03.20.09 Issue #367 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague


Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Survive These Times….Give Your Patients What They Want

Dr. Marvin Black – Case Study #423

Dr. Black has prospered well over the last ten years but now things are changing rapidly and he was at a loss as to what to do.  Calling McKenzie Management for consulting services helped him get clear direction as to what to do to stay profitable.

Dr. Black’s practice statistics:

  • 22 New Comprehensive Patients per month
  • 5 New Emergency Patients per month
  • Service Mix (his would be considered very healthy in financially stable times):
    • 30% Diagnostic, Perio and Preventive
    • 10% Basic Restorative (composites, extractions)
    • 60% Major Restorative (C&B, onlays, veneers)

His primary concern is that his patients aren’t keeping their hygiene appointments and his new comprehensive patients aren’t accepting treatment.  It appears that the only guarantees of treatment acceptance are those patients with “emergency” needs – a crown to replace a fractured amalgam, a root canal for the abscessed tooth or an extraction for those patients that are not in a financial situation to accept the first two options.

Unfortunately, what Dr. Black didn’t realize was that his patients’ needs were the same but their wants were changing.

The Dental Menu
Have you noticed that when you frequent your favorite restaurant the menu changes from time to time?  Why?  Because the customers weren’t ordering that menu item anymore. This concept also applies to Dr. Black’s practice. He has the same patients but they aren’t “ordering” what is on his dental menu.

Change the Menu
It was obvious that in order to stay busy during a changing market, Dr. Black was going to need to adjust his approach. This change doesn’t need to be a permanent change, as Dr. Black is not excited about performing root canals and extractions. Over the years he has convinced himself that the “best” service for his patients was anything except extractions.  He is discovering now, after his practice income is 20% less than it was last year that he should take a different approach to his practice service mix. His patients are tightening their pocket books and are not as inclined to say “yes” to his “best” options.

What About Those Emergency Patients?
Historically, Dr. Black shied away from the potential new patient with a toothache. They were a “necessary evil” and interrupted his “perfect” schedule.  They weren’t inclined to accept his optimum treatment plan.  It was recommended to Dr. Black that he redefine what an emergency patient brings to the practice:

  • They will come whenever you give them an appointment and happy just to be seen
  • They can be “cash” patients since they aren’t a “patient of record” yet (assuming you don’t participate with their PPO plan)
  • They offer the practice an opportunity to invite them back to join the practice with a comprehensive exam and hygiene visit

Diagnosing and recommending treatment can be a source of stress because emergency patients are interested in getting out of pain, not your comprehensive treatment plan, so you have different expectations.  Dr. Black wants them to accept the “best” and they don’t want the “best” – they don’t want to hurt.  Why not respect their wants so it becomes a “slam dunk” treatment plan with 100% case acceptance?

What is Gained?
Why does Dr. Black want to invite emergency patients into his practice now?

  • To provide a “wanted” service to a patient in distress
  • Improve cash flow
  • Stay busy
  • Promote the practice

 Six months later, his production had increased and his overhead was reduced because the 11% lab overhead as a percentage of collections was now 7%.  Dr. Black was making more money!  As an added bonus, his “over-the-counter” collections increased from 38% to 42%

Conclusions:
 When financial times are good, everything is good and patients say “yes” to the best possible dental options.  When times are more financially challenging, patients are much more selective.  Dr. Black was a smart business owner.  He recognized that his “menu” wasn’t working, so he changed it.  He put services on the menu that his patients would “order” instead of saying, “Sorry Mrs. Jones, I don’t offer that here.  I only provide the “best” dental options to my patients!”  Who is to say that what the patient wants is not the “best” for that patient?  Feel good about providing the best service, and give your patients want they want….everyone wins!

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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