Patient or Never to Be Seen Again?
You know the feeling you get
when you sit in a new car, walk into a new home, or try out that
new gadget? There’s an excitement and anticipation that you
feel. There is potential and opportunity in that newness. You can
see yourself in the car, the home, with the new “toy.”
New patients are no different. They also can be excited about the
potential and new opportunity that your office has to offer, provided
you help to encourage rather than discourage that
the potential new patient has called your practice because they
were awed by the cosmetic dentistry you performed on a colleague.
Perhaps they learned you use modern technology in your diagnostic
practices. Possibly a friend swears you are the gentlest
dentist she has ever visited. Whatever the reason, the prospective
new patient turns to your practice to fulfill both their dental
needs and their wants. And they are ready for something new when
they pick up the phone and place that call.
whether they actually follow through with the initial appointment
as well as subsequent visits is often contingent upon a series of
subtle and largely intangible exchanges between the prospective
new patient and your practice.
do you really handle new patient calls and the overall new patient
experience? Do you have time in the schedule to accommodate them?
Are you creating both a welcoming and positive experience for new
patients from the first call they place to your office to the moment
they complete their first visit? Are you paying attention
to the details or just going through the motions of the
new patient routine?
you’ve had your share of “new but never to be seen again
patients” it’s probably time to dust off the “rules”
for encouraging and welcoming new patients into your practice.
#1 - Be prepared to handle the demand. New patients are
calling because they want your services now, not next month - let
alone in six months. Absolutely the worst message you can give anyone
who calls your practice – new or existing patients –
is that you don’t have time for them. I’ve seen practices
tell prospective patients that they will have to wait three weeks
to three months for an appointment. This is an insult to the caller.
You might just as well just sigh in disgust and tell the patient
the practice really doesn’t need or want them.
the backlog blunder. Determine how much time you need to
allocate in the schedule to accommodate new patients. Look at new
patient activity over the last six months. If you saw 60 new patients,
that would be 10 per month and 2.5 per week. Reserve at least that
much time in your schedule to handle immediate new patient demand.
#2 - New patient slots should be reserved during prime time.
Those are the hours in which your practice experiences the greatest
demand for appointments, and, typically, they are in the late afternoons,
evenings, and on Saturdays.
#3 - Never underestimate the expectations of prospective new patients.
From the first phone call to your practice new patients are judging
the professionalism of the doctor and the staff. Right or wrong
they don’t care if you are having a bad day. Patients expect
to be treated with respect and professionalism. They expect their
concerns and needs to be addressed expeditiously. They expect doctor
and staff to offer the perfect balance of control and flexibility.
And, like it or not, they expect the quality of the doctor to be
reflected in the quality of his or her staff.
may be the most clinically superior practice in the entire region,
but how the new patient feels about the doctor, the staff,
and the experience overall will determine if they are a returning
week, make sure new patients “rule” the practice.
you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie
in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
YOU FIND YOURSELF WAIST DEEP IN
HERE TO ANSWER THESE
10 EASY QUESTIONS
to improve management techniques through your technology platform
VP Professional Relations
Last issue, [see
article], we discussed how to set up, report, and analyze the
profitability of your insurance plans. I received many email responses
from that article. Thank you for taking the time to write. Based
on the questions and comments, I know many of you are taking a much
closer look at this important aspect of your business.
This week I want to focus on another fairly common question from
the best way to transition from front desk computing to having computers
throughout the whole office (treatment rooms)?”
that’s a loaded question! In general, here is a checklist
of steps in the order of implementation.
sure the front desk personnel have implemented every possible business
feature of the software. It’s not unusual for a dentist
to skip completely over a business feature to a clinical feature
of a software product. Dentists (in general) are familiar with and
appreciate clinical features. Business features of software tend
to be less familiar to the owner. Therefore, less value is given
them by the dentist. As you transition into the treatment rooms,
commit to the full and proper use of your management software for
all business related activities. Training is the key here. It is
far more expensive to under train
than over train.
