10 Plays to Help You Reach Your Goals.
How often do our long-term goals take a back seat to our more immediate needs? On a daily basis we prioritize urgent over important as emergency patients take time from scheduled appointments, and an unexpected twist in a procedure causes a ripple delay throughout the day. While this can never be completely avoided, prioritizing the big picture is critical to reaching your goals.
When the final two teams meet in the NCAA Championship, do you think they start preparing the night before? Cramming on game tapes and research, putting together last-minute plays? Not if they expect to win. The best teams have done their research well in advance and created plays tailor-made for this game. They know the strengths and weaknesses of every player and have planned, prepared, and practiced to win this game. You can do the same by approaching your yearly goals with the same level of dedication and preparation.
Dentists face many business challenges as they set their practice goals. One of the biggest concerns for dentists today is not enough new patients. Offices are also seeing fewer patient visits and fewer patients with dental benefits. We also see an increase in managed care (PPO participation). The result is a declining reimbursement rate leading to less cash flow, higher overhead, and increased stress for dentists as business owners. Dentists will need to increase their focus on internal marketing and brand differentiation to attract new patients and combat these new managed care challenges.
The good news is many of the answers to these challenges can be found in your practice today. Here are 10 “plays” you can include in your game plan to help you reach your practice goals.
1. Active Hygiene Patient Analysis
One of your focuses should be your hygiene department. Approximately 25-40 percent of all practice production should be coming from your hygiene department, and 75-80 percent of doctor production should originate from hygiene visits. Yet in too many cases just 50 percent of active patients are currently in the practice’s continuing care program. If hygiene visits are not what they should be, implement a “total health” educational program to improve your continuing care statistics. This type of oral/systemic information motivates patients not just to maintain regular dental visits but also to accept recommended treatment.
The Dentrix Practice Advisor Report can show you how many active patients have been in your hygiene department in the last 12 months.
To run this report, from the Analysis menu in the Office Manager, click Practice Advisor. Click Practice Advisor Report. In the Practice Advisor Report dialog box, select the dentists, hygienists, and desired options for your report. Make sure you select Continuing Care and All under Select CC Types, and then click Preview.
When the report is finished generating, the Patients with CC Visit within last 12 months statistics on page 3 of the report will let you know how many (and what percentage) of your patients have had a continuing care hygiene visit in the last 12 months.
A highly-effective hygiene department will be one of your best sources of new patient referrals also. We’ll discuss that in a moment.
2. Perio Review
The next step in your hygiene analysis could be a closer look at the percentage of periodontal procedures your office is currently performing. According to the AAP and ADA, 75-80 percent of the adult population has some form of periodontal disease. And when asked, most doctors feel that 15-25 percent of their patient base should be in their periodontal therapy program. Yet when we look at the Practice Analysis Report, we typically find that just 3-5 percent of patients are in perio therapy. In most cases the offices are performing the procedures but are not getting paid for the work because of improper coding and billing of procedures.
You can review your perio procedures as you perform a full code review, as explained in the next tip.
3. Coding Review
A regular review of your coding procedures will ensure that you maximize insurance reimbursement for your patients while increasing your profitability. It can also reveal any areas of coding that could get you into trouble. While you must use the appropriate code for the work you do, there are many coding revisions, additions, and deletions every year. The insurance companies are not going to call your office to let you know that you could have billed and been reimbursed for a procedure or if you used an outdated code that they no longer pay for. A thorough review of the coding used for the most frequently performed procedures in your office could prove beneficial.
The Production Summary Report will help you see which procedures you are actually using.
To run this report, in the Office Manager, from the Analysis menu, click Practice. Click Reports from the menu bar to display the Practice Analysis Reports dialog box. Under Select Summary Reports, select Production Summary and by Proc Code Range. Click Print to print the report or Batch to send the report to the Batch Processor.
4. New Patient Referrals
Your best source of new patients is your active patient base. Start by identifying your top 20 percent “ideal” patients: they show up on time, accept your treatment plans, pay their bills, and refer their family and friends.
Run the Daily Huddle Report to help you identify these patients. In the Office Manager, from the Analysis menu, click Practice Advisor. Click Daily Huddle Report. Select the details and options you want to include, such as Production, Collections, and Case Acceptance, and then click Preview.
In your morning huddle, select two of these patients and determine who will ask for the referral. You will find that these patients have friends and family members much like them who could become new patients of yours. Make sure you set new patient goals, and then put in place the metrics to track and measure your results.
Dentrix allows you to track referrals so you can review them in the Practice Advisor Report (mentioned earlier) on a monthly basis. The Practice Advisor Report helps you see not only how many new patients you have added but also where the referrals are coming from and how many new patients are being referred by your existing patients.
