Case Study: Data + Leadership = Massive Growth

“We look at hygiene, collections, production, and the schedule for the day and the rest of the week. It helps us to ask better questions, like ‘What stopped us from hitting our goal yesterday? Are we on track to hit our goal today, and if not, what can we do about that?’"

Dental Intelligence

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September 8, 2021

Metrics & Reporting,Office Operations,Morning Huddle

“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”
-John Maxwell

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Dr. Jaime Osorio, owner of Buckner Family Dental in Dallas, Texas, had an important decision to make. His office manager had recently left for a new position, and Jaime knew his team expected him to hire a replacement to assume the role of managing the practice. Buckner Dental was doing great by most measurements, and it seemed obvious that handing over the day-to-day management was the right course in order to maintain the status quo. But Jaime felt differently.

“I’d come to believe that in order to be successful, I needed to become the CEO of my practice,” Jaime shared in a recent interview. “I needed to know the ins and outs of everything. Many in dentistry seem to feel like they can just default to hiring an OM or a business manager and that doing so will solve all their problems, and for many practices, that’s probably the right decision. But this approach of having someone other than the owner managing the practice doesn’t always work, or at least it hadn’t for me.”

So, instead of hiring a new office manager, Jaime chose to become Buckner’s office manager. This surprising step reflects an unusual commitment from a dental practice owner to stay connected to every element of his practice and team.

One of the reasons Jaime chose this course was a desire he had to better understand what was really happening in his practice. “I felt like we were just wandering through the forest without any clear direction or sense of where we were. It was as if we were saying ‘We don’t know where we are, but we’re just gonna keep walking and hope we get somewhere.’ We didn’t have a clear path forward, and I realized this was on me as the leader of the practice. Until I changed, nothing would change.”

Many of Jaime’s concerns related to lack of transparency. Although Buckner had many bright spots, there were also some important insights he couldn’t see. “We were spending a lot on marketing, but we weren’t able to measure how well that marketing was actually working,” he said. “We also were treading water in areas like rescheduling hygiene and getting more patients to get the treatment they needed. The reports we would run showed us some of the things that had happened, but they did little to help us understand why they were happening, and most importantly, what we should do to change what was happening.”

Buckner

In looking for solutions that would help him solve these and other blind spots, Dr. Osorio learned about Dental Intelligence. His practice had actually purchased it more than a year previously but hadn’t been using the many management tools available on the platform. With the new focus Jaime had on becoming the CEO of his practice, he started utilizing DI to rejuvenate Buckner Dental.

“Our culture at Buckner is to never be satisfied, but to push ourselves every day to do a little better,” Dr. Osorio said. “Even when we have a really big day and hit all our numbers, we talk about what we can do to do even better the next day. I’m always thinking of ways to improve. Can we offer better deals, change our marketing, come up with some type of promotion that will get new patients excited, etc. I want us to be constantly communicating with our patients so they feel we’re paying attention to them and their needs.” To help accomplish these goals, Buckner began using the DI Mobile App to see all the things they wanted to know about the practice, whenever and wherever they wanted to see them. “Using the Mobile App, I can see exactly where I need to get to in the next month,” Jaime said. “No more guessing.”

“I don’t have a man…I’m the man,” Jaime added. “I’m the QB and the coach and the general manager, etc. I have control over my own destiny and our practice. I decide where we go and what happens and I can look at my team and say, ‘Guys, we’re all in this together. We all want the same thing. We all want to see growth. We all want to be rewarded for that effort. So, let’s all be together and let’s all do that together.’”

Buckner now uses the Mobile App to hold their Morning Huddle each day, and the impact has been significant. “Everybody is looking at it together,” Jaimie said. “We look at hygiene, collections, production, and the schedule for the day and the rest of the week. It helps us to ask better questions, like ‘What stopped us from hitting our goal yesterday? Are we on track to hit our goal today, and if not, what can we do about that?’ Part of the reason this works is because we have focused on cross-training our team so that everyone can do (almost) everyone else’s job. This makes everyone on the team feel more responsible.”

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Another way that Dental Intelligence has helped Buckner Dental is in finding dentistry already presented to patients but not yet completed. Dr. Osorio calls this “bread and butter” dentistry, i.e. hygiene, crowns, fillings, etc. “We used to average around $800 per day in our hygiene department, but now we’re almost double that,” he said. “This is where DI is helping us to find dentistry that is already in our system but that hasn’t been scheduled. Focusing on these existing cases reduces our reliance on new patients. We combine this type of dentistry with our “big ticket” opportunities like a $25,000 implant case, for example."

