7.23.10 Issue #437 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Your Practice Website Was Last Updated... When?
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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In today’s marketplace, dentists have a number of options when it comes to updating their practice websites. They can work with established companies that are highly regarded in the dental marketplace or they can work with local web developers. Regardless, the process of developing or fully updating a website has come a long way from where it was just a few years ago, and having an attractive, user-friendly practice website that is easy to maintain can be created for as little as $2,500.

One of the most significant changes we’ve seen in website development is that the customer can have much more control over alterations to the site. You can edit, change, delete, and do what you want with your website, when you want. And the process of changing content has been simplified by leaps and bounds, which means the cost of doing so has come down significantly, making this a very good time to update your site, particularly if it hasn’t been changed in the past year or more. 

Last week, I talked about a few of the key points to consider when updating your site. Specifically, you want to use images and photographs that will appeal to your target audience. Provide enough information, but don’t overwhelm the reader with information that is too technical or too graphic. Give them the option to click on to other pages to learn more if they desire. And make sure that your site is easy to navigate. If it becomes too difficult, the reader will be on to the next dental website in a fraction of a second.

What else should you consider when updating your site? Prospective patients will want to know about you, your team, and what distinguishes you. They may have heard about certain procedures but want additional information before they actually call your practice. Similarly, current patients will want to learn more about a treatment you are recommending. They may also want to explore information about procedures they’ve read about, such as implants and veneers.

Use your site to educate current and prospective patients about the types of services that you offer. If you provide patient financing, talk about that as well. Patients in today’s economy will want to know how your financing options make it easy for them to pursue treatment. Pay attention to the tone of what you post on your website, particularly if you talk about practice “policies.” Be careful not to come across as punitive.

Consider what makes your practice unique. As a small business, there may be certain attributes that distinguish you in your community. Perhaps you and your spouse have been practicing together for several years and will soon bring on a son or daughter. Talk about your credentials, your expertise, years of experience. If you have been published or quoted in an article or featured on television or radio, include a link on your website to the article or television feature. What are your interests and hobbies? What about your team? Give your prospective patients the opportunity to learn about those that help make your practice successful.

Don’t forget the obvious. Contact information including a phone number and physical location is a must. Make the phone number obvious, and put it on every page. It’s extremely frustrating for a patient when they want to call the practice to make an appointment or to gather more information about something they’ve just read on your website, and they have to search for the phone number in order to place the call. 

Before and after photos as well as patient testimonials can be tremendously effective, just be sure to check with your state’s Dental Practice Act. Some state’s acts are very restrictive in this area.

Encourage feedback about your practice, your team, and your site by providing a feedback mechanism either with feedback forms or via email. This can be extremely helpful in identifying areas in your practice that could use improvement and in celebrating the many things that your practice is doing well. Encourage patients to visit the website to offer comments as well as learn more about your practice and your team.

Finally, don’t be afraid to use clear calls to action, such as “Make An Appointment Now,” “Sign Up For Our Free Newsletter” or “Click Here For More Information.” Sometimes just a little encouragement is all the prospective patient needs to become an active patient in your practice.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Do I Need a Consultant?
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant McKenzie Management

Case #225
Dr. Sandra Sheraton

As you can imagine, this question is asked of McKenzie Management on a regular basis, whether it is at a convention, during a conversation when a doctor calls or in an email from a doctor that is curious.

It is a very logical question because “you don’t know what you don’t know.” This was also the case with Dr. Sandra Sheraton. During a brief conversation with Dr. Sheraton, it was easy to acknowledge that she was very knowledgeable about many statistics pertaining to her practice. She was tracking everything that she could possibly think of, such as number of days worked, production and collection totals, how many hygiene patients were seen, etc.

In her mind, the practice was performing at the top of its game. 

Dr. Sheraton’s practice statistics

  • Net collections were at 98.5% of net production
  • Production adjustments were less than 5%
  • Goals were established for the doctor and hygienists
  • No outstanding insurance claims over 60 days
  • 30+ comprehensive exams per month (new patients)

It appears to be the “perfect” practice. However, she was still unhappy because she felt like there was more that could be accomplished… but what else could possibly be “tweaked” to improve the performance even more?

I was impressed that Dr. Sheraton was keeping her scoreboard.  At the same time, she did recognize a couple of areas that were deficient:

  • Percent of periodontal procedures were not within industry standards
  • The practice was not growing at the rate that she felt it should based on the number of new patients coming in
  • The number of hygiene days were unchanged over the past 5 years

Managing your practice’s statistics is helpful in understanding the primary health of the practice. It is also necessary in helping your business team be accountable for their performance. They appreciate the fact that the doctor is aware of their hard work to keep the practice stats healthy. It is the intangible areas of practice management that dentists are unaware of that make the difference between a good practice and an outstanding practice. Let’s review a couple of these areas relative to Dr. Sheraton’s practice.

Increasing Periodontal Production
It starts with the doctor and the hygienists being on “the same page” from a diagnostic standpoint.  Do you recommend Scaling and Root Planing (SRP) with 4mm and bleeding or 5mm and bleeding? Do you use bone loss as a guideline as well? How do you diagnose isolated periodontal pockets versus a full quadrant, and how do you bill those isolated areas so it is reasonable and fair to the patient? This article is not written to address all these issues, but instead, to bring it to your attention to help you see that there are guidelines within a practice that need to be established to improve diagnosis and treatment planning for periodontal therapy.

