The Holiday Season is here. The Christmas music and commercials are filling the air waves. New gadgets and toys are being marketed across the media and consumers are busy developing their holiday gift lists. Small businesses are rushing to make capital equipment purchases for the 2014 tax deduction and the analysts and political pundits are already predicting a boom or bust holiday season before it’s even here.
I am approaching 2015 with enthusiasm and excitement but I will execute with a greater sense of urgency this coming year. I predict rapid change over the next five years that will dramatically change our dental landscape in manufacturing, distribution and how dentistry is delivered. During this incredible period of opportunity and change, all dental professionals (clinical, clerical and service providers) will have to evolve.
I believe we are at a tipping point. A moment in time when slow change hyper-accelerates and the divide amongst the committed and uncommitted widens. Group dentistry, Corporate dentistry, PPO dentistry, The Affordable Healthcare Act, Insurance dependency, Governmental regulation and the High cost of technology have contributed to our current state of dental office transformation and consolidation.
The reason I believe hyper change is on our horizon is based on many of the converging factors I stated in the previous paragraph. It’s not a bad thing or a good thing, it’s what it is and we must adjust to navigate and win the future.
In a simpler, less competitive time, promoting hygiene or the importance of an intra-oral camera and Panoramic x-ray was enough to increase my clients profitability regardless of their business acumen. From there we discussed computerizing the ops and becoming chartless (paper-less). This was seen as a prerequisite to incorporating digital radiography and realizing the immense benefits of electronic claim submittal.
Today, my clients are being challenged. The business of dentistry is changing rapidly and dentists must be engaged. The complexity of operating a healthcare facility requires due diligence, manpower and resources. All functions and processes (operational and clinical) should be examined and improved for effectiveness and efficiency.
We can no longer accept the status quo and average performance.
Doctors are care givers to their patients, management to their teams and valuable customers to their service providers. All of these relationships need to be nurtured. In the past the dentist wore many hats; compliance officer, payroll manager, marketer, HR officer, bookkeeper and patient coordinator. Today you need a team with diverse skills to manage a dental facility and the dentist must exhibit leadership skills.
Dentists that have not created the appropriate team and protocols need not worry. There are many reputable consulting organizations that will help them develop the people and processes they’ll need. And many of these firms provide invaluable leadership training as well. Let me know if you would like a free practice analysis provided by one of the top management companies I work with. The New Year is a great time to embrace change and develop a roadmap for you and your team.
As groups and corporate dentistry emerge in neighborhoods throughout the USA, independent dentists should leverage their network and focus on new patient acquisition. This will increase active patient count, justify technology acquisition and will improve the practices attractiveness to the surrounding patient community as well as associates and potential suitors.
Traditional dental offices have a unique opportunity because they are a known entity and are already part of their communities. Many older and smaller facilities lack the square footage and number of operatories needed to design today’s optimal office (5-7 operatories with 1-2 docs with 2 or 3 hygienists and swing rooms). While the facility may be limiting, a little tweaking in the schedule can add 1-2 appointments per day. One more hygiene and operative patient a day will yield between $60,000 and $100,000 in production annually.
Make 2015 Incredible
Here’s a list of thought provoking questions (ideas, services) for you to consider.
- Do you track your new patient numbers and how you got them?
- Do you promote your practice internally and externally?
- Do you evaluate your offices new patient experience?
- Is your team competent at third party financing? (Are you sure?)
- Do you attract families? Do you know the average age of your patients?
- Do you emphasize preventive dentistry (hygiene and perio)?
- Are you too focused on elective and cosmetic dentistry?
- Are you a Multi-Specialty office (under one roof?)?
- Is your hygiene/perio production below or above the national average?
- Are you outsourcing business functions like: patient verification, marketing, collections, patient confirmation/reactivation and social media?
- Have you considered providing sedation dentistry?
- Are you offering snoring appliances & screening patients for sleep apnea?
- Have you considered offering facial fillers?
- Are you interested in Cloud computing?
- Is your office chart-less/paperless? When is this going to happen?
- Do you block out time for emergencies and new patients every day?
- Have you invested in a soft tissue laser? Are you using it? Marketing it?
- Are you providing advanced oral cancer screening /adjunctive device?
- Do you provide minor teeth movement or orthodontic services?
- Are Implants at the center of your treatment planning?
- Is whitening an everyday service in your office?
- Do you have a halitosis treatment program?
- Are you actively moving candidates into Perio care? Do you track it?
- Are you doing night guards and sport guards in the office regularly?
- Does that intra oral camera get used? Is there one in each op?
- How do you provide staff and patient education? Is it current?
- Offer Wi-Fi in your waiting room? *Use fun passwords “Smile” “Love”…
- Do you have chargers for popular electronic devices as a patient courtesy?
- How are your hours? Do you offer Saturday or evenings?
- Are you shutting down the office during lunch hour?
- Is your office location convenient? Would a different location or a second location improve your exposure?
- Are you using a digital impression scanner?
- Are you providing same day dentistry? CadCam – in office milling?
- Do you encourage team members to expand their skills and challenge themselves? Do you go to CE events with your team?
- When was the last time you had a HSPA (Henry Schein Practice Analysis) to evaluate your fees and CDT utilization?
As you can ascertain from this long list, the expertise and administrative requirements of a progressive practice can no longer be the burden of a full time clinician. Dentists must empower team members and must expand their services beyond fillings, crown and bridge and hygiene if they want to win the future!