"Sometimes I want to tell dentists who say things like ‘Don’t waste your time on fillings, etc.’ to not get too big for their britches. We want a combination of both bread and butter cases which help us build up to those bigger cases. If I need to work hard on six $1,000 cases, I’m great with that, because it means I’m getting closer to some larger opportunities, which often come out of the smaller cases where I find something that needs to be treated. Try doing the small stuff in order to get to the big stuff. For example, if you get some of those $2-3,000 cases, they can be the difference as to whether or not you hit your goal or not. Home runs are great, but you also need to get runners on base in order to score.”

At the core of everything that has improved for this practice is the decision Dr. Osorio made to take ownership for everything. But wait, isn’t he already the practice owner? Yes. But this is different from taking ownership. Once he began holding himself responsible for every aspect of his practice, amazing things began to happen for him personally as well as for his entire practice.

“After my manager left and I was working on my marketing after-hours, I was looking at ways to improve and decided I was going to personally start making phone calls to patients,” Jaime recalled. “My team knew I was doing this and that created a lot of respect — they saw what I was willing to do to help the practice grow, that I wasn’t above doing anything they were doing. As more patients started coming in, I was then bonus-ing my team based on the production I had scheduled. Another trust-building exercise. I’m practicing what I’m preaching.” Once trust was established, Jaime then started asking them to do what he was doing and trained them on how to do what he was doing.

“They’ve gotta see me change. I had to look in the mirror and admit I wasn’t doing things the way I wanted them to do things, which was hypocritical. When I began to change, it motivated them to begin changing,” he said. “They saw the energy, they saw the transformation, they saw patients coming in and responding to my calls. I needed to become a better leader than I had been.”

Dr. Osorio also shared how he’s become a student of other businesses and how they succeed. “I love looking at statistics. I love looking at numbers. I love analyzing our processes and seeing where we are lacking and trying to understand why we are where we are.”

“I think of my practice kind of like I think about working out. I have to stay in the mindset of an athlete,” Jaime said. “I need to be prepared in the moments available to work out in order to stay in shape. Even if a workout might not be fun or hurt a bit, I still need to do the workout because I have a goal. I’m going to keep reaching, keep stretching, etc. The same is true for my practice. Even if I don’t want to make another call, I do it anyway. The goal is the focus. No matter what, I need to stay focused on the goal. The work is about becoming more consistent."

"Dental Intelligence has made this so much easier. Instead of just trying to blindly get to a goal and hoping new patients come in or a big case happens, we are empowered to work strategically toward our goals, day after day. We can track how we are doing and make adjustments based on data, not guessing. This is a huge difference from how we use to do things.”

Taking ownership over his practice has changed Buckner Dental in many significant ways. And using the actionable data insights now available to Dr. Osorio and his team has been key. “DI has given me focus — a new focus on my performance. It’s enabled me to track my numbers throughout the day. I can now easily see what I did the day before and compare myself against that. If I am short, I can now see that I am short and respond rather than being surprised at the end of the day to learn that I was below goal. DI has helped me to help my team become as passionate as I am about hitting our goals.”

Real-time Online Dental Appointment Scheduling is Here!

Dental Intelligence 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.

Dental Intelligence

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September 8, 2021

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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.

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.

Patients Scheduling Their Own Appointments? Yes! Anytime, Anywhere

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 Dental Intelligence 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.”

Time to Stop Requiring Patients to Schedule by Calling Your Practice

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.

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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.

Patients Want to Schedule Their Own Dental Appointments


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.

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.”

Online Scheduling is a Competitive Advantage

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 scalibility 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?”

Online Scheduling's Impact on Your Bottom Line

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 were originally only going to offer this option to new patients, but we’ve learned that all patients want to have the ability to schedule online.”

If your group or single-office practice doesn’t yet offer Dental Intelligence 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?

Five Ways to (Really) Increase Production Per Visit

Increasing Production Per Visit is one of the most important things you and your team should be focused on to grow your practice.

Dental Intelligence

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September 8, 2021

Production,Metrics & Reporting,Treatment Acceptance
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When you’re trying to increase your dental practice’s profitability, one of the most important things you can focus on is to increase production. Obvious, right? Production is what keeps the lights on, pays your staff, add new equipment, and so much more. Most importantly, it's what keeps your patients healthy. 

For all its importance, you would think increasing production would be easier to track, but not necessarily. However, just because it’s hard to track doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and honestly, once you know what works, it won’t take you hours to track your practice’s production. This process begins by breaking production down into manageable pieces that you can track. Here’s how we do it at Dental Intelligence

Most practices understandably assume that if their schedule is full, Production Per Visit (PPV) will take care of itself. Having your schedule full is good, but if you’re not focused on optimizing Production Per Visit as well, you’re probably just working more without seeing much of a difference to your bottom line. So, let’s take a look at the different options you have for increasing PPV and setting your practice up for success. 

