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4.18.08 Issue #319 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Work Less–Make More!

Dr. Bob Morley—Case Study #142

“I have been a dentist for over 20 years. My children are getting older and I want to spend more time with them. However, I am not ready to retire and I still need income.  How can I have both?” —Dr. Bob Morley

Practice Statistics:

  • practice sees patients 8 hours a day, 4 days a week, 50 weeks a year
  • office closed for vacation 2 weeks per year
  • office observes 7 holidays per year
  • 18 new patients a month
  • 1 Full-Time Hygienist working 8 hours, 4 days a week
  • 2 Full-Time Clinical Assistants
  • 1 Full-Time Business Coordinator
  Initial Monthly Analysis 6 Months after McKenzie Mgmt.
New D0150 Pts. 18 22
Patient Retention 62% 89%
Active Patients in Recall 1,250 1,941
Hygiene Days 16 18
Hygiene Production $16,000 $20,250
Doctor Production $40,000 $46,000
Days Worked 16 12
TOTAL after 6 Mos. $336,000 $397,500
% of Increase   18%

To summarize the information above, Dr. Morley experienced an increase in practice production of 18% (or $61,500) and he worked 25% less! How did he do it?

The following systems were put in place:

  • internal marketing to increase the number of new patients from existing emergency inactive patient lists
  • recall follow-up steps to increase patient retention of existing patient base
  • efficient scheduling and better use of assistants
  • morning meetings
  • monthly strategic meetings
  • statistical tracking

Internal Marketing
Dr. Morley was experiencing around 18 new comprehensive patients per month. The key word here is “comprehensive” patients. These are the patients that are seen by the dentist for a comprehensive exam, visit the hygienist and are placed into the recall system. These patients are considered “active” patients. New emergency patients do not contribute to the growth of the practice until they have a comprehensive examination and are treated by the hygienist. The goal is to increase hygiene days!

Handwritten “thank you” notes were sent by the doctor to the new patient. He also called the evening prior to the appointment to “welcome” the patient to the practice.  Getting this kind of attention before coming into the office made a great impression on the new patients.

As soon as new patients were seen by Dr. Morley, “thank you” gift cards were mailed to referring patients to encourage them to continue to refer more patients.

The hygienist calls the new patient the evening of the new patient’s visit to follow up on any questions they might have about their first visit and to learn if there was anything they could have done to make their visit more pleasant. Building trust comes from all members of the team.

The purpose of all these “warm and fuzzy” activities is to create a reason for this new patient to talk about the practice with their friends. Remember that patients have a choice…many choices…of where to seek their dental treatment and you want them to choose you.

Patient Retention
It doesn’t matter if you are seeing 100 new patients per month if you are losing 120 “out the back door.” You won’t know unless you track it. If you happen to be one of those dentists that still have 4 days of hygiene a week and you have been working 10 years or more, you are losing patients out the back door.

Tracking retention: Compare the number of patients expected at the first of the month that are on your recall list to the actual number of patients that are seen in hygiene. If you have anything under 90% and are averaging 20 new patients a month, your practice is not growing! That is why you only need 4 days of hygiene.
Increase the number of hygiene days.

With improved retention and proper hygiene scheduling, Dr. Morley was able to add an additional 2 days of hygiene per month. This does not seem like a lot but if the hygienist is averaging a minimum of $125 per patient, 9 appointments = $1,125 per day.

Yes…9 appointments per day. This may seem unusual because the Scheduling Coordinator thinks that the hygienist should see 8 patients per day…1 hour each. This is NOT correct. The hygiene patients should be scheduled according to the time that is needed for each patient. Some patients need 1 hour and some patients only need 30–40 minutes. The patients that need 30–40 minutes are generally children under the age of 14 and patients with few natural teeth and removable prosthetics.

Efficient Doctor Scheduling
By utilizing Dr. Morley’s assistants more effectively and keeping within the guidelines of his state, the patients were scheduled in 2 columns, staggering patients 10 minutes at the beginning and end of the allotted chair time. The crown and bridge appointments overlapped to allow the chairside assistant to fabricate the temporaries while the doctor started the next patient in another treatment room.

A time and motion study was conducted to have a better understanding of how much “chair time” is needed for the more common procedures. This information is noted on the Route Slip and given to the Scheduling Coordinator for each appointment so that scheduled appointments were based on an accurate assessment of the time necessary to do the procedure.

Dr. Morley was able to see as many patients in 3 days as he was in 4 days and customer service was improved because patients did not have to wait as long to be treated.

It is important to remember that when changes are made in the practice be sure that there is a system to track the results. Statistical reporting is vital to the practice so that you know where you are, where you are going and when you get there!

If you are ready to work less and earn more, contact McKenzie Management to invite a professional consultant to assist you in achieving your goals.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, e-mail

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