Want Answers to Practice Concerns?
Read the Fine Print
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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As consumers, we’re regularly urged to “read the fine print,” to make sure we know what that contract, or legal document, or agreement really says. Even though we are routinely admonished to do so, truth be told, we rarely take this simple step to ensure that we understand just exactly what it is that we are agreeing to. It’s not until there is a problem that we start to comb through the details.
Similarly, many dentists will give little more than a cursory glance at key computer reports until problems develop. They start feeling the pinch of dwindling production. They are sweating the proliferation of hygiene openings. Or, worst of all, they are panicked because they don’t have the money to pay their bills. These reports are the pulse of your practice, if you’re not checking them, you don’t know which systems are compromised until you’re facing a serious setback. Start exercising a little crisis prevention and read the fine print.
Regularly review key reports including the Accounts Receivable and Outstanding Insurance Claims reports to monitor exactly how much money is owed your practice. In addition, watch the details of your production, new patient flow, and patient retention using the production analysis report. Depending on your software system this report may be called Production by Provider, Practice Analysis, or Production by ADA Code. It is very useful for tracking new patient comprehensive exams. Just be sure those members of your team who are responsible for posting procedures to a patient ledger use the proper code for new comprehensive examinations.
Each month, run the report for exactly the last 12 months. It should show specifically how many new patient exams were performed in your practice in the last year. Write that number down. Next, run an overdue recall/continuing care report for the same time frame. You’re looking for every patient who was due back into the practice during the past 12 months. Write that number down. For example, your results may show 300 new patients and 200 existing patients overdue for recall. You’ve effectively calculated patient flow ratio. What’s more, you now know exactly who has not scheduled and you can immediately implement a patient reactivation strategy.
The Production by Provider report also should enable you to monitor individual provider production for each dentist and hygienist. It is important to track individual production numbers to determine productivity.
Next, get treatment out of the patient record and on the schedule. Monitor the Unscheduled Treatment Plan Report or similar report. To ensure that this report is accurate, all treatment plans must be entered into the system by the treatment coordinator. If your Unscheduled Treatment Plan Report indicates that treatment acceptance is below 85%, consider treatment presentation training and scripts. In addition, evaluate whether your practice makes it easy for patients to pursue the treatment they want and need? Certain software programs allow you to determine almost immediately if a patient is eligible for treatment financing through CareCredit, which can eliminate the money barrier almost instantly.
Some systems will allow you to run a Production Forecast Report that can be an excellent tool in determining slow periods, so that you can develop a plan of action to address the potential production shortfalls.
Take time to read the fine print on your computer reports. Used correctly these enable you to pinpoint problems before they become crises, tweak systems well before they collapse, and enable everyone to see in black and white exactly how their job affects the productivity of the entire practice.
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