8.14.15 Issue #701 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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How Many Patients are Supporting Your Practice?
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant

How much “business” do you actually have? This can certainly be interpreted in many ways, oftentimes to ease the discomfort of the owner. When consulting and coaching with practices, the definition of what constitutes “active” patients - and therefore how many active patients they have in their practice - is varied across the board. Doctors and teams alike will ALWAYS say they have more active patients than what is reality.

Unfortunately, hearing the actual number is usually disheartening to the practice owner, especially if the practice is mature. At the same time, however, the practice might only have one full-time hygienist working four days and one hygienist working two days. This is when we have to get out the calculators and do some simple math.

Many practices average eight hygiene patients per day. However, when asked why eight, the typical answer is that for an 8-hour day, one patient every hour = eight.  When confronted about patients who don’t need an hour, the response is usually, “If we scheduled everyone at different times, we would have holes in the schedule.”

If you read McKenzie Management E-newsletters regularly, you already know we encourage offices to schedule their day to a specific dollar production goal, not to a specific number of patients.

Let’s Do the Math:
So, let’s agree that a hygienist working an 8-hour day sees eight patients per day. If the practice works 48 weeks a year, taking into consideration holidays and vacations, the full-time hygienist works 192 days. If the hygienist sees eight patients each day, she/he has the capability of managing 1,536 appointments. If all of your hygiene patients come every six months or twice a year, 1,536 potential appointments divided by two appointments per year = 768 patients that your hygienist can support. Your part-time hygienist would see half that many, or 384 patients, for a grand total of 1,152 patients!

Suppose you have a very successful interceptive periodontal therapy program and one third of your patients come every three or four months…you would then be able to support even less patients.

Practice is 10 Years Old or More?
Let’s do some additional simple math and “guess” how many potential hygiene patients you would have over the past ten years.

An average solo doctor practice should average 20-25 new patients seen in hygiene per month. Let’s say for discussion purposes that you average 20 new hygiene patients per month x 12 months x 10 years = 2400 potential active patients. However, if you are only supporting one full-time hygienist and a part-time hygienist, statistically your practice could not support 2400 patients, as illustrated in the previous paragraphs.

Where Did All Your Patients Go?
No dentist likes to think that, after ten years of practice, half of their hygiene patients have been lost. However, we know they are not being seen in your practice if you only have six days of hygiene per week. Where are these lost patients? The first answer is that they aren’t lost at all, they are just waiting for someone in your office to contact them. Answer #2 is they are probably going to another dentist because no one from your office contacted them. Answer #3 is they relocated, changed insurance carriers or passed away. However, this third reason should only be about 10% of your active patient base.

You Prefer NOT to Grow?
You may say, “I prefer to not have more than six days of hygiene”, which means that you prefer not to grow. Okay, that’s an option. Every doctor has their own practice goals. However, I would propose that you don’t control your practice growth by not retaining your patients. How about controlling your growth by better management of the PPO plans that you accept, reviewing your fees or a combination of these strategies?

You Want to Grow?
If growth is your practice goal, you can see from this article that you must get control of your “back door” and increase the number of potential hygiene patients in order to add more days of hygiene to your work week. At the same time, you do not want to simply add more hygiene days without evaluating your current active patient base, or you will have hygienists who are not busy.

If you would like to learn more about evaluating your active patient base, the number of hygiene days that you can support and how you can add additional hygiene days, contact McKenzie Management today at 877-777-6151 and take our FREE Practice Assessment at http://www.mckenziemgmt.com/cons-practiceassessment.php.  

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you implement proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com

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