Taking Advantage of Downtime

Downtime is an inevitable part of running a practice. Instead of letting slow moments go to waste, learn how to take advantage of downtime with three tips from Dentist Advisors' Matt Mulcock.

Dental Intelligence

|

September 8, 2022

Office Operations,Production,Patient Experience,Forms,Metrics & Reporting

For many practices, the September Slump has arrived. Patients seem to be canceling and no-showing more, and those holes in the schedule appear to grow like cavities. September can be a slow month for various reasons, like school being back in session and less treatment getting diagnosed during the summer vacation months, amongst others. But even if September isn’t slow for you, most practices experience slow moments at some point during the year.  

So instead of letting these moments go to waste, how can you take advantage of this downtime?

Matt Mulcock is the Director of Financial Services at Dentist Advisors, a fee-only fiduciary financial planning and investment firm that exclusively serves dentists. He finds that downtime provides a lot of opportunity and potential for dentists. Throughout his years advising dentists, Mulcock has discovered three ways dentists can take advantage of downtime.

“Whenever you have downtime at your practice, you have a choice in how you look at this, either as an opportunity or an obstacle,” Mulcock said.

Mulcock encourages dentists to take the positive route and focus on the uncapped potential downtime provides.

  1. Reevaluate your goals and values

“Any time you can take a step back to reevaluate and make a fresh start, you should,” Mulcock said. “That could be daily, mid-week, or mid-month. It doesn’t matter when it is. I think you should be constantly thinking about whether you are living your life according to your values.”

Mulcock believes all goals and values, both professional and personal, are important to review and evaluate.

“Am I living the life that I want professionally? Am I running the practice that I want?” Mulcock asks. “Am I living my best life on the personal side? I always think these are chances to be thinking about the answers to these questions.”

Mulcock suggests facilitating this thought process by finding a values exercise online and spending about 10 minutes going through it. He often does these exercises with clients and finds that it helps people discover where they can improve.

When it comes to your practice goals, review them often and adjust them as needed. Dental Intelligence Analytics allows you to track your overall goals as a practice easily. It also gives each team member visibility into the individual goals that matter most to them, whether it be the amount of hygiene visits for your hygienists or the number of patients rescheduled for your front office staff.

By reevaluating your goals and values, you can plan and prepare for where you want to be.

  1. Execute a new project

“When you find yourself with some extra time, it's a perfect opportunity to execute on a project you've been thinking about for a while,” Mulcock said.

Maybe you’ve wanted to spruce up your office. With Dental Intelligence Kiosks, you can modernize the patient check-in process by allowing them to fill out forms on an iPad or tablet.

Perhaps you’ve considered revamping your website. With features from Dental Intelligence like Online Scheduling and Patient Portal, you can keep your website fresh by allowing patients to schedule their appointments and fill out their forms on your website.

Just because the clinical work in your office might be slow, it doesn’t mean your practice’s profitability can’t grow. For example, maybe you’ve noticed your AR balances increasing. Downtime makes for a great opportunity for you and your team to focus on patients with outstanding balances. With Dental Intelligence Payments, you can easily send messages to patients that allow them to view their statements and pay through a link.

Whatever your project may be, now is a good time to check it off your to-do list.

  1. Get organized

“Downtime provides a great opportunity to dial in your practice and your personal life as well,” Mulcock said. “I think this is a great chance to take a step back and reevaluate the numbers, the business, and processes to see if they are working well.”

To get organized, Mulcock suggests reviewing your finances and budget.

“Profit margin is something you should look at when it comes to the health of your practice,” Mulcock said. “If you are in year two of a startup and you are in straight growth mode, your profit margin isn’t going to be close to a practice that is 10 years in, dialed in and mature. Ask yourself, ‘Is my profit margin where I want it to be in this stage of my practice and career?’ If it is lower, then it gives you a direction to go.”

With Dental Intelligence’s Profitability Formula, you can quickly see an overview of your production and overhead. By using the Profitability Formula, you can see what factors are positively or negatively affecting your practice. For example, if your visits are down, consider ways you can increase production per visit.

Mulcock finds that this is also a great time to reassess systems and processes in your office, whether it be how you handle patient handoffs or how you follow up with patients.

If your team spends too much time handling forms and entering patient information, upgrade your practice using Dental Intelligence Digital Forms. Maybe your team could improve on rescheduling patients but doesn’t have a system to know who to call or track those outreach attempts. With features like Patient Finder and Follow Ups, you can easily find specific types of patients you want to reschedule and then leave notes on each attempt.

By using this downtime to organize your practice, you can better prepare for days when you see patients back to back, so they run smoothly.

Time is Money

If time is money, as Benjamin Franklin once said, how you use your time is crucial to the profitability of your practice. When downtime arises, look at the opportunity it creates and make the best of it. There’s an opportunity for improvement in every thumb-twiddling moment.

If you want even more ways to capitalize on those slow months and make the most of downtime, check out our free eBook, “3 Things Every Practice Must Do in a Slow Month.” And if you want to learn how people at Dentist Advisors like Matt Mulcock can help you, you can check them out here.

Avoiding the September Slump: Four Tips to Improve Diagnosis and Treatment Acceptance

With the onset of the dreaded September Slump approaching, Dr. Tarun Agarwal from Raleigh Dental Arts shares four tips on how to make September a great month through improving diagnosis and treatment acceptance.

Dental Intelligence

|

August 9, 2022

Office Operations,Treatment Acceptance,Patient Experience

Soon the warm summer days are going to end. Vacations will be over. School will be back in session. And your schedule is going to dwindle like the leaves on the trees. The dreaded September Slump is coming.

Sometimes also referred to as Sucktember, September can seem like a difficult month for dentistry. You may be scrambling to figure out how you can fill your schedule so you can continue to increase productivity and profitability at your practice.

Dr. Tarun Agarwal is a practicing dentist and practice owner of Raleigh Dental Arts and the founder of 3D Dentists, an educational training platform. He has seen that dentists have substituted busyness for business which has led to a decline in case acceptance, which in turn affects September’s success.

“We’ve worked in a model where busyness has been the key to ‘good business,’” Dr. Agarwal said. “When we allow busyness and chaos to take over, our diagnosis goes down, communication with patients goes down, and time that we spend talking about financial options goes down.”

Throughout his 22-year career, he has lived by four tips that have helped him avoid busyness while improving case acceptance and keeping his schedule full.

Diagnose better

“Diagnosing better isn’t necessarily doing more. Sometimes diagnosing better is actually doing less dentistry,” Dr. Agarwal said. “Sometimes diagnosing better is doing more ideal dentistry versus patch and filling dentistry.”

He feels that having a successful September starts with creating good habits in January that last throughout the year. He notices production in September heavily relies on what was diagnosed in July and August since there is a two to four week lead time on treatment.

“My team members feel Sucktember, but I personally don’t feel it because we are very conscientious about July and August and what we are diagnosing,” he said.

Improve communication about treatment

Dr. Agarwal firmly believes in spending a minimum of one hour for hygiene recall visits. That way, there’s time to communicate with your patients and diagnose treatment during their appointment. He has seen many dentists try to cut their recall visits down to 45 minutes because they have more patients they want to fit in.

“If you squeeze in an extra couple of patients a day because you squeeze 15 minutes off of each appointment, you are probably seeing three more patients which might be five or six hundred dollars more in total revenue,” Dr. Agarwal said. “Or you can give people a time to communicate and diagnose and all it takes is a diagnosis of a couple fillings, crowns, or implants and you’ve made up for all of those revenue issues.”

Experience has taught Dr. Agarwal that not all team members are great at presenting treatment to patients.

“Not everybody is born with the gift of communication,” he said.

Using tools such as digital cameras, X-ray machines, and digital impressions assists Dr. Agarwal and his team by filling any gaps in communicating to patients the treatment they need completed.

“When you have such great records, then you have all the tools to show your patients exactly what is going on,” he said. “Trust is born for most of us when we can show our patients what is going on versus just relying on words.”

For example, Dr. Agarwal enjoys using the CBCT machine because it allows him to slice and dice the images to show patients exactly what is happening. He believes patients don’t care about being taught about the diagnosed treatment. Rather, they want to be able to trust you and confidently know you are doing the right thing.

“Case acceptance and trust have a direct correlation to how much you show your patients, not how much you educate your patients,” Dr. Agarwal said.

If your practice needs an easy way to present personalized treatment plans that include intraoral photos or other visuals, check out Dental Intelligence Treatment Plans. These templates help patients understand why their treatment is needed in an easy-to-understand format.

Make dentistry more affordable

Dr. Agarwal often asks himself, “How can I make my dentistry more affordable?”

He notices giving patients different payment options, including monthly payment plans, directly affects the amount of treatment accepted.

“Affordability has very little to do with price and has more to do with the fact that the modern consumer is a monthly payment consumer,” he said.

With Dental Intelligence Patient Financing, you can make paying for treatment less stressful for patients and provide great options for them in order to make dental care more accessible (and get paid quicker!).

Leverage your schedule

“We, as dental professionals, are not taking advantage of this time to experiment with our schedule,” Dr. Agarwal said. “Starting in July and August, take advantage of the September slowdown with a new way of looking at it.”

For example, he finds that if your production is typically down 20 percent in September, that’s about six hours of work a week. Instead of keeping the same schedule, he suggests setting one day aside for ideal dentistry and then compressing your schedule the rest of the week.

By using Dental Intelligence Smart Schedule, you can see your schedule in a daily, weekly, or monthly view. This allows you to see, at a glance, how you could rearrange your schedule to make days that fall below production goals more successful.

At 3D Dentists, he teaches clients how to create what he calls “priority scheduling.” This allows dentists to prioritize the type of dentistry they enjoy and want to do.

Then, he suggests making your team aware of this goal and celebrating the happiness performing your ideal form of dentistry brings you.

“It’s amazing that when you put your goal out there, people start diagnosing to fill the schedule that you create,” he said.

He also discovers that new patient blocks are usually the first to be replaced by other types of appointments in most practices, yet he believes these appointments should be the most important priority.

“By removing new patient blocks, we are stifling our future in many ways. New patients, by and large, need more dentistry than existing patients,” Agarwal said. “New patients also adapt better to cultural changes in the practice.”

Finding joy in dentistry

Dr. Agarwal continuously teaches these principles to his own team and instills them in his own practice, as well as in other dentists who use his educational training platform.

“My goal is to help dentists find happiness and joy within their profession, so they can find and live happiness and joy in their personal lives,” Dr. Agarwal said.

For more tips on how to make September a successful month, check out our eBook “10 Ways to Avoid the September Slump.” If you want to learn more about Dr. Agarwal, you can find him on all social media platforms as “T-Bone Speaks.” Don’t forget to check out his educational courses offered at 3D Dentists.

Establishing Relationships with Your Team that Count

We all want our practices to have flourishing teams and data to back up all their hard work they are putting in. Learn how Dental Intelligence helps Office Manager Zach Shelley grow his practice through positive team culture.

Dental Intelligence

|

July 18, 2022

Team Culture,Metrics & Reporting,Office Operations

So you’ve just hired a new employee. Now what? You and your team spend hours training them on every little task. Then they begin working on their own as you periodically review their progress. They seem to be performing great and working well alongside your team. Then one day, they put in their two weeks and leave you wondering why. What could make a hard-working employee want to leave?

Retaining current employees may seem difficult. Hiring and training a new team member requires a lot of time from you and your team and increases overhead fees. Furthermore, some studies show any time a company replaces a salaried employee, it costs about six to nine months worth of the employee’s salary. 

Creating a strong team culture where everyone works cohesively and has a sense of belonging will keep employees on board. But building a great team culture doesn’t happen overnight. Constant and concerted efforts must be put in not only by you, but by each member of your team.

Zach Shelley, Office Manager at Satellite Family Dentistry in Florida, has built a culture within his team where everyone feels like family. Their culture allows them to not only celebrate successes together but also have hard conversations with each other when issues arise.

Shelley originally went to school to become an emergency responder. That path eventually led him to dentistry where he landed a job as a lab technician specializing in implants. After thirteen years working in the lab, Shelley decided it was time for a career change and has since led Satellite Family Dentistry over the last couple of years. Shelley’s experience in the dental industry has helped him build a great team that is growing in size and success.

Make personal connections by investing in your team

Building meaningful relationships with your team can be as simple as asking them about their family and home life, celebrating their birthday, and congratulating them when they accomplish a task.

“Take the time to be intentional,” Shelley said. “Intentionality is one of the biggest things you can use to build that family culture.

Shelley points out that when he talks to team members, he makes sure there is a purpose. Whether it be to learn more about their life outside the office or follow up on a task. He also spends these moments checking in to see where he can help his team members. For example, when speaking with a new team member, he likes to follow up on their training progress and then offer to teach them more where needed.

He believes that team members are more likely to perform well when they know he cares — not only about their performance but also what is going on in their day-to-day life.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Be engaged with your team by caring about them from their personal to professional development.

Choose to devote attention to your team by spending time throughout the day with them. Connect with them in a way that acknowledges that they’re more than just an employee. By investing in your team, you will be able to establish lasting relationships and provide stronger connections.

Be available and present

It may feel like there isn’t time to connect with and listen to your team as you are busy seeing each patient back-to-back. But according to Shelley, investing that time is worth it.

“Don’t be too busy to hear a concern or suggestion,” he said. “Staff members’ voices need to be heard.”

