THIS! And I only Have to Work until I’m 95
Too many dentists are signing
away their life savings as well as their lives for that exclusive,
gorgeous office they’ve always dreamed of and simply cannot
afford. Most convince themselves that the lure of the space alone
will cause patients to spontaneously appear and schedule full-mouth
When the illusion evaporates, many doctors are stunned by the harsh
reality that the bigger, better space doesn’t automatically
translate into greater production. Unless ... you develop
a plan for how
you will attract and keep new patients as well as improve
treatment acceptance among current patients. As tempting as that
dazzling new office may be, don’t sign on the dotted line
until you have the collections to pay for it or a solid
plan for increasing those collections.
you’ve already signed away the next 30+ years of your life
and handed over your retirement savings for a down payment, grab
on to a lifeline and take these steps:
full payment at the time of service for all procedures that are
In lieu of extending credit to patients, partner with a patient
financing company, such as CareCredit.
Offering payment options for patients not only allows you to collect
what you produce, but production also will go up if patients have
a means to pay for procedures they need and want.
offering a slight adjustment in the fees, such as 5%, for more
costly procedures paid in full. Refer to this as a bookkeeping
adjustment not a discount.
insured patients to pay a portion of their payment responsibility
when services are rendered.
not allow post-dated checks. These amount to lots of money in
a drawer and not in the bank.
patients the opportunity to pay in full within 30 days before
assessing a financing charge on the account.
Evaluate the time required for each procedure, fixed expenses
necessary to run the office, variable expenses such as supplies
and lab fees, and income required per hour to compensate yourself.
Establish a standard fee schedule for each service.
practice fees 5% yearly or twice a year at 2% and 3%.
a designated number of patient phone calls each day.
Schedule a specific number of patient appointments.
Ensure that a precise number of patients complete treatment.
Schedule so that the hygienist achieves a specific daily or monthly
financial goal – at 3x their daily wages.
Services to Existing Patients
Educate patients on the services your office provides, including
Use before and after photos to show patients the benefits of elective
patients brochures and information about your services; don’t
just set materials out in your waiting room.
excellent customer service.
Call patients at the end of the day to see how they are doing
and answer questions.
Send a small gift and thank you note to patients referring new
Renting Space in the Office
Consult your attorney for necessary legal guidance, but consider
having the renting dentists pay a specified amount each month or
a percentage of his/her production or collections. Be sure the renting
dentist represents your practice well and maintains an equally high
standard of care.
you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie
in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
YOU FIND YOURSELF WAIST DEEP IN
HERE TO ANSWER THESE
10 EASY QUESTIONS
to improve management techniques through your technology platform
VP Professional Relations
Last week, [see
article], I discussed how to close all of the “cracks”
in your scheduler. Even if it helps your practice reschedule just
one more patient per month, it will be worth the small amount of
effort to learn those features of your software.
This week, I want to focus in on some of the “little things”
your software can do that make a big difference to your patients’
perception of the service level in your office.
A few of the “little things” ...
Most, if not all practice management systems will print a merged
letter of some kind. Some systems require you to use a word processor
like MSWord, while others give you the choice of printing directly
from their software or using a word processor. The first step is
to uncover all of the different ways you can use your system to
generate a “merged” single letter to a patient. A “merged”
letter is a document that automatically places the patient
information (name and address usually) in the correct position of
Print all of the letters that come with your practice management
system. I know some of them look kind of “hokie”, so
what! Print them anyway. Create a pile of all the patient
letters your system has inside. Bring the pile of letters
to a team meeting and ask the team to review them. You will end
up with letters you can use right away, letters that need to be
altered to fit the practice message, and letters you would never
send one of your patients. Alter the letters that need to be changed
to fit your practice message.
Almost every letter has a specific purpose. With every purpose is
a logical time to remember to generate the letter. For instance,
if a new patient calls in and books an appointment – that
“logical time” is a good time to fire off a letter!
Here are some examples ...
to the office letter – new patient schedules
Overdue balance letter – 1st phone call has been made with
Thank you for referral letter - Patient notes on their med history
form that they were referred by another patient of record.
absence – Patient requires one after treatment for work or
Overdue recall – You are at the end of the physical (phone
call) follow up cycle
Patient referred out – Patient takes home full contact information
for the office you referred them to along with their return instructions
referred in by medical/dental professional – Initial referral
recognition goes out accompanied by recommended treatment report
Professionally referred patient completes treatment – Treatment
status letter goes out
And so on, and so on ...
If you do Step #4, I will be MOST impressed. For every “event”
that should generate a letter, go into your practice management
system and tell it to remind you and your team members to send
the letter! Many of the practice management systems have
“flags” or “alerts” that you can set up
to automatically prompt the user. If your system has this feature,
this is exactly what this feature was designed to accomplish (among
Keep the letters flowing out of your office. It literally takes
seconds to generate a document. You can pile them up and fold them
up and stamp them all at the end of every day. When your dental
practice was just starting, I bet you crawled all over each other
to do the “little things” that would endear your new
patients to the practice. Why stop doing them? Marketing
to attract new patients is expensive. Keeping the patients
you have and making them your advocates in the community is fast
and inexpensive. Hey, it’s your dime!
I welcome any and all readers to email
me with specific questions, problems, requests and challenges.
