As a dental practice owner, you wear many hats besides being a dentist. Day-to-day operations require constant monitoring to ensure the best outcomes for your patients. This responsibility is in addition to making important business decisions to help your office become sustainable.
No matter how much you fine-tune your dental practice processes, you may wonder what other areas you could improve to boost patient experiences and increase profits. The following suggestions can help you do just that. We've broken them down into three primary categories:
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Whether you're a newly minted dental practice owner or have an established clinic that could use some improvement, these recommendations will definitely prove beneficial:
If your team has moments where they aren't prepared for industry challenges or lack the necessary training to perform their jobs efficiently, invest in education to help them beat these obstacles. There are countless options to enhance their careers, including conferences, online courses, thought leadership conventions, and more. Investing in your team will streamline your dental practice's operations and create an achievable path to financial success.
Competition is fierce in the dental industry. Gaining a competitive edge over other practices is a critical aspect of your business model. If your team is experiencing workflow bottlenecks, your system frequently requires restarts, or you receive constant error notifications, it's time to reconsider your practice management software.
Your dental technology encompasses more than the latest digital radiography and intra-oral cameras. PMS platforms need the most up-to-date software and offer robust management tools to run your business at its absolute best. Cloud-based platforms like Adit also help lessen the learning curve for your team by integrating its features with your existing software.
With increased encryption and uniform data storage architecture, your staff never have to search multiple locations for a patient record. Your entire team can benefit from improved communication via internal chat and can track KPIs and other critical metrics in real-time. Never be in the dark again about how well your dental practice is performing.
How do you manage patient balances or outstanding insurance claims? Do you wait until the end of the month to catch up? Biweekly? Once a week? Following up is essential to generate a high collection rate. A practice management software platform is a crucial element of this process. Ensure that the provider you rely on doesn't let money slip away because it doesn't have the capacity to stay on top of your accounts.
A stifled cash flow is often the first symptom of inadequate receivables management. Review the functions built into your PMS and determine which tools are available to combat slow-paying accounts.
Does it offer an automated reminder feature that syncs with your system and sends out payment requests based on the age of the account? Or does your staff have to configure this manually? If not, this is a clear signal that money is being left on the table.
If you are launching new products or want to improve treatment acceptance rates, patients should first understand the impact of these services on their wellbeing. This aspect of upselling falls on your entire staff. Demonstrating how a specific form of care will benefit one's life makes acceptance more likely. Work with your team on how they communicate the value of a dental product or service to improve patient acceptance rates and increase sales of underperforming procedures.
As a dental practice owner, you already know the importance of gaining new patients. While that process is time-consuming, remember that you need them to return for more care later. This means having a solid follow-up strategy that keeps them up-to-date on their care, offering promotions, and communicating with them on their terms.
Patients have busy lives, much like your office, so be sure to find out their preferred method of communication. If your office doesn't have secure SMS messaging capabilities, emailing, or automated call reminders, your efforts lack efficiency. A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system like Adit Voice can bring all these communications under one platform and sync with patient data to ensure you stay engaged.
Are you holding daily meetings focused more on coffee and danish than the day's goals? A morning huddle should fuel the day's business, support business strategies, and bring your team closer together.
Your morning huddles are a daily opportunity to encourage your team members to collaborate and achieve set goals. It's also a great time to review procedures in areas where compliance is struggling, remind your team of treatment goals, and review the performance of current practice strategies.
One thing about the dental industry that remains constant is it always changes. Every year there are new procedures and technology impacting how you do business. Having a process to help employees navigate these challenging times can create smoother transitions.
Your current PMS should also make adapting to new processes a seamless experience for your team with a shorter learning curve. Choose a platform that offers an intuitive dashboard that can integrate with your existing system. Finding ways to make change less painful for your team will go a long way in fighting resistance and avoid stunting your growth and adaptability in the dental market.
Nip confusion about the scope of roles and responsibilities team members have in your office by defining these details clearly for each position. When someone leaves, you need to fill their vacancy. The recruitment and hiring process is much more straightforward with this information already defined.
Along with outlining the roles and responsibilities of your team, you should also have an administrative manual containing the policies you expect your team to follow. This manual should also cover your attendance policy, dress code, employee time off rules, and more. Ensure this information is readily available on demand and adjust policies as necessary as your dental practice grows over time.
How can you know what needs improvement if you can't see it? Key performance indicators (KPIs) are metrics that you can track to gauge a number of practice financial aspects, including:
These numbers will help you better understand what strategies are or aren't working and highlight areas in your operations that need improvement. Using this information to fine-tune your business and patient experience strategies will give your clinic the boost it needs to reach its potential. A comprehensive practice analytics module can collect data across numerous areas and display this information in an easy to digest dashboard.
As a dental practice owner, you have big goals for your clinic, but without a plan, all this effort and money go to waste. Create goals and a strategy to guide you and your team to achieve them. Only implement realistic deadlines and be accountable for areas of your plan that lack follow-through. Running a dental practice is demanding, but with a clearly defined path to success, your business can grow faster.