#1 - Increase Your Fees

There’s a reason this is first on the list. Increasing your fees is one of the simplest ways to affect supply and demand and is one of the first levers you should consider pulling to increase your PPV. Now, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of solution. You can’t just start increasing your fees and hope for the best. If you’re not already busy, increasing your fees probably won’t help you grow your practice. Here are some helpful ways to determine whether a fee increase is the right step to take: 

  • Your next available hygiene appointment is measured in months and not weeks. 
  • You’re considering extending your hours to accommodate everyone. 
  • You regularly lose business because you don’t have an opening soon enough. 

The basic principle is this: The lower you price your services, the more demand there will be for them. Conversely, as you raise your fees, demand will naturally begin to slow. In this case, that’s a good thing, because while the pressure on your schedule eases due to higher fees, your production per visit will be increasing. 

#2 - Choose Your Best Patients

When you consistently have a full schedule, you have the luxury of being picky with whom you choose to schedule and whom you choose to let walk out the door without an appointment scheduled. That means there’s no need to continue to reschedule patients who cause you and your staff headaches.

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You can go about this however you want, but most of your stress-causing patients will simply fade away once you stop chasing them. So, when a chronic canceler inevitably cancels, don’t automatically offer to reschedule. The same goes for the patient who always shows up 30 minutes late and throws your whole schedule off. Requiring that everyone pay at time of service will help you winnow patients who never pay their bill on time. Whatever your situation, if you stop accommodating the patient behaviors that disrupt your practice, you’ll find that your practice runs smoother and more efficiently — and you’ll see your production per visit increase.  

#3 - Expand Treatment Offerings

This can be as complicated or simple as you want it to be. Expanding treatment offerings isn’t just about adding new procedures and services. Sure, adding sleep apnea and aligners to your services can help increase your production per visit, but that may not be the simplest solution. 

Instead, consider starting by consistently offering the optional services you already have available. It’s not uncommon for practices to see a significant increase in production per visit just by focusing on simple add-ons like fluoride, sealings, and teeth whitening. 

#4 - Diagnose More Treatment

This may seem like an odd suggestion. After all, you should just diagnose the treatment your patients need to get healthy, right? 

Yes. But what counts as a healthy mouth at your practice? Does everyone agree on what that means? Unless you’ve instituted common standards in your practice, it’s likely that some practitioners are under-diagnosing their patients. This is another easy way to increase your production per visit. All it takes is getting everyone on the same page so that your whole practice is diagnosing the correct amount of treatment. 

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#5 - Increase Case Acceptance

Increasing case acceptance isn’t just for increasing visits. It’s also a valuable tool for increasing production per visit. The key here is helping the patient understand the importance of accepting diagnosed treatment. A few things you can try to increase acceptance include: 

  • Make sure that your patients understand the importance and urgency of each procedure you diagnose. 
  • Use clear and easily understandable language instead of technical jargon. 
  • Offer a small discount or free perk (i.e., teeth whitening) to incentivize same-day treatment and acceptance of more complicated procedures. 
  • Focus on helping the patient get healthy, not on the cost.

If you can get your case acceptance up, your production per visit will inevitably follow. 

Increasing production per visit is the most important thing you and your team should be focused on. It's the key to making everything else work. Increasing PPV should be part of your regular conversations in team huddles and leadership meetings. Making this a priority will solve many of your challenges and increase your ability to improve the lives of your patients and team members. Now go make it happen!

Best Practices from the Top Ten Percent

Is it still possible for a small or solo dental practice to grow and thrive in today’s DSO/Corporate dentistry-focused world? Absolutely — and we can help.

Dental Intelligence

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September 13, 2021

Morning Huddle,Team Culture,Metrics & Reporting,Office Operations,Production,Scheduling,Payments,Patient Communication

s it still possible for a small or solo dental practice to grow and thrive in today’s DSO/Corporate dentistry-focused world? According to our recent analysis of over 10,000 dental practices, the answer is “absolutely!” In spite of an incredibly challenging business environment brought on by a global pandemic, many of these small practices experienced record performance in the past twelve months. How is that possible? What did these practices do to succeed in a year where virtually every dental practice in the country was shut down for up to three months? How were they able to navigate such a difficult experience and still grow?

 

WHY THIS MATTERS: Before we share what they did, here’s why understanding what these practices are doing matters to any dental practice, regardless of size or location or specialty. Becoming a top-performing dental practice may not mean anything to you, and that’s great! This isn’t about bragging rights or “my practice is better/bigger than your practice” or anything like that. All of this is about one thing: Helping you and your practice improve and grow in the ways that do matter to you. Growth for you could mean more patients, new equipment, or offering new services. Perhaps it might include hiring new staff or bonusing your team or hiring a coach or practice consultant. It almost certainly includes providing even more and better dentistry to your patients.