A significant part of Satellite Dentistry’s success comes from conscious efforts to spend time listening to their team members. They’re aware of what’s happening in their office. They listen to concerns and address any issues that need to be resolved. Shelley and his team are willing to listen to opposing opinions and are ready to adapt when necessary. That mentality ensures every single person on the team plays a valuable part in the success of the practice.

Foster accountability

Make your team meetings and morning huddles effective by building a foundation that centers on accountability.

“One big change for us was when we started using Dental Intelligence,” Shelley said. “Dental Intelligence was huge in giving us the ability to have a snapshot every day of what we needed to be looking at.”

Before using Dental Intelligence, morning huddles seemed ineffective and redundant to Shelley. His team simply reviewed the schedule, often seeing they didn’t have any openings. He mentions that that didn’t tell them much useful information.

Shelley and his team now use the Dental Intelligence Morning Huddle daily to see what they need to review. This includes incoming patients with unscheduled treatment or family members as well as those with past-due balances. In addition to seeing these uncompleted tasks, they can use Morning Huddle as a guide to assign tasks to team members to complete.

The Morning Huddle feature helps Shelley hold each of his team members accountable to their part in providing a great patient experience. By using the Morning Huddle, Shelley and his office have become more efficient even before patients walk through the door.

Provide solutions to issues

 When problems do arise within the team, Shelley believes it’s best to handle them directly, yet conscientiously.

“Attack the problem, not each other,” Shelley said. “Figure out how to solve the problem because what we are doing really matters for our patients.”

He makes sure to keep staff meetings focused and informative by reviewing any necessary issues and changes as a team.

“Staff meeting issues should be team issues. Direct issues to those employees that need to improve.”

Recently, Shelley realized that their patient handoff experience needed improvement. He addressed the issue with his team and used the Perfect Handoff Checklist to train them on how to make this a better experience for the patient.

Shelley handles office issues by finding solutions that will provide a greater team culture and patient experience.

Celebrate success

You may have a new team member onboard that feels overwhelmed with trying to feel up to speed. They may feel like they are making mistakes and are having to be corrected. What better way to make them feel welcomed and included than by praising them for their accomplishments?

Shelley makes a concerted effort to recognize when employees have accomplished a task whether they be experienced or new to their team. He mentions it only takes moments to do so and the benefits of doing so pay off.

Shelley also likes to make things fun during their staff meetings when celebrating team members. Recently, he put gift cards under everyone’s desk and did a big reveal Oprah style. Little gestures like this help build a sense of belonging amongst team members.

Growing your team culture

Shelley has watched his team grow, not only in size but in skill and knowledge. Their team culture includes making everyone feel like family, and they mean it when they say it. Shelley has developed a tight-knit culture by forming connections and staying present with his team.. What can you do to build a greater team culture and foster a feeling of inclusion?

With the tools Dental Intelligence offers, you can easily track team members’ performance and improve your team communication. Equally important, you can allow each team member to see their data, so they can see how they are being a team player in helping your practice achieve its goals.

For more tips on building a top-notch team culture, check out our eBook “7 Ways to Keep Your Best Team Members,” with one-on-one checklists for every role in the practice.

Get More Patients to Say “Yes” to Tx by Offering Financing

Learn how offering affordable financing options makes treatment more accessible, so you can help more of your patients get the dental care they need.

Dental Intelligence

|

May 20, 2022

Office Operations,Payments,Production,Treatment Acceptance

 This is a joint blog post with our friends from Wisetack.

 

How many times has the following scenario happened to you?

 

A patient comes in with a dental abscess and localized mouth pain. You present your recommended treatment plan: a root canal and a crown. You’re confident they’ll go through with it; you’re the expert, after all. They never come back.

 

According to Dental Intelligence, this happens more often than not – 61% of the time, on average. In a recent poll from Dental Intelligence, 25% of all dental professionals that were surveyed ranked increasing treatment acceptance as the number one goal for their practice(s).

 

Getting patients to say “yes” is a key issue in dentistry, and the web has a plethora of materials dedicated to solving this problem. Common recommendations include simplifying jargon and making things as clear as possible with imagery in patient education. It’s also important to build an emotional connection with patients. Most experts also advise enhancing the entire patient experience to alleviate the common dentist dread. This includes making the visit more enjoyable, of course, but also streamlining administrative tasks for the patient as much as possible (that’s where Dental Intelligence comes in).

how to get patients to say yes without selling ebook download

All the tips mentioned above are valid and should be followed, but they are trumped by one key patient concern: cost. Even if you put your best foot forward with everything else, a patient won’t agree to treatment if they can’t afford it.


Many patients cannot afford treatment

It’s no secret that some patients forgo necessary treatments when they can’t pay for them. What can be more surprising, however, is how frequently that happens. The numbers speak for themselves:


With your patients’ financial situation out of your control, are you just out of luck if they can’t afford treatment? Not quite. An effective solution is to offer financing. And even if you are already doing that, it is still worth evaluating different financing partners, as some will have a much more positive impact on your practice and your patients.


Financing benefits more patients than you may think

It goes without saying, but the main reason a patient would finance a treatment is that they can’t (or can’t comfortably) afford it. But it’s not the only reason. A patient who has the means to pay for a treatment might still favor financing if they qualify for a 0% APR. (True 0% APR terms incur zero interest and shouldn’t be confused with deferred interest options, which charge high interest rates after a promotional period.) That’s why once you have chosen a financing partner (or several) to work with, it is crucial to promote financing as a payment option to all patients — not just those you think will need it.  

 

Choosing a preferred financing partner

Not all financing partners are equal and finding one that can fulfill both your needs and your patients' needs can be challenging. Below is a handy chart of what to look for in a financing partner, and why Dental Intelligence has selected Wisetack as its preferred partner.

 

 

Help more of your patients get the care they need

Offering affordable financing helps with the ever-present challenge of increasing case acceptance in your practice, but more importantly, it puts necessary and life-changing dental care within reach for patients who could otherwise not afford it (and would end up paying significantly more in the long run by putting off their proposed tx). Affordable financing like Wisetack’s lets your patients live better lives, and helps your practice shed risk. It’s a rare, win-win situation that no practice should go without.

Monitor Leads & Digital Marketing Strategies for Dentists

To make your practice stand out and rank among the numerous dental websites out there, you must invest in the latest digital marketing strategies.

Guest Blog — Lamar Hull

|

May 9, 2022

Dental Marketing,Metrics & Reporting,New Patient Acquisition
monitor leads and digital marketing strategies for dentists

For many dentists, running a dental practice and having a website now go hand-in-hand. You understand that in today’s digital world, your patients expect you to have a website. A website is a necessary part of having an online presence.

However, many dental practice owners do not consider the marketing practices required to rank a website in search engines. Additionally, having an optimal online presence involves more tips and tools than just having a website, such as social media, ads, online profiles, and patient reviews. To make your practice stand out and rank among the numerous dental websites out there, you must invest in the latest digital marketing strategies.

Here, we have laid out a few of the top lead generation and marketing strategies to help your dental practice grow.

Digital Marketing Strategies for Lead Generation

Upping your marketing game requires the latest techniques and strategies to improve lead generation to convert more potential patients. SEO, Google Ads, and Facebook Ads are three of the highest-performing lead generation strategies for dental practices.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

A priority for any business with a website is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO for dentists involves using relevant keywords, target locations, and high-quality content to help pages rank higher in search engines. The goal is to improve online visibility, so the website gets more organic or natural traffic. 

 

dental keyword research

At Med Rank Interactive, we start by doing keyword research to target keywords and variations that have the highest search volume for our clients’ topics or services. Keywords with higher search volume help to boost their rankings in search results since these terms are more widely researched by patients.

These keywords are used to generate content for the client’s website and to optimize current landing pages. Our goal is to create original, high-quality content that is relevant to their readers. We use keywords in headings, titles, page descriptions, and links for better SEO.

To achieve the best optimization results, the chosen keywords are relevant and used naturally within the content. No overstuffing keywords just to fill in content; this will actually harm rankings! 

use people also ask questions for dental content 

When creating content, we want it to be natural and true to the client’s voice to establish their dental practice as an authority on the brand. We check Google’s “people also ask” sections to generate content that is frequently searched. These suggestions are used to better optimize landing pages and to improve SEO in blog posts.

Knowing what patients are asking and searching for is key for improved SEO!

 

Google local 3-pack for dentists

 

 

In addition to keywords and phrases, our marketing agency helps our clients choose their target location(s) for local SEO strategies. By combining keywords with target locations, we can boost your chances of ranking in Google’s local 3-pack or within the first page of search engine results. Local SEO strategies help our dental clients reach more prospective patients in their area.

Google Ads for Dentists

When spending money to create advertisements, our clients want to make sure they spend it in the right place. Google Ads help put dental practices in front of more potential patients and maximize exposure. With Google’s expansive reach, our clients can reach patients while they are searching for related dental products and services. Simply put, their ad pops up at opportune times during the patient’s search. 

Our marketing agency uses platforms like Google Ads to run advertisements, so we can choose which keywords and phrases will trigger our clients’ ads.

 

keyword research for Google Ads marketing campaigns for dentists

Their ads are displayed above organic results in search engine results for those keywords if the bids are among the highest.

 

Google ads for dentists

The best thing about Google Ads for dentists is that our clients only pay when people click on their ads, which means they do not spend anything if no one hits on the ad.

Furthermore, there is no need to wait for results. The ads may start sending qualified traffic to the client’s website as soon as Google Ads activates them. This implies that Google Ads are an excellent strategy to immediately increase traffic to our clients’ dental practice websites.

We want our Google Ads campaigns to have a unique offer that the user can only find on the ad, nowhere else on the website, to encourage them to take action. Here are some points that help our clients generate more leads and get the most out of their ad campaigns.

Once again, it's critical to understand what keywords potential patients use when looking for dental services online. Then, we can categorize those keywords into ad groups that are specific to the services our client offers.

For example, we may create a group of keywords that target people searching for dental emergency services and another group that focuses on dental extractions.

 

keyword research for Google Ads campaigns for dentists

 

dental keywords for Google Ads

This helps us produce more relevant search ads with higher click-through rates.

Then, for each of our client’s search ads, we create a unique landing page for their targeted keywords and customers. This helps increase the quality score of the ads so that Google Adwords trusts to show it for the targeted keywords for which we are requesting them to display the ad.


This means that a client’s search ads and landing pages should both highlight the same topic, keywords, or services for which they are advertising. For example, if their search ad mentions dentures, the landing page should also highlight the types of dentures that they offer.

use keywords in Google Ads landing pages

 

 

Alt text: keywords for Google Ads for dentists

Additionally, on landing pages, we feature clear calls-to-action (CTAs) that urge potential patients to take the next step and contact our client to make an appointment.

calls-to-action for Google Ads dental marketing campaigns

Creating custom landing pages aids in consistency and ensures that prospects do not lose interest and click the return button before contacting the client.

  • Next is local targeting is essential for dentists. We want our client’s ads to appear most of the time when people in their area look for dental services. The client can reach their most qualified prospects and avoid overpaying for search ads by targeting a local audience.
dental marketing strategies with Google ads
  • Our marketing agency also uses Google advertisements to generate phone calls. This phone call costs our client the same as a normal click to their landing page.
  • In order to generate call-in leads, we include the client’s phone number in their search ads and use Ad Schedule to set their ads to appear only during office hours. This ensures that all calls are answered by a real person who can assist in converting leads into patients.

 

generate leads with Google Ads for dentists

 

ad extensions for Google ads campaigns
  • Another interesting thing about Google Ads is that it also allows us to provide more detailed information about the client’s dental practice using ad extensions.

Examples of these are location and call extensions that display their office’s address and contact number.

 

customize call links for Google ads for dentists

We also have sitelink extensions to display links to multiple pages on a client’s website instead of one landing page.

 

Google ads campaign extensions for dental lead generation

These extensions will help our dental clients broaden the reach of their search ads and attract even more patients.

  • Lastly, we analyze and evaluate our clients’ Google Ads campaigns to obtain valuable information to improve their ads strategy in the future, like testing new ad copies and keywords that will result in the highest number of traffic and conversions.

Google Ads Case Study Results

Check out the case study results for the Google Ads campaign that we ran for a client. Soft Touch Dental is a trusted dental practice for stunning, healthy smiles in Florissant, Missouri. They recently joined our marketing company to expand their reach by marketing their dental practice through Google Ads.

Med Rank Interactive increased their leads through Google Ads by:

  • Adding keywords that have the most Average Monthly Searches based on our keyword research
  • Creating compelling ads with headlines and descriptions that have pain points that lead to a click on our ad
  • Weekly monitoring of search terms to make sure ads appear for the right audience 
  • Performing bi-weekly and monthly audits, optimizing, and experimenting to generate the most leads

Results:

  • Received 105 Phone Calls in the last 30 days
  • Received 43 Conversions in the last 30 days
case study results for Google Ads campaign for dentists

 

 

Our client’s Google Ads campaign has a conversion rate as high as 33% which is well above the industry average!

conversion rates for Google Ads dental marketing plan

On the first day of running the ads, our client already received 4 phone calls and 1 conversion! They have also appeared as the first listing in Google’s local 3-pack!

Google’s local 3-pack results

Facebook Ads for Dentists

Like Google Ads, Facebook Ads are an effective way to generate leads and sales. The ads can be customized and targeted, so they get in front of more of the right potential patients. At Med Rank Interactive, we use Facebook Ads that focus on our clients’ target keywords and patient demographics. There are various options for ads including images, videos, slideshows, polls, messenger ads, and much more.

