As a dentist, you are constantly assessing the overall health of each patient. To do this, you use a variety of methods, technologies, and established procedures to diagnose and treat patients coming to you for care. You also draw upon your previous experience with each and every patient when determining what each patient needs. This mental “database” is unique to you and is a critical part of your ability to provide treatment and healing. In a similar way to how you call upon all of your expertise and resources in caring for patients, there are also important metrics, procedures, principles, and tools that can help you assess the health of your dental practice. Not only can these Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) help you diagnose what’s happening in your practice, they can also be used to help you treat and improve the health of your practice.
At Dental Intelligence, we work with thousands of providers around the country. We frequently hear some variation of the following question from them: “How can I keep a finger on the pulse on my practice?” This is an excellent question, which reflects the commitment these providers have to improve their dental practice. This question is often asked with some frustration and occasionally even a bit of anger. Clearly, this is something these caring professionals have been trying to figure out for some time, but without success. In spite of investing significant expense, energy, and effort into understanding which metrics matter and why many of these providers are still searching for answers.
Dr. Craig Spodak, owner of Spodak Dental Group in Delray Beach, Florida, was one of these frustrated practice owners trying to use metrics to improve patient care and team performance. He went so far as to spend significant resources in building a custom solution to gain insights into the health of his practice. During this process, he learned about Dental Intelligence and what we do to help practice owners and teams use data to grow their practice. After implementing our tools and processes, Dr. Spodak began to see improvement. The key for his practice and many others similar to his is knowing which metrics mattered and what to do to positively influence them.
At Dental Intelligence, our Profitability Formula™ is a cornerstone for how we gather, analyze data and report back.
This post will address just a few of the many elements found in this formula. The goal is to help you start to think about where your practice is today; what steps, if any, can be taken to improve, and hopefully to inspire you to take action. In his best-selling book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen R. Covey shared a story about teaching one of his children the importance of taking ownership of assigned responsibilities. He referred to this experience, which involved caring for their lawn, as “green and clean.” We use this phrase often here at Dental Intelligence when talking about practice teams becoming “owners” of their KPIs. What is “green and clean” to you? To your team? Your practice?
Green & Clean with Dr. Steven Covey
Here are the five metrics, based on the Dental Intelligence Profitability Formula, that every practice should be tracking.
- Annual Patient Value: Are we increasing the value of our patients? Annual Patient Value (APV) is determined by calculating collections per patient for all active patients. If APV is increasing, it’s a great sign that you’re increasing the value of your patients, meaning they’re receiving more of the treatment they need. 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. APV is an important lagging indicator. If you look at this compared to Production Per Visit (PPV), you can see deeper into the health of your practice. For example, if your APV was $600 and your PPV was $325 – this means you’re seeing your patients at most two times annually, which indicates there is likely a lot of unscheduled treatment & production sitting in your practice management software. This is a really good metric for determining the health of the practice and relates directly to the next two metrics you should be tracking.
- Pre-appointment %: This metric is determined by looking at your active patient base to learn how many of them have a future appointment. This tells you not only whether or not you’re getting new patients, recurring patients, etc. but also how many of them have a scheduled next appointment. This greatly impacts visits because if your pre-appointment % is low (<30-40%) it means a lot of your active patients aren’t coming back, meaning you’re not utilizing patient visits as well as you could be and thus your ability to increase production and visits is diminished.
- Production per visit (PPV): This is one of the top metrics to look at. PPV helps you identify how much and what kind of treatment you’re providing. Are you decreasing, are you seeing lulls, are you seeing cyclical patterns? I recently received an email from a dentist and dental study group leader in Pennsylvania asking for industry benchmarks (see below) to help the many dentists he works with understand why they’re seeing a decrease in production. Measuring PPV lets you see if the volume of patients is decreasing or if this is caused by patients accepting less treatment. It also helps you identify at what rate you are getting acceptance of treatment and helps you see how you’re doing in overall treatment in relation to your patients.
- Hygiene re-appointment %: How are you doing daily in re-appointing patients who came in for hygiene? How did you do yesterday with getting your patients back in the practice, scheduled for hygiene? This also impacts annual value.
- Periodontal treatment %: This helps you see from a preventative side how you’re doing as a whole, which drives production per visit. Are you increasing the amount of hygiene care you’re providing? This also drives hygiene production per visit. If you’re not finding perio-related opportunities, are you finding restorative production? And how are your hygienists doing in co-diagnosing this type of treatment?
So, if there was one metric to start with, it would be production-per-visit (PPV). Where are you currently on PPV? Calculate this for each month. Figure out where you are at here and begin building from here. Be sure to calculate for this year and last year. Where do you think you should be? Where do you want to be? The benchmarks below can help you compare. Are you where you want to be, and if not, do you know what to do to get to where you want to be? Metrics help you start to correlate your data with personal and team member behaviors. This then gets you to your case metrics, which can vary day to day depending on the patients coming in and how healthy their teeth are, but can also open a wide window into patient health and practice performance.
Once you know where you are, you can begin setting goals to impact your production per visit, which will drive your annual patient value. Exciting growth is almost guaranteed to begin happening. What’s YOUR “green & clean”?
Would you like to see how YOUR practice is performing right now? Below are the 2018 Dental Care Benchmarks from over 5,000 U.S.-based dental practices. How does your practice compare? Not sure? Click here to request your FREE, no-obligation dental practice analysis from Dental Intelligence and discover where you are, so you can go where you want to go.
P.S. Did you know that bridging Dental Intelligence and Open Dental is super-simple? Learn more here. These two solutions combined can turn your practice into the thriving, successful dental practice you’ve always imagined it could become.
A penny for your thoughts...