Keeping Track of Daily Practice Numbers

Sept. 12, 2011
Christine Taxin tells you why dental practices need to make a budget every year.

by Christine Taxin

Why is overhead so tied to how we run our business? Doctors are told to keep overhead at a certain percentage of annual gross collections. So, to keep overhead where it should be, what do most dental practice owners do? They lower salaries, cut down on supplies, or buy the cheapest supplies they can find. Most practice owners don’t bother to look more than once a month at what their practice produces and collects.Dental practices need to make a budget every year, and review it during the year. How can we work around a budget and not know what the daily numbers are? On a daily basis, practices should run collection, production, and billed-to-insurance reports. Also on a daily basis, practices should find out what patient balances were left unpaid. These are just some of the reasons we track and adjust the budget during the year.Knowing what treatment was accepted daily and tracking the codes used every day will help you understand how to adjust the budget. If patients accept only prophies and not scaling and root planing, find out why. If patients are not doing the crowns they need and ask you to do patchwork instead, again, ask why. Should we become more educated, so we can educate our patients that shortcuts in dentistry don’t work for the long term? Should we learn how patients can get their work done with better treatment financing solutions? Are we following up on unaccepted treatment, or are we just doing what we did before?Change is hard, but keeping track of daily practice numbers is the most important thing we can do to run a profitable business. Yes, dental practices, that is what you are — a business.Here are five important tips:1. Communicate with your patients. Don’t just talk in general terms. Let them know you are there to help them, even if it takes a year to complete treatment. The entire team should be involved with patients to increase the flow.2. Always ask permission to follow up with patients if they need to think about treatment. Make them a follow-up appointment.3. Use several different communication methods with patients— phone, email, and newsletters. Everyone has a favorite way to get information. Ask which works best for them.4. Tell patients that your office is concerned about their family and their healthcare budget. Patients appreciate knowing they have options. Every office should have a financial policy set up so any staff member can reassure the patient that all treatment can be worked into their family budget. It may be a cash upfront courtesy, three monthly payments, or lower monthly payments through CareCredit, whichever works best for them. CareCredit can fit into their family budget for three months, six months, and 12 months. Remember that paying the percent to CareCredit will save you a lot of money by collecting upfront. Personalize everything you do or say as if you were speaking to your own family.5. Patients like to wait to make big choices, so try to appoint any smaller treatment or correct something that could become an emergency while they are going over other options with their significant other. Ask for permission to follow up with them, either on the phone or in the office, to go over the conversation with their significant other. Always reassure them that you are available anytime they would like to go over the treatment. If your office doesn’t make a follow-up appointment, your chances of closing the treatment are cut in half.Our next budget tip will contain information on how to monitor your production and collection ratio with your insurance plans.Stay tuned!Christine Taxin has more than 20 years as a practice-management professional. Her passion for communication, team training, vision, and goal setting has helped many practices meet their potential and increase their profitability. She helps each team member and doctor develop latent strengths to improve performance and effectiveness. Contact her by email at [email protected] or visit her website at www.Links2success.biz.