But regardless of how you define “growth,” the things these top-performing practices are doing to experience success regardless of the business climate are things that any dental practice can replicate, and that is the objective behind sharing these principles with you. If only one or two of them is relevant, mission accomplished. If you take action on an idea shared here and it leads to growth and improvement, fantastic!

In no particular order, here are several of the reasons why these practices had a successful 2020, including suggested ways that your practice can experience similar growth.

They Measured & Tracked Performance Daily

What does this mean exactly? Doesn’t every dental practice keep track of their Key Performance Indicators? In an excellent three-part series in Dental Economics, Levin Group Founder & CEO Roger Levin shared some invaluable insights about the characteristics of these Top Ten practices, including this important takeaway: “Top 10% performing practices have an established set of key performance indicators that they are fanatical about tracking. When a key performance indicator is missed, they make the necessary changes or modifications to improve performance.”

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Two things to note here: First, in Levin’s words, these practices are “fanatical about tracking.” Simply put, they are constantly measuring and tracking their key indicators in order to know where they are in comparison to the goals they’ve established for their practice. This isn’t an occasional, once-in-awhile behavior that is easily disregarded when practice leaders get too busy. This is a high-priority, can’t-miss habit that is repeated daily, weekly, and monthly.

Second, when these practices fall short on an important key indicator, “they make the necessary changes or modifications to improve performance.” The importance of this can’t be overstated. Paying attention to how you are doing is invaluable. But it’s only when tracking is coupled with this second habit of continually adjusting and modifying that a top practice truly rises to its potential.

What should we do now?

  • Don’t overdo it! There are dozens of KPIs you could start tracking, and they all matter. But this method will quickly overwhelm and discourage you and in all likelihood cause you to give up. Instead, pick one thing to start with. What’s one area you haven’t been paying attention to but know you should be? Start there.
  • Set a time to review your performance each day and then keep that appointment, day after day after day.

They Focused on Increasing Production Per Visit

At Dental Intelligence, we train thousands of dental practices to use data to improve patient care, team collaboration, and practice profitability. One of our tools for doing so is our Profitability Formula™, seen below. Notice that under the heading of “Production” there are only two categories: Visits and Production Per Visit. These are the only two ways for a dental practice to increase production. You can increase the number of patients coming into the practice and/or increase the amount of dentistry that patients receive per visit. Period. There’s no other way to increase production.

Top-performing dental practices have a mature understanding of this principle and build their schedules around making the most of each patient visit. Increasing PPV (Production Per Visit) isn’t just something that sometimes happens in these practices. They make sure it happens. They relentlessly focus on ensuring that each patient is properly diagnosed and then effectively presented with the treatment they need, leading to a higher rate of case acceptance in comparison to other practices.

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For example, Smiles Services, a group practice based in the Northwest, had five of their offices finish 2020 with more production than they had done in 2019 – and they were closed for seven weeks in 2020! How did they experience such remarkable results? Here is what Dr. Raymond Frye, founder and CEO of Smiles Services, shared with us.

“We are literally a phoenix rising out of the Covid ashes!  We are hyper focused on using the PPV (production per visit) tool on Dental Intelligence as a strategy to conserve our PPE.  We want to make sure we go above and beyond to do as many procedures on each patient as possible, so we are not wasting PPE.  We are going to be monitoring the PPV numbers on DI for each office as an indicator on how well they are doing with mitigating the waste of PPE as well as minimizing the traffic flow and maintaining social distancing.  I believe the PPV tool is now more powerful than ever with our new normal in dentistry!”

There’s that principle of monitoring again. What methods are you following for increasing your Production Per Visit? Here are some additional suggestions:

  • Prior to when a patient arrives for an appointment, review their current treatment plan and identify presented care that still needs to be done. Call the patient and discuss with them to see if any of it can be completed while they are in the chair.
  • Do the same for any family members that might be overdue for hygiene or who may also have unscheduled treatment and identify whether or not that can be scheduled.

They Focused on Same-day Treatment & Same-Day Treatment Acceptance %

 Another practice that thrived in 2020 was Dee For Dentist in Las Vegas. Dee is a fun, high-energy practice with a patient-first culture and data-savvy leadership team. As Dee waited for their practice to reopen, they knew the patient experience would be different and wanted to make the most of that change. Here’s how Mike Cruz, Office Manager at Dee For Dental, described what they did.

