How can you fight back against the greatest price spike in decades—and help insulate your practice’s revenue against a possible recession?
A NATURAL REACTION to economic times like the ones we’re currently going through is to cut waste and control costs. While those are certainly logical ways to help counter inflation in the here and now, they will make a meaningful difference only if you’re already driving revenue effectively and efficiently. Otherwise, it’s a classic case of being penny-wise and pound-foolish.
You’d probably be surprised by how many dental practices these days overlook the basics. Here are five self-checkup steps you can take to make sure you’re safeguarding your bread and butter.
Make time for education when you’re treatment planning. Everyone plays a part in helping patients commit to treatment. Many patients don’t want to be in a dentist’s chair, and they’re looking for reasons to say no. If they’re not fully educated, it makes saying no even easier. Do you have a plan for how every member of your team should be communicating and building trust? Do you have treatment acceptance goals that help hold you accountable? You might feel like giving up on some patients, but reactionary dentistry only hurts them physically and financially. Providers must inform patients of their condition regardless of insurance coverage, as well as of the negative consequences of postponing treatment. When patients a) trust you and your team, b) fully understand their treatment plans and c) feel confident due to your office design and technology, case acceptance always increases.
Perform diligent “chart audits.” Your office may have gone mostly or fully digital, but old-fashioned chart reviews will never become obsolete. Review the doctor’s narrative to ensure that the treatment performed is reflected in the patient’s ledger. Sometimes a patient is scheduled for a procedure but the priority changes to another quadrant, or a cavity becomes a root canal. Double-check what’s charged out for that day, and collect the patient portion owed to stay current with accounts receivable. During the chart audit, look for money owed to the practice (if any) and what’s due the day of treatment. Update each patient’s chart so every team member knows what to collect.
Track and understand your hygiene recall system. Do you know how many new patients you’re gaining versus those lost to attrition? Probably. But do you also have a system for turning those metrics into actionable results, and are you sure it’s working? (If your results are not measurable, the system is flawed.)
Don’t be afraid to pivot away from a failing system to try new ways of doing things. Be transparent about reporting to your team. In the meantime, make sure the specific responsibilities related to patient retention are spelled out clearly in your team’s job descriptions. It costs more to recruit new patients than to retain existing ones, so investing in good systems not only helps drive revenue but can also reduce marketing expenses.
Build a culture that’s focused on key performance indicators (KPIs) and goal setting. The more team members you have engaged in the practice’s overall goals, the faster and more efficiently you can reach them.
Take a break from pinching pennies this week and use that time instead to find out if you could be better safeguarding your practice’s big-picture potential. Don’t wait for inflation to drag on seemingly endlessly, or for a recession to take hold, before you reexamine the basics. Do you have specific questions? Feel free to reach out to me anytime.
KRISTEN JORDAN is Benco Dental’s Practice Solutions Business Developer, specializing in revenue analysis. She has been an office manager, regional manager and operations executive for several large practices. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.