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How does your dental practice rate? Get answers to start the new year

Nov. 27, 2017
Do you know what your patients and team think about your dental practice? You may think you do, but taking the time to survey them will reveal answers to help you start the new year on the right foot. And don't forget to survey yourself!
Roger P. Levin, DDS, CEO and Founder, Levin Group

This article originally appeared in the Principles of Practice Management e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative twice monthly practice management ENL here.

THE END OF THE YEAR IS A TRADITIONAL TIME TO TAKE STOCK of how your practice performed the past year in terms of production, number of new patients, collections, and other key categories. But just looking at the numbers doesn’t always tell the whole story. Sometimes, you need additional information that can’t be found in your practice management software.

For a deeper and more rounded view of your practice––its strengths, weaknesses, and potential––I recommend surveying your patients, your team, and yourself. Some of you may balk at this idea. “Why do I need to survey my team? I already know what they think.” Maybe you do, but I’m betting you will learn things about your practice and its operations that you never suspected.

Let’s look at the three parts to this exercise:

1. Survey your patients

This survey should be brief (seven to 10 questions), convenient (hard-copy or online), and anonymous. The questions should cover the gamut of the patient experience, including their perceptions of the administrative and clinical teams, their view of the dentists, their impressions of the facility, and more. If your practice has made improvements in a particular area, ask specific questions about the changes to gauge if you’re on the right track.

2. Survey your team

Many dentists have good relationships with their teams, yet there are still some things that staff members won’t communicate face-to-face. Maybe they don’t feel comfortable or confident enough to talk about a challenging issue in-person. Surveying your team every few years enables you to see if there are any problems bubbling underneath the surface.

For this survey, you want to go a little more in-depth, so you should make it in the 15- to 20-question range in the form of a handout or link to an online survey. Again, you want to ensure anonymity so that the feedback you get is honest and unfiltered. Hopefully, the responses will confirm that you and your team share similar views about the practice. But if the survey reveals real or potential problems, you now have a heads-up and can take appropriate action.

3. Survey yourself

Many of you probably already do this in some form, at least mentally. But if you don’t write down your thoughts, they can seem less real and actionable. Taking a survey about your own practice compels you to put what you like and what you don’t like about your office in writing. Once you have that information, you can act upon it. Seeing that you’re unhappy about your practice’s appearance or customer service will spur you to correct any deficiencies. The survey should consist of 20 to 25 questions asking you to rate the practice in different areas on a scale of 1 to 5. You can use your answers to jumpstart your strategic planning for the coming year.


Compare the results from all of the surveys. Give special consideration to what your patients say about your practice. In what areas do their perceptions agree with those of you and your team? Where do their opinions differ? For example, if you and your team give the practice’s customer service high marks but your patients don’t, then you need to dig into the data and find out why. These types of multiple-audience surveys often yield eye-opening revelations that lead to breakthrough changes for practices.

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AUTHOR'S NOTE: Need help breaking through to the next level?Learn more about Levin Group’s consulting programs by clicking here.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the founder and CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental consulting firm. A nationally recognized speaker, Dr. Levin presents practice management seminars throughout the country.