Using ads is a great option for driving website traffic, boosting phone calls, and increasing patient conversions. Additionally, we can monitor and analyze ads, which helps our clients improve or expand their ads to meet their marketing goals.

In Facebook Ads, we set detailed targeting to target the right audience based on the client’s niche. In one client’s case, we want to target everyone who is interested in getting braces in Cary, NC.

First, we target the location and adjust its radius:

location selection for Facebook ads for dentists

The Facebook algorithm shows ads to people who are interested or most likely to convert based on our set of detailed targeting options:

detailed targeting with Facebook ads for dentists

For example, if a Facebook user is interested in health & wellness (a health and wellness group member, likes wellness FB pages, posted about health, etc.), then most likely they will see the ad as it is targeting “Health & Wellness.”

Our Client’s Actual Facebook Ad on News Feed:

sample Facebook ad for dentists and orthodontists

If a potential patient clicks anywhere on the image of the ad, a form will pop out asking for basic details such as name, email, phone number, and preferred time of appointment. Once they are done and hit submit form, our client is then notified via email for a new lead containing all of the information submitted on the form. 

Our client can now reach out to the potential patient to confirm their appointment. 

It is important to remember that Facebook Ads may not convert as well as Google Ads. This is because when users are on Google, they are actively searching for a dentist. On Facebook, they are scrolling through their News Feed. With Facebook Ads, we use email automations with follow-ups and SMS follow-ups. These are added to encourage users to book an appointment with the client when they complete a Facebook form.

Our agency tracks all leads from Google, Google Ads, and Facebook Ads in a CRM so that our clients and our marketing team understand which avenues are the most profitable marketing channels. Dental Intelligence now allows us and our dental clients to track scheduled patients by marketing channel more efficiently because DI connects right to the dental practice’s patient management system.

Actual Facebook Ad Form:

Facebook ad contact form

Facebook Ad Manager Dashboard:

Facebook ad dashboard for dental and orthodontic practices

 

Facebook Ads Case Study Results

Check out the case study results for another client. Griffin & Bernstein Orthodontics strives to provide the best orthodontic care for adults and kids in Cary, NC. 

Med Rank Interactive helped boost their social media presence and drive new leads through Facebook Ads. 

Facebook Ads Case Study Results:

  • 49 Facebook Ads leads in just over 4 months
  • 126% cost-per-lead improvement
  • Maximized campaign delivery with the lowest cost-per-click
  • Increased the client’s quarterly ads goals
facebook ads leads increase for dental client

 

cost-per-lead improvement in facebook ads campaign
Facebook Ads case study results for dental practice

 

 

Using Dental Intelligence to Monitor Leads and Marketing Strategies

Taking our clients’ dental practices to the next level is easy with Dental Intelligence. DI helps us monitor leads, track performance, and analyze marketing channels.

Tracking Leads by Referral Source

DI is able to help us monitor where leads are coming from into the practice. We can track and monitor which leads and sources are successfully growing a client’s dental practice

This all starts with referral codes. Referral codes are what our clients put into their patient management software when they ask how a new patient found their dental practice. It could have been through Google, their Google My Business profile, or a friend as an example. 

Updating Referral Sources

The first and most important aspect when tracking leads with DI is referral codes. If a client is not entering referral codes for each referral or keeping track of them, they will be unable to tell which marketing campaigns are and are not working for their dental practice

Here is a quick and easy list to use for referral sources that we prefer for our clients:

  • Family / Friend
  • Google
  • Social (i.e., Facebook)
  • Website

By entering these referral codes when a new patient comes into the practice, our clients have a clear view of where their new patients are coming from and where to devote more of their marketing efforts. 

Once they have started entering referral codes into their patient management system, they can then go into DI. From there, go to the left-hand menu, hover over the three people icon, and click “Patient Finder.” 

Patient finder for dentists in the Dental Intelligence dashboard

 

Next, click “Start From Scratch” located in the middle of the screen.

Adding patients and referral sources with Dental Intelligence

Then, click “Edit Table” in the top right and scroll all the way to the end, and check mark “Referral Source”. 

marketing referral source for lead generation with Dental Intelligence

Now, our clients can see all patients that have come into their practice and where the patients have found them. 

Take Your Practice to the Next Level with Digital Marketing Strategies

Now that you know the best digital marketing strategies and how to monitor and analyze their success, you can take the next step toward growing your own dental practice. Ask your dental marketing company about SEO strategies and Google and Facebook Ads to generate patient leads and how to use the DI platforms to monitor referral sources.

Author Bio:

Lamar Hull, MBA, is the founder of Med Rank Interactive, a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in local SEO, reputation management, Facebook / Google Ads, content marketing, website design, and data analytics exclusively for dentists, orthodontists, pharmacists, independent physicians, and multi-location medical practices. Hull has an MBA in internet marketing and uses much of his time learning new strategies in online marketing and health care. He attended Davidson College where he played basketball for Bob McKillop and alongside NBA superstar Stephen Curry. Med Rank Interactive is an agency partner of Dental Intelligence and has been featured in Dental Economics, Dentistry IQ, and Dental Entrepreneur.

Patient Payments Made (Super) Easy

70% of patients want to pay their bill via text, but less than 20% of dental practices currently offer this option. Learn how to optimize your payments for both practice and patient.

Dental Intelligence

|

April 25, 2022

Payments,Patient Experience,Patient Loyalty,Office Operations

If you had to make a list of things you enjoy most about owning or managing a dental practice, collecting payment from patients is probably not going to make that list. This is true whether you’re attempting to collect a past-due balance from someone or just a co-pay after an appointment. Asking for and receiving payment from patients has always been a necessary but often unpleasant part of dentistry. If you agree, you’re not alone. Here’s what others working in dental practices recently shared with us about the challenges of patient payments:

We call, we text, we email — trying to get info to help us get payment. It’s such a painful task to collect. We even have instances where we finally send someone to collections after exhausting all other options and the patients (finally!) respond angrily with “We never heard from you!”

 It’s tedious and frustrating to [try and collect payment] each month. Even after all of the work we put into making sure everything is correct, we still see a lot of statements coming back in the mail because the patient moved.

Even after 120 days, some will tell us they never heard from us/never received a statement from us. Trying to collect over the phone is also a challenge. Many won’t answer the phone. The few that do may dispute the charges or say they’ll pay eventually but don’t.

It’s really hard when patients show up for next appointment and we have to ask them about an overdue bill. “Didn’t we already pay that?” Now we are starting off in the negative with them, and that’s never how we want to start an appointment.

If they leave without paying, it becomes an “out of sight, out of mind” problem. We start sending statements via text. We start adding billing charges that stack up until we get the angry phone call asking “What is this? Why are you charging me? Didn’t my insurance cover all of that?” We then have to walk them through everything on their statement, the treatment they received when they and/or a family member came in.

Does it have to be this way? Is the pain associated with collecting payment just something every practice needs to live with? The answer is “absolutely not!”

Highland Dental

In a recent conversation Dental Intelligence had with Scot Kessler, Director of Business Operations and Development for Highland Dental in Liberty, Missouri, we learned how the four practices in the Highland Dental family have been using Dental Intelligence Payments to collect payment quickly and easily from their patients. Here’s how Payments works:

  • You send an invoice via text and/or email to one, several, or many patients, all with a few clicks. You can use default text or customize it.
  • The patient receives the text and/or email with a link to a detailed invoice. They have the option to pay directly from their phone or through a secure website. After the initial easy-to-do set up, they can pay the same way each time they receive an invoice.
  • That’s it!

As a thriving and successful practice with over 5,000 active patients, Highland Dental has seen it all when it comes to trying to manage all of the challenges around patient payments. After seeing a demo of Payments, they agreed to give it a test run just to see how their patients would respond.

Highland’s first Payment’s request was sent to around 800 patients with outstanding AR due. Highland had been working hard to clean up their overdue balances and had made several attempts to call or contact these patients, but without success. However, within minutes of sending a text message using Payments, the phone began to ring with people wanting to pay some or all of their overdue balances. Others used the pay-by-phone/website options. All told, Highland Dental collected over $20,000 in past-due balances within a few days of sending one message to every single one of these 800 patients. That’s right — 1 message, 800 patients, $20,000 collected. Incredible!

Like many practices, Highland Dental has traditionally sent printed statements to their patients and then waited weeks or longer for payment. This outdated method of collecting is both ineffective and expensive. The average cost of sending statements is $2.71 per statement. Most of those end up unopened in the garbage or recycling bin. What about calling the patient to collect? On average, 52% of calls from practices to patients go unanswered, but you probably already know that.

Recent surveys have shown that patients are very interested in using a text-based payment solution.

  • 51% of Americans are currently using contactless payments, and this is only going to increase
  • 9 out of 10 patients consider contactless payment a better solution than the old way
  • 9 out of 10 also want to see new safety measures in place around interactions
  • 97% of text messages are opened
  • 70% of patients want to pay their bill via text, but less than 20% of dental practices currently offer this option
  • 65% of patients would consider switching dental practices to one offering a better payment experience
  1. Payments is one of the newest features in Dental Intelligence. DI supports thousands of dental practices in using actionable insights found in their practice management software (i.e. Dentrix, Open Dental, Eaglesoft, etc.) to experience real, sustainable growth.

Prior to using Dental Intelligence, Highland Dental relied on computer spreadsheets to track all of their key performance indicators (KPIs). This was cumbersome, time-consuming, and often included data that was outdated. This method also limited who had access to the information being tracked. As Scot at Highland Dental put it, “Trying to keep up with the most current data about our practice wasn’t really possible. Tracking our KPIs helped, but we still felt like we were always trying to catch up to a fast-moving train. We knew we needed a better way.”

Dr. Robert Klein, the founder and owner of Highland Dental, learned about Dental Intelligence when searching for a better way to manage his practice, and they began the process of implementing DI into their four locations. They also incorporated Dental Intelligence Online Scheduling which allows patients to schedule their own appointments without requiring any interaction with the practice. Over half of their new patient appointments are now booked using online scheduling.

For Highland Dental, all of these solutions are centered around a single objective: Improving patient care. Tracking data allows them to offer better care to their thousands of active patients because they are now able to better understand who each patient is, what each patient needs, and where they are in their need for care. This is the reason that a dental practice should make using actionable data an imperative. For example, Highland knew they need to improve case acceptance, but they weren’t sure how to do so. They also were unsure of where they were. Once they began using Dental Intelligence, they could see exactly where they were, and they also saw what areas needed attention.

Scot shared another example of a provider on their team that had lower case acceptance than other team members. Instead of using data as a punitive tool, the leadership team wisely used this information to help this provider see what other team members were doing and then coached them with the help of this data to adjust how they were presenting treatment. That benefited everyone – the patients who needed treatment, the provider who wanted to give better care, and the practice trying to increase production and profitability. He also mentioned how their hygienists are using Dental Intelligence to see what patients need before they are in the chair which directly impacts the conversations they have with each patient. They also use DI to identify patients who have unscheduled treatment and work together to get them scheduled.

All of these successes and countless more made the decision to implement Payments into the practice an easy one for Highland. Although the need to collect from patients with overdue balances was influential, the real objective for Highland was to improve the overall patient experience with the practice. Payments is a patient-centered platform, built to make the process of paying for dental care as simple and efficient as possible. The beauty of this solution is the customization it allows you. Instead of attempting to collect using a standard billing statement you send in the mail, Payments lets you customize the content and timing of the communication you send to a patient.

At Highland, using Payments has also provided them with a powerful incentive to audit all of their outstanding AR balances to ensure they were updated and reflected the most accurate information about what was due. This revealed some opportunities as well as some discrepancies. Armed with this data, Highland was able to identify the specific patients they wanted to target in their initial campaign. This was what led to over $20,000 being collected in a matter of days.

As Scot puts it, “Payments has enabled us to connect with our patients in a new and much more effective way. The ‘old-school’ method of sending paper statements had its day, but this new platform clearly works better for our patients. In fact, we had to put our campaign on pause because our front-desk was overwhelmed with phone calls from people wanting to pay their balances. Payments just makes it so easy. Even if someone moves, they don’t change their mobile number. Whether someone is sitting on their couch, waiting in a parking lot, anytime, anywhere, they can take a minute and get us paid. We’ve gone from an average AR of 45 days to receiving payment within 3-5 days of billing. That has enormous impact on our practice’s ability to grow.”

If you are dealing with the headache of patient payments (and who isn’t?), moving to a text-based platform like Payments is a step you should be looking at taking. This is clearly the way patients want to interact with their dental practice and handle their balances. To learn more about how Payments can help your practice, visit us today.

How 71 Practices (Just Like Yours) Had Their Best Year Ever

Build systems and follow them. Show up for and participate in team huddles. Set goals and hold yourself and your team accountable for those goals.

Dental Intelligence

|

April 21, 2022

Metrics & Reporting,Office Operations,Patient Loyalty,Patient Communication,Production,Scheduling,Team Culture,Treatment Acceptance, Payments

This is a true story with a very happy ending. But the best part of all is that this happy-ending story can also be yours if you want it to be.

Here are some numbers from 2021 – Year #2 of the global pandemic, in case you forgot 😉. These were shared with us by Kelly Schwartz, CEO of Schwartz Consulting, from 71 of the several hundred practices his company works with.

