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Technology: Getting a Return on Your Investment

Issue: Fall 2009

” So, consider with me how important it is to take a team’s approach to high-tech dentistry as you better manage your practice by the numbers. Doing so, you’ll be more confident in measuring that return on investment!

Our profession is changing more rapidly today than ever before. Advances in restorative materials and techniques, infection control, diagnostic aids, and treatment planning have created practices that are accelerating into arenas not thought of in past years. All of the wonders of this sophisticated dental technology are compromised unless an advanced dental team helps instill a desire within the patient for treatment and longterm care because of the data accumulated with these aids.

Team members with an understanding of new technological advances in diagnosis and knowledge of how to relate the data to the patient will help the practice to experience greater success and ultimately achieve a drastically higher return on investment. In the process, the team members will experience increased fulfillment in their careers.

“That which is not monitored cannot be measured,” Cathy (Jameson) always says. Running a business is multifaceted and, remember, your dental practice is very much a business. There are approximately 25 major management systems in your practice and numerous subsystems that coordinate with them. Each of these systems needs to be set up and administered properly. Determine goals in each area and establish monitors so that each member of the team can be accountable for work and you can hold them accountable as well. The monitors let you “diagnose” where health or lack of health may exist.

Work together as a team to refine business systems and technology implementation efforts in a sequential order. Measure all of these goals and various milestones. You’ll see a steady return on your investment and your patients can be strong, happy, referral sources!

Here are ten of the major areas to be monitored; but please remember, there are 25 systems that will need monitoring.

(1) PRODUCTION: What do you need and want to produce: daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly?

 (2) COLLECTION: Do you Collect What You Produce? Are you collecting 98% or more of what you produce?

(3) PRACTICE BUILDING: What are you doing to promote yourselves and the services you provide? Are the programs working? Are you accomplishing the goals for each practicebuilding program you launch?

 (4) NEW PATIENTS: Are you attracting an appropriate number of new patients to keep your practice healthy? How much dentistry is being diagnosed on and being accepted by each new patient? You will need this data in order to know how many new patients per month you need.

 (5) CASE ACCEPTANCE: Are you tracking how much dentistry is being diagnosed and how much is being accepted? Do you have a retention program in place where a treatment coordinator follows up on incomplete treatment to help patients make a decision to go ahead?

(6) PATIENT FINANCING: Do you offer several financial options for payment? Are you staying out of the banking business? Do you make sure that all money is collected before or by the time treatment is completed? Are you offering patient-financing programs? Are you using them fully?

(7) SCHEDULING: How soon can you schedule a large case? How soon can you schedule a hygiene patient? Do you have plenty of time to provide excellent care in the manner in which you desire? Do you feel rushed? Do you run behind schedule? Does your schedule cause stress for the doctor, team members, or patients?

(8) BROKEN APPOINTMENTS: Are you tracking the number of broken appointments, no shows, and cancellations? What percentage of these patients are being rescheduled? What percentage of these voids are being filled? How much time is your appointment coordinator spending on filling voids in the schedule? What is not getting done because of the time spent on this challenging occurrence?

(9) PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT: Are you current with your personnel policy manual and benefit package? Do you provide regular, effective performance reviews? Do you have the right number of team members? Are they well trained in their areas? Can they crossover when necessary? Is your team cohesive? Are they goal oriented? Are they committed to developing the practice? Are you compensating fairly? Does conflict on your team cause stress?

 (10) HYGIENE: What percentage of your total production is coming out of the hygienic area? What percentage of your hygiene production is made up of periodontal procedures? What percentage of your active patient family is actively involved in hygiene?

These ten “critical factors” are foundational to your success and all intertwine with various dental technology purchases you might make. Study these systems. Ask yourself the accompanying questions. If you have areas that could benefit from improvement, don’t wait. Start now to make changes if your monitors indicate the benefit of doing so.

Meanwhile, explore what technology purchases you’ve made and what measurable aspects could and should result from that investment. Management software and maximizing healthcare financing programs will enhance case acceptance. This, when implemented with the utilization of video dental tools, gives an increase in the amount of dentistry that can be provided. The utilization of electronic reminder systems can help patients stay on board and stay current with recommended treatment. The implementation of treatment procedures with advanced hygiene instrumentation allows for increased productivity and the quality of patient care. Digital case presentations can boost your ability to articulate what the patient needs and wants in a way that empowers them to say “yes” to the treatment you know they need. Another thing that needs to be measured is maximization of the practice Web site and search engine optimization, pertaining to the ability to track where new patients are coming from and what they’re most interested in reading about within your online content.

This list is but a few of the potential results that can be obtained when dental technology is implemented most effectively in the practice. Monitor these areas so you know where you stand and then begin improving upon that.

 Summary

Increasing utilization of video tools including intraoral cameras and extraoral digital photography has been known to increase case acceptance by 10%–25%. Imagine if you could have increases like that in all of these other high-tech areas. Work together as a team to refine business systems and technology implementation efforts in a sequential order. Measure all of these goals and various milestones. You’ll see a steady return on your investment and your patients can be strong, happy, referral sources!

Reach John H. Jameson, DDS, and the worldwide team of Jameson coaches at JamesonManagement.com or 877.369.5558.