You love being a dentist. You enjoy interacting with patients and providing them with excellent care. You have a good team that supports you. But there is one thing that you don’t enjoy about your profession. In fact, you dislike it with a passion…it’s the business aspect of dentistry. Dealing with overhead, collections, payroll, production, average production per patient, etc. So many numbers and percentages—how can you tell what’s important, what requires immediate attention and what can be put off until later?
Fortunately, there are easy-to-implement tools that can help you track practice performance. They’re called key performance indicators, or KPIs. They provide a way to pare down an overwhelming amount of information into meaningful, actionable data.
In dental offices, even the most basic systems produce a large amount of data. Dentists are often challenged trying to manage this influx of information and use it to make better decisions more quickly. Using KPIs can help you cut through the avalanche of data and allow you to quickly determine whether your practice goals are being achieved.
Better Decision Making
KPIs can facilitate more effective decision-making about your practice’s day-to-day operations. These decisions could include whether to add another staff member, open another treatment room, or hire an associate, among others.
KPIs help the doctor evaluate the practice’s overall strengths and weaknesses. These indicators help reveal what goals are not being met and what additional information you need before taking action.
For example, let’s say KPIs show that the number of insurance-based patients in your practice is increasing. It would be prudent to evaluate what types of plans they are in, the reimbursement those plans offer, the maximum reimbursement from each plan, etc. This assessment is important because it may have a direct impact on practice production and revenue during the next 6-12 months.
KPIs are the building blocks of any measurable management system. Here are eight of the most critical:
- Number of new patients
- Average production per new patient
- Average production per patient
- Case acceptance ratio
KPIs provide a statistical snapshot of practices during a set period. They help dentists predict whether a practice will be able to achieve its goals, including profit, on an annual basis.
- Production. You became a dentist to provide quality care to patients. Their dental needs drive your practice. Have you set daily, weekly and yearly production goals? Are you meeting or exceeding those goals? What opportunities are there in your practice to increase production? Do you have a treatment plan for every patient?
- Collections. Dentistry is a business. It may sound obvious, but too many dentists tend to ignore this economic reality. Yes, patient care is a top priority, but patients should be expected to pay for services. Levin Group recommends collecting 90% at the time of service and the remaining 10% within 30 days. (The goal is to collect 98.5% or more of what your practice is owed.)
- Overhead. Every practice has normal operating expenses, including rent or mortgage, equipment, dental products, utilities, and salaries. As CEO of your practice, you should know how much it costs to turn on the lights every day. Does your budget accurately reflect your expenses? Does your production schedule take into account the operational costs of the practice? Without an accurate financial picture of your practice, could you be incorrectly setting your fees?
- Number of New Patients. To grow, practices need new dental patients. However, dentists also lose a certain amount of patients each year. How do you track patient turnover? Is it due to normal attrition or are other factors at work? Do you have a system in place to boost the percentage of new patients? When new patients come in for treatment, does your staff ask them how they were referred to the practice? A systematic marketing approach will boost the number of new patients.
- Average Production Per New Patient. When new patients become a part of the practice, a new patient profile needs to be completed. This information, along with their medical and dental history, will be helpful in creating a long-term treatment plan. Your team should introduce patients to the full array of products and services your practice offers. Comprehensive care — not single-tooth appointments — should be the goal.
- Average Production Per Patient. Long-time patients present unique opportunities for boosting production. If you have added new services such as cosmetic dentistry, do your team members mention this information to patients? Even a small increase in production per patient can lead to a big increase in profitability. Letting patients know about all of your services and products is the first step in boosting production per patient.
- Case Acceptance Ratio. When new treatments are recommended to patients, do you achieve an acceptance rate higher than 50%? Scripting and training can help your team increase case acceptance, especially with elective procedures.
- Profitability. All of your measured goals should be geared toward boosting profitability. As your practice gains new patients and increases production, you should achieve greater profitability. Of course, every KPI comes with its own challenges. Boosting production won’t increase profitability if your service mix lacks a sufficient amount of high-profit services. Also, if you attempt to increase production without having proper staffing in place, your patients could experience poor customer service, which could drive them to other practices.
Dentistry is a rapidly evolving and challenging field that can offer an outstanding quality of life. However, the profession can be overwhelming due to the variety of procedures performed, the large number of systems in place, and multiple management issues. While there is no one-size-fits-all system that will work for all practices, KPIs can help doctors evaluate how they would like their practices to operate and grow. Using KPIs to identify strengths and weaknesses will keep your practice on course to meet your goals.
For a no-cost evaluation of the KPIs in your practice, contact Levin Group at 888-973-0000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with “KPIs” in the subject line. Please include your contact information (name, address, phone and type of practice) in the body of the e-mail.