Who knows? Maybe your inquiry will lead to a new Tips For Today
article! Don’t worry, your inquiry will remain anonymous unless
you want credit for the question.
in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club?
you DON’T do anything to improve your
history is bound
to repeat itself.
Find out how you can make the
most of your practice...GO
Dr. Allan Monack
Hygiene Clinical Director
you realize that making your hygiene department more efficient with
time saving techniques, you could possibly add
up to two more patients in the daily schedule? What would that mean
to a practice? An opportunity to service more past due patients
and increase practice revenues just to name a few. Organizing the
hygienists daily routine to work smarter, not harder not only makes
life easier for the hygienist but benefits the patient who now is
sitting in the treatment chair less time. Implementing a well
thought out plan with the following time savers will increase production
and reduce stress on the hygienist and doctor.
Time Saver #1 If you are not utilizing ten
minute interval appointments for hygiene patients, convert
your scheduler as soon as possible. This alone can save five to
ten minutes per patient chair time. Some 60 minute patients may
be able to be done in 50 minutes, for example.
Saver #2 Promise your hygienist that you will be available
to perform the examination during the patient’s
allotted appointment time. Your ability to accomplish this is easier
than you think. Expand the time you have to do the exam. I recommend
that you examine the patient after the radiographs are ready to
view and all preliminary evaluations are completed. These include
intra-oral photographs, periodontal probing, caries detection, defective
restoration evaluation, cosmetic considerations, and orthodontics.
The patient should be informed of these preliminary findings. I
will discuss the important part of the recall visit in a future
column. If there are two hygienists seeing recall patients, it is
best to perform both examinations before returning
to your patient. It takes less time to get up from your operative
patient one time than… up and down and up and down.
Time Saver #3 Make sure the currettes and scalers
are sharp and a sharpening stone is on every hygiene setup. Utilize
high volume suction and water spray to cleanse the oral cavity.
This will minimize the biggest time waster, the swish
and rinse procedure.
Time Saver #4 A new type of prophy angle now available
called “The Twist“ practically eliminates
splatter and the constant dabbing and dotting
the prophy cup into the prophy paste. It takes a change in the traditional
mind set on the way you’ve been taught the polishing technique.
Once the technique is mastered, it will reduce approximately
five minutes off the polishing time. There is a reduction
in splatter and the prophy paste stays in the prophy cup during
polishing. For more information or to order you can contact the
manufacturer, “Twist2It” at 1-877-PROPHYS.
Saver #5 The best time saver I have found is the addition
of an apprentice. This hygiene assistant job description
would entail breaking down treatment rooms, sterilizing instruments,
and setting up the operatory for the next patient. This person could
be responsible for up to four operatories including
seating the patient, developing radiographs, assist in charting,
and escorting the patient to the financial coordinator. With the
amount of time required for infection control this position becomes
an integral part of the team saving an enormous amount of time for
the hygienist and the doctor’s assistant. When considering
a hygiene assistant their salary plus the hygienist’s salary
combined should not exceed 33% of the production of the two employees.
In order to implement these time saving ideas, proper planning
is necessary. Begin by having a team meeting to discuss
implementation. Encourage your team to develop other ideas. Empower
them to create an efficient and productive office. A well thought
out plan will increase production, provide better customer service
and keep your schedule on time. Now you have some of the best time
savers that will increase your hygiene production
with less stress and better patient care.
YOU LIKE TO IMPROVE YOUR HYGIENE DEPARTMENT?
Management’s Hygiene Clinical
Practice Enrichment Program is designed to improve Hygiene
Clinical Skills and develop and implement a step-by-step Interceptive
Periodontal Therapy Program that will immediately bring greater
productivity, with enhanced patient care. For more information...GO
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Top Selling Books
Cash Flow, Hiring, Hygiene, Performance Measurements, Recall
25 - 27
Recently I've run into a problem with my recalls as a number of
them say they want to come but tell the receptionist that I’ll
come when I'm ready. How do we rebook these patients and what is
a good way to say it to them?
Having done a lot of research in this area for our clients, the
patient saying “I will call you back” is their
way of gaining control of the conversation. If we allow them to
have it, we lose. I advise our clients to come back with, “There’s
no problem for me to call you in two or three weeks. Would that
be convenient?” So, I am giving them a 2-3 week offer
to keep the monkey on my back. If the patient says “No.”
then I come back with an offer of 2-3 months to call them back.
“Mrs. Smith, I understand how things can get hectic with
day to day things. Would it be better for you if I called you back
in two or three months?” The operative word here is “months”.
If the patient comes back and says “NO!” then
say, “That’s fine, Mrs. Smith. We will have your
records here in safekeeping till you decide the time is right for
you to come in. If there’s anything we can do in the meantime,
again my name is Sally and our number here is 459-4938.”
At the conclusion of that conversation, a confirmation letter
is sent to the patient confirming that we care about their dental
health and want you to know that your records will be kept here
in safekeeping until you decide the time to return. I then recommend
going into the “benefits” of why they should return,
regarding gum disease, etc. I also enclose a business card with
our phone number. I would not call this patient back but once their
next recall visit is due, say 6 months later another written correspondence
have written a book about this,
To Have a Successful Recall
that you might be interested in. You can view it on my web-site,
or you can call my office 1-877-777-6151 and ask for Sara.
US TRAIN YOUR
Center for Dental Career Development
Business Education for Dental Professionals
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La Jolla, CA 92037
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