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Everything Dental Blog – December 2013

What makes a good practice great?

I have worked with hundreds of clients over the years and the one common denominator amongst all of the great dental practices is leadership. There must be a clear mission and vision for the practice.

Many dentists and small business owners lack leadership or management skills and as a result, they under perform. However, many owners who are humble enough to seek help can exceed their goals. I have yet to meet a dentist who has a law, accounting, finance, human resource and business degree. On the flip side, I have seen dentists perform tasks that should be done by less expensive personnel and I have seen doctors fail to invest in their people, facility and their business. Another common challenge for dentists is communication. Many dentists fail to set expectations for their clinical and business staff. The top three challenges most dentist have are: attracting new patients, mastering processes and executing on the business side.

Here is a check list that what will help you move your practice from good to great.

  • Focus on your reputation and brand in the marketplace and amongst your peers
  • Provide a diverse clinical and elective offering
  • Practice excellent dentistry
  • Participate in Insurance or provide electronic claims as a courtesy to your patients
  • Create a friendly, professional and caring atmosphere in your office
  • Run your practice on time – chronic lateness loses patients!
  • Your practice must optimize its coding and procedural mix. Have a professional audit your code utilization. CDT codes change every year!
  • Create a comprehensive patient eligibility reporting (showing current available benefit in dollars before the patients appointment)
  • Office personnel must be fluent on your practice management software program and they must focus on accounts receivable, scheduling and new patient acquisition.
  • Only hire talented and willing employees. Personnel/staff is a priority and the vetting process must be vigilant. Insist on team work and individual performance. Develop systems and job descriptions. Do not tolerate bad apples!
  • Practice phone skills and develop scripts to handle common questions/objections…
  • Move towards same day dentistry model. When simple dentistry is found during a hygiene appointment, it gets done that day!
  • Incorporate technology into your clinical arsenal (digital radiography, digital impression scanning, soft and combination laser, 2D/3D imaging, Visual cavity detection, Intra oral camera, CadCam milling system)
  • Encourage the appointment coordinator to be deliberate, yet accommodating
  • Invest in a consistent/ongoing marketing effort (traditional, web and social media!). Marketing/branding – must be a line item on your P&L.
  • Monitor the treatment/financial coordinators acceptance rate (could be the clinician) and make sure they have the tools they need to get the majority of cases accepted.
  • Resist good and demand great customer service, dentistry and performance in the clinical area and at the reception desk.
  • Train your team so they are competent at discussing financials and using third party patient financing like Citi Health/Care Credit
  • Make continuing education for office and clinical staff a part of your corporate culture
  • Identify great mentors for yourself and encourage mentoring for your team members
  • Enlist dedicated professionals who want you to succeed and benefit when you do. Make them part of your advisory panel. Do not select friends and people who will always agree with you.
  • Expand your skills and relevance by investing in a coach or consultant to develop winning practice managements systems and protocols
  • View the world of opportunity as abundant not scarce. This will enhance your decision making
  • Great practices execute. They have mastered most of the above activities!


Is Your Practice Patient Friendly?


Your front desk should have a concierge kit to manage patient needs. Have an iPAD, Laptop or cell phone for the patients to borrow while they are waiting for the Dr. or hygienist. Keep assorted phone and devise chargers handy so patients can charge up at the office.

What happened to those cool premiums and incentives (iPADS, Televisions etc…)  I used to get when I ordered big at the end of the year?


(Image – compliments of orthotechnology.com)



The Physician Payments Sunshine provisions in health care reform legislation require drug and medical device manufacturers and distributors to publicly report direct and indirect transfers of value (e.g. meals and payments) made to physicians, dentists and teaching hospitals.

The Physician Payment Sunshine provisions were included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009, which was signed into law on March 23, 2010.

Who is required to report?

Generally, all U.S. manufacturers and distributors of drug, device, biologics, and medical supplies must report payments on an annual basis to the Department of Health and Human Services.

What needs to be reported?

Any payment(s) made to a covered physician greater than $10. If the total of all payments to a covered physician are greater than $100, then all payments, even those less than $10, must be reported. Payments include cash and “in kind transfers” (defined by the law as compensation, food/meals, entertainment, gifts, travel, consulting fees, speaker fees, research funding, grants, education or conference funding, stock, stock options, ownership or investment interest, royalties or licenses, and charitable contributions). Covered physicians may also be referred to as “covered recipients”; covered physicians are generally defined as licensed doctors or dentists, or teaching hospitals.

Payments made directly to a covered physician, as well as payments made on behalf of or for the benefit of a covered physician are reportable. Payments may also be referred to as “transfers of value”.

When does the reporting begin?

The initial reporting period begins August 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013. This report must be filed by March 31, 2014. After that, reporting periods are annual, with reports due March 31 of the following year.

I believe the dental industry will integrate the Sunshine Laws and adjust its marketing and incentive programs accordingly. Competition will remain fierce and incentives will still be offered for someone’s patronage but it will not be in the form of gifts, premiums or traditional incentives. Expect to see more creative loyalty programs and product/service bundling.

The full service dealer will emerge the beneficiary as their distinctive “full service” advantages will be more obvious under the new laws. Expect even more creative and lucrative offers in the future as we move toward value rewards and bundling services!

Screen shot 2013-12-09 at 4.54.35 PM

Best wishes to all my clients, friends and family for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2014.


Let’s make it a great year!

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