 “At the beginning of 2020, we had a goal to increase our Production Per Visit (PPV) but had been stuck at the same figure for a while. The pandemic shutdown gave us a chance to fix this problem. With the combination of fewer available appointments and the heightened requirements to protect patients and team members, we made sure patients understood it would be far better to complete more treatment in a single visit. This has led to much more same-day dentistry and has increased our PPV significantly.”

Simply put, Dee For Dentist incorporated same-day dentistry into their philosophy of care. They educated their patients on the value of completing more treatment during a single visit and also communicated this to them when confirming appointments. They established a culture of care that made it easier for patients to prioritize needed treatment and to complete some or all of it during the same visit.

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Here’s an eye-opening statistic that validates how impactful this approach can be on a practice: In 2020, the top-performing practices completed almost 50% of the same-day dentistry they presented to their patients. In contrast, the lowest-performing practices completed around 15% of presented same-day treatment. What made the difference?

  • The first and obvious is that these practices are presenting same-day treatment. Make this a standard operating procedure in your practice. If every team member is committed to this approach and consistently follows it, your same-day treatment acceptance % can only move in one direction — up!
  • These practices also focus on how to present same-day treatment, especially in the current environment. And then they practice and help each other to improve. As the example from Dee For Dentist shows, emphasizing the convenience and need to complete more treatment per visit has led to an increase in their Same-Day Treatment Acceptance %. What could you do here?

They Held an Effective Morning Huddle — Every Morning

 Morning huddles are something everyone knows about, right? The idea certainly isn’t a new one. Meeting as a team for a few minutes each day to coordinate schedules and patient visits is a standard practice for many dental practices. Are these successful practices doing something different in their huddle than what you are doing? Here are three things that are included in their morning huddle that could impact your huddle as well.

  1. They use data to determine what they discuss. This is different than just reviewing numbers. For these practices, holding a data-driven huddle means they are using their KPIs to understand what happened the day before, what is happening today, and what is scheduled to happen tomorrow and as needed, adapting to improve performance.
  2. They involve every team member in the huddle. Instead of an office manager or doctor running the huddle, these practices ask team members to come prepared to contribute, which leads to a sense of ownership and accountability.
  3. They celebrate success and set goals to improve. This is a big one! Successful practices thrive because they have a positive culture of growth and validation for team members. This culture is built on celebrating success and holding each other accountable, which builds trust and confidence. Here’s how one of these practices, Greenville Family Dentistry in Greenville, Illinois, is making the most of their morning huddle.
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“We try to make every huddle a celebration, even if we might have missed some of our goals from the day before,” office manager Whitney Thornton shared. “Highlighting even small wins does so much to unify and energize our team. Being able to see everything in one place using Dental Intelligence makes this so easy. Using this platform helps us to operate at a higher level. 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.”

 They Focused on Increasing Annual Patient Value (APV)

Annual Patient Value? Is that even a thing? Very much so. Annual Patient Value (APV) or collections per patient for all active patients, isn’t something a lot of practices think about, but it should be? If your average APV is increasing, that’s a good indicator you are on the right track. Determining APV gets rid of a lot of the “fluff” around gross production. Knowing the annual value of each patient helps you accurately answer questions like “Is my practice healthy?” “What am I collecting per active patient?” “Are we seeing our patients enough?” and others. For these successful practices, APV is something they are tracking constantly.

For example, here is what Sullivan Dental Partners in Brentwood, Tennessee is doing to increase the annual value of each of their patients. “Annual Patient Value helps us to answer the question ‘What are we getting out of our patient base at large?’” Dr “Sully” Sullivan, the practice co-owner, recently shared with us. “Having time to focus on the important but not urgent areas helped us to see remarkable improvement in a short span of time. Somebody needs to do fillings. Someone needs to do hygiene checks, crowns, etc. We need someone to do more of our low-value dentistry,” Dr. Sullivan added.

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When he started working in 2015, Sullivan Dental’s APV was around $400 per patient, and because he was able to take on a lot of that “low value” dentistry, their APV started to go up. Their focus for the past five years since he started has been on increasing their annual patient value, and that effort shows — it is now at $972. They’ve basically doubled the average value of every patient in just five years! Sullivan has been able to grow from a $1.5 to a $3.5 million practice in spite of only growing their patient base by 10%. This has enabled them to add new capabilities to their practice (implants, Cone Beam, etc.) They are still asking how they can get APV even higher — their goal is $1,500 to $2,000 — which means they now need an associate to begin handling the basic care so Dr. Sullivan can focus on providing the higher value care.