Ready to have your mind blown?

  • Average increase in production per office was $346,000.  Two had an increase in production of over $1.5 million from the previous year.
  • Collections average $ increase per office was $307,000.
  • Treatment $ to Acceptance average per office was 51%. Highest was 74%.
  • Patient Acceptance per office average was 80.8%. Six were over 90% and one was at an incredible 94%. 
  • Total increase in Production was over $24 Million 
  • Total increased Collections was over $21 Million

Record production. Record-breaking increases in collections and case acceptance. In any year these would be worthy of a huge celebration, but to experience this type of success in a year like 2021 is almost miraculous. And here’s the best part — for the most part, these practices aren’t struggling with staffing shortages. Their team members are thriving and happy. Their impact on patient care and practice growth is recognized and rewarded. In a moment when so many practices are desperately trying to fill open positions, these practices are celebrating their success as a team and exploring ways to grow even more.

everything teeth Dr.Omar and Dr. Diana Morell

Everything Teeth - Miami, Florida

A great story, right? Maybe this is your experience right now as well, and if so, fantastic! However, we work with enough practices (over 8,000 and growing) to know that many are not doing as well as these 71 offices. We hear daily reports of struggles to keep chairs full, painful stories of out-of-control AR, and of serious staffing shortages that are directly impacting patient care and practice performance. As an organization, Dental Intelligence has a simple mission: Help dental practices to provide more and better dentistry. Our all-in-one solution was built for this singular purpose. Schwartz Consulting is one of many consulting companies that use our solution to help their clients experience exceptional performance. 

For this reason, we’re excited to share exactly what these practices did to experience such remarkable results, so you have a map to follow as you chart your own growth path. To keep things simple, we’ll focus on two areas: Scheduling and treating patients; and retaining and recognizing team members. If you can get these two things right, you’re well along the road to sustainable success.

Patient-Finder-GIF

An important point to emphasize before we begin: These practices have implemented robust and repeatable systems and processes that are the foundation of everything they do. In other words, their success isn’t based on luck or talent or location. This is critical to understand because it means what these practices are doing can be repeated. That’s right, if they can do it, you can too.

Scheduling & Treating Patients

One of the first questions that Schwartz Consulting asks a practice is a simple but important one: How’s your recare? Before exploring other important areas of opportunity, knowing what the practice’s current capacity is for adding new patients and more production with existing patients is the first step toward improvement. Kelly Schwartz calls this a “practice snapshot.” Knowing where you are is key, and recare is a great place to discover this.

Dr. Julie Cichoracki Best results

Julie Cichoracki DDS - Richmond, Michigan 

When examining recare, Schwartz looks at unscheduled treatment and recall. “One of the things we’ll do is identify patients who’ve been in the last 12 months who need the most care and prioritize them accordingly. This could be 15-20 patients. Then we look at those needing lower levels of care and identify the top 5-10 or so to schedule. Instead of going from top to bottom of the list or just by the highest dollar amount, we want our practices to schedule the patients who need the most care.”

Schwartz Consulting requires all their practices to use Dental Intelligence, the leader in dental practice growth analytics. Dental Intelligence automates many of these systems and processes so a practice can focus on what their numbers mean and what to do instead of trying to find and understand that data.

Blog Demo CTA

This enhanced access to insights about patients has important implications. “I try to train the team to think of the patients that need the most care,” Kelly said. “So, if a patient comes in every six months for a cleaning, that’s great, but if that patient doesn’t need or accept presented care but still want an eight o’clock appointment every six months, the practice needs to think about how to manage this. Do we want these patients on the schedule? Of course! But that 8:00AM appointment should be reserved for a certain kind of patient — the ones most in need of and who accept presented care.”

“For example, your patient Katie urgently needs care. And if she doesn’t get it, she’ll have more issues. At Schwartz Consulting we train the team to use Dental Intelligence Patient Finder to identify the patients that have been in during the last 18 months and who need the most care and to then start with them.” Is this how you handle recare? Is there a process here that you could replicate?

jimmy walker inner banks dental

Inner Banks Dental - Washington, North Carolina

Scheduling is a very complex and time-consuming process. It’s also never done, right? Notice that the focus for these practices isn’t to just fill holes in the schedule. It’s scheduling the “right” patients — the ones who most need care and who are most responsive to that care being presented. This is so critical to understand.

“Here's where Dental Intelligence becomes so important,” Kelly continued. “We want every patient to come in for the care they need. We coach our practices to triage and schedule based on patient need and level of care. But instead of the old methods of scheduling, we use the tools Dental Intelligence gives us, which is like replacing a screwdriver with a power drill. When I’m filling our hygiene schedule, I want to go into our Unscheduled Patients pie chart and look for patients who’ve been in recently that need the most care and that’s where I’m going to start treating — that’s where our focus is. Then, if we have holes in the doctor’s schedule, I’ll use Patient Finder and jump in and pull in patients that aren’t scheduled.”

Scheduling Systems

“I can also find patients that are better matches when I use the quick fill that DI has provided by the best match. When I click on — ‘I have an opening on my schedule’ — I hit my best match and that pulls up the patients that would best fill my schedule for that day – the ones I’m most likely to reach.”

Dr. Russo Biggest producer

Russo Dentistry - Raleigh, North Carolina

Kelly also mentioned two scheduling-related metrics he gives special attention to in these high-performing practices:

1. Patient Acceptance % — How many schedule after treatment is presented?

2. Treatment $ Acceptance % — And of those dollars presented, how much is scheduled?

There’s much more that these practices are doing to schedule and treat the right patients. You can’t ignore an average increase in production of $346,000! Check out our entire interview with Kelly on our podcast, Growth in Dentistry, to learn more ways you can schedule more effectively and experience the same incredible growth as these 71 practices.

 

Retaining and Recognizing Team Members

Now let’s take a minute to learn how these practices are taking care of their team members. One of the most important things they’re doing is scheduling and treating the right patients. You read that correctly. When a practice is thriving and patients are happy and responsive to the care they’re receiving, team members also tend to thrive. It just makes sense. Your practice team are professionals who have a passion for patient care. The more opportunities they’re given to care for those patients will naturally lead to more employee satisfaction.

Here's a great way that these Schwartz Consulting practices tap into this employee satisfaction during the hiring process. “They record several team members sharing a few of their favorite things about working for the practice and then send those as a highlight reel to an applicant,” Kelly said. “Instead of the owner or hiring manager talking about how great the practice is, this method instantly showcases the practice culture in a direct and powerful way.”

Dr. White

Peters Family Dentistry - Grand Rapids, Michigan

Kelly also mentioned how important it is to schedule the first interview with someone at a time convenient for the person being interviewed. “You’d be surprised at how many practices I’ve worked with that don’t do this,” he shared. “If the applicant is currently working in a practice, getting away for an interview during business hours is difficult and awkward for them. We encourage practice owners to hold the first interview outside of work hours, so an applicant sees we value their time. This has had a positive impact on many of our practices’ ability to hire quality team members.”

Perhaps one of the most important takeaways that Kelly shared had to do with employee retention. With over three decades in the industry, he’s worked with thousands of practices and has seen many different approaches to retaining team members. A consistent pattern he’s noticed is that in those practices where the owner (who’s often also the doctor) has a trusting, nurturing relationship with his or her team, team members are much more likely to stay. He often asks owners who on their team is the easiest person to fire. After a pause Kelly will smile and say — “It’s you, doc. Whenever someone leaves you for another practice, you are being fired.” He then talks with them about the importance of giving each team member a sense of ownership in the practice, whether financially, by responsibility, or both.

A big part of why these 71 practices had such an amazing 2021 comes down to how each team member perceives their value. “If I have a ‘secret sauce,’” Kelly said, “It’s teaching owners and doctors how to make sure their team knows how much the doctor cares for each of them. This is leadership. Build systems and follow them. Show up for and participate in team huddles. Set goals and hold yourself and your team accountable for those goals.” With an average increase in production of over $300K, average case acceptance at 80%, and collections up 50%, the numbers tell the story. These teams have figured out how to work together, and that starts with the person at the top.

Schwartz Clients

Schwartz Consulting Practices

Now It’s Your Turn

With so much to consider here, perhaps you’re asking yourself this question – “Where do I start?”

 Let’s break it down into the same two areas: Scheduling & treating the right patients; and recognizing and rewarding team members.

Scheduling:

  • Focus on the patients that most need and who are most likely to accept care. Dental Intelligence can help you find these patients in a few simple clicks.
  • Follow up fast with patients that didn’t schedule their next visit before leaving your practice. Don’t wait weeks or months before reaching out. Dental Intelligence Follow Ups lets you automate this so unscheduled patients can’t fall through the cracks.
  • Develop a system for how you and your team schedule, reappoint, and treat each patient. Don’t leave this to chance. Remember, systems and processes are your map.
Best Smiles Dr. Mayes

Best Smile Dental - Greensboro, North Carolina

Staffing:

  • Involve your team in hiring new team members. Whether you have them record a video testimonial or some other method, they’re the best advertising for how your practice really works.
  • Create a team of owners, whether through actual sharing of profits or a robust bonus system, and most importantly, by giving them a meaningful role in how you define patient care and practice growth.
  • Get granular with your systems and processes. These are your practice religion. They will make or break your practice culture. Great systems = great place to work.

Can you do all of this, all at once? No! That’s not realistic. Start with one step, maybe two. Be consistent. Spend a few minutes each day reviewing how you are doing and celebrating any progress made, however “small” it might be. These exceptional practices didn’t get to where they are overnight, and neither will you. But over time, if you persist, you will absolutely reach new heights and enjoy sustainable success — absolutely!

If you’re ready to move forward, we’d love to help! Schedule your free practice demo today to learn how you can use the power of practice intelligence to build the practice of your dreams.

To learn more about Schwartz Practice Consulting or to request a complimentary practice consultation, visit them here.

Increasing Production (Without Adding New Patients!)

Learn how to effectively increase production in your dental practice (without adding new patients!)

Dental Intelligence

|

March 25, 2022

Production,Hygiene,Reappointment

How much did you spend last month trying to acquire new patients? $1,000? $3,000? $5,000? More? How much in the last year? The more important question is this — Did your investment pay off? How can you know? Is there even a way to measure whether what you spent resulted in a sustainable & profitable increase in new patients? Here’s a final question — Is adding new patients even the best way to grow your practice? The truth might hurt a little, but it’s time to talk about your “leaking bucket.”

Imagine a bucket full of holes being filled with water. Your job is to get all of that water to another container without losing a drop of water. Not going to happen, right? No matter how fast you run, or how much water you put into that bucket, there’s a 100% chance that you are going to lose some water, and probably lots of it. The only way to stop the leaks is to plug the holes!

The Problem with New Patients

Isn’t adding new patients the fastest, most direct way to increase production and practice revenue? It would certainly seem logical, but let’s explore this assumption using the power of data.

There are only two ways to increase production in a dental practice. That’s right, only two: Increase the total number of patients, or increase the amount of production per patient per visit. According to Dental Intelligence's EVP of Finance Christopher Toyn, “In the first 4-5 years in a practice there is a lot of volatility in growth. After this, most practices plateau.” This is when panic can set in and the impulse, understandably, is to increase marketing spend in order to drive more patients to the practice.

“Most practices do pretty well in adding new patients,” said Toyn. “What they don’t do as well is retaining and rescheduling both new and existing patients. Even with high growth in new patients, most practices also have a high new patient attrition rate, which leads to a plateau or even a decline in overall growth.”

So, why aren’t new patients the best way to grow your practice? It’s probably important to add here that new patients aren’t really bad. Of course not. New patients need dental care just as much as existing patients do. Adding new patients is a great way to build and grow your practice, if done as part of an overall growth strategy.

Here’s what data from thousands of U.S. based practices tells us about new patients:

  • They have a much higher rate of appointment cancellation.
  • They’re more likely not to accept and/or schedule treatment, and also more likely to cancel before receiving needed treatment.
  • New patients are harder to retain & more likely to leave when a new offer comes along from another dentist.
  • Extra time is needed to “onboard” new patients, which impacts production per hour. Office tour, developing relationship, insurance verification, paperwork, getting to know staff, etc.

The reality is — so many practices are trying to fill a bucket that is full of holes. Instead of stopping the holes from leaking, they keep trying to fill the bucket with water (new patients.) Instead, they should first stop the leaks (focus on scheduling/treating existing patients) and then, if there is still room on the schedule, they can strategically add new patients.

The secret is…there is no secret

So, if adding new patients isn’t in fact the best way to increase production and grow your practice, what is? Is there a proven, reliable approach to accomplishing these important goals?

A dental practice owner in Arizona recently shared this experience with us. He asked his office manager how many of their patients were currently scheduled. “All of them!” was her immediate response. He had seen the data beforehand that indicated otherwise, so he pressed her — “All of them? As in, 100% of our active patients have an upcoming appointment?”

Dental Intelligence asks this same question to thousands of practice owners and leaders around the country, and none of them ever say less than 70% of their active patients aren’t scheduled.

Not surprisingly, this office manager was shocked when the owner told her that in fact, only 40% of their active patients had a scheduled upcoming appointment. Many practices are even lower than this. So, what’s to be done? Of all your active current patients, how many currently have a scheduled appointment? Any idea? This is where your most important growth opportunities are hiding. The number #1 metric you should be looking at is Pre-Appointment %. If you’re not looking at this every month, you are wasting dollars. Pre-Appointment % is the percentage of active patients (those seen in the past 18 months) that currently have a scheduled appointment.

