Date ArticleType
5/14/2019 Insights

Systems, Not New Patients, are the Lifeblood of Your Practice! Are You Managing Them Effectively?

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Systems, Not New Patients, are the Lifeblood of Your Practice! Are You Managing Them Effectively?
by Tonya Burns

When asking dentists and their teams what is the most important thing they do in their practice, the typical answer is continue getting a steady stream of new patients. Don’t get me wrong, new patients are an important part, but keeping the patients you currently have and worked so hard to get, is the most important thing. Many of you are thinking, but we do keep all of the patients we see in office. But do you? If you are not monitoring systems, you really have no idea.

Let’s start with your Active Patient Base. What is your definition of it? How do you determine it? If you have ever worked with a consultant or coach, you probably have a good idea. If you have ever generated that report in your practice management software, you are likely seeing a drastically-inflated number. Either way, knowing how many patients you have is the key to effective practice management. Why? Because everything starts there.

Once you know your true active patient base numbers, you can calculate how many hygiene hours are needed. How do you currently figure out your necessary hygiene hours? If you said, when the schedule is getting full and we can’t accommodate more patients, you are not alone. The problem with that method, is that there are no solid KPI’s, or Key Practice Indicators, to support you. This can greatly increase overhead if you are not careful.

At the end of the day, a dentist can only see so many patients in a day/week/month. What is that number for you? There isn’t a bulletproof answer, because every practice is different and capable of different things. Going back to those KPI’s, you can confidently look at your practice and decide when you want to stop growing, add an associate, add a location and more. The possibilities are endless if you have the data to support it!

Now that you understand the importance of the true size of your patient base, the next step is to implement the systems needed to maintain every patient and make sure they do not get lost in the shuffle or fall through the cracks. The most common systems are: Recare (if you are general or pedo), Unscheduled Treatment, Insurance Verification/Tracking and Statements/Collections. Sure, you know you need to work these systems, but are you working them efficiently, effectively and consistently? Probably not. When working in a busy practice and are just trying to get through the day, there isn’t time to devote to the systems needed to keep on track. It’s the “trickle-down effect”. The key is to have systems that are simple and bite size pieces and easy to manage.

Something that will help is to work on your Recare weekly, instead of monthly. That report can be daunting and you may never see the end. Send statements weekly, instead of monthly. Your patients will get a statement every 28 days, but you will only send a few a week. This will increase cash flow, help with questions and phone calls and most importantly, make it easier to manage. Gather information prior to visits, so you can verify insurance before the patient is in the office. Track your outstanding claims weekly or even use an outside billing company. You can also use a binder for your unscheduled treatment, to make follow up consistent, but not overwhelming. Have you ever generated that unscheduled treatment report? It is long and overwhelming at best.

Systems are nothing, if they are not monitored for effectiveness. Understanding your KPI’s will help you move your practice in the right direction. There are companies out there that have programs to help, or you can track them in office.

Some of the KPI’s to monitor are: 

  • Active Patient Base
  • Hygiene Pre-Appointment
  • Retention
  • Case Acceptance
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Outstanding Insurance
  • Production per hour/visit and more.
Help your office achieve the success it is capable of and fix problems before you feel the effects! That is the art of managing a dental practice!

For more information, please contact Tonya at [email protected] 

Tonya Burns
Complete Dental Practice Consulting