To track referrals, from the Office Manager Maintenance menu, point to Reference, and then click Referral Maintenance. Use the Referral Maintenance dialog box to add new referrals and manage your referral information.
5. Implementing a Health Checklist
After an initial health history, how often are your patients asked for updates on their overall health? Most offices rely on patients to volunteer changes in health, but most patients are not aware of how these changes can or will affect their dental visit. You can use a simple total health checklist during each hygiene visit to ask patients about their overall health, nutrition, sleep habits, and more. This information not only keeps the team up to date on health changes, it also uncovers potential treatment needs and provides an opportunity to educate patients about the value of the dental appointment.
The checklist can also assist you in building referral relationships with physicians as you uncover medical needs that have not been addressed. Finally, it can help you differentiate your practice with a health focus, elevating your practice in the minds of patients. To view a sample health checklist, visit www.henryscheindental.com/healthchecklist.
6. Radiography Review
Determine how many patients have not received the radiographs they are due for. Put procedures in place to ensure that going forward all radiographs needed are taken. This is critical to operating a minimally-invasive practice—radiographs provide opportunities for early intervention and can reduce the number of invasive procedures needed in the long run.
Tracking key continuing care types such as Pano/FMX is critical as patients come into your practice. This ensures that your team knows who is due for these major X-rays. If one major X-ray is missed a day, this can add up to a $20,000 loss in production every year.
7. Increase Case Acceptance
Place dental problems in the context of total health for patients so they will properly prioritize treatment. Use the Dentrix Treatment Planner to track case presentation and status so the team can follow up. Most offices have an intraoral camera, but very few use it regularly. Using an intraoral camera on every patient and documenting the findings can increase production 25 percent. Use the Treatment Manager to generate a list of patients with existing treatment plans who meet certain criteria. Then devise a game plan for contacting these patients and achieving acceptance.
8. Optimize Scheduling
The Treatment Manager can also help you optimize scheduling by helping you find patients with existing high-production treatment plans and benefits remaining. Perfect Day Scheduling is another tool you can use to optimize your scheduling. It can help you set aside high-production periods of the day or week for high production appointments you identify using the Treatment Manager.
From the Options menu in the Appointment Book, click Perfect Day Scheduling to display each provider’s time blocks. To move a time block within its respective operatory, drag the time block to the time you want. To increase or decrease the time block’s size, drag the bottom border of the time block down to increase or up to decrease the block’s size.
9. Improving Collections
Managing collections and insurance payments is a major challenge for any dental practice. There are several tools within Dentrix that can help you reduce bad debt, identify problem accounts, and streamline your insurance management, patient billing and payment, production, and collections processes. Some of these tools include QuickBill and the Dentrix Collections Manager. For information on QuickBill, go to www.dentrix.com/products/eservices/quickbill.
To use the Dentrix Collections Manager, in the Office Manager, from the Analysis menu, click Collections Manager. In the Collections Manager View dialog box, set the criteria that you want to use for creating a collections list and click OK. The collections list appears in the Dentrix Collections Manager window.
10. Balance Fees
Fees should be analyzed annually. While you may not be comfortable with an overall fee increase at this time, there’s a good chance at least a few of your fees fall outside the positioning you’ve created for your practice. Select a percentile for your fees and increase or decrease those that fall outside your selected range. Make sure your fee comparison uses just your immediate geographic area for the most accurate comparison. (You can schedule a Henry Schein Dental Practice Analysis to find this information and identify other practice concerns.)
When you’re ready to change your fee schedule, in the Office Manager, from the Maintenance menu, point to Practice Setup, and then click Auto Fee Schedule Changes. You can select Change Fee Schedule and increase all your fees by a certain percent or dollar amount, or you can select Copy Fee Schedule To and create a new custom fee schedule. When you are finished, click Change.
This can be a daunting list for many practices as they struggle with how to access and track much of the information above. However, as a Dentrix user, all of the data you need can be quickly and easily extracted from your software. For help organizing and reviewing the information, your Henry Schein representative can input the data into a Practice Analysis. This analysis can help you easily identify the areas to target in your plan for hygiene, perio, exams, radiographs, and patient flow.
After the initial analysis review, many offices need help monitoring these practice statistics and others to ensure that any corrective steps are working effectively. A Dentrix profitability coach can tailor a program to help you and your team members incorporate best practices into your daily routines. With coaching and monitoring to keep your plan on track, you’ll be on your way to meeting your goals. Visit www.dentrix.com/profitabilitycoaching for more information.
To learn how Profitability Coaching can help your practice implement best practices like these while using the valuable tools in Dentrix, go to www.dentrix.com/profitabilitycoaching.
By Jim Philhower, Director of Dental Leadership & Development and Tammy McHood, Senior Product Manager
Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Spring 2013