Our analysis has shown that when a practice focusses on keeping Pre-Appointment % at 65% or higher, they significantly reduce patient attrition while also saving thousands of dollars annually on recall efforts and new patient marketing.

Back at the practice in Arizona, they went from 40% pre-appointment to over 90% in just one year. Once they had the right information, they could take the right action to correct the issue. But when they were driving blind, they didn’t know how to correct the problem. How did they make such a dramatic improvement in just 12 months? They started by focusing on hygiene re-appointment. Hygiene Re-Appointment % is defined as the percentage of hygiene visits that schedule their next hygiene appointment before leaving the practice. This has been one of the most significant impacts on the % of patients that are getting rescheduled.

Two other metrics to focus on are Cancellations % and No-Shows. Often, we walk in the door on Monday and discover we have a bunch of cancelled appointments or no-shows. But we should be even more concerned with the number of those cancelled appointments that haven’t been rescheduled.

How many of your cancelled appointments have been rescheduled? Do you know? Do you know how to find out? When reviewing this number, often 50% or more of patients who cancelled an appointment haven’t been rescheduled.

Let’s say that right now you only have 20% of your active patients with a future scheduled appointment. You should be jumping up and down with excitement! This means you have HUGE opportunities!

Are you spending time, money, and energy on trying to attract new patients when there is likely much greater value to your practice from rescheduling existing patients who don’t have a scheduled appointment? Some practices have millions of dollars in unscheduled treatment with no focus on recapturing those patients.

Now What?

 Here are some steps to get you started:

  1. Discover where you are: It’s hard to measure progress if you don’t know what your starting point is. Before you spend a lot of time and effort on marketing to new patients, first discover where you are.
  2. Plug the holes: Identify what your current percentage is. How many patients are rescheduling their next appointment after a hygiene appointment?
  3. What is your plan for recapturing those patients? How will you measure your efforts?

How do you see this information? Who should be making these phone calls? What is the right system for recapturing cancelled/unscheduled patients? How do you determine which patients are the most important for you to call? Determine what your system will be, implement it, measure how it is working, make adjustments as needed, and continue to monitor progress. And don’t forget to celebrate success!

Dental Intelligence Payments - A Simple Way to Deal With Staffing Shortages

Dental Intelligence Payments was built to help you provide more and better dentistry to your patients and ease the burden of collections for both patients and practice.

Dental Intelligence

|

March 22, 2022

Payments,Office Operations,Patient Experience,Team Culture

The numbers tell the story. In a recent survey done by the ADA Health Policy Institute, 40% of all participating practices indicated that troubles with filling vacant staff positions was the #1 reason they were unable to see more patients.

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Staffing shortages are much on the mind of many dental practice owners and leaders these days, and for good reason. In a recent poll published on Becker’s Hospital Review, one in five health-care workers left the industry in the past two years, and a stunning 79% of practices reported that staffing shortages had personally impacted them and their workplace. In a related development, many within healthcare, including dentists, hygienists, and other clinical providers and team members are also reporting significant problems with burnout. According to another recent article, “In August 2020, an ADA Health Policy Institute survey on the impact of COVID-19 on dentists under the age of 35 found that 87% reported experiencing anxiety and 55% reported experiencing depression.” All of this data speaks to something that’s likely obvious to someone working in a dental practice — providing dentistry is really hard right now!

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Our mission at Dental Intelligence is simple: Help dental practices to provide more and better dentistry to their patients. However, you can’t do this if you don’t have the tools, resources, and team members required to accomplish these objectives. But what can be done? While the answer of what to do to deal with staffing shortages and burnout varies according to each practice, there are principles and solutions that apply in every situation. This case study will focus on how Dental Intelligence Payments, a simple-and-secure patient payment tool, has helped several practices deal with some of these recent challenges while improving patient care and practice growth. Regardless of what your practice may currently be experiencing, you’ll be excited to learn what’s happening in these practices and how you can enjoy similar results.

Schedule a demo to see Payments in action

“$20,000 in past-due balances collected in a matter of days”

Highland Dental, a large and established general practice in Liberty, Missouri, has experienced what most practices have been through in the past two years — lots of uncertainty, stress, and adaptation. This is also true of their patients. Due to a variety of factors, Highland had built a sizable AR balance that team members were struggling to bring under control. This was impacting the practice financially as well as overall team morale. Highland had tried all of the typical steps to collect from patients, but they weren’t seeing a measurable return on those efforts. They were then introduced to Payments.

Highland Dental

According to Scot Kessler, Director of Business Operations and Development at Highlands, “Our first Payments request was sent to around 800 patients with outstanding AR due. We’d been working hard to clean up our overdue balances and had made several attempts to call or contact these patients, but without success. However, within minutes of sending a text message using Payments, the phone began to ring with people wanting to pay some or all of their overdue balances. Others used our pay-by-phone/website options. All told, we collected over $20,000 in past-due balances within a few days of sending one message to every single one of these 800 patients.”

Can you imagine? Communicating with 800 patients with a single message indicating they have a balance due and then, in just a few days, collecting over $20,000 in past-due AR from these patients? In fact, this campaign was so effective Highland had to put it on hold because their front desk was overwhelmed with calls from patients trying to pay. Based on this experience, Dental Intelligence saw a need to make text-to-pay even easier for patients to use instead of calling the practice to pay their balance. Added benefits here include increased security for the patient and better workflow for the practice.

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Payments enabled Highland Dental to also audit all their outstanding balances and made everyone’s job easier and less time-consuming. This text-to-pay platform checked all the boxes that Highland was looking for in a payment solution.

Recent surveys have shown that patients are very interested in using text-to-pay when visiting their dentist.

  • 51% of Americans are currently using contactless payments, and this is only going to increase
  • 9 out of 10 patients consider contactless payment a better solution than the old way
  • 9 out of 10 also want to see new safety measures in place around interactions
  • 97% of text messages are opened
  • 70% of patients want to pay their bill via text, but less than 20% of dental practices currently offer this option
  • 65% of patients would consider switching dental practices to one offering a better payment experience

These numbers should at the least spark a conversation about how you are currently handling patient payments and if an upgrade to text-to-pay is needed. (Hint: The answer is “yes!”)

Schedule a demo to see Payments in action

“Our collections percentage is way up and our workload is down”

The team at Smiley Family Dentistry in Grand Rapids, Michigan can relate to what Highlands Dental has experienced. According to Financial Coordinator Colleen Ford, “I used to spend most of my day trying to manage collections and patient payments.” In our conversations with many other office managers and financial coordinators, this has been a common frustration. The time and effort required to stay on top of collections is significant. One practice we spoke to indicated they spent almost a week each month dealing with past-due balances. That’s a heavy load for any one team member to carry. As we spoke with Colleen and office manager Kori DeHaan about their efforts to find a better way, they shared how important it was that the solution be simple for both patients and team members. This is what Payments was built for.

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“Now with Payments I can get all my billing done in two hours or less each day,” Colleen shared. “Following up with patients on payments is now easier as well. I’m much more efficient and our patients love how easy it is to use.” Kori added that “Payments has definitely simplified things for Smiley Family Dentistry. Our collections percentage is way up and our workload is down. This means we can focus on other important priorities. And our patients have loved the switch as well. It’s been such a blessing.”

In the spirit of doing everything possible to reduce staff workload, offering patients the ability to pay directly from a text message (or if they use Apple Pay, from a single click) is a great way to make your team and patients smile. Payments is so easy to use!

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One of our main motives in building this platform was to reduce the amount of pain dental practices experience when attempting to collect past-due balances from their patients. It’s estimated that more than $10 billion in invoiced dental care doesn’t get collected each year, meaning practices are providing a significant amount of needed treatment without compensation. This isn’t sustainable. This loss of revenue also impacts the quality and access of care that a provider can give. New equipment can’t be purchased. Services can’t be expanded. New staff can’t be hired.

Collecting more of what a practice is owed leads to healthier individuals, families, and communities, not to mention that these small businesses can continue to offer employment to their staff and needed dental care to their patients.

Schedule a demo to see Payments in action.

“People who’d been ignoring us for so long finally paid their bill.”

At Asheville Smile Center in Arden, North Carolina, Billing Coordinator Ashley Williams knows all about the struggle to collect. Here’s her description of that collection process before they began using Payments: “1. Post payment to the account, 2. Put information into a spreadsheet with notes, 3. Contact patient when payment is due by email or text, 4. Mail a statement, 5. Call to follow up, 6. If they called me back, it was usually to complain that they had never heard from us. In other words, this process was all over the map and very frustrating.”

Asheville

Managing all of this requires so much from team members. More importantly, even with all of this effort, as Ashley mentions, collecting payment is still not a sure thing. Our goal in developing Payments was to make paying a bill much easier for patients and also less time-consuming for team members. Patients love Payments because they can quickly and securely pay their bill on their phone. And team members love the solution because it’s easy to use, provides them with full transparency and robust reporting, and substantially reduces the amount of time between a payment request and collections – from months to minutes!

According to Ashley, “Payments has substantially altered our collections process. We still send out a few statements to some of our older patients, but otherwise, our entire process has changed. It’s so much easier and more effective!”

One of our favorite stories Ashley shared involved a patient who had an overdue invoice for $900 that was over two years old. “He had ignored every message I’d sent to him. When I sent him a text through Payments, he immediately made a payment and set up payments to pay off the balance. It was crazy! I wondered if he thought it was a collection agency or something. Regardless of the reason, people who’d been ignoring us for so long finally paid their bill.”

“It’s easier for the patient and the practice”

In summary, this is simple.

Payments was built to help you provide more and better dentistry to your patients. Your job is already very stressful and filled with no shortage of important tasks and responsibilities. Payments is especially helpful in situations where you may be short-staffed and wearing multiple hats. In short, it was built for moments exactly like right now. But don’t just take our word for it.

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“Overall, I love how easy Payments is to use,” Ashley shared. “You can jump right in and start engaging with patients in just a few minutes. You really can’t mess it up. It’s easier for the patient and the practice. I’ve tried a lot of different things, but none have done the trick like this. I love it!”

Ready to see for yourself how Dental Intelligence can make life easier for you and your patients? Awesome! Schedule your free, no-commitment demo today and get back to loving your job again. 

Why Hygiene is the MVP💪🏼 of Your Practice

The hygienist’s role is central to everything else everyone else does in a practice. Their work makes everything else possible.

Dental Intelligence

|

March 14, 2022

Hygiene,Metrics & Reporting,Team Culture,Production

Do you believe the following statement? “Hygienists are the key to healthy patients and a thriving, successful dental practice.”   

 Believe it or not, extensive historical data tells us this statement is valid. Hygienists have a greater impact on the health of patients and overall success of a practice than any other team member, dentists included. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. An experienced, engaged hygienist identifies and evaluates different conditions and either treats those issues themself or shares with a doctor to diagnose and address. The hygienist is also often the most trusted clinician in the practice and is the person most patients look to for guidance when making decisions about needed treatment.  

Data also confirms that the rapport a hygienist builds with patients directly impacts case acceptance. Patients spend more time with you than with any other provider. Because of this, a hygienist is also at the heart of practice production and profitability. Like a hub in a wheel, the hygienist’s role is central to everything else everyone else does in a practice. Their work makes everything else possible. For these reasons, “I’m  just a hygienist” are words that should never be said or thought. A hygienist’s impact and importance cannot be overstated.  

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 However, to validate and act on these statements, data is required. But where to start? There are so many things to pay attention to! How can a clinician know which metrics to track and, more importantly, how to correctly interpret what those numbers mean? This can be a great challenge and deterrent to a hygienist’s efforts to impact patient health and practice growth. Just keeping up with a demanding schedule can quickly overwhelm. Finding the right system that informs but doesn’t overload a busy clinician is critical.  

In an insightful recent article about this subject in RDH Magazine, Kathryn Gilliam shared how understanding the business of dentistry positively impacted how she cared for her patients:  

 “[I learned] that the financial health of the dental practice is vital for being able to provide this level of care to our patients. We needed a certain level of productivity and profit to be able to pay the rent on our building, keep the lights on, afford the supplies necessary to do our jobs, purchase and maintain new technology, and regularly attend advanced continuing education courses. This was basic business education that I had not received in my four-year undergraduate studies nor in my two years in dental hygiene school."

"It was a real eye-opener to learn about supply and demand, profit and loss, my personal profitability, and other business basics. I became keenly aware of my position as a business partner to my owner-dentist. I felt a responsibility to produce at least three times my compensation and create a profit so we could cover the expense of my assistant, as well as be able to afford the microscope and laser we wanted to implement to treat our patients at a higher level.”  

 How well do you understand the business of dentistry? Are you content with letting someone else handle that, or do you have a voice in the management of the practice?   

 Here at Dental Intelligence, we work every day with over 8,000 dental practices that use the insights found in their practice management software to provide more and better dentistry to their patients. Our data reinforces the important role that hygienists play in the overall success of a practice in addition to the critical impact they have on patient health.  

 For example, Grove Creek Dental in Pleasant Grove, Utah did the following in 2021:    

  • 224 crowns (which represented over $180,000 in production.)  
  • 1,800 prophys (which resulted in over $116,000 in production.)  

