Remember Those 2014 Goals You Set Back in January?
Welcome to September. We are but a few weeks from the start of the last quarter of the year. And if past history is any indicator, you will likely lose several hours of productivity with all the parties, celebrations, and holidays that blanket the calendar in November and December. Oh, but Sally, there’s plenty of time. The end of the year is months away.
Well, yes there is plenty of time if you know how your current systems should be performing and are monitoring and making adjustments as you read this. For example, at this moment, your collections should be at 98%. If they are not, what’s your plan to improve them? Case acceptance should be at 85%. Do you know where yours stands? Hygiene should be producing 33% of practice production, and 80% of emergency patients should be converted to comprehensive exam. As for the schedule, it should have no more than 30 minutes of hygiene openings per day.
Did I hear you say, check, check, and check for those last three? Probably not. That last one in particular can be a serious challenge for many practices, as recall is commonly among the weakest systems in practices that are struggling. Unscheduled treatment is typically a close runner up.
You should be accessing the practice management system reports that are readily available, including the “Unscheduled Treatment” reports. These allow you to see who has unscheduled treatment in the files - revenues waiting to be tapped. With this information in hand, the objective is to get patients back in the practice. This may require a paradigm shift of sorts for your scheduling coordinator. Instead of being reactive - scheduling patients when they call - it requires that s/he be proactive and place the calls to encourage patients to schedule. But don’t send your scheduling coordinator out to line-up production without a clear and specific plan of action and a well-developed script to guide the conversation.
Moreover, keep in mind that encouraging patients to schedule their appointments isn’t the sole responsibility of the business staff. As patients return for hygiene appointments, it is essential that both the hygienist and the doctor emphasize the importance of pursuing treatment that has been diagnosed but not delivered.
Next, when was the last time you took the pulse of your patient retention? Far too many practices are losing more patients than they are retaining. Determine the number of patients the practice is losing each month. From there, you can evaluate the various systems, such as recall, that directly impact patient retention and establish realistic goals to improve them.
Take a close look at the “Production by Provider” Report every 30 days. This shows the number of each type of procedure performed over a specified period of time. Your business assistant should run this year-to-date report every month for each doctor and hygienist, so they can determine how their production compares with the same time periods last year as well as with production goals that have been established for this year.
In addition, consider new treatment services. Practices that are struggling are likely doing what they’ve always done, i.e. crowns, fillings, and prophys year-after-year. Dentists who are doing interceptive perio, endodontics, veneers, whitening, and implants not only expand their patient base and improve their production, but they also renew their professional enthusiasm for dentistry.
While you’re at it, take a close look at your clinical efficiency. We find that many dentists get up from their chair numerous times during patient procedures, or have their assistants leave the treatment room to retrieve items that should have been set up in the first place. Clinical time and motion studies reveal three more reasons for production shortfalls: 1) slow treatment room turnaround; 2) underutilization of chair-side assistants; and 3) poor planning for armamentaria and procedural protocols.
Finally, give some thought to your fees. Calculate your production per hour (PPH) along with a PPH analysis of every procedure you offer. This is much easier to determine than many realize. Take the amount of your fee for a specific procedure and divide that by the number of minutes it takes to do the procedure. That number is your production per minute. Now multiply the production per minute number by 60 minutes. That number is your production per hour (PPH). Once a year, consider implementing fee increases following an analysis of comparable fees in your area.
Next week, do you have the six key factors for success?
For more information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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