One of the most important aspects of running a dental practice is ensuring your patients' personal health information (PHI) HIPAA security standards. However, this effort doesn't stop at just health records. You must also ensure all communications are encrypted and protect their data.
Minimize liability by regularly reviewing your HIPAA compliance efforts and ensuring your dental software, including email and SMS messaging features, meet those standards.
For patients, navigating their dental insurance is a complex undertaking. They don't always fully understand available benefits, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs. Patients have the expectation that your practice will help them determine their available coverages and handle the claim submission process.
If you aren't doing this, know that your competitors already are. This is why it's important to assist your patients by ensuring they get the most out of their insurance benefits. To ensure this happens, review their current benefits when they visit and prevent them from wasting their money on out-of-pocket costs that should've been covered.
If you want to run a successful dental practice, there are some core aspects of running a business that you need to hit.
When you think about eliminating wasteful spending, you probably immediately think of dental supplies, utilities, reducing subscriptions to different dental journals, or downgrading cable packages for your waiting room. The reality is that the biggest threat to cash flow in your dental office is usually lost productivity.
To get a clear idea of how much productivity you are losing on different daily routines in your office, ask yourself a few questions, such as:
The answers to these questions can help you determine what areas in your overall operational processes need improvement, which boosts productivity.
How many hours a week does your team spend playing phone tag with patients to get them booked for upcoming appointments? If you haven't already realized, online appointment scheduling is much more efficient. It's also cost-effective because your team spends more time on other tasks and empowers patients to handle their own scheduling needs.
Automated appointment reminders are also a significant time-saver and improve productivity rates dramatically. Instead of your team trying to reach patients during the limited availability of your office hours, they can communicate according to a customized schedule where the message is more likely to receive a response.
Practice management software like Adit also offers automated communication through secure SMS messaging. Patients need only click an embedded link to the online schedule to make their appointment or simply reply and confirm their booked visit by texting "yes" in response. This platform then updates this response automatically in your system calendar.
When you started your practice, you probably had every intention of staying organized and had a process to achieve this goal. As your dental office has grown and taken on new patients and staff, you may not have updated your original organizational strategy to accommodate these changes. This can lead to important tasks falling behind or completely being forgotten, hurting productivity. It can also overload your team's workload and cause patients significant frustration.
Regularly consult your team about any daily tasks that experience inconsistent handling or get overlooked. These inefficiencies, no matter how minor, can quickly add up to lost time and revenue if not part of your operational processes.
While you already appreciate your team's hard work to help your dental practice thrive, you can improve their job satisfaction and patient experience by providing effective tools and training. Recognize their abilities and contributions to your office to improve morale and foster a motivated workplace culture.
For every dental practice, no-shows and regular cancellations incur thousands of dollars in lost revenue every year. The medical industry reported a combined loss of $150 billion annually according to a poll by the Medical Management Group Association.
As a dentist, it's important to understand the root causes of your cancellation/no-show rates in order to create actionable steps to stem this loss. Some of the more common reasons a patient doesn't come to their dental appointments might include:
It could also be an issue with how your team currently schedules appointments, or your process is difficult for patients to navigate.
For many dental offices, convenient scheduling options and automated confirmations will ensure the patient remains engaged. This focus not only reassures oral healthcare goals are important but that your office is eager to provide this care. Personalized care instructions can also be included in these reminders helping to create a deeper bond with your patients before ever setting foot in your office.
It's not uncommon to have dental tools and equipment that acts quirky over time. But, this is not a good visual or reassuring to patients sitting in your chair. Modernized dental tech is also essential to your practice growth. Ensure your budget includes funding for necessary upgrades and more advanced tools to offer the best oral healthcare care and procedures available to your patients.
Paperwork costs your dental practice significant amounts of time and money every year. Even if you've managed to condense paperwork and process claims electronically, you're still not running at peak efficiency and losing revenue to overhead.
For many offices, initial visits at a minimum require the following forms to complete patient onboarding: HIPAA acknowledgment, financial responsibility documents, patient health history and information, treatment consent, and their chart. The process of ensuring paperwork gets filled out completely and accurately can lead to delays in insurance approvals and payment.
Adit Patient Forms helps your dental practice transition into a completely paperless process. With customizable forms and templates that can have patient information populated from your practice management platform, you can send needed documents with just a few clicks of your mouse. Once completed, patients can attach additional files and send them back via a secure connection where your staff can review the uploaded information. This technology saves days of back and forth communications to get the right details submitted and helps reduce wait time in your lobby.
Does your practice have an online schedule beyond patients sending an email via a contact form? If your team still has to enter patient information on your calendar manually while patients sit on hold waiting for a confirmation, online scheduling can transform this entire process.
Self-scheduling gives your patients the ability to have more control over their dental care. Cloud-based practice management providers like Adit integrate web-based booking with your internal calendar so users can easily see what appointments are available with the dentist or hygienist they wish to see. Reminders can include a link to this schedule, and your dental site can also feature a scheduling option, eliminating the need for emailing requests.
You can also rely on this feature to better balance your daily workload and strategically offer appointment times based on estimated procedure times instead of a one-size-fits-all slot.