All  this restorative production started in the hygiene department, which, on average, is the source of 80-85% of all production in a typical practice. If $300,000 in production (not including all the other treatment coming from hygiene) doesn’t validate the impact of this department on a practice, nothing will. This practice uses Dental Intelligence to measure all their KPIs (key performance indicators). Instead of manually trying to track everything, Grove Creek has found that Analytics does all that work for them and enables the team to easily understand and effectively act on this data.  

Hopefully the message here is clear — data helps hygienists to take better care of their patients, which directly impacts the growth of the practice. Or as RDH Sarah Varney so succinctly put it, “An objective look at numbers is never punitive. They tell a story about how we are serving patients — and where we need to grow.”  

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Now for the fun part! Here are some of those KPIs that hygienists should be keeping track of. These are all included in the Dental Intelligence Performance Board  for easy access. Consider starting with one or two of these and  then spending the next few weeks keeping track of each one. It should only take a few minutes each day, but the impact will be significant.   

Perio Diagnostic % - The ‘how much perio is there?’ Metric  

What is this?  

 Perio Diagnostic % divides the total number of patients diagnosed with perio treatment into the total number of patients seen who are 30 years or older and have not previously been treated for periodontitis.  

Why is this Important?  

 According to the CDC, we know that the national average of periodontal disease in America is 47.2%. Granted, depending on where you practice, this number will swing either higher or lower. Knowing your perio diagnostic % allows you to see where you are among the national Average and even among other hygienists in your area or practice. This can help you decide if you or your practice has a blind spot in diagnosing periodontitis.   

Perio Acceptance % - The ‘does the patient understand the treatment?’ Metric  

What is this?  

 Perio Acceptance % is the percentage of patients seen in the practice that are 30 years or older and not currently in perio, who were diagnosed with perio treatment and said yes to all or a portion of that treatment on the day of their appointment. This is identified by the treatment that was added to their treatment planner and scheduled or by unscheduled treatment that was completed the same day. If a team member was part of this patient’s appointment, this team member will get credit for the patient accepting the treatment.  

Why is this important?  

 We know that every team member plays an integral part in patients accepting our recommended treatment. How big is their impact? Without seeing who was with the dentist when these cases were presented, it’s difficult to know the impact team members are having on the patient saying, yes or no. When looking at acceptance by individual team members and by the Treatment Teams, you can quickly identify the top presenters and the top presenting teams. Use this data to identify these top performers, learn what they are doing, and replicate their delivery.  

Perio Visit % - The ‘did they complete the treatment?’ Metric  

What is this?  

 Perio Visit % divides the total number of patients that were seen for perio into the total number of Hygiene Patients seen in the period. To be counted as a patient seen for perio, one or more perio procedure codes need to have been completed on the day of the patient’s appointment.   

Hygiene Visits per Hour – The ‘how much is my time worth?’ Metric  

What is this?  

 Hygiene Visits Per Hour is calculated by taking the provider's total visits (Not Patients Seen) divided by the actual Clinical Hours.   

Why is this important?  

 All providers want their production per hour to increase. If this number is lower than desired or expected, one of the first metrics to look at is the Hygiene Visits Per Hour. The cause of low production per hour could simply be a consequence of not seeing enough patients in the hour. If patient visits are not the cause, then begin looking at the Average Treatment Presented, Treatment $ Acceptance % and Average Accepted $ Per Patient.  

Hygiene Re-Appointment % - The ‘did I get them to schedule back’ Metric  

What is this?  

 The percentage of hygiene visits that on the same day of the hygiene visit have scheduled a subsequent hygiene appointment before leaving the dental office. Hygiene visits are the number of patients being seen for hygiene care.  

Why is this important?  

 By reappointing a higher percentage of your continuing-care patients, you'll help ensure a stable and growing patient base. This provides your patients with the possibility of two exams per year, resulting in needed treatment being diagnosed. The hygiene department will grow at a much faster rate, increasing the number of scheduled appointments without the cost and hassle of your front desk making numerous calls to reschedule. By focusing and improving the performance of same-day reappointing, the practice will increase overall production, collections, and value. Currently the alternative method to measure the re-appointment % in the practice is through manual efforts that are time-consuming and often inaccurate.  

NP Hygiene Re-Appointment % - The ‘how did the first appointment go’ Metric  

What is this?  

 The percentage of the provider's new hygiene patients that have scheduled a future hygiene appointment.  

Why is this important?  

 Adding or not adding new patients into your continuing care program is a key factor in the number of new patients your practice will need to grow based on your priorities. 

Fluoride Treatment % - The ‘risk of decay’ Metric  

What is this?  

 The percentage of patients who had fluoride completed during their hygiene visit, based off whether these codes were put on the patient's ledger.  

Why is this important?  

 Oftentimes, as hygienists, we allow insurance companies to dictate what we prescribe. It's been reported by the NIH  that 92% of adults 20-65 have active caries in their mouth. This being true, it is safe to say that virtually all patients would benefit from fluoride treatment regardless of insurance reimbursement.    

 Expanding on that idea, if your practice does not currently offer silver diamine fluoride, learn more about it and speak with the doctor about allowing you to perform that fluoride treatment on pediatric patients. This is the only fluoride that can arrest caries, and very few practices have begun using it. This service is a double win, improving oral health and improving your value in the practice.  

The Data-Driven Hygienist  

 For these and so many other reasons, you make a difference. If you have learned nothing else, hopefully, you’ve learned this: the numbers (and patients!) do not lie. You have a vital role to play not only in patient health, but also in the health of a practice. Hygiene is at the heart of any successful office. 

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 As a “thank you” for taking time to read this article, we have a gift for you. It is a simple Hygiene Patient & Practice Impact Tracker you can use to discover your impact on patient health and practice growth. It includes daily, weekly, and monthly steps you can take. Click here to download your free copy today.  

Case Study: Affordable Care — "An Urgency for Action"

Dental Intelligence enables dental practices to be available for booking 24/7. Patients need help when they need it, and our Online Scheduling is here to support practices in serving their patients.

Dental Intelligence

|

February 22, 2022

Scheduling,New Patient Acquisition,Office Operations,Patient Experience

As the nation’s largest Dental Support Organization (DSO) focused on tooth replacement solutions, Affordable Care provides business expertise and support services to more than 350 dental practices across the United States. Since 1975, millions of patients have trusted an Affordable Care supported clinic.

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One of the solutions offered by Affordable Care to support dental practices in serving patients is Dental Intelligence Online Scheduling. Online Scheduling allows each practice the ability to offer real-time, patient-directed appointment scheduling on the practice’s website. Without any required involvement from the practice, a patient can simply visit their local Affordable Care supported practice’s website (or find them on Google) and schedule an appointment at a time that works for them.

According to Stewart Stearns, Director of Digital Marketing at Affordable Care, Online Scheduling “helps our team better support the practices in being accessible to patients for appointment scheduling 24/7 and this has led to many more appointments being set each day. This has been especially important for the doctors and dental practices during the pandemic. As an organization, we are now supporting several thousand appointments scheduled online each month.”

Affordable Care began using Online Scheduling in 2017 and has worked closely with many DI team members to shape this platform around the organization’s needs. “Our decision to implement this solution was a response to those time-sensitive moments when a person chooses to do something about their health,” Stewart said. “We understand this doesn’t always happen on Monday through Friday between the hours of 8am to 5pm. This decision can happen at any moment and on any day. Online Scheduling enables each of the dental practices to stay nimble and available to their patients 24/7. Patients need help when they need it, and we want help support the dental practices in serving their patients.”

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Surprisingly, many dental practices across the country still require patients to call during business hours to schedule appointments. This can add a layer of complexity for both the patient and practice. For the patient, it means they must remember to call when the practice is open and wait for the person assisting them to open an appointment calendar and search for open times. For the practice front desk team, they are required to handle these appointment requests and other appointment-related tasks, which takes away from their time spent providing clinical support to patients and other support to team members.

Online Scheduling removes all of these requirements while still allowing the practice complete control over their schedule. It also enables the patient to find and schedule a time that works for them to come in without requiring a phone call (or calls) to their dentist during office hours.

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A recent consumer study by Accenture confirmed that patients absolutely prefer to schedule their own appointments:

  • 77% indicated this would be their preference if offered by their dentist vs. calling to schedule an appointment.
  • 70% of patients are more likely to choose a provider that offers the ability to book, change, or cancel their appointments online.
  • 40% of all appointments are scheduled after hours or on weekends.
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All of this speaks to the foresight shown by Affordable Care to implement Online Scheduling as a support service to the dental practices more than three years ago. The decision to do so was based on valuing the importance of data. As Stewart relates, “We track everything we do. Data creates an urgency for action. If you have the data, you are entitled to take action. At Affordable Care we’re encouraged by senior leadership to confidently go where the data takes us, which creates a very dynamic environment. Follow the data, take the action needed to grow, and provide new opportunities for doctors to care for patients.”

According to Stewart, “Online Scheduling is a definite competitive advantage for Affordable Care supported practices. From the patient’s perspective, it makes their local practice a lot more approachable and flexible. If they remember to schedule their appointment at 3am, this option makes it possible for them to do so. We’re providing the tools to help patients easily set their own appointments directly. It’s all about convenience and we believe it adds significant value to the patient experience.”

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Another key aspect of this solution for Affordable Care was the scalability Dental Intelligence offered them in being able to integrate Online Scheduling as a solution to more than 300 different practice appointment books. “The complexity of that is stunning,” Stewart said. “To have a technology partner that can help to make that complexity doable for our DSO is huge! Online Scheduling runs extremely smoothly for us. It’s great to have technology that by and large just works. It is a key competitive advantage. When someone asks if those patients would just come through another channel, the answer is ‘Why risk it?” If Online Scheduling works well and is cost-effective, keep using it, right?”

As with any practice solution, whether hardware or software, the bottom line is what counts. In his analysis of the return on investment offered by Online Scheduling, the value was clear. “The return we are seeing is high compared to other forms of marketing we use,” Stewart added. “Although the practices see lower show rates on online appointments, we have found if practices treat them like any other appointment and include some follow-up and other normal interactions with them, those rates improve. It’s about setting expectations. We originally were only going to offer this option to new patients, but we’ve learned that all patients want to have the ability to schedule online.”

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If your group or single-office practice doesn’t yet offer Online Scheduling to patients, it’s time to reconsider doing so. Patients place great value on their time and appreciate when their health-care providers do the same. Are you ready to help make accessing care easier to your patients?

Kickoff 2022: Finding Your Work/Life Balance

Establishing healthy patterns and practices can go a long way toward ensuring you can grow professionally and personally.

Dental Intelligence

|

January 28, 2022

Team Culture,Office Operations

Katie Poulsen, Director of Customer Marketing and Curtis Marshall, Principal Product Manager at Dental Intelligence, recently had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Peter Boulden and Dr. Craig Spodak from Bulletproof Dental about how dental practice owners and team members can find and sustain a work/life balance. As a new year begins, establishing healthy patterns and practices can go a long way toward ensuring you can grow professionally and personally.

Katie Poulsen:

Today we're talking about work-life balance, and I'm really intrigued to discuss this topic with you because I've heard you guys say in previous podcasts that it's a myth. I've heard you talking about that with Dr. Boulden, that balance is a myth and it's not achievable. So, let's first dive into that. Is balance obtainable for you? Tell us a little bit about your perspective on that.

Dr. Craig Spodak and Dr. Peter Boulden

 

Peter Boulden:

I think getting balance in your life is a stressor. It stresses us out. Oh my gosh, I feel so unbalanced, and I've been told I don't have to have it. I think when you get peace and give yourself some grace with the fact that there's going to be periods where you're going to be a way better family person, per se, than you are a businessperson. And then suddenly, those scales are going to shift again. So, I think we go through, like Naval Ravikant says, I think we go through periods where we train, and then we sprint, and then we rest, and then we reassess. The key takeaway though, is just awareness. If you acknowledge the fact that like, "Man, I've been head down working on business stuff," as long as you're aware about it, and you kind of need to bring that lever back to center again, I think that takes the stress of, "Oh my gosh, am I spinning all these plates equally, with equal RPMs, all these plates that I'm spinning? My family, and philanthropy, and my visions, and all these things, my businesses, am I spinning them all equally?" I think that's stressful in and of itself.

Craig Spodak:

I just think we don't have the silos that we make ourselves out to have. I think that comes in, the first example that runs into my mind is peoples’ spiritual identities. They tend to silo their identities, like - here's my work identity, and my house identity, my father identity. I think you're one human being. And life is meant to be multifaceted. So, it's always integrated for me. I don't think of time here as time away from somewhere else, it's just all the same to me.

Peter:

Being aware about the other aspects. I think the most dangerous part is when you don't acknowledge the fact that when you're unbalanced, right?

Craig:

We fool ourselves by thinking we're being great fathers, or great mothers, by working really hard. It's like, your kids just want more time with you. And you're like, "Well, I'm going to work so you can have all this fancy stuff, or you can go on a vacation. Don't you appreciate that?" Kids don't want that. Kids just want quality time. You could live in a trailer for most young kids and be happy.

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Katie:

My dad was a dentist, he passed away at 65. And he worked on Friday and died that Sunday. And he was so good at his job, but he wasn't balanced in that way when he was home – he still did his work. Like when he was home, he was studying dentistry, all the time he was talking. But I knew that was valuable for him. But I also knew he was there for me as a kid, and it's really tricky as a dentist to sometimes do that. So, I guess my question to you is, what advice do you have? It can be overwhelming and time-consuming to own a practice, especially at the level that you guys do, so what advice do you have for those that feel that their personal life suffers from stresses of running a dental practice? What have you done to make it so that you can have that perspective shift?