How do you market this need to your patients? Do you have helpful brochures, photos, etc. that will assist your patient in “selling” their diagnosis to their spouse or other co-decision-maker at home? There is a very good chance that when your patient shares this information with someone at home, they are going to receive negative comments that could lead to the cancellation of their appointment for treatment.

No one likes to be the bearer of bad news. However, “supervised neglect” is right at the top of the list of reasons that doctors are sued. You don’t want to attempt to explain to your State Board why your patient with 5-6mm pockets and bone loss, who obviously is experiencing all the indications of periodontal disease, was undiagnosed and untreated.  Remember that it is not your fault or your hygienist’s fault that your patient has the misfortune of having periodontal disease. However, it IS your responsibility to diagnose it, and it is your hygienist’s responsibility to educate your patients and encourage them to accept treatment.

Practice Not Growing
First, let’s define “growing.” A practice can increase production and collections annually by increasing fees and adding additional services for patients. For our purposes here, “growing” is when the active patient base increases. What is considered active? Patients that have been seen in the past 12 months in hygiene and are scheduled or due to be scheduled over the next 12 months.

Why is this definition important, as opposed to patients that were seen in the past 18 months? A “patient” could have been seen in the practice 7 months ago, for example, for emergency care. They were not interested in a comprehensive exam or seeing the hygienist. They only wanted pain relief. All dental offices have these patients, and that is okay. It allows the practice to provide a service to the community and it is a revenue-maker.

Another “patient” was seen in hygiene 14 months ago. They did not reschedule their hygiene appointment or possibly scheduled and subsequently canceled their appointment. As a result, they are not in the recall system for the next 12 months.

So what, you ask? These patients are NOT contributing to the growth of the Hygiene Department, and this is where the growth must take place. If your practice, as with Dr. Sheraton’s, has not added another day or more of hygiene in the past 12 months and you are continuing to see 25-30 Comprehensive Exams per month, your system is broken - but you don’t know it! At least 50% of a dentist’s production comes from the recall patients. The more mouths you look in, the more opportunity you have to diagnose treatment or reconfirm the already-diagnosed treatment.

Summary
Systems were placed in Dr. Sheraton’s practice to monitor the growth of her practice from the standpoint of the increase in her active patient base. She is scheduled to bring on an additional two days of hygiene as the past due recall patients are “reactivated.” A system was implemented to plug the hole that was allowing active patients to “escape” from the practice without follow-up.

Follow your instinct, as Dr. Sheraton did. She recognized that something was wrong with her practice, but she didn’t know what it was or how to fix it. She did everything she knew to monitor the statistics, but “she didn’t know what she didn’t know.” Find out what you “don’t know” by contacting McKenzie Management. You will be glad you did!

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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Belle DuCharme CDPMA
Instructor/Consultant
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Priority Confusion in Managing Your Day
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

There is no doubt that in the minds of those who work as Business Coordinators or Dental Office Managers that the job requires doing several tasks at the same time.  Because these tasks are often accomplished by working on the computer or making phone calls, it may appear to clinical staff members that this position is easy. For instance, you may be frantically entering new patient information in the computer while fielding a call from a patient who has a question about why the insurance paid so little on their claim while simultaneously acknowledging a patient who has just walked through the door along with the FedEx guy who needs you to sign his signature pad.  Time management is critical to successfully accomplish your work by the end of the day.

Hygiene

A busy Office Manager named Mary was having difficulty balancing all of her daily tasks, and her employer was concerned because the accounts receivables were too high and she had not cleared up several unpaid insurance claims. “I just don’t have time to follow-up on calling people and insurance companies.” She listed all of the things that she did in one day, along with checking in and checking out an average of thirty patients a day. It became apparent that many of the tasks that she did should have been delegated to other team members. Because none of the staff had written job descriptions, she was often handed tasks to do because other team members said that they were too busy.

Because Mary was the manager, she felt that it was her responsibility to do everything that everyone else was too busy to do. She was paid a better than average salary only to have her day filled with tasks that actually distracted her from her work. The treatment rooms did not have computers in them so Mary had to appoint all patients at the desk. Mary also had to enter all treatment plans and present treatment options at the desk. She hurriedly presented treatment because she did not have time to talk to patients and it was not a private place to discuss private treatment concerns. She was the only front office staff member and there were three dental assistants. 

Some of the tasks that Mary did, which were later delegated to others to free up her time to do her work, were the following:

  • Duplicating x-rays to send to insurance companies or to other sources
  • Calling labs to pick up cases
  • Calling labs to secure times of deliveries
  • Calling in prescriptions for patients
  • Calling specialists to schedule appointments for patients
  • Confirming patient appointments
  • Getting informed consents signed prior to treatment
  • Delivering whitening systems and giving instructions
  • Copying necessary forms
  • Sending new patient packets to scheduled patients

It was recommended that computers be added to the treatment rooms so that clinical notes and treatment plans can be entered before the patient was dismissed to the front desk. With these changes in place, Mary had the time to make collection calls for overdue payments and research unpaid insurance claims, thus lowering the total accounts receivables to an acceptable level. Mary was instrumental with making sure that the entire team had written job descriptions, with tasks divided up equally amongst them and accountability spelled out.

Mary realized that she did not have enough time in her day to do it all and that she needed to focus on the priorities of her position - which were scheduling to production, collecting overall 98% of production, delegating tasks to other team members, and then making sure that they were completed without doing it all herself.

Having problems prioritizing your day? We can help you. Sign up today for training at McKenzie Management and change your day for the better.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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