Minimizing costs while providing the excellent care your patients demand might seem like a formidable tug of war. In reality, the measures you take to increase efficiency in your office also result in happier patients. That’s because time is the key driver for both you and your patients.
Patients perceive value as being the benefit they receive minus the cost. The benefit side of the equation is alleviating pain and improving dental esthetics. Your dental skills are on this side of the equation. The cost side for the patient includes price and the patient’s time.1 Though you have some influence over price, market forces are really at play. Where you have complete control is improving your patients’ experience—before they come to your office, while they’re in the chair and after they leave. All while boosting your bottom line.
You can make finding you, scheduling and coming in for appointments, and following up quick and easy for your patients. You can also improve the efficiency of your office. These both translate to time, and in this article we’ll cover three activities you can start doing today to maximize your and your patients’ time.
Planning and reviewing your day is the first action you should take to improve efficiency. Set daily goals. Consider goals in broad terms such as production dollars, but also include more specific activities that lead to higher production such as the number of presentations your hygienist gives on esthetics and comprehensive dentistry.2
Include the entire staff in your daily huddle, and come prepared with reports available from your dental practice management software showing how you did the previous day, and determine what you need to modify for the current day.
In your daily huddle, you should review your progress toward long-term goals. Then review your daily schedule to ensure you’re making the best use of your in-chair time. Make sure you know who is coming in and something about their personal interests, which you can get from your practice management software. Review their charts and determine what procedures they will need, such as intraoral imaging. Know whether they’re coming in for a regular checkup or a specific complaint. And check operatories to be sure they are fully stocked.
The daily huddle is also a good time to identify patients who are overdue for care and those who are behind on payments, and establish actions to work with them.
Every piece of equipment and dental software you and your staff use should be readily available at your fingertips. Whether you’re building a treatment plan or reminding patients to come in for recare, don’t squander your time pulling charts or mailing reminders. Understand and use every feature of your dental practice management software to eliminate manual tasks.
Begin by looking at how you attract new patients, take them through scheduling and treatments, and continue with follow-up surveys and recall reminders. Your software should handle all of these tasks by collecting and posting reviews online and maintaining a professional website; scheduling patients online, including providing online forms as well as text and email reminders; integrating in-office tools such as imaging and charting; and following up with patients to collect their feedback and keep track of when they’re due for recare.
Each of these functions that your software handles will save your staff time and make working with you more pleasant for your patients.
Your office depends on an array of disparate equipment that didn’t exist even a few short years ago. You likely even selected your dental software in modules or services. Don’t try to be the coordinator who brings all these technologies together. Your dental practice management software should orchestrate all your technology tools automatically. When you purchase new equipment, stay away from standalone devices and go for the systems that your practice management system supports. Consider how often you use your imaging equipment, for example. Then consider how much time you can save and mistakes you can avoid if you don’t have to switch back and forth between imaging and your dental practice management software. Choose a system that can automatically pull your images right into the patient’s chart, assign CDT codes and post to the ledger.
These are just the basic measures you should take to become more efficient and provide more satisfying care. You should also learn how to use and customize reports available in your dental practice management software to help you pinpoint problem areas and potential new opportunities. And review your profitability regularly, including monitoring case acceptance, collections and continuing care.
The best place to start is by reviewing your current dental practice management software for its ability to automate everything you need it to. Dentrix is a fully capable solution that integrates with all major devices and a host of additional software services to let you work smarter.
1Bill Layman, DMD, MBA, Dental Economics, January 1, 2019, “How do we assess customer value in dentistry?” https://www.dentaleconomics.com/practice/article/16386329/how-do-we-assess-customer-value-in-dentistry
2Deborah Dopson-Hartley, RDH, Dentistry IQ, August 26, 2005.