someone in the office as your technology liaison. Before
you give everyone on your dental team access to
the database, somebody has to be in charge of answering day to day
team questions, making sure mistakes are at a minimum, and making
sure everyone is using your system like an orchestra – rather
than a bunch of individual trumpet players all playing different
music. Typically this person will have front desk business duties,
be most familiar with the software, and would have received the
most one on one training from the software company. Your office
technology liaison is the center point for all software support
calls, arranging (and being present for) all professional software
training, providing one on one training for new personnel, and reporting
the status of implemented features as well as the schedule of implementing
new features in the future.
yourselves an implementation schedule/plan and stick to it.
Over aggressive owners will try to implement everything all at once
and expect one or two days of professional training will get them
there. These owners are usually disappointed with the outcome. Under
aggressive owners will usually just leave the implementation to
the team and expect them to take the ball and run with it. These
owners too are usually disappointed with the outcome. The implementation
schedule/plan needs to be discussed by the whole team. Give yourselves
a reasonable amount of time to implement each new feature. List
the features on a piece of paper and assign each one a score from
1 to 10, 10 being most important to your practice. Discuss the implementation
plan with your professional software trainer before training begins.
Get their input and rearrange your plan (and timing) to fit reality.
Now your technology liaison has a task list to report from each
month and your team can see how they (as a group) are progressing.
bumps in the road. Even the best thought out plans present
challenges along the way. You can certainly minimize your negative
surprises by planning properly. That’s the whole idea behind
this article. But, it is also a reasonable expectation that you
and your team will run into some difficulties along the way. The
most common “bump” is technology itself. Once you’re
in the treatment room with computers, you have more machines connected
to your network, more “things” connected to those computers,
and more humans using the system. It would be amazing for something
not to happen! My point here is to expect
some bumps. Clinical team members need the calm, cool, and collected
support of their dentist. Business team members have used these
computers for years and years. They are used to the printer not
working, a back up tape that just doesn’t seem to work, and
the sheer panic of a workstation failure when there are ten patients
in the reception area. The clinical team is probably nervous about
this transition to begin with. Take each “bump” along
the way in stride. Your technology liaison will handle calling the
techs, the software support line, and making sure the “bumps”
get smaller and smaller.
from the business (front desk) to the treatment rooms completely
and successfully is usually a 6 to 12 month process from
start to finish. If you map the implementation strategy
out for the whole team to see and understand – you’ll
welcome any and all readers to email
me with specific questions, problems, requests and challenges.
Who knows? Maybe your inquiry will lead to a new Tips For Today
article! Don’t worry, your inquiry will remain anonymous unless
you want credit for the question.
in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club?
DOES YOUR OVERHEAD
To Increase The Dental IQ Of Your Patients
Dr. Allan Monack
Hygiene Clinical Director
often does a patient call the office and cancel their appointment
at the last moment or just fails to show? Most of the time it is
not an emergency or illness ... but priorities. They don’t
perceive that their hygiene appointment has value. If nothing is
hurting them, why bother? They only show if their insurance pays
for the appointment. When this is the prevailing attitude in your
office, you have failed in your efforts to communicate the
value of the hygiene visit. If your hygiene schedule is
no show patients, last minute cancels, or a large overdue patient
list, then it may be internally where the problem lies.
of the hygiene schedule that is always booked but too many of your
patients are long overdue for recall or periodontal maintenance.
You may not have enough hygiene time for all the patients in your
practice. You may feel this is acceptable. However, my observation
when consulting with hygiene practices throughout the U.S. is you
end up with too many neglected problems and too
many emergencies that are disruptive to an efficient schedule. Keep
a record of emergency visits of existing patients along with new
patients. See whether the trend of emergencies
in the office is increasing, excluding problems of work in progress.
We all have patients that need provisional cementation or adjustments
which I also suggest keeping a record of these treatment procedures.
However, this is a separate problem that involves operative techniques.
