Amongst the millions of dental practice management “pearls”, here are the three that I know to be universally helpful, regardless if you have a general dental practice or are a specialist.
While each practice is unique, successful practices share business principles that when properly applied, bring desired outcomes.
First and foremost, KNOW YOUR WHY!
As Simon Sinek shares so beautifully in his TED talk and in his book, “Start With Why”, knowing and sharing your “Why” is the foundational step toward building a dental practice that inspires others. People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.
Two examples that make a fine distinction of the “Why’s” are that of two cruise lines.
“We travel to explore, to learn, to understand.
At Viking, we believe travel should be more than just a trip—
It should be a doorway to cultural insight and personal enrichment.
Viking Ocean Cruises
“Fun for All
All for Fun”
Carnival Cruise Line
Two very distinctive “Why’s” that help guide decisions and direction for their companies. I’m sure that in the Boardroom at Carnival Cruise Lines they are not debating about how much square footage of their ships to designate for a library, nor does Viking give any thought to designating space on their ships for casinos. They are both crystal clear on their “Why”. The more clarity, the easier it is to make decisions, including what to invest in, who to hire, which services to offer and so forth.
Second, KNOW YOUR NUMBERS!
Just as you want to be aware and knowledgeable about the other “numbers” in your life, i.e., cholesterol, B/P, etc., knowing the top metrics of your practice are essential to being able to act in a proactive manner.
These are The Essential 7 metrics for a healthy practice
Definition: How much money is needed each month for the doctor to be compensated. To include salary/draw, taxes, medical insurance, retirement funds, etc.
Benchmark: > 25%
Definition: Gross production equals everything produced and charged at full UCR, regardless of ability to collect. Adjusted production equals after all adjustments are taken, what is “billable”.
Benchmark: < 2% (not realistic if PPO’s. Then it’s a matter of with each percent adjusted, how much more do you need to produce to collect what you need to cover ALL expenses.)
Definition: Total amount collected divided into gross production/adjusted production.
Benchmark: 100% of adjusted/billable production
Definition: the total amount of all expenses (including Doctor) to run/maintain the practice. Personnel/lab/supplies/facility/loans/leases.
Benchmark: < 65%
Definition: Take all the treatment presented in a month, divide by the total amount of treatment accepted (payment agreement signed AND appointment scheduled) gives you percentage.
Benchmark: 80-85% with existing patients, 85-95% with new patients.
Definition: At end of the day, of all hours available and dedicated to patient care, how many went unfilled in doctor and hygiene schedules.
Benchmark: < 5% in hygiene schedule, < 8% in doctor schedule.
Definition: Total number of new patients, minus patient attrition for the month = Net New Patients.
Benchmark: Very personalized for practice. Depends on philosophy of care; 1 hour new patient examination or 10 minutes of doctor time in hygiene?
Track The Essential 7 on a monthly basis. Never miss a month as you will lose ground for the opportunity to take action on a negative trend. Here are the 3 steps to take:
Consistent action for course corrections will assure that you are running your dental practice business in a healthy and successful manner.
And third, KNOW YOUR PATIENTS
Sounds pretty straight forward, but is it? This goes beyond knowing who’s got implants, composites, bridges, crowns, etc. This gets to the heart of the matter…the person that you are caring for, not the patient.
Those two words, person and patient are representative of two states of mind. One is relational (person) and the other is clinical (patient).
To help people make good decisions about their oral health, it’s vital to know what’s important to them. For instance, if the person you are scheduled to meet with for the first time is somewhat apprehensive about dental treatment, has a family history of heart disease, has poor homecare, is a mom to 3 children and has never heard about periodontal disease, you may think that a diagnosis of periodontal disease and the treatment plan of 4 quads of scaling/root planning is going to go nowhere, fast.
Here’s where knowing your patients makes all the difference. Yes, as a doctor, it’s straightforward making a diagnosis. Telling this patient about the disease process and treatment without discussing how this treatment will help her with what’s important to her is where that necessary treatment gets lost.
Instead, get to know this person. Ask about the family history of heart disease and how, as a result, she’s approaching her own health. Help her to understand the correlation between her oral health and how it can impact her heart health. Paint a picture for her of better dental health and the impact it will have on her life. She can be an excellent example for her children and their best health. She has a lot of responsibility with her family; help her to see that the better her overall health is, the better able she is to care for her family. Talk with her about how the anxiety over dental treatment started. How can you reassure her? Let her know that you can use a variety of methods to help lower her anxiety.
When you get to know your patients as people, you take an enormous step toward helping them to accept the treatment that they need.
And here’s a Word of Advice!
The team of people that you surround yourself with is a direct representation of your “Why”. Make sure that every person on your team personifies the reason you do what you do.
If an important part of your “Why” is to have compassion for others, it certainly won’t work to have a team member who is nonchalant about a patient’s pain or discomfort. A team member who doesn’t truly listen to patients or show care will be that “weakest link” that negatively impacts your “Why”.
Protect your “Why”. It’s worth it.