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It is that time of year again, when we evaluate the past 12 months and look forward to what we can do in the next 12 months to make things better. We use the magical date of January 1 to make life-changing resolutions, often with the best of intentions. However, these resolutions can fall by the wayside and quickly become forgotten, unrealized hopes.

In the business of running a dental office, it is important to continually set goals that will drive a practice to increased profitability, more efficient processes within the office and improved patient care. To help ensure the effectiveness of these goals, they must be documented and communicated, and the results must be measured. Setting a goal for an overall production amount of $1.2 million is a great goal for some practices. However, if the monthly, weekly and daily production is not measured, the likelihood of achieving the annual goal is greatly reduced. Within the team of clinical providers in an office, the amount of production expected from each provider must be established and measured in order to increase the probability of reaching the annual goal. All members of the team must realize their part in reaching the established goal.

Let’s look at the process of creating a goal in an office that intends to achieve that goal.

Dr. Smith’s office has analyzed the past 12 months and realizes that the office has achieved a total production of $1 million over that time period. The sole dentist in the office, Dr. Smith employs one full-time hygienist. He has had some good months and some not-so-good months, but his monthly production average is approximately $84,000. In studying the Production Summary report in Dentrix, he realizes that his hygienist is producing about 25% of that monthly total. So his hygiene department produces about $21,000 per month and he accounts for about $63,000 per month.

To determine his production goals for the next year, Dr. Smith has decided that he will aim for an increase of 20% over this year’s totals. In order to realize this goal, he must first determine what that end-of-year number will be ($1.2 million). That means that with 12 months to achieve this, his practice must average $100,000 each month. If the hygiene department is to continue to produce 25% of the total production, then the hygienist will have a monthly goal of $25,000 and Dr. Smith will have a goal of $75,000.

With his office open five days per week, Dr. Smith averages about 20 days of production per month. This makes a daily hygiene production goal of $1,250 and a daily operative goal of $3,750. Combined, the practice must have a daily production total of $5,000.

After determining the daily, monthly and annual goals, Dr. Smith now enters these goals into the Practice Analysis and Practice Advisor setup areas in Dentrix so he will be able to measure the daily progress towards the annual goal. Using the Practice Analysis allows the front office to see how daily scheduling is tracking toward the daily and monthly goals. While not using the dollar amount as the primary factor in when a patient is scheduled, this continually updated reporting of progress will allow the front office team members to be accountable for their part in attaining the office goal.

Once the goals are entered into Practice Advisor, the office manager will be able measure monthly progress towards the annual goal. If the office falls short one month, footnoted recommendations in the system provide direction on how the office can recover and exceed its production goals.

With the communication of these goals among the whole team, each daily huddle, day sheet and other regular reports will keep the team motivated in moving towards this new target.

This case study demonstrates the power of making a goal that has a statistical basis, is attainable and is entered into a system designed to help drive an office towards its objectives.

Goals are not always production-based. They can be based on several different aspects of a successful dental office—for instance, the number of patients active in continuing care, number of no-show appointments, amount of collections, reduction in over-30 insurance claims, number of patients seen, number of ortho cases started, etc.

Whatever your goals may be, it is critical to use all the tools available to make those goals real and reachable. Often, dental offices are not aware of the tools within Dentrix that help make goals more manageable. Through training, coaching or the resource center, your practice can learn how to use the tools you own to become more profitable and efficient.

Author: Jason McKnight
Published: 12/20/2011
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