Benchmarking for better dental practice operations

March 6, 2018|Nancy Streck

Knowing how you stack up against other dental practices in your market is a first step in understanding how to create an effective growth plan.

Knowledge is power. Using your practice data effectively allows you to understand areas you can improve—while becoming more profitable and enhancing patient care in the process.

Start by knowing your numbers and then reviewing your practice data regularly. Compare it to peers in your region and industry benchmarks to identify areas where your performance may be falling short. Finally, determine your objectives and create a plan to address these areas.

What dental practice data is important to understand?

Start with a few focused areas, which allows you to drill down the information into manageable chunks without it getting overwhelming. These are some key data points that can provide insight into how your dental practice is faring:

  • Cost structure and fees
  • Patient acquisition and retention
  • Scheduling practices
  • Treatment plans completed 
  • Collection rate

Understand how your fees impact your practice operations

With practice supplies and additional areas of overhead increasing approximately 4-5% each year, raising fees is necessary for practice health. Evaluate your fees and compare them to similar practices near you to determine where you might need to make adjustments.

Most dentists get nervous anytime they consider raising fees, as they fear patients will complain. This fear is rarely, if ever, realized. Remember, not raising your fees annually means you must decrease the chair time with each patient to remain profitable—which can result in more stress and decreased patient satisfaction.

Balance finding new patients with keeping your current ones

Competition for new dental patients has never been more aggressive than in today’s marketplace. A dental-specific marketing firm that understands the industry can help with everything from website design to direct mailers. Using social media can also be an effective strategy as it allows prospective patients a peek into your practice. Here are 10 easy tips to get you started.

Yet, remember the old adage, “new friends are silver, but old friends are gold.” Don’t focus only on finding new patients at the risk of ignoring your current ones. Our recent article, “Mine the diamonds in your own backyard,” provides insight into how patient retention is equally, if not more important, than obtaining new ones.

Look at scheduling to boost your profitability

Getting the patients in the door may be the first step, but looking at your scheduling practices can truly set you up for success. Reviewing this data monthly can give you the insight you need to stay in touch with patients regarding their treatment.

How many of your patients are coming one time per year instead of two? Think your recall system is solid? Follow up with patients who don’t schedule their next appointment when leaving. Then, take it to the next level by using advanced patient contacting.

Determine whether your patients are completing their treatment plans

Scheduling and treatment plans go hand in hand. What can you do to ensure your existing patients are fully completing their treatment plans and following through with suggested care?

If you find your practice is booked out less than two weeks, your team may benefit from additional case presentation training to help increase patient compliance, which in turn helps fill the schedule. Training staff on camera techniques can also improve patient compliance. For additional ideas, read our recent article, “Selling dentistry.”

Boost your collection rate to maximize cash flow

You’d be hard pressed to find a data point that more directly affects your bottom line. This article, “Dental collection secrets,” offers tips for effective collection practices that you can employ even before the bill is sent. Then, consider how creating a successful financial policy can help your practice stay on top of its collection practices.

By starting to look at your data carefully and then using it to create a performance plan, you’ll be well on your way to a growing, profitable practice that provides exceptional patient care.

Custom fee analysis can help direct your profitability strategies

Schenck’s Dental Fee Survey is a compilation of practice fees and operational insight from other practices in the region. Custom fee analysis reports can show you where your practice falls in relation to others. It identifies the procedures for which you might be high or low, presenting an opportunity to explore possible fee increases or just ensure you are staying within the market.

For ideas on how to evaluate your practice operations or for a customized fee analysis, contact Nancy Streck or any member of the Dental Advisory Group at Schenck at 800-236-2246.

Nancy Streck, CPA, CFP®, CVA, is a senior practice consultant and member of Schenck’s Health Service team. She focuses on assisting dentists, physicians and other health care providers, providing guidance in practice management, valuation and tax planning for both the owners and their practices.

Tags: Dentists