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Using Practice Management Software to Grow Your Practice

Issue: Spring 2010

You can’t imagine how many dentists complain to us, “I just don’t feel like my practice is doing well,” but when asked to show any statistics that support their feelings, the doctors rarely turn to facts.

The amazing thing about practice management software today is it provides enough bells and whistles to power the Pentagon! Yet, most of the tools that generate valuable statistics are never touched and reports pile up, gathering dust on the dentist’s desk. So where is the disconnect?

Most dental teams do not realize their practice management system has a goldmine of data, that when properly analyzed, can drive major improvements in efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Here are some basic consulting principles that Pride Institute draws from to help increase desire and intention to fully use the resources your Dentrix practice management software offers.

Tip #1: Motivate your team to analyze reports.

Have a reason for you and your team to want to fully use the reports and tools available. If you don’t want analysis and strategic planning to be an “eat-your-spinach” moment then you have to dial into the old radio station – WII FM: (What’s in it for me?). I don’t mean in order to analyze these reports you need to promise everyone a cookie. What I do mean is that if you and your team fail to have clear, mutually agreed-upon goals, which can be supported by your software then no one will care what information is available. What are your goals for your collections and accounts receivable? How do these goals tie into the vision, values, and strategies of the team? Once you answer those questions…then pull the report (it will mean something).

Tip #2: Compare data to other data sources.

When you look at productivity, scheduling, or treatment acceptance reports, how do you know what the numbers are telling you? No one statistic means anything by itself. If a dentist says, “Hey, I produced $95,000 last month,” does that mean he is successful? How does this compare to credible, national-range norms? What are the costs associated with that production? What is the year-to-date trend? These are just some of the questions dentists must ask anytime they analyze data, so they can determine true successes or challenges.

Tip #3: Understand what is working well and why.

Do not use the information only to reveal weaknesses and failures. Too often, statistics and analysis become the rolled up newspaper used for puppy training! There is a natural tendency in dentistry to look at all challenges from the negative “cuphalf- empty” view. Why would anyone want to continuously reveal their weaknesses and vulnerabilities? How much time do you spend, analyzing your tools and reports for what’s going very right in the practice? It’s not just “nice” to look at what’s right—it is the ticket to sustaining positive growth.

Tip #4: Establish priorities.

There are a thousand different aspects to running a dental practice. If you attempt to analyze, reinforce, and action plan every aspect—you will get nowhere, fast. Between your scheduling reports, finance tools, continuing care lists, and treatment acceptance monitors you and your team could find an overwhelming amount of opportunities for growth. The trick is to focus on one thing at a time. A great question to ask yourself— before you pull a report is—What is the one thing the team can focus on that will reduce stress and /or increase efficiency and bring us one step closer to our vision and goals? With this answered, you can then focus on the tools that will support you the most.

A treasure of important information is buried in your Dentrix practice-management software. When you begin to use all the bells and whistles, and properly tie practice management principles to the data—watch your practice grow!