Make your practice a masterpiece

Dec. 12, 2011

By Dr. Tanya Brown and Laura Edwards

As 2011 draws to a close, it’s a great time to evaluate and set some goals for 2012. Are you happy with how things are going? Are you attracting enough new patients for your practice to grow? Are you producing dentistry and collecting payments at the rate you should? If not, what can you plan on doing differently in 2012 so you meet or exceed your goals?

A healthy practice is one that attracts enough new patients to balance out patient attrition and keep the clinical team productive. Take a look at your schedule. Are you happy with the number of patients you see each day? If not, now is the time to take a look at your marketing plan so you can enter 2012 with some momentum.

Internal marketing can be one of your largest referral sources. Happy patients are your biggest assets. We will help you cultivate ambassadors for your practice from within your patient base. Do you want to create more “raving fans” that tell all their friends and family about your great practice?

External marketing is the other way to increase your patient base. Do new patients know how to find you when they need a dentist? Maybe phone book ads are no longer enough. Practices that have a well designed, optimized website attract more patients than practices that do not. Are you listed on Google Places? Does your practice have a Facebook page, Twitter page, or blog? Effective use of social media is a great way to help prospective patients get to know your practice.

Improving case acceptance is one direct path to improved profitability. Do you want to create more value in the minds of patients? Intraoral pictures and other patient educational tools are invaluable in helping patients understand and accept the need for treatment. Proper verbal skills will launch your team to the next level of discussing treatment and demonstrating the benefits.

Are all the members of your team communicating effectively? This is a perfect topic for a team meeting, which you are having regularly, right? Beyond the clinical, what about finances? If your patients have dental insurance, can you tell them what will be covered and how much will be covered? Real-time predeterminations and benefit verification can greatly improve your conversion rate by providing the coverage and financial details that patients need to say yes to treatment.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of your practice. It is now possible to streamline your insurance process to ensure an uninterrupted flow of revenue. Take a look at your insurance denials. Denied claims can cause unnecessary extra work by your team and can significantly delay payment. Did you know that nearly two-thirds of claim denials are due to eligibility issues? Is your team verifying benefits for each and every patient before their visit? Do you want to get your team off the phone regarding checking benefits? Automated solutions can streamline this process for you. What about patient payments? Is your team collecting the patient portion at the time of service? If not, maybe the New Year is the perfect time to change your office financial policy.

By following these suggestions, it is possible for you and your team to be more profitable and less stressed, and to have more fun!

Tanya Brown, DMD, FAGD, is a leader in dentistry and dental practice management. She works with dentists and dental teams who want to improve patient care, increase their performance, and decrease stress. Contact Tanya at [email protected] or 757-285-2833 for a complimentary copy of 10 ways to reduce your overhead.

Laura Edwards is the marketing director for MDE, Mercury Data Exchange, a dental revenue cycle management company. A veteran of the health care technology industry, Laura has 15 years of experience assisting clients in the use of technology to improve business operations and cash flow. Contact Laura at [email protected] to start streamlining your cash flow while lightening the workload in your office.