Practice Activator

Aug. 18, 2010
Dr. Larry Emmott talks about a new product called Practice Activator that uses advanced technology to apply tools that are just not possible with paper — tools like cloud computing, data mining, virtual brains, and more.

By Dr. Larry Emmott

A car is not merely a faster horse. This has become one of my new mantras. It expresses perfectly the issues I often see with technology in general and dentistry in particular. When we first attempt to apply a new technology to an old problem, we simply attempt to improve the old process. However, once our vision matures and we really see what is possible, we begin to truly take advantage of the power of digital technology.

A good example is the “Million Dollar File Cabinet.” Consultants and dentists have known for years that our files are full of people who need dental treatment, have failed to follow up, or have missed a recare appointment. If we could just reactivate these noncompliant patients, it would help the patient’s dental health and bring in additional income.

The old way of dealing with this (the horse) was to do a hand audit of the paper charts, looking for unfinished treatment. This process is extremely tedious, extremely time-consuming, and thus extremely expensive ... so it never gets done.

Our first attempt at applying technology (the faster horse) was to begin to gather patient data with a practice-management system, then run reports, generate a list, and send a letter or make a phone call. This is much better than the hand audit, but it still takes a lot of staff time, is inconsistent, and hardly ever gets done.

Now there is a new product called Practice Activator, (650)-488-8103, that uses advanced technology (the car) to apply tools that are just not possible with paper records — tools like cloud computing, data mining, self-learning virtual brains, database marketing, artificial intelligence, and fully automated e-services that essentially mimic the thought processes of a human mind.

On a basic level, the system seeks out patients who have not been seen for 10 months to two years. But using sophisticated analysis, it does a lot more.

For example: The computer discovers a patient who had a root canal completed on a molar, but never had a final restoration placed on that tooth. The patient is then contacted and advised to return for treatment. The computer looks at a whole host of the patient’s personal factors — such as age, sex, insurance status, location, motivators, finances, medical conditions, etc. — and tailors the reactivation message to appeal specifically to that patient.

The computer tracks the responses and learns what message works and what doesn’t. This is called a self-learning system. The learning is not restricted to your office and your data; it can call upon the accumulated wisdom or knowledge base of more than one million previous encounters.

One of the features that makes Practice Activator effective is that it is automatic. Once it is set in motion, no human activity is required. All your office staff needs to do is answer the phone when the patient calls to schedule an appointment.

One of the early users of Practice Activator is Dr. Anthony Needham of Berkley, Calif. He comments:

“I reasoned that since I had a history with my old, nonresponsive patients, I could get them back more easily if I had a way to cost-effectively analyze their charts and regularly send personalized communications to them. Generic recall cards, e-mails, and even calls by my front office don’t really give these patients any specific compelling reasons to return. That’s why we all have a sizeable pool of nonresponsive patients in our practices, whether we like to admit it or not.

“I’ve used Activator for eight months now, and it has reactivated 228 nonresponsive patients, with a total of just over $91,500 in production. Seventy-five appointments from those patients are still in the future, with production not counted yet. This is already a 715% ROI, as I paid a total of $12,800 in monthly fees, and represents a 12% increase in take-home pay for me. I’m very pleased. If only I could get this kind of return in the stock market ...”

Cloud computing, data mining, virtual brains ... the future is coming and it will be amazing!

Author bio
Dr. Larry Emmott is one of the most entertaining speakers in dentistry, and he is considered the leading dental high-tech authority in the country. He has more than 30 years of experience as a practicing general dentist in Phoenix, Ariz. He has addressed hundreds of professional groups and has been a featured speaker at every major U.S. dental meeting. He will have you laughing while you are learning. Dr. Emmott is a regular contributor to leading national magazines. He consults with both dentists and the dental industry. He has been a pioneer in online publishing with his blog