  • Calculate the APV for each of your patients. DI can automate this for you so you have instant insights, or you can attempt to do this for each patient. Regardless of the method, you need a baseline for what each patient is “worth” to your practice.
  • Start with those at the bottom of the list. Do they have unscheduled treatment? Are they current on hygiene appointments? You’re going to be stunned to see how many ways there are to increase APV just by focusing on these patients.

They Focused on Patient Growth

What was the first thing you thought when you read “patient growth”? Probably adding new patients, right? Most practices make adding new patients a priority, and understandably so. New patients are an important contributor to the growth of any dental practice. But are they the best source of that growth? You might be surprised. In 2020, top-performing practices increased patient growth by 18%, which represented a 4% increase over 2019. In contrast, the lowest-performing practices were down almost 12% from 2019, which represents a 30% gap between Top 10% and Bottom 10%. What’s going on here?

Two words: Patient Retention. The difference between the Top 10 and Bottom 10 in 2020 was how well these practices retained their existing patients. To repeat, new patients are important. But more importantly, successful practices focused on their existing patients in 2020. They made sure each one had scheduled appointments, that they were current on hygiene care, that they were being effectively presented with needed treatment (which was then scheduled and completed,) and that family members were also receiving care.

Here’s the formula we use at Dental Intelligence to calculate Patient Growth %:

New patients + Reactivated patients – Patient attrition = Patient Growth %

 For example, if you added 50 new patients, lost 40, and retained 10, you’ll have positive patient growth. You can see the levers here and make decisions about which ones deserve your attention. Perhaps you would try to increase that new patient number to 60 or reduce that lost patient number to 30. Maybe your focus is on reactivating more patients. Regardless of what you decide here, it’s important to know what your current Patient Growth % is and then develop and implement a plan to improve your %. This is how these practices saw growth in 2020, and it’s how they (and you) will grow in 2021.

  • Run the formula above on your practice to determine your current Patient Growth %. Not to be too repetitive here, but the first step is always going to be determining where you are.
  • With this number in hand, identify which lever needs your immediate attention. New patients? Reactivated patients? Patient attrition? Don’t try to do too much. Begin with one and expand from there.

 They Focused on Hygiene Re-Appointment %

What is Hygiene Re-Appointment %? It’s the percentage of hygiene visits that, on the same day as their hygiene visit, have scheduled a subsequent hygiene appointment before leaving the dental office. In 2020, the most successful practices scheduled over 90% of patients for their next hygiene appointment before those patients left the practice. In contrast, those practices at the low end scheduled 56%, or just over half of their hygiene patients for their next appointment. This is obviously a significant gap and should motivate every practice to determine what their current Hygiene Re-Appointment % is and if attention is needed here.

Unless you’ve already been focusing on this, your current re-appointment % might be discouraging. We advise against despairing too much, and instead, encourage you to view this as a huge growth opportunity. Improving your Hygiene Re-Appointment % is a relatively easy process. Mostly this is about forming new habits around a consistent and practice-wide process that everyone follows. Simply put, make scheduling patients for their next appointment before leaving your practice a Standard Operating Procedure. Doing so will have a significant impact on your schedule and on the health of your patients.

What should we do now?

  • Start by figuring out where you are. You can do that instantly using DI, or you can calculate this manually. For the next week, at the end of each day, divide the number of patients that scheduled their next appointment before leaving your practice by the total number of hygiene patients treated that day. For example, if you had 30 hygiene patients come in today and 20 of them left with a scheduled appointment: 20 ÷ 30 = 66% hygiene re-appointment.
  • Discuss as a team what you could do to make sure that more of your hygiene patients are being scheduled before they walk out the door. Develop a plan and spend the next week tracking how you are doing. Be prepared to celebrate, because your efforts to improve your hygiene re-appointment % are going to work!

Customer Convenience > Patient Loyalty

This final takeaway is a trend that has been developing for several years and which accelerated in 2020: Patient loyalty is decreasing as their desire for convenience continues to increase. It’s likely you are already aware of this trend and are adapting to it. If so, well done. If not, it’s not too late to deliver a robust response to this “new normal.” Here are some of the conveniences that patients say they want their dental practice to offer:

  • Online Scheduling. Over 70% indicate this is important to them and even indicate they’re willing to switch dentists to find one that offers this service. To be clear, this isn’t simply providing an online appointment request widget. Patients want to use a platform like Online Scheduling to find and schedule their own appointments without ever needing to call or email their doctor’s office.
  • Text-to-Pay. Patients have also expressed a strong preference to use a Text-to-Pay solution like DI Payments to pay some or all of their balance versus the outdated billing statement approach that has been used (and is still being used) by so many dental practices. This is an easy-to-implement, low or no-cost service that patients are asking for.
  • Patient Safety. Patients have always wanted to feel safe when visiting their dentist. In 2020, safety took on new meaning as COVID-19 elevated many patients’ anxiety about the risks of exposure. Our data analysis indicates that the total number of appointments per day is down, which makes sense given that a visit takes longer with new safety protocols, cleaning requirements, and the need to isolate patients from each other. Rather than begrudge these new realities, patient-friendly practices are embracing them and making sure patients are aware of how their visit will be different.

