picture of a dental practice? Not the office itself, as in the furnishings, operatories, or other physical aspects of the practice, but the “before and after” of a practice or practices that may have been struggling to grow and then, after implementing an effective solution or change in process, began to perform and prosper in sustainable and even remarkable ways?

Here’s the story of a practice in Texas that has been using the insights discovered using practice intelligence to profoundly change how they practice dentistry. Although their remarkable results are measured in key indicators such as pre-appointment percentage and future scheduled appointments, the metrics that really matter are those that relate to improved patient health. Every patient rescheduled for care and every patient accepting needed treatment is a patient moving closer to optimal care, the goal of any practice management solution.

Before this practice began using practice intelligence to improve patient care and team performance, sustainable growth in each practice was difficult to come by. According to this practice’s Regional Office Manager, Christina, an area she saw that needed real help was their hygiene department. “I couldn’t understand how we could be scheduling above goal and yet our hygiene production was consistently thousands of dollars below goal,” said Christina. “But by using the analysis and insights available to me in my dashboard, I discovered the ‘why.’” Empowered with this data, Christina knew what needed to happen.

“We weren’t interested in ‘gotcha,’” Christina said. “It was about being able to sit down with team members, in this case, our hygiene team, and look at the data together and the trends and patterns it was revealing.” She talked about how scary things like this can be for team members. “We needed to put ourselves on the scale and see what things really looked like. This can be scary, but you have to know where you really are. Only then can you formulate a plan to improve.”

Christina and the practice owner put together a PowerPoint showing each provider what their trends were for the current and previous year. “We went code-specific because in doing so we could see exactly how many adults had prophies, what percentage of them had fluoride treatment, children who got sealants, how many folks got x-rays, etc. By looking at each of these services individually, we could see things that we did or didn’t provide and determine what was working and see where we needed to improve. Asking the tough questions and having the candid conversations in a safe environment was difficult but essential if we were going to realize the changes we needed to make.” Before the meeting, Christina also shadowed each hygienist for a day and took notes on how they were presenting treatment, interacting with patients, time management, etc. After doing so, Christina and the practice owner sat down together and formulated an agenda for their meeting. The goal was simple: Help their team to improve so they could provide better care to their patients.

As they met together with the hygiene team, Christina and the practice owner discussed their concerns, using their data as evidence of where things needed to improve. They used Dental Intelligence’s Growth Platform for this process, but other solutions are also readily available to help dental practices see, understand, and act on their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Although at first the conversations were difficult, seeing the data in front of them (numbers don’t lie) helped the hygiene team to understand what wasn’t working and why they needed to change.

Exciting things began to happen. When the entire team met at the beginning of the next month to discuss the previous month’s production, everyone but the hygiene team got a bonus. But the trend was moving in the right direction, and the practice owner told the hygiene team she couldn’t wait to see how they were doing at the end of the current month. Thirty days later, the hygiene team had produced above their goal by $8,000! The excitement and momentum this created for the entire hygiene team was palpable. To go from never hitting their goals to blowing those goals away in only thirty days was almost miraculous. Team members shared how seeing their numbers helped them come to terms with what they needed to change while helping them also know how to act on those insights. Seeing really was believing.

Christina and the practice owner instituted weekly meetings with the hygiene team to give them face time with the dentist and to discuss processes and implementation. They used data to guide their conversations and to assist them in making on-the-spot changes as needed. They also began using a Follow-Up tool from Dental Intelligence as a daily checklist for everyone to focus their daily activities on creating specific action items for team members while ensuring no patients slipped through the cracks. Each Monday morning, team members reviewed their data to find the previous week’s presented treatment that wasn’t scheduled, and they then called those patients to get them on the schedule.

According to Christina, this process has significantly reduced the number of patients that are falling through the cracks. In her words, “Data is a part of our performance evaluations. It helps everyone be more productive and more accountable for their part of the overall direction of the practice. Practice intelligence is truly essential to our success. It’s that important. PERIOD.”

Data is your friend. Instead of fearing what you might see, consider how having access to these types of insights could change the quality and amount of patient care you provide. But rather than trying to fix everything all at once, follow the same pattern this practice followed by starting with one thing and staying with it. What kind of amazing things could happen? Go find out!

At Dental Intelligence, we’re committed to helping your practice grow. We’d love to help you see where you are, so you can achieve the goals that are most important to you. Visit us today to request your free practice analysis. 

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