Give Your Practice a Health Check


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In a medical office, the coding for a patient exam is determined by how comprehensive the exam is. The rating ranges from 1 to 5, with 5 being a new patient, or the most complex type of exam. The complexity of the exam is factored partially by the number of health systems that are addressed in the exam. Systems like cardiovascular, respiratory or neurologic might be a part of that exam. The more systems evaluated, the more complex the exam is, and the more accurate a diagnosis will be.

Let’s compare a medical health check to the health check that we should be doing on our dental practices. Are you currently doing a level 1 exam? Or are you closer to a 5?

Consider evaluating these 10 “systems” within your practice to make a more complete diagnosis of its health.

  1. Production
    • What is the monthly production you need to accomplish so that the other goals of the practice can be obtained?
    • What percent of the production is coming from associates?
    • What percent is coming from the hygiene department?
    • What are the top 25 procedures that the office is performing each month?
    • What is your expected monthly growth?
  2. Collections
    • What is the collection goal of the practice?
    • What percent of overall production should be collected each month?
    • What percent of collections are being gathered at the reception desk versus being collected after statements are sent?
  3. Continuing Care
    • What percent of your patients are active in continuing care?
    • How is your office communicating with patients?
    • Are you letting the software do the work in regard to knowing when a patient is due for bitewings or an FMX?
  4. Case Acceptance
    • What percent of prescribed treatment plans are being accepted?
    • How long, from the time of the treatment plan, is it taking for the patient to complete the treatment?
  5. Insurance
    • Are your insurance estimates accurate?
    • What is the dollar amount of claims outstanding over 30 days?
    • What insurances are you contracted with and what is the reimbursement rate?
    • What percent of collections is coming from an insurance company versus from the patient directly?
  6. Referrals
    • Who are the top 10 percent of referring patients in the practice?
    • Where are the most referrals coming from?
    • What source of referral is accepting the most treatment?
  7. Schedule Optimization
    • How many hours per month are unfilled in the doctor’s schedule? In the hygienists’ schedule?
    • Is the schedule being filled as efficiently as possible?
    • How many broken appointments were there last month? How many were not rescheduled?
    • What patients have an existing appointment but want to be called in at the next opening?
    • Is there room in the schedule for perio procedures? New patients? Emergencies? High production appointments?
  8. Paperless Processes
    • What processes and routines in the office could be made more efficient through the use of existing technology?
  9. Profitability
    • What routines in the office are not as efficient as possible?
    • Is a front-desk person being paid 15 hours per week to verify eligibilities with insurance companies?
    • Is the hygienist filling out continuing care reminder cards every week or month to send to patients?
    • What opportunities exist in the current standard operations that could be modified to create a higher profitability and create a higher standard of care for the patients?
  10. Reporting
    • What types of reporting can be used to identify the results you’re looking for?
    • What type of reports should be received on a daily, weekly or monthly basis?

As you evaluate each of these key systems, you will discover areas within the practice that need improvement or modification—which will help you better understand the health of your practice. Just like more accurate diagnoses come from understanding more health systems, a decision about the future of your practice, made with an understanding of these 10 systems, has a much higher probability of succeeding than a decision based on a less complex review of the practice.



Author: Jason McKnight
Published: 06/23/2012
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