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There are certainly other things these practices are doing to succeed. It’s likely you are doing some or many of these things as well. Growth in a dental practice isn’t one-size-fits-all. As mentioned at the beginning, practices that are built on a culture of data are going to make decisions and take actions that lead to success. In his Dental Economics series about top performing practices, Dr. Roger Levin shared this important insight:

“What we did consistently find was that the leaders of top 10% practices built a strong and recognizable culture by following basic leadership principles. First, these leaders established a practice mission and mission statement early on, which they truly believed in and lived out each day. These doctors didn’t view their mission statement as just a public relations blurb that looked nice on the practice website. Instead, it became the DNA of the practice, woven into all procedures and communicated to the team regularly.”

If your practice is built around a strong and recognizable culture, you are well on your way to sustainable growth. If you are still working on developing that culture, we wish you all the best and hope these “best practices” from some of the best practices will inspire and motivate you to build the dental practice of your dreams.

Two Powerful (and Simple) Ways to Schedule for Success

The more your scheduler knows and understands the impact of their role and what your production goals are, the more effective they will be.

Dental Intelligence

|

September 13, 2021

Scheduling,Production
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Why Scheduling Is (Almost) Everything

There's no argument that diagnosing, presenting and then treating elective/restorative treatment is one of the most important aspects of a dental practice’s success. But often we overlook another critical aspect in the practice: Scheduling patients for treatment. Without question, consistently scheduling your patient visits should top the list of activities that can have the greatest impact on the growth of your practice.

Think about this for a moment. Obviously, without dentistry being performed on your patients there would be no production, but just as critical, without patient visits, there wouldn’t be any production either. This being true, do your team members responsible for scheduling know how many patient visits are needed to achieve your production goals? For that matter, do you know how many are needed?

It’s a common misbelief that scheduling is a simple job — so simple, that in most cases, when a new team member is hired, especially one with no dental experience, this is the first responsibility they're given in your practice. But with little or no understanding of how important a scheduler’s role is in the overall success of the practice — is it any wonder why your practice might be under-performing?

Not only is it important for schedulers to understand the effect they have on how full the schedule is, but they also need to understand what effect they have on the overall production, what the production goals are, and at any given moment where the practice is in relationship to the goals you've set.

Knowledge Is (Great) Power

When a scheduler knows what your production goals are along with what your average production per visit is, they will know exactly how many visits you need in order for the practice to reach its production goals for the period. As the saying goes, “knowledge is power.” The more your scheduler knows and understands the impact of their role and what your production goals are, the more effective they will be.

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Have you already scheduled next week's visits to ensure that you are going to reach your production goal for the week, month, quarter, and year? Have you looked at it? Do you know where you are at? Equally important, do the team members who manage the schedule know where you are in comparison to where you want to be?

Truthfully, most practices do not take a proactive approach to scheduling. This isn't the fault of the schedulers, since team members will generally work to reach whatever expectations are set for them and so long as these expectations are obtainable, measurable, and consistently reported.

Being a scheduler is a difficult job — but an individual who knows where they are in relationship to where they ought to be has a much better chance of reaching a goal than those who don’t know.

With all this to think about, there are some simple things you can do starting today to experience greater success in your appointment scheduling efforts. Here are two suggestions:

Two Ways to Schedule for Success

  1. Decide on an annual production goal for the practice and what that means for each provider and then break this down by week. Identify what each provider's current average production per patient visit is. Take their weekly production goal and divide this by their average production per patient visit. Now your schedulers know exactly how many patients your providers need in order for them to reach their production goals. Keep track of this daily and schedule around reaching these goals, not just to fill holes in the schedule.
  2. Measure, measure, measure! It’s crucial that once you've identified the number of patients your practice needs to see in order to reach your production goals that you measure and monitor the scheduler's progression towards reaching these goals. When performance is measured, performance improves and when performance is measured and reported back to the team, the rate of improvement accelerates. It happens every time. Make it part of your daily huddles and celebrate success!
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At first glance, clinical procedures would seem to be the most important aspect of the overall success in a dental practice, and without question, they are critical. But administrative procedures are also important and make it possible for those procedures to happen. With this reminder, don’t just try and fill your schedule with whomever happens to answer the phone. Identify your goals, develop plans to reach them, and schedule intentionally. That is scheduling for success.

