In a year none of us will ever forget, it would be understandable to just say “good riddance” and wish for a fast-forward button to skip ahead to January. Since that isn’t possible, it’s not too late to finish the year on a positive note and prepare for a better & brighter 2021.
What a challenging year it has been for those who own and work in a dental practice. You are truly unsung heroes and have stood steady through unprecedented opposition. From our vantage point, you have handled the load placed upon your backs with quiet courage and resilience. Thank you for your strength.
The following are ways some of the top-performing dental practices are coming back strong from the pandemic-related shutdown. These are steps that any practice can implement or improve in finishing the year on a high note.
#1 – Do a year-end performance review of your practice
When a patient comes for an annual appointment, what’s one of the first things you do? Take X-Rays, right? This gives you insight on the current condition of their mouth and helps you have meaningful conversations with each patient about their oral health and needed treatment. Your practice is no different. Before the end of this year, set aside time to do an “X-Ray” of your performance in 2020 and identify what went well and what needs some attention in 2021. It might help to go through each department and find one success and one weak area.
#2 – Wake up your morning huddle
Are you holding a daily morning huddle? If yes, fantastic! Huddles are some of the most effective ways to improve your practice culture and team performance. Here are four simple keys to making the most of your huddle time:
- Discuss yesterday: Take 2-3 minutes and highlight what went well and what needs improvement.
- Talk about today: Who is scheduled? Do they (or family members) have unscheduled treatment? Are there holes in the schedule from new cancellations? Are you scheduled to goal and if not, what can you do about that? This brief discussion can make all the difference in how the day turns out.
- Plan for tomorrow: What needs to be done today to set up a successful day tomorrow? This is your chance to set up for success.
- Celebrate! Make sure to make a big deal out of any successes or important events. This is the last thing your team should remember from your huddle: It was fun!
#3 – Find (and schedule) the right patients
Getting the right patients on your schedule has never been more important than right now. These are the patients who have remaining insurance dollars, who pay their bills, who don’t cancel or no-show on appointments, and who accept presented treatment. You need every one of these patients you can possibly add to be on your schedule. Start by identifying who these patients are and develop a plan for contacting them. This is information you can find within Open Dental and also, if you are a Dental Intelligence customer, within our growth platform.
#4 – Max those insurance dollars
You probably know about this one, but do you have a strategy for addressing it? Rather than just randomly calling every patient who still has insurance dollars, there is a better way. For example, Dental Intelligence has built an incredible tool called the Patient Finder that lets you do custom searches for the exact type of patients you want to schedule. Let’s say you want to see all of your active patients with at least $500 in unused benefits, all covered by your best-paying insurance provider (however your practice calculates this) and who have at least $500 in unscheduled production. Connecting to these patients with unused insurance benefits is a great way to finish 2020 strong.
#5 – Look for unscheduled hygiene
How many of your active patients currently have a scheduled appointment? Any ideas? Most practices think this number is at 80% or better. Fact is, most practices are under 50% and some are as low as 20%. What a great opportunity! Begin looking at this daily and develop a plan for reaching out to every unscheduled hygiene patient. Hygiene is the key to a thriving, successful practice, and that starts with making sure your hygiene re-appointment % is at 90% or better.
#6 – How’s your APV?
Annual Patient Value (APV) or collections per patient for all active patients, isn’t something a lot of practices think about, but it should be. How much value does each patient represent to your practice? Knowing this can have a significant impact on how you schedule and prioritize your patients. APV is also a great way to track the overall health of your practice. If your average APV is increasing, that’s a good indicator you are on the right track. Determining APV gets rid of a lot of the “fluff” around gross production. Knowing the annual value of each patient helps you accurately answer questions like “Is my practice healthy?” “What am I collecting per active patient?” “Are we seeing our patients enough?” and others.
#7 – Plan now for 01/01/2021
January 1st, 2021 is just weeks away. What can you do to make sure you begin the new year in the best possible condition to succeed? This one may sound familiar and seem obvious, but developing a plan for what you want to accomplish in the next year is one of the best ways you can prepare for success. Here are four areas every dental practice should pay attention to when setting goals for 2021:
- Unscheduled family members – consider setting a goal to ask each patient during each appointment about unscheduled family members. Also make an effort when confirming scheduled appointments with patients to also offer possible times & dates for unscheduled family members to come in.
- Unscheduled treatment – check to see what treatment has been presented but not yet scheduled with patients before they come in. Suggest they take advantage of the time in your office to get some or all of that needed treatment taken care of.
- Past-due accounts receivable (AR) – review this regularly and assign someone with some experience and good people skills to engage with past-due patients. This is a great way to improve your cash flow and strengthen your connection with patients.
- Unscheduled hygiene – here’s another great opportunity to fill holes in your schedule and provide better care for your patients. Review your active patient lists (Dental Intelligence has powerful tools to help with this) and focus on getting these patients needing hygiene care scheduled.
If you are like most dental practices, right now is a super-busy one. It would be easy to just focus on the here-and-now and hope 2021 takes care of itself. Resist that temptation and instead, consider how you could implement at least one of these seven steps in your office over the next few weeks. There are two important reasons for doing so: First, it’s a matter of patient health. The more patients you see and treat means that more of those you care about will experience an improvement in their overall health. Second, these steps will improve the health of your practice. That means happier team members, new equipment, year-end bonuses, and other important indicators of success.
From everyone in the dental industry, we salute you. Thank you for your incredible efforts to care for your patients. Here’s to a great finish!
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.