Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part article on the KPIs. Read the first part, "KPIs: What they are and why you need to know about them," for an introduction on why KPIs—key performance indicators—are key to tracking team success and pinpointing areas that need to be improved.
Here are seven KPIs you can implement in your dental office now.
Production goals allow the business team to properly schedule patients. If there isn’t a production goal, often patients are scheduled whenever and wherever just to fill the schedule. This creates chaos for the entire team. Production by provider should be reviewed over the last six months to a year, calculating the actual average that was produced. With careful consideration, the average production per provider can be modestly increased by 5 to 10%. Ideally, you’ll set yearly, monthly, and daily production goals.
You should be collecting 98% of your production. If the percentage is lower, one reason could be that patients aren’t paying at the time of service and are allowed to be billed later. If this is the case, you should implement a policy system right away. Often patients are asked, “Do you want to pay for that now” or “Do you want to schedule?” Instead, say, “Mrs. Patient, your portion for today is $100. How would you like to take care of that?” Keep in mind that when a patient is asked a yes or no question, they will often say no.
New patient retention
Ninety-five percent of your new patients should be prescheduling their next appointment for something. If this percentage is lower (under 89%), it could indicate a weak link in the new-patient experience. As a team, reenact the new-patient experience to find ways to make new patients feel valued and appreciated. Every step of this appointment should be focused on building a relationship with the patient, and that starts with the initial phone call. People in general are always impressed when they feel welcome and know the team was prepared for their visit.
It would be great if all patients accepted recommended treatment, but 85% or higher is a good acceptance rate. If this percentage is lower at your office, multiple systems are most likely involved—for example, how treatment is presented, passing information from one person to the next, scheduling, and follow-up.
Why do patients say no to treatment? Their number one reason is “fire-hosing,” meaning they’re given too many options and feel feel flooded and confused. Another top reason is there’s no sense of urgency; often doctors will say “call us when you’re ready.” Remember, we’re the experts and patients look to us for the direction they need.
Yet another reason patients decline treatment is because of a lack of follow-up. Some Patients say they’ll call back, but this almost never happens. Try saying this: “Mrs. Patient, I understand why you need to think about this. With your permission, I’d like to call you back in a few days. What day is best, Monday or Tuesday?” Once confirmed, make that follow-up call when you say you will.
For improved treatment acceptance, try using the three W’s: What they need, why they need it, and what will happen if they don’t go ahead with it.
Ninety-five percent of hygiene patients should be prescheduling their next appointment. If this KPI is low (under 89%), try not to ask “Do you what to schedule your next cleaning?” Instead, try “It's very important that we see you in six months because___.” Also, try avoiding the phrase “we can get you on the books, and you can change it if you need to.” This statement trains patients to think it’s OK to change their appointment because we told them they could.
This should be at least 25%. If this percentage is lower, consider reducing the cost of fluoride (this is often the culprit). Try not to say, “Do you want this?” Instead, say, “It’s important that I apply this treatment today to help prevent decay or____.” Offering and applying fluoride to patients who need it directly affects the health of their teeth. Ask the team which patients don’t benefit from fluoride instead of thinking only children benefit the most.
If your percentage is lower than 30% to 40%, it could indicate that a soft tissue management program is not in place or that the treatment is being completed and not coded correctly—or periodontal patients are not being identified with the proper assessments. Specific verbal skills are needed to transition patients who have been “cleanings” into the periodontal program: “Mrs. Patient, I am concerned with what I am seeing TODAY. We need to treat___right away because___.” Most offices have a substantial number of patients who need periodontal treatments but have always been “just a cleaning.” This KPI takes time to improve. Be patient and work toward converting patients one at a time.
I can’t say enough about how important it is to celebrate all successes, large or small. The seven KPIs can indicate a team’s success and identify areas to improve. The entire team has a direct effect on the overall health of the practice. I challenge you to introduce a few of the KPIs at the next team meeting. Help each person go from a disconnection of hearing confusing numbers to understanding the connection of those numbers reflecting a healthy system. Take time, give the team time, and remember that this is a step-by-step process of learning something new and working together.