Part III, Profitability and Peace of Mind in a Down Economy

Dec. 8, 2009
Vijay Sikka says dentists’ actual production to scheduled production is tracking better than 2008. This shows more accurate treatment-planning, better treatment acceptance, and a clear increase in confidence among U.S. dental patients.
What do the numbers say —Are patients keeping appointments?
by Vijay Sikka
This is the third in a series of articles about how to use some high technology and some not so high technology tools and techniques to help uncover and recover profitability in your practice. For readers who wish to read Part I and II, please write to [email protected] or do a search on the first article, we discussed the four reclaims: 1) profitability, 2) patients, 3) control, and 4) peace of mind. We discussed fee optimization, patient demographics analysis, and patient reactivations.In this article, we will examine what the real time trends are telling us about the treatments we present, the recall effectiveness, the production per visit and production of dentists and hygienists. We will discuss how 2009 is showing some positive signs in the last three months. The data presented here is through November 30 2009. More recent data can be requested at , our real-time national trends Web site. Sign-up is free and so is data from 2007 and 2008.Sikka Software Dental Practice Optimizer Lite Free Trial helps you achieve these objectives. It installs automatically and reads data seamlessly from all major practice-management systems and financial systems in the US and Canada.Tracking ProductionSikka Software Corporation is tracking over 6,000 dental installations and hundreds of business and clinical variables in real time. The results are amazing for the year 2009. Dentists’ actual production to scheduled production is tracking better than 2008. This shows more accurate treatment-planning, better treatment acceptance, and a clear increase in confidence among U.S. dental patients.Here is more information that corroborates this trend. More patients are accepting reappointments. The number of patients reappointed is seeing a steady increase from the beginning of the year.Doctors Gross ProductionHere is perhaps the best news of all. Doctors’ gross production in 2009 in the last three months is rebounding. After a slower summer, it is at better levels than 2008! Hygienists’ gross production is trending at the same levels and is steady.Gross production per visitFor a while, 2009 seemed to be following the downward trend of 2008 for gross production per visit. The last three months have bucked that trend and actually shown a very healthy rise in production. This is again due to better acceptance of treatment plans by patients and better execution by dental offices.So why is the gross production per visit going up? The bigger ticket items are making a comeback!! Direct restorations are generally paid by insurance and are steady throughout the year, but notice the indirect restorations as a percentage of comprehensive exams. The last three months are singing a beautiful song!!The hygiene storyThere is mixed news on this front. Locally Applied Antimicrobials (example Arestin® and others) are being used more and more on SRP patients. The Average has now exceeded two teeth for total quads of SRP.But SRPs to prophys have lost momentum in the second half of 2009. In addition, it is at lower levels that it was at the same time in 2008.Another interesting trend is that the bitewing X-rays to prophy ratio is dropping and is now lower than 2008 numbers.Finally, an interesting observation on recall effectiveness: After languishing at below 2008 numbers for most of the year, it is finally starting to build and has now caught up with 2008 levels. All these are positive affirmations that more and more patients are keeping appointments. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope some of these cautiously optimistic signs continue and bring cheer this holiday season to the dental industry.This is a series of articles that shares with you what you can do to help identify each element of your practice. Use tools such as the Dental Practice Optimizer Lite Free Trial by Sikka Software in conjunction with your practice-management and financial systems. Keep reading and keep that feedback coming please! Vijay Sikka is the president and chief executive officer of the five-year-old Sikka Software Corporation. He is a health-care informatics expert with more than 17 years of software development and quality experience, including large-scale projects with National Institutes of Health, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, and UCSF affiliates. These projects are still used by several thousand physicians, medical professionals, and scientists. In 1996, Vijay founded IBrain Software, Inc. and served as its CEO until its acquisition in 1998 by Entigen Corporation, a health-care information company that later became part of Roche. Vijay holds an M.S. Degree from Syracuse University New York, pursued graduate studies in neurosciences at Stanford University, and is a Registered Continuing Education Provider with the Dental Board of California. He is a speaker in quality conferences and participates in W3C standards groups. Vijay has published a book on "Maximizing ROI on Software Development" by Taylor and Francis International. Contact him at [email protected].