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Craig:

I think it's easy to speak as a man to this, because men, we have a natural desire towards productivity. And I think it's easy for us to fill up all our buckets at work, especially in a dental practice, you have all these people that are dedicated, a single doctor practice. You're the doctor, you're the man or woman in charge. And I think you can leave your family because your family keeps it real. When you're at work you're special, you're the doctor, you're in charge of things. And everybody's there to support you, and it can be very egocentric. And you can come home, and your family needs you, and it could feel not the same level of exchange. And I think of men not having the ability to talk as much about how they feel, there's a degree of stoicism that's kind of passed through male culture. And I believe that we fill up at work. We fill up all our needs and significance at work.

I think women, by virtue of biology and stuff like that, have a little bit more of a tug to be with the kids and stuff like that. So, whilst I'm sure women can overwork, and women have another thing that I talk about oftentimes too, it's very difficult. There's no clear role for them. They work too hard; they're being too aggressive. They work too little, they're a gold digger. They must walk a very fine line. Men have a free pass to go in and work really hard. Daddy's working, daddy's doing this for us. So, I think there's a trap for us that we can really bury ourselves in work, and leave our families adrift, because it's so culturally rewarding for us to be productive and work hard, and so acceptable for us to do so that there's a little blind spot that we can get sucked into work as men.

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Katie:

But I've heard you talk about how you block your day. I don't know if that is advice that you would give, but I love that idea of blocking out time. Just because in dentistry, we live in blocks of time anyway. And to be able to do that at home, I do that as well. That's how I function. It's how I block out as a working, full time mom. I block out my time at home, with my kids and with my work, and that's how I live.

Peter:

It creates guidelines, right? It creates boundaries for people. Like Craig and I set podcasting for a certain time every week. So, I try to pre-block my schedule. For instance, on Wednesdays, nothing can get on there, because I've already blocked it personally for me. That's my day to recharge, midweek. I go get a massage, go get my nails done, whatever.

But going back to what you're saying is, what advice do you have for running complexities, that is a good tool into laying down guidelines? But it is tough because, for instance, the people that listen to your podcast are probably people who are much like ours, right? They're entrepreneurs in a dental job, or a dental career, a dental practice. And so, you have the business of dentistry during the day, and the business of growing your business after you're done the dentistry. Right?

Now, if you just want to kind of run along and be a dentist, which is admirable, and just stay with your practice, you do the dentistry and you go home. And everything seems to take care of itself. By the grace of God, it really does in dentistry. Because if you're good, you can kind of just exist, and have a great career, by not having to do much.

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However, if you're in a growth-minded standpoint, you do have to take the next five hours after you get off work, because you're going to have to go from here to here. And what got you here, isn't going to get you here. And so, you need a different set of skills now that are going to take you next level. And that's what Craig and I focus on in the Bulletproof mastermind, and Bulletproof podcast, is taking the business of dentistry and applying it with the least amount of friction possible, because Craig and I have made a lot of friction-able mistakes, if you will.

And so, we stood on the shoulders of giants, and we want to give back, and our mission is just to say, "Hey, if you want to grow, here's some things that have helped us."

Yeah, so you're bringing up a great point, Craig, and this is something we've gone into a lot recently is just knowing your strengths, Katie and Curtis. Knowing your strengths, like knowing that you stink at hiring. So, stop hiring. Let someone else do that. Find your superpower and double down on that. Because what it'll give you is a lot more purpose, a lot more freedom, all these things. And then it'll accelerate your business. I used to be the bottleneck in my practice, honestly. Looking back, I was the bottleneck in that I was the nucleus in almost all decisions, all things. Now I don't want to be involved. I don't even want to know. I always ask questions when someone comes to me, it's like, "Do I need to know this, or do I need to be involved?" And they will audit that question. They'll have to give me an answer. If the answer is yes, let's talk about it. But nine times out of 10, or four times out of five, it's, "No, you're right. I got this."

Katie:

Yeah. Because a lot of dentists, when they start their little baby from the ground up, their practice, they've got to be involved in everything.

Craig:

Yeah, the very act of being a dentist steers you away from the macro that's needed to really make bigger decisions.

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Peter:

So, Katie, what I did or have done in the past, because sometimes I used to go home and play the “woe is me” game. Look at all the stuff I did and all this stuff. And a lot of times it was stuff that I didn't really want to be doing or wasn't good at, but I took as this badge of honor. Like, “look at me, look at this suffering I'm doing for my family and my future. So, I made myself, a lot of my day now is spent getting rid of things that I don't enjoy doing anything. So, I would audit and write down all the things that I was doing during the day, and then I would identify the things that probably should be with someone else. Because either I, A — Hated them, or B — I wasn't very good at them. And so, my actions became, How do I get this off of my daily sheet?

Now I don't do that. I don't do stuff I don't want to do. And ironically, the things I am doing, I'm really good at. Why? Because I like doing them. It's this virtuous cycle.

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Craig:

And by the way, I don't want anybody to hear Peter, I just want to make sure that no one hears him as saying this an egotistical “I delegate taking out the trash.” He's not talking about that. He's talking about that there's certain things that people in his organization love to do. Peter and I are both low-detail people. We're high vision, we want to win, we're fast paced. But the details, nah, let someone else figure that out. So, Peter and I have come to realize that if we're surrounded by high detail people, like a Lacey who works in the Bulletproof organization, for example, we can get a lot of things done. Lacey is high detail. She loves figuring out all the little things. So, if we're working on a summit or something like that, she'll love figuring out all the little details. Peter and I would die doing that. Peter and I get to focus on the stuff that we're good at.

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So, it's not a hierarchical thing. It's not like “I am king and they’re serfs.” It's just that it's a Strength Finder type of exercise. We've done a lot of work to find out what we're good at and stay in those lanes. Peter just sticks to the stuff he's really, really good at. And then, at the end of the day, he's worked really hard, but only on the stuff he's really good at. He's not as exhausted as if he was trying to pretend to be good at everything.

Dan Sullivan talks about the four freedoms. Freedom of time, freedom of money, freedom of relationship and purpose. And so those, personally for me, were quests. Going back to what you were saying, Craig. I want to work on the stuff that I want to work on. I want to work because I'm not forced to make money, just because I enjoy doing what I'm doing. I want to work with relationships, I want to work with people that I like, not because I'm forced to do that. So, this can become a driver as well. I don't know why I went on that tangent; I just think it's important in front of what we're talking about, contextually.

Curtis Marshall:

I think the biggest thing is, when you look at anything, balancing anything, take personal out of this, right? You're balancing a car, making sure that the wheels are balanced, or whatnot, whatever it might be. You can't focus on everything at once. You need to focus on one specific thing at a time. And if you're able to do that, then everything else starts to get into line.

Peter:

Humans are not designed to multi-task. All you do is do a bunch of things really poorly.

Craig:

Yeah. And I think that we're touching on something else, like this realization that you're not meant to be good at all this stuff. That provides a little bit more grace for people, and a little bit more understanding. Then people suffer less, and they actually become happier. So, this idea that you need to be in balance, that you need to be a multi-tasker, you need to be a CEO, you need to do all this stuff - It's daunting, and you're not meant to, and you're not meant to be good at everything. And I think it's an important realization that you have to come to. And eventually you'll find out what you're good at, and what makes you happy. And just double down on that, because that's life's ultimate bottom line is that question - What makes you happy?

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Katie:

What does growth in dentistry look like to Craig Spodak and to Peter Boulden right now?

Craig:

I can't answer growth in dentistry, because dentistry, like I always say it's a snowflake. It's everybody's practice is entirely different. And I think if we could start understanding that dialogue at a bigger level, that dental practices are uniquely suited to the owners and leaders of those individual practices and could be whatever they want it to be. So, I can't answer to that. But for me, growth is just progress. Slowly getting better. Change is always going to happen, whether you grow from it is up to you. So, going through life and getting slightly better, whether that means dealing with the downs or the highs better, it's just that that's what the key to life and the key to happiness is, is just growth. Growth over time. And I don't think failure is anything to be ashamed of. Failure is just growth in action.

Peter:

So, I think growth in dentistry would be, I'm going to piggyback on that Craig, because I think that's good, is that identifying A, from a self-awareness thing, what does it look like? So, I'm going to talk about, for me, what it grows like is, growing my enterprise. I like foot on the gas, I like building, I like designing, I like visionary stuff. So, growth for me is continuing to grow my ecosystem, whether that's my own practices or whether that's a DSO, or whether that's whatever. It's continuing to evolve to make dentistry a better place.

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Curtis:

I like how Craig mentioned, it is a snowflake. And this is why dentistry is a snowflake. It's different. And that's why we ask this question.

Katie:

And dentistry is such a different... occupation for a lot of people than others, because dentistry…

Craig:

…It's the most beautiful profession in the world. 

Peter:

Can I jump on this, Katie? Here's why, is because we talked about the dentist who wants to be the craftsman and just be in his office and work. And he can make a great living and be very fulfilled.

Katie:

And art. Make art all the time…

Peter:

... and can go home and study more dentistry. He can be the artist in that. It also fulfills the buckets of the entrepreneur. Someone like me, who really went to dental school knowing yeah, I'm going to do dentistry for a while, and then I'm going to really grow things. And so, it's the most beautiful thing, because you're always making impact in people's lives, you're really respected in your community, and you can do whatever you want. There's no ceiling on what you want to do. But it gives you what you want. It gives you what you want if you work at it.

So many great insights here! We’re thankful to Dr. Boulden and Dr. Spodak for sharing some of their wisdom with us. Both doctors use Dental Intelligence in their practices to provide more and better dentistry to their patients. If you want to learn more about how your practice can benefit from the power of data, visit us today to get started.

Keys To A Successful Morning Huddle

An effective Morning Huddle can easily become the most valuable 15 minutes of the day in your dental practice.

Dental Intelligence

|

January 17, 2022

Team Culture,Office Operations,Morning Huddle,Product,Hygiene,Treatment Acceptance

You’ve likely heard some version of this statement before – Morning Huddle is an important factor in running a thriving dental practice. This being true, a surprising number of dental practices either don’t hold a huddle at all or, more commonly, their huddle often leaves something to be desired. The morning huddle is typically left to the office manager to oversee, with varying levels of support and involvement from owners and doctors. This means at least a few hours of preparation each week, requiring the office manager to comb through various reports to collect the information needed to run the huddle.

It also often means that the office manager ends up doing most of the talking while other team members are passive participants being told what happened and what is scheduled to happen. These and other factors can lead to a meeting that everyone dreads and that no one finds beneficial. There is a better way.

At Greenville Family Dentistry in Greenville, Illinois, office manager Whitney Thornton knows all about the challenges of holding an effective morning huddle. She recalls the many mornings her team would gather in their break room and struggle to stay awake as she reviewed their previous day’s numbers and went over the schedule. “They were there because they had to be there, not because they wanted to be. We tried to make it worth their time to attend, but they still didn’t find much value in being there.”

Practice owner Dr. Matthew McCullough had made key performance indicators (KPIs) a priority throughout his twenty years in practice and felt this would be a necessary part of any changes they would consider implementing in order to improve their morning huddle. His search led him to Dental Intelligence, the leader in cloud-based dental practice analytics, and Greenville began using the company’s growth platform in January 2020.

“Dental Intelligence Morning Huddle has been a huge part of our growth in the past year,” Whitney recently shared. “We use it daily to celebrate our successes and also to hold each other accountable. Instead of those frustrating huddles we would hold in our break room, we now stand together in one of our operatories and involve everyone in making the most of those few minutes together before we begin treating patients. It’s so much better than before.”

How has using this new platform helped Greenville to have a more effective morning huddle? According to Whitney, “Before we began using Morning Huddle, our team was very disengaged. At some point someone had read in a book or an article that we should hold a huddle, and so the practice started doing it, but there wasn’t a clear vision about how to make it actually worth doing. Now it’s so different. Everyone on our team has access to the huddle so they can see beforehand what we’ll be discussing each day. I also give each team member a role in making our huddle fun. On Monday we do ‘Monday Munchies,’ which means someone brings snacks or a treat. Tuesday is ‘TikTok Tuesday’ when one of our team members shares a funny TikTok video to watch. Wednesdays and Thursdays also have a theme. We’ve found starting our huddle with something fun and positive makes it more light-hearted and engaging for everyone.”

Don’t let the simplicity of this idea diminish the power of the principle it teaches. Our experience working closely with over 10,000 dental practices has shown that creating a positive culture around the morning huddle is one of the single most important factors in how successful a practice is. That’s right, the few minutes you spend in a huddle (and how you spend that time together) have an oversized impact on the overall performance of your dental practice.

Not convinced? Whitney shared how a team member took the time on a Sunday evening to text her about making sure to celebrate another team member’s success the next morning in their huddle. “The fact that team members feel they have something to contribute during our huddle is such a great thing for us,” Whitney said. “We try to make every huddle a celebration, even if we might have missed some of our goals from the day before. Highlighting even small wins does so much to unify and energize our team. Being able to see everything in one place using DI makes this so easy.”

Whitney also uses Provider Pulse to let the team see how everyone is performing relative to each other and to their individual and team goals. “The trust this transparency creates for our team has been so healthy and empowering,” she added. “We all feel like we’re doing this together and finding ways to help each other to succeed.”

