“I don’t think this is going to work.”
Christina Moreno, Director of Dental Intelligence’s Onsite Training program, was working with a dental practice in Texas recently and heard this comment from one of the senior members of the team. This team member had been in dentistry for many years and didn’t see a reason to switch to yet another solution that claimed to help dental practices improve patient care and team performance. She had developed a paper-based tracking system and had been using it for many years to manage collections, financial performance, and more. During a break in the training, Christina and this team member had a chance to speak one-on-one about her concerns. After listening carefully to what this team member had shared, Christina responded by saying “I think I understand where you’re coming from. Change is hard. But my goal is to make your life easier, and Dental Intelligence will absolutely help to make that happen.”
One of Christina’s discoveries in working with this practice was that they weren’t holding a daily huddle. Dental Intelligence has found that dental practices that meet each day for 15 minutes or less to discuss and celebrate yesterday’s performance, today’s schedule and goals, as well as tomorrow’s opportunities, have several advantages over those practices that don’t huddle regularly. Christina invited this team member, along with the rest of the practice, to begin holding a morning huddle each day for the next thirty days and see what would happen.
It’s (almost) All About Team
Something Christina has learned from working with many dental practices is the importance of team collaboration in improving performance. If only one team member is committed to improvement or is given the job of implementing a solution like Dental Intelligence, success will be harder to come by. She talked about this with the office manager and discussed how they could use the huddle as something the team was invested in vs. just the OM or owner having a stake in huddling. One way this can be accomplished is by giving each team member a role in looking for opportunities to discuss during the huddle – i.e. unscheduled treatment, unscheduled recall, etc. The entire team committed to begin holding a huddle to see if it would make a difference.
30 days later, Christina used Dental Intelligence’s cloud-based platform to see how this practice was doing and discovered that in the 30 days since they began doing a huddle, not only had they increased their future visits, but they had also increased their production per visit. Their collections also increased. Their average Production Per Visit went up more than it had been up the entire year: $62 more avg. collected per visit compared to where they had been in January 2019. After looking at this, Christina said to the office manager, “Do you realize that by just looking at what you can do today with your patients and looking at those opportunities you increased from 88% hygiene reappointment to 97% reappointment in only 30 days?” The office manager’s response was classic. “Christina, you said to leave no patient behind.”
This office manager then told Christina, “We’re really focusing on scheduling everybody that we can, whether they’re in the practice or have family members associated with them. If we can make an appointment, we try and make an appointment.” Christina had her look at her Dental Intelligence Auto Follow-ups – there were a few completed ones, but not what would typically be expected thirty days after being trained in their use of Dental Intel’s platform. “There should be a lot of utilization there,” Christina said. “They talked about the spike in their numbers and what the cause could be. The office manager talked again about huddling and scheduling more patients.”
Christina celebrated this with the OM and pointed out how this was having a huge financial impact on the practice. She then had her look at Dental Intel’s Profitability Formula (see below) and said, “Look at your visits and production per visit.” Both had been improved significantly. “They were floored,” Christina said. “The doctor/practice owner said he felt like things were getting better but wasn’t sure. I told him that Dental Intel will let you see exactly what’s happening and not just guess or hope that things are improving. ‘I had no idea,’ the doctor replied.” Christina talked about how this growth was only at the 30-day mark and told them to look forward to what they would see happen after a quarter of holding a daily huddle and measuring their key performance indicators.
This example shows that you can be a small practice and still see big results when you follow proven business principles. As Christina put it, “Only having one person upfront shouldn’t hinder you from getting the most of your opportunities. I think if you are using the data and the tools available to you, it doesn’t matter whether you have five staff in the front or just one person – when you’re all focused on the same goal, you can get the results that you’re wanting. You just have to be committed to the process and committed to doing it together and then celebrating the results.”
Schedule to Goals, Not to Fill Holes
As mentioned previously, another area Christina wanted to help this practice with was improving their Production Per Visit (PPV.) Typically, if a practice has low PPV ($200 or less) she’ll ask if they are in-network with a lot of insurance companies. If that answer doesn’t suffice, Christina knows that the problem is likely how the practice is scheduling. “Generally, most practices don’t schedule strategically,” Christina said. “They don’t schedule in order to reach their goals – usually they’re just trying to fill their schedule, the so-called ‘Fill the chair’ approach. But if their goal is a certain amount and you’re $800 short of that goal, you need to do some work to identify how best to close that gap. Go to your buckets. Look for the right kind of patients. Sometimes the front office can panic, understandably, when they see a hole and just want to do whatever it takes to fill it as quickly as possible. But if instead, they will take a look at the metrics with the understanding that there are actions behind those metrics, they can figure it out. This takes a process that everyone is committed to following and should include a ‘Who, What, When’ component. Instead of panicking, look at the system and process and commit to it. Give yourself time to make good decisions. Even if you feel panicked, don’t give in to that feeling. Think strategically, not reactively.”
Don’t Forget to Get Paid
A final area that Christina feels will help practices to improve their performance and thus their patient care is collections. You perhaps may be wondering; how do collections relate to patient care? There are a number of ways, but let’s think about some obvious ones. What you collect is what determines the type of equipment and services you can offer. It affects the way you compensate your team, which directly impacts the type of team you can hire and retain. What you collect each month certainly impacts what you as the practice owner take home, which has a bearing on how you feel about your work and thus no doubt at least influences how you do that work. The point is this: Collections are the lifeblood of your practice. If you’re not collecting, at some point you may no longer be in business.
A system like Dental Intelligence is built around giving you insights into the financial health of your practice. It allows you to see things like AR and Claims Aging, 90-day Collections %, Annual Patient Value (i.e. the amount of value, by dollar, that each patient represents to your practice), and so much more. This easily accessible information provides you with an important understanding of what you are collecting compared to what you are billing, which in turn enables you to make better financial decisions about your practice. In Christina’s words, “Collections is where the rubber meets the road. If we’re not getting paid, we can have all kinds of production, but if we don’t have a solid system about how we’re collecting money, then that’s a huge problem. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone into a practice and they don’t know that they can create a payment plan in their management software to take that person that’s now 90-plus days into occurrence. So, then you can just focus on the people who really do owe you money and be proactive about collecting for services you’ve provided.”
Putting It All Together
As a dentist, you are first and most importantly a provider of care. This is what drives everything else you do. The business decisions you make about your practice are directly tied to how they will impact the type and quality of care you provide to each patient. This is exactly how it should be. If the health of each patient is your primary concern, then measuring how your practice is performing will directly benefit those patients you care so much about. But don’t take our word for it. Here is what the office manager in this practice in Texas shared in a five-star Google Review after they started using Dental Intelligence to track how they were doing.
“We jumped in full force using Dental Intel on January 1st and have seen nothing but good things with it. We have seen a growth in production month by month and there are no patients going unseen. It shows you pending treatment, who is due for recalls, how many times that patient has been contacted to try to schedule and allows you to touch base with those patients who just refuse to schedule while in the practice and want to think about it. It’s our go-to for everything and it provides all the data and metrics for us to compare and to see growth in our practice. Could not imagine our office without it. Dental Intel is like having that extra employee that focuses on scheduling and production. So, go get started – what are you waiting for?”
Good question! What ARE you waiting for? 😉 If you’re ready to grow your practice like never before, Dental Intelligence is ready to help get you there. Your first step is to understand where you are. We’ll show you, for free! This is gonna be fun!