of the questions on the survey is “What prompts the
owner to “dig deeper” into the numbers of the practice?”
One of the answer choices on the survey is “When the practice
grows at an accelerated pace.”
Only 1.5% of you said you take a closer look at the numbers
when your practices are growing. This is rather alarming.
Imagine Bill Gates (founder of MicroSoft) at a board meeting saying
“Things are looking good. We produced more revenue and generated
more profit this quarter than last quarter. Thank you for coming!”
As an investor, how would you feel about the future of MicroSoft?
It would be reasonable if you felt “confidently unsure”.
In business, especially a small business like yours – knowing
where you are and what’s coming down the road can have a profound
impact on the “time” it takes to complete your journey.
Not paying attention to the numbers during an accelerated growth
phase is more expensive than not paying
attention during a stagnation period or decline.
Over half of our new on-site business program clients are suffering
from what we call “uncontrolled growth”. I will list
some symptoms and then give you a measurement to run from your practice
management software so you can see for yourself.
Symptoms of uncontrolled growth
Hygiene department booked solid more than three weeks
Getting out late more days than not
Putting off team meetings
Doctor booked solid more than two weeks
No room to treat emergency patients
Squeezing in new patients
Large numbers of new patients
Large numbers of patients on overdue recall list
I routinely run an initial practice assessment for dentists who
are considering having us in the practice. Part of that initial
practice assessment is a patient flow ratio. I want to teach you
how to determine your patient flow ratio. Then,
I will tell you what the numbers might mean (depending upon the
Patient Flow Ratio
Run a production report for all providers. Have your practice
management software tell you how many ADA code 00150’s
(new comprehensive exams) you produced. Your date range
should be the previous year (8/1/2002 through 8/1/2003).
Run an overdue recall list for the same date range. Different
practice management software calls this list different things.
For instance, Dentrix calls theirs, the Continuing Care
Display List. Run your overdue recall list for the same
exact date ranges as the above production report.
do the results mean?
The number of 00150’s you did last year represents the true
number of new patients into the practice. This represents
the first number in a patient flow ratio. The second number is created
by counting all of the patients that are on your overdue recall
Example, patient flow ratios and what they “might” mean.
(Assume solo practitioner with three to four operatories)
220 new patients : 105 overdue patients
This practice has a healthy patient flow ratio.
220 new patients : 220 overdue patients
This practice has spent the past year entering a stagnation
220 new patients : 400 overdue patients
This practice is in decline. The owner has now
seen the results trickle down to less profitability. The owner feels
the need to take corrective action.
520 new patients : 650 overdue patients
BINGO – Uncontrolled growth! The book is packed, the staff
doesn’t need to follow up with patients, the practice is still
growing financially. Well, the practice will grow
financially for another 9 to 12 months anyway. What happens when
more people leave than come in new? You got it – Example #3
If you carry stress around with you about not knowing the business
future of your dental practice, the stress is avoidable. The information
you need is right at your fingertips. The above exercise is not
the “end all – be all” measurement, but, it sure
is one of the more important and definitely one of the more telling
ones. If you want me to run an initial practice assessment for you
here. There is no fee involved. It’s part of the way we
learn about our prospective new clients.
you have any questions or comments, please email Mark Dilatush at
in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club?
Mark's Technology Workshop Dec. 10th in La Jolla. For more information
or call 1-877-900-5775