Another victory for Greenville resulting from their improved morning huddle is a significant increase in their hygiene recall percentage. According to Whitney, it is now at or close to 100%. DI allows team members to see the names of every active hygiene patient without a current scheduled appointment, including the patients who left the practice the previous day without scheduling their next visit.

By reviewing this list each day during their huddle, the Greenville team has been able to consistently schedule virtually 100% of these patients for their next appointment. This is the impact that integrating data can have on patient health. By paying attention to their unscheduled patients, Greenville Family Dentistry is absolutely improving the health of those patients who otherwise would fall through the cracks.

By using Morning Huddle, Greenville has also improved team member accountability. Instead of the old model which required Whitney to handle all of the reporting, each team member now comes to the huddle prepared to report on their performance. “We’ve identified key things we want to look at daily and that has made such a difference in our outcomes,” Whitney said. “For example, our hygienists can see the impact they’re having and the production they’re bringing in with the fluoride treatments they’re doing. Looking at these daily instead of once a month is powerful. Trying to look at something a month or more after it happened leads to very little if any change. It’s hard to fix something that happened that long ago. But now we are looking at our performance within hours of when it happened, and that has been transformative.”

Whitney also emphasized the impact of being able to see openings on their schedule while they are in the huddle, whether on that day or within the next few days. “If you are looking at this in the huddle, you can say on a Tuesday, ‘Hey, it looks like we have some openings on Thursday,’ or ‘I see that patient coming tomorrow has some unscheduled treatment. Let’s give them a call today and see if they want to get that taken care of while they’re here.’ These are things we now look at every day. DI shows us the holes we need to fill — it’s really, really cool.”

Before dental practices had access to these robust, real-time insights about their performance, it was difficult to talk with team members about ways they could improve. As Whitney recalled, “Providing them with any kind of feedback was very subjective. Without data to back up what we were talking about, discussions about areas of improvement were all based on feelings, not facts. Data has changed all that for the better. When we look at numbers together, team members can see for themselves how they are doing. This has changed the quality of the conversations we have and the outcomes that result. Now we have a way to identify areas of improvement and also to celebrate success."

"For example, both of our hygienists recently did over $2,000 of production on the same day, which included 55 adult sealants between the two of them. We totally celebrated that in our huddle! These girls helped the entire office to hit our goal and we absolutely made a big deal about this. Just one way having this data handy is changing how we care for our patients.”

“Using Dental Intelligence helps us to operate at a higher level,” Whitney added. “No more running reports or trying to find out what’s happening in our practice. Now we know what’s happening. Instead of searching through our files for patients to fill holes in the hygiene schedule, we can find that information in seconds. It just feels like we can operate so much quicker and more efficiently, and I can’t say enough about the huddle and what it’s done for us. We also love the Auto Follow Ups feature, which has helped us stop our patients from calling through the cracks. It’s a powerful safety net."

"As a manager, DI makes my job so much easier. I can see the numbers and what is happening in our practice in real time. And with the huddle, there’s now so much more team involvement. We’re all headed in the same direction. Everybody sees it. Everybody is motivated to do better. They want to get our patients taken care of, and they hate it when those patients leave without scheduling their next appointment. DI has improved our practice more than any other solution we’ve ever used. I love it!”

Quick Wins to Start Strong in 2022

Want to start 2022 off on the right foot? Here are 3 simple things you can do to hit the ground running and set the tone for a successful year.

Dental Intelligence

|

January 7, 2022

Office Operations,Team Culture

The New Year is always a great time for change. It marks the beginning of a new chapter and a new chance to be the best versions of ourselves, both personally and professionally. As a dental practice owner, the new year presents an opportunity to review, reevaluate, and revamp your practice. Businesses need New Year’s resolutions just as much as individuals do. Let’s talk about some of the actions you can take in the first week of the new year to get some quick wins under your belt and set the foundation for the year to come.

 

Do These 3 Things to Start 2022

  1. Reflect

It’s easy to jump into goal-setting without first taking the time to step back and really look at your current situation. But we can’t get where we want to go without first knowing where we are.

For the past 10 years, I’ve made a habit of taking some time on New Year’s Day to reflect on how the previous year went. I grab my computer and a cup of coffee, turn off my phone and all my notifications, and excuse myself to a quiet corner to work through a guided reflection. I answer the same 20 questions, year after year. Questions like:

  • In which areas did you struggle?
  • In which areas did you thrive?
  • Which topics did you most enjoy learning about?
  • What was your single biggest time-waster this year?
  • What one thing would you do differently and why?

Click here to view the full 20-question template I use.

 

Once I have answered all my reflection questions for the current year, I go back and reread all of my previous years’ responses, from the very first year I began the exercise all the way through to the current year. It’s amazing to see how your habits, ideas, goals, and mindset shift and change over time. Seeing everything spelled out on paper helps to reveal what is working well and where there are areas of opportunity. Armed with this insight, you can set realistic, impactful goals for yourself and your practice in the new year. This also gives you a tangible document to look back on next year to measure the success of your 2022 goals and to see how you and your practice have grown.

 

  1. Reevaluate Your Tools

I was working part-time as a restaurant shift lead in my early 20s. I remember training my first new hire. I was showing them how we filled the dishwashing sinks and explained that one of the faucets was broken, so we kept a pitcher underneath the counter to fill that sink with water from an adjacent faucet. My trainee looked at me, a little confused, and said, “Why don’t we just replace the broken faucet? Don’t those cost like $60?” 

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I can honestly say it hadn’t occurred to me to replace the faucet. Our floor manager trained me to use the pitcher under the counter, and they were taught to do it that way by the manager before them. We had operated for over a year with one of our main sink faucets in-operational, and everyone just adapted. Our “workaround” was getting us by, so no one ever stopped to consider how much time and energy was being wasted due to this faulty piece of equipment that would have taken $60 and an hour to repair.

How often do we keep doing things the way they’ve always been done without questioning why or asking if there’s a more effective way? With equipment and software especially, we tend to use things day after day and get used to little “quirks” as they pop up. As more and more “quirks” develop and we adapt to them all over time, it’s easy to overlook how much time and effort are going into our workarounds for broken or outdated equipment. 

Take some time at the beginning of this year to inspect your hardware and software and make any necessary repairs or replacements. As the practice owner, you may not be actively using everything in your office regularly, so be sure to consult with your team. Do your hygienists have the tools they need? Does your front office team have software that supports your business goals? Set your team up for success by giving them the right tools to do their job effectively.

Stop settling for workarounds. Invest in the equipment and software you need, and you’ll see the ROI in increased productivity, loyal staff, and better patient retention.

 

  1. Prioritize Staff Appreciation

Staffing shortages are a universal problem right now, and dentistry is no exception. Looking at the year ahead, acquiring and retaining quality team members is going to require more intentionality than ever. There’s a good chance you already hosted a holiday party or treated your staff members to an end-of-year gift or bonus. That’s a great start, but the key is to consistently prioritize staff appreciation throughout the whole year. 

Building an exceptional workplace culture and making sure your staff knows they are valued and respected is one of the greatest things you can do for your practice in the new year. A team who knows they are valued will be more invested in the collective goals and success of your practice. Empower your team to be the best version of themselves by making recognition and appreciation a habit, by giving them the tools to do their work effectively, and by rewarding people who go above and beyond. 

If you don’t currently have a bonusing system in your practice, consider implementing one. It’s an easy way to motivate team members and to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to acknowledging extra effort and appreciating high performers.

 

Keep the Momentum Going

There’s no limit to the amount of possible New Year’s Resolutions you could make, but starting with these three will set you up for success in the new year. A clear understanding of where you are and where you want to be, coupled with the right tools and the right team? That’s a recipe for success.

 

For more actionable tips on starting the new year strong, check out The 2022 Office Manager Roadmaps from Dental Intelligence.

6 Steps to Ensure a Stellar New Patient Experience

You only get to make one first impression. Set the tone for new patients with a first visit experience that's modern, efficient, and personal.

Dental Intelligence

|

November 18, 2021

Patient Experience,Office Operations,Patient Communication,Forms,Patient Loyalty

You only get one first impression with a new patient. What message are you sending when they visit your office for their first appointment? The small details in your intake process have an undeniable impact on setting the tone for that patient relationship going forward.

Many dental offices struggle with user experience during patient intake. It can be difficult to find the balance between processes that make life easier for your staff and processes that create a better experience for your patients. For instance, how often does paperwork get lost, or does your schedule fall behind because patients show up 1 minute before their appointment time and still have 15 minutes of paperwork to fill out?

If you are looking to start new patients on the right foot, it’s critical to streamline your intake systems in ways that benefit both staff and patients. A pleasant and efficient patient intake process helps build trust and confidence in the quality of services and care you are offering.

Top Priorities for Improving Patient Experience

Where should you focus your efforts if you want to improve the new patient experience? These three priorities have an undeniable impact on the first impressions you set with each new patient:

  1. Efficiency: Use fast, effective systems to collect patient information. Use automation to streamline the process, ensuring efficiency for both the new patient and office staff.
  2. Modern: It’s time to get rid of the printed paperwork. If you are still handing out clipboards with patient forms, then you need to update your system. Digitize it to streamline the intake process and reduce busywork in your office.
  3. Personal Touch: One fear of using technology for patient intake is losing personal touch with the patient. Find the balance between leveraging technology while still making it a personalized experience. Technology can improve personalization since the office staff will have more time back in their day to focus on enriching interactions with patients.
a new patient talks to the dentist at their first visit

6 Steps to Optimize New Patient Experience

Strong patient relationships and long-term loyalty begins with a stellar first-time experience. Follow these proven tips if you are looking for ways to improve the new patient experience in your dental office:

1. “What to Expect” Landing Page

A lot of people already have anxiety about going to the dentist, so it's helpful to eliminate as many unknowns as possible. Create a landing page for your website that walks new patients through exactly what they can expect leading up to and during their first appointment.  Providing basic logistical information, such as where to park when they arrive or how and when they will receive appointment reminders, goes a long way in putting patients at ease. The goal is to spell out all necessary details to eliminate any surprises or potential friction between when the patient books the appointment and the time they are actually sitting in the chair.

2. Online Scheduling

Many people don’t want to pick up the phone to call for an appointment. When scheduling over the phone, the back and forth of offering up potential times can often result in patients double booking themselves or accepting an appointment time they can't make, not to mention the number of people who don't think about scheduling until after business hours and then get sent to voicemail. Digital scheduling tools allow your patients to view your real-time availability and check it against their own schedules before booking, ensuring they select an appointment time they can commit to and effectively increasing show-rates for new patients. Your patients are already booking flights, ordering dinner, refilling prescriptions, and buying groceries online – meet them where they are.

3. Go Paperless

There are countless benefits to going paperless for patient forms and consents. Not only does it provide cost-savings and free up physical space in your office (goodbye, filing cabinets!), it helps increase compliance and makes paperwork significantly easier for your patients. Digital forms allow patients to complete their paperwork at their convenience from their phone, tablet, or computer prior to arriving for their appointment, ensuring your staff stays on schedule and waiting rooms aren't backed up with patients scrambling to fill out forms. Digital forms also introduce smart functionality that can collapse questions or auto-populate additional questions based on patients' answers, so they won't have to fill out sections that aren't relevant to them. Digital forms are quicker to complete on the patient end, and they instantly file automatically into your practice management software, meaning always-up-to-date patient charts without any data entry or extra clicks for your front office staff.

Learn more about the impact digital forms can have on your practice

4. Virtual Check-In

Crowded waiting rooms are a thing of the past. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients prefer to wait in the comfort of their own vehicle. Seamlessly check patients in remotely by sending them a text or email link to click when they arrive, and text or call to let them know when you're ready to see them. Virtual check-in helps you decrease waiting room traffic and keep things running on schedule so your providers can give every patient the time and attention that they expect.

5. Optimize Treatment Plans

Often, new patients require extra treatment to get caught up after having been without a dentist or regular exams for a time. Talking to a new patient about treatment can be tricky, especially if they have a backlog of dental care needed or have dental anxiety – but having the right tools helps you cater your treatment presentation to each patient to ensure they understand their needs and feel confident in saying yes to treatment. Digital treatment planning tools allow you to customize treatment presentation to highlight what's most important, include intraoral photos or infographics to help with patient understanding, and incorporate payment options as part of the conversation early on so that patients know their options. Treatment presentation should be transparent, educational, and understandable in order to build trust with new patients.

treatment coordinator reviews intraoral photos with a patient

6. Digital Payment Options 

It’s a hassle for office staff to print invoices and mail letters to remind patients about overdue balances, and by that same token, most patients don't love waiting days or weeks to get their bill in the mail only to have to send back a check or call in to make a payment. Make collections easier for everyone involved with digital payment requests. Send your patients a text or email with a link to securely view their statement and pay their balance right from their phone or computer. Your patients will appreciate the quicker turnaround time and easy payment options, and your staff will appreciate not having to stamp and seal hundreds of envelopes every month. This is the last patient touch-point in the appointment cycle and a final chance to remind your new patient that your practice prioritizes their experience and convenience.

 

Turn First Impressions into Long-Term Retention

Efficient. Modern. Personal. These are characteristics new patients are beginning to look for and expect from their dental office. Use these tips to create a seamless experience for new patients, and you’ll not only make a great first impression, but this positive patient experience will create a strong foundation for lifelong patient loyalty.