One of the best things you could do for your dental practice is taking the time to adequately assess your strengths and weaknesses. It can be tempting to focus only on what you are doing well and on what is working, but the reality is that seeking out blind spots and then working to resolve them can do even more to save you money and to provide increased workflow efficiencies that net you more income per month.
What is a blind spot? Is it simply something that is neglected or that someone has not paid attention to in quite some time? The short answer is yes, blind spots are often areas that have been forgotten or ignored and are thus not operating at their maximum efficiency. In order to remedy blind spots, however, you must first figure out how to examine something you currently have no idea you are overlooking. While some blind spots are obvious, others will require intentional, disciplined seeking to uncover fully.
Engaging in comprehensive practice analysis can reveal many areas that could either be managed more carefully to eliminate wasted time, or that could be leveraged in a new or better way to net more income from each visit. In this article, we examine the following three common areas that practices can improve to increase revenues:
- New patient call conversions
- Individual patient visits
- Hourly income rates
With an honest and comprehensive examination of business operations, any practice is sure to find some area of focus wherein they can improve and grow.
Increase Revenue Through New Patient Call Conversions
New patients are a vital part of a successful business, and it is up each practice to ensure that they take the necessary steps to continually grow their clientele. However, this is where we find the first blind spot in many businesses.
New patient calls are an important opportunity for practices to ensure that potential new patients become long-time patients. However, many practices find that their new patient call conversion rates are much lower than what is desired in a successful business.
Trips to the dentist can be a nerve-wracking experience for many, so a good relationship between staff and patients is important to keep them coming back to your office. Successful new patient call will not only lay the foundation for such a happy and trusting relationship, but it will continue to move the process forward by scheduling an appointment for an in-person visit.
The ideal new patient call conversion rate of a successful practice is at least 90%, meaning that at least 90% of all new patient callers become returning patients. However, this is an area of the business that is often not monitored and may be a major blind spot that is holding back the potential revenue of a practice.
Conversion rates are often low because staff is not properly trained in how to speak with potential new patients or on what steps to take to get an appointment scheduled. Recorded new patient calls are a great tool to help train staff on what and what not to say and do for a successful call and, in turn, an increased conversion rate.
Increase Revenue By Increasing Production Per Visit
Each individual patient visit has the potential for an increase in the practice’s production. Whether it comes at that particular visit or from one yet to be scheduled, certain steps can be taken during each individual patient’s visit to ensure that the office is not missing out on any potential revenue. Ensuring that all proper steps are taken at each visit is, however, is a common blind spot of many practices.
Each patient visit includes a series of steps for staff to conduct. From validating patient information to performing all necessary operations and scheduling follow-up appointments, each part of a visit has the potential for revenue for the business. Practices could be missing out on their full per-visit potential if staff misses any part of a visit, some common examples including the following:
- Failure to update incorrect patient information
- Not scheduling the patient’s next appointment
- A miscalculation of or failure to charge the proper fees
An increased rate of revenue per visit is often improved through training and organization. Clearly defined procedures and a well-versed staff are a practice’s best chance of making the maximum revenue potential per patient visit.
Increase Revenue By Increasing Production Per Hour
The rate of production per hour is how most practices determine how well they are doing financially. However, when the numbers aren’t where they should be, it is often also a blind spot and is frequently forgotten when companies try to figure out how to improve.
One of the most common blind spots when it comes to the hourly rate of production in an office lies in the individual production rates of doctors and hygienists. While a hygienist can see an average of 7 to 8 patients per 8 hour shift, doctors average 0.5-1.5 patients per hygiene visit, depending on the practice. If the average of an office is lower than this or if there are regularly gaps in the schedules of either doctors or hygienists, then the office is likely not living up to it’s hourly potential. A common strategy to avoiding such gaps throughout the day is to over-schedule appointments. Statistics show that patients will inevitably either cancel or skip appointments, so over-scheduling ensures that there are no gaps in the daily schedule of an office.
The hourly rate of production can also by affected by a number of other factors, including the following:
- A variance in calendar days per month
- Over or under-scheduling staff
- A variance in the number of patient cancellations
The net hourly revenue of a practice is what remains after all hourly costs are deducted. With this blind spot uncovered, increasing your hourly production rate is as simple as finding where costs are high and where profit is lacking.
The blind spots of a practice often lie in the fine details of the operation, but they can also have a significant impact on the overall revenue of the business. Examining the above three common blind spots can help your practice find what isn’t working so that you can increase your revenue and operate at full potential.