By Dayna Johnson
Someone asked me the other day what I believe is a key ingredient to increasing productivity in the dental office. There are so many, but the one that I’ve been focusing on a lot lately is automation. When you’re not tied to your chair with some of the monotonous tasks we do every day at the front desk, you open your schedule to so many possibilities. By doing that, you can increase the productivity and profitability of your practice in ways you might not have considered. Here are some examples:
1. Spend more time with patients building relationships. Building relationships with your patients not only makes it a lot more fun to go to work because you get to talk about current events or family updates, but it also builds trust between practice and patient. Trust leads to case acceptance, case acceptance leads to a full schedule, and a full schedule leads to increased profitability. A strong relationship with your patients will also cut down on collection issues. Someone who has a strong personal bond with the team members is less likely to leave the office with a balance or let it go past due.
2. Work on your marketing efforts to attract new patients. As an office manager, you can help with the marketing efforts in the practice in many ways because you’re on the front lines — you see everything that happens in the office each day. One thing you can do is teach the front office team how to ask for referrals as patients leave the office. It’s especially easy if a patient just offered a compliment.
For example ...
Team member: "How did your appointment go today?"
Patient: “Great! Everyone here is always so friendly and the doctor is so thorough.”
Team member: “You’re such a great patient; we’d love to have more patients just like you. If you have friends or family members who would appreciate the same level of care that you’ve experienced, please send them our way. Here is my business card with our phone number on it.”
Another way you can build your patient base is to keep your website fresh and current. So often I see websites that contain photos of team members who no longer work there, or that contain expired promotions because no one in the office has time to update the website. Create an office Facebook page and post something interesting at least twice a week. If you want more information on marketing, read the blog series I did with Naomi Cooper by clicking here.
3. Educate your community on the latest dental news. Community meetings, elementary schools, and physicians love to have guest speakers inform their members or students about the benefits of good oral hygiene, new dental procedures, or amazing products that just came out on the market. If you took 30 minutes of your day and gave a presentation to a class of 30 students, imagine the impact it could make on your new patient count! If you could speak to a group of nurses or physicians about the benefits of good oral hygiene with respect to heart disease, imagine the referrals you would get from the doctors. Public speaking can be a bit frightening, but try it and you might surprise yourself. I know I did.
You might be wondering, What exactly can I automate in my practice? If you’re like me, you don’t want to give up control of your systems to a third party vendor because you’re afraid the vendor might screw things up. However, there are many ways to streamline certain tasks and keep the control:
• Continuing care due reminders — This time-consuming task is definitely at the top of the list. Do you have a desk-sized calendar with all the dates highlighted regarding when you need to send out postcards? When the dates arrive to send a group of postcards, you have to generate a list of patients that are due, create the letter merge, print the postcards, separate the cards, apply the postage, and mail them out. If you do this several times a month, this can add up to hours of lost time that could be automated with the right tools. If you are a Dentrix user, I would highly recommend implementing either the eCentral suite of services or DemandForce, depending on your needs. Eaglesoft also has eServices that are built into their software for easy automation. Any of these programs can pull patient information from your software and send postcards or emails automatically, but still give you full control over the setup of the parameters. Just set it and let it run.
• Appointment confirmations — I go into offices every day with systems that send a postcard 30 days before a patient’s hygiene visit to remind him or her of the appointment, and then call the day before to confirm the appointment. I think this is a great system, but it can be automated! You can set up this system and free yourself from the manual labor it takes to generate, print, and mail all these cards, depending on what practice management software you use. If you’re using Dentrix software, check out eCentral or Demandforce, and if you’re using Eaglesoft, they have their own suite of electronic services that include appointment confirmations. I am so excited that all the major practice management software companies are building in these great services and making them user-friendly.
• Billing statements — You know this needs to be done, you know it’s part of your weekly or monthly management routine, but you despise this tedious task. It takes hours to print, sort, write custom messages, fold, stuff, stamp, and send all these billing statements. Let’s automate this task as well. Both Dentrix and Eaglesoft have the technology for you to take advantage of this time saver and still allow you to customize the parameters and write personalized messages on your patients’ statements. This allows you to free up some of your time and still provide a professional and timely billing statement for your patients. It’s a win-win!
These top three automated procedures are available now. You don’t have to be on a “path to paperless” to take advantage of these awesome time-saving tools, you can use them now! Free yourself from the tasks and add some new and exciting plans to increase productivity and profitability in your practice.
As one of the Pacific Northwest’s most trusted consultants, Dayna Johnson has helped dental offices from around the country transition down the path to paperless. No two dental offices are alike, and Dayna channels her passion for going chartless to help fulfill their goals and increase their profitability. With 19 years of experience, Dayna’s passion for efficient systems is grounded in personal understanding and professional expertise. With a direct, pragmatic approach, Dayna helps clients develop standardized protocols for all practice management systems. Dayna can be reached at (425) 238-3699 or [email protected]. Visit her website at www.raedentalmanagement.com.