The best way to see if you are dealing with acceptable existing
patient emergencies is the number of new patients per month should
be greater than actual existing patient true emergencies.
having long overdue patients, there are other reasons for this problem.
Look at your unscheduled treatment list. If there is a lot of treatment
not scheduled, it will lead to emergencies because
the patient neglected to take care of their needs in a timely manner.
How about the treatment acceptance percentage? Most of them still
consider you their dental office, except you could not get them
to accept proper treatment. If treatment acceptance is less than
85%, this could be an indicator that you need to work on your treatment
of these problems can be reduced with a properly designed protocol
in the hygiene department. It is easier for the hygienist to communicate
with the patient because they are with the patient for most of their
hour appointment. The dentist is usually only there for five minutes.
The hygienist should be planting the seeds for
the treatment needed, giving information about what is available
to address any patient concerns. Explain to the patient why it is
important to return at a specific interval in order to keep their
oral conditions healthy as well as hand out brochures on the pertinent
information for that patient.
consistent in your approach. Make sure the information and findings
of the hygienist are given to the dentist so he can reinforce the
necessary needs of the patient. Make sure the patient is reminded
of the reasons they need to return for maintenance, when they are
due for their next examination. The best way is to include a note
with the appointment confirmation. Write the note on the confirmation
card or notice that fits into an envelope. ( because of HIPAA we
prefer the envelope ) and have the patient address the envelope.
Send the reminder three to four weeks before the patient is due
requesting them to call and set up their appointment.
the hygienist dismisses the patient to the financial coordinator,
repeat the importance and reasons the patient needs to return at
a specific interval. By the patient hearing the message again as
it is communicated between staff members, this becomes a great motivator
in getting the patient to return. Monitor carefully your overdue
patient list. Contact patients as soon as they are late in scheduling
their appointments. Have a system in place that follows up on a
timely basis. It is much easier retaining existing patients in active
status than the effort necessary to attract new patients.
effort you put into retaining the existing patients will be rewarded.
The patient will perceive the care and concern you are showing them.
Your practice will grow with referrals by these happy patients.
Remember if you exceed their expectations, focus on their needs,
be consistent in your message of how important the value of their
dental health is to you, they will understand and appreciate the
care they are given.
you have any questions concerning your hygiene program submit them
to me at allan@
mckenziemgmt.com and I will answer them in future articles.
in having Dr. Allan Monack speak to your dental society or study
YOU LIKE TO IMPROVE YOUR HYGIENE DEPARTMENT?
Clinical Practice Enrichment Program is
designed to improve Hygiene Clinical Skills and develop
and implement a step-by-step Interceptive Periodontal Therapy
Program that will immediately bring greater productivity,
with enhanced patient care. For more information...GO
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You Looking For More New Patients?
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part of trying to arrive at a divorce settlement, I need to get
some idea of what my practice is worth (since my wife seems intent
on taking a share of it). I recently heard that a practice should
sell for 14 times its monthly NET income. That sounds reasonable
to me. I’ve also heard 65% of the GROSS annual income is thrown
out, but that sounds crazy to me. What does gross income have to
do with anything? Two different practices can have the same gross,
but one could have 50% overhead while the other has 80% overhead.
Obviously those two practices shouldn’t be worth the same.
Do you have any thoughts on this?
Dr. Phoenix, AZ
There are many different valuation methods and McKenzie Management
utilizes three different methods to ensure that the resulting price
represents a fair and accurate value for the practice. After many
years of study and comparing estimated practice values with actual
sales prices, McKenzie Management has found that an average of these
three formulas provides a seller with a fair price for his or her
investment but also demonstrates the probability of maintaining
or increasing the margin that a new owner will require to capture
a return on investment. We would be happy to provide for you a value
of your practice.
Email me if you would like more information. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sally McKenzie, CEO
US TRAIN YOUR
Center for Dental Career Development
Business Education for Dental Professionals
737 Pearl Street,
La Jolla, CA 92037
OUT OF YOUR
Hygiene Clinical Consultant for
CAN HELP YOU
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