Running a dental practice has many owners and their staff being pulled in several directions at once. As an owner or practice manager, you have many focuses, including productivity goals, managing time, and streamlining operations to maximize patient outcomes and ROI. These are crucial goals that help keep turnover at a minimum and attract new patients, so it's vital that you don't micromanage day-to-day tasks that don't contribute to these factors,
Delegation is an essential part of owning a dental clinic so that your priorities always remain at the core of your focus.
Have you noticed that certain times or days of the week or month are significantly slower than others? Looking at your target patient audience, are your office hours convenient for their schedules? For instance, if you don't have much business before 10 am throughout the week, can you justify being open from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday? Would your patients make better use of later appointments?
Creating a schedule attuned to peak business times is a smart way to cut down on overhead costs, no-shows and last-minute cancellations.
Dental patients appreciate offices with flexible appointment hours and varying levels of accessibility. Teledentistry has quickly found its place in the dental industry. Many offices have enjoyed the benefits this technology provides, such as decreased operational costs, more personalized care, and increased patient access to needed oral healthcare.
Providing oral healthcare consultations through telehealth visits also creates a more positive patient experience while offsetting some of the in-office workloads your staff has to manage each day. Plus, the convenience of speaking with a dentist in the comfort of one's home using a laptop or favorite smart device is popular with patients.
Marketing strategies are another area of improvement that many dental practice owners are always looking for advice about. Check out these helpful tips that can turn around a struggling advertising strategy:
Even though the competition is fierce in the dental industry, analyzing how your competitors do business can help you improve your own strategies. While it's tempting to simply focus on what they're doing wrong, knowing what they're doing right can be equally revealing.
Start by listing out areas where you struggle to draw in business. Perhaps your teeth whitening services are underperforming despite offering the latest products available on the market. Research which dental practices in your area excel in this treatment and review how they market their products, the quality of the whitener used, and what kind of care patients receive when using these services.
Improving your practice requires more than streamlining your operations and finetuning your administrative approach. You should understand why your phone rings and capitalize on this information to boost your office's performance. Call tracking software can fill your team in on the details of phone calls, including pulling up the patient's information based on the number they're calling from.
When advertising your dental office online, websites, ads, email, and social media posts rely on dynamic number insertion (DNI). This means each of these marketing channels can have a unique number assigned, whether related to a billboard on the side of a highway or a banner ad on a Youtube video you recorded. Your call tracking integration will identify which campaign the patient is calling about.
Much like whitening helps smiles beam, marketing your practice should make your brand shine. You already know that sitting back and waiting for patients to discover your clinic isn't any way to create brand awareness. Patient testimonials and referrals are extremely beneficial, but how do you get in front of prospects when they need you? Marketing.
Running successful advertising campaigns requires careful planning, specialized content, and monitoring. Every dollar spent should maximize your presence to the target audience you hope to attract to your practice. Simply boosting a post offering a new patient special on Facebook isn't enough. You need to understand the psychology of your market and the demographics of your ideal patients to market effectively.
Your dental practice relies on outstanding patient results and reviews to build trust with the public and encourage conversion into booked appointments. Online advertising and special offers can attract interest, but testimonials and referrals from existing patients positively impact your conversion rate even more quickly.
Getting feedback can feel like pulling teeth at times, but often it takes just a small nudge from your staff through automated reminders for people to share the happy smiles they've gotten at your practice. But, don't forget to respond to comments and reviews left on social media or your Google My Business pages. Engaging with the public in response to positive and negative feedback shows visitors you're serious about providing a quality patient experience.
Cloud-based practice management platforms like Adit offer online reputation management integrations that provide an intuitive dashboard to track all sites where feedback is left. Instead of logging into multiple accounts, your team can track, review, and respond to reviews in a single application.
No matter what industry you're in, marketing your business requires skill and understanding how advertising works. If you find yourself unable to consistently keep up with managing your marketing strategy, consider consulting with experienced dental marketers for help. Before you worry about the cost, think about the untapped revenue streams you could uncover with the right guidance.
Instead of wasting dollars on untested ad campaigns, marketing professionals like those Adit can do the analysis and form a strategy that best meets your business goals and boosts brand awareness. For many dental professionals, keeping ad spending under control is challenging. With the assistance of trained marketers familiar with your industry, your ROI will get a much-needed boost sooner than later.
As your dental practice grows, its once well-oiled operational processes become less efficient leading to decreases in productivity that hurt your bottom line. At times, this degradation is due to service expansion and your current technology becoming outdated or unable to scale with your business demands and goals.
Adit provides a management solution that can empower your team and supports productivity leading to improvement across every aspect of your dental office. Our team of developers has created over 15 digital tools designed specifically for this industry, including:
To learn more about how your dental practice could reach new levels of efficiency, growth, and patient care, schedule your free demo.
Angela is a former English teacher turned marketing content specialist. Over the past 10 years, she’s developed marketing strategies to forge enduring bonds between B2B, B2C and SaaS companies and their clients through holistic education, effective communication, and captivating storytelling that moves audiences to act.
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