Case Study: How to Love Being a Dentist Again

"The day I began using Dental Intelligence was the day I started to get my life back."

Dental Intelligence

|

September 13, 2021

Team Culture,Office Operations,Metrics & Reporting

“You can go and actually enjoy a life outside of the dental practice.”

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Does any of this sound familiar?

It’s 5:30pm on a Thursday afternoon. You walked in the door of your practice eleven hours earlier and spent that first hour handling business issues before your morning huddle began at 7:30am. Your first appointment was at 8:00am, and you saw a steady stream of patients all day long, with a quick thirty-minute lunch you rushed through before an emergency patient came in and needed immediate attention. You’re exhausted.

One by one your team members head out the door, excited to have Friday off. And you? You walk back to your office and slump into your chair, glaring at the pile of paperwork, patient files, and reports to complete stacked high on your desk. It’s the end of the month, and you can either stay until 9pm or later or spend part of your “day off” Friday getting caught up.

Is this how owning a dental practice was supposed to be?

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How Many Jobs Do You Have?

Dr. Dillon Jensen graduated from dental school in 2018 and immediately purchased Saltwater Dental, an existing dental practice in Salt Lake City, Utah. Although he had planned to pursue a career in art at one point, he’d quickly realized there was much more financial stability in dentistry than in painting. Dr. Jensen enjoyed helping people and believed being a dentist would be a meaningful way to impact the lives of others. What he didn’t know, and what many new practice owners soon discover as well, is that owning a dental practice, especially at first, is another full-time job.

“One of the things I didn't love about my job was staying after a full day of work and having to spend almost another full day at work taking care of the business,” Dillon said. “I would also spend a lot of time preparing huddles for the next day — looking at my patients, figuring out who had unscheduled treatment, who had worked that needed to be done, who had family members that needed to be rescheduled, etc. And I quickly noticed that even when I would stay after work to try and handle all the business aspects of my practice, and despite my best efforts, things were falling through the cracks.”

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This is a common challenge that almost every clinician/practice owner experiences. During business hours you need to focus on treating patients. That is what keeps the doors open and how you pay the bills. It’s also likely the reason you went into dentistry to begin with. However, as a business owner, all of those decisions relating to marketing, accounts receivables, HR, and so much more still have to be made, and you’ll most likely need to be involved at some level in making them. Generally, that means you’re going to be wearing your owner hat in the hours you’re not treating patients. Translation: Long nights and weekends. As Dr. Jensen quickly discovered, quality of life for a clinician/practice owner can be less than ideal.

In Dr. Jensen’s search to find a solution, a colleague suggested he look into a company called Dental Intelligence, also based in Utah. DI helps over 8,000 dentists to use the intelligence hidden within their practice management software data (i.e. Dentrix, Eaglesoft, Open Dental, etc.) to see what’s happening in their practice, to understand what the data means, and to develop and implement a plan for growth and success.

“Dental Intelligence has been a game-changer for us,” Dillon said. “Now, instead of staying extra hours after work to stay on top of things, I usually come in about 10 minutes before everyone else in the morning and I'll review the huddle that's prepared by DI. I'm then able, with just a quick click, to see how many unscheduled patients we had yesterday, who has unscheduled treatment, etc. And it has also helped us to add several hundred dollars in additional production each day.”

The Strain of Stress

It’s not at all surprising that a recent survey of British dentists found that over half of those dentists surveyed suffered from job-related stress. Even more concerning, almost half of those responding indicated their stress levels “exceeded their ability to cope.” Some of the most cited sources of stress included the threat of complaints/litigation (79%), dissatisfied patients (75.1%), followed by work pressures such as running behind schedule (64.9%), and difficult patients (61.2%).

Another recent article in Dentistry IQ captured the experience of a dentist who was struggling with stress and burnout. She ultimately found solace in leaving the profession and becoming a life-coach and equine therapist, but not before watching as other colleagues retired early or tragically, took their own lives.

Dental professionals perceive dentistry to be more stressful than other occupations. This is consistent with their experiences of moderate to severe stress at work, where they endure an average of five to seven significant stress triggers each day. The most common contributing factors are (1) time pressures, (2) patient demands, (3) uncooperative patients (pediatric, fearful, nervous, or militant), (4) high levels of concentration and focus, and (5) team issues.

Many dental professionals are affected so deeply that their stress levels negatively interfere with their usual daily activities and interpersonal relationships up to five days a month, and often lead to early retirement from the profession. Burnout, mood disorders (particularly depression and anxiety), alcohol abuse, and physical health issues such as cardiovascular problems can all be tied back to stress levels in dental practices.

Dr. Jensen also had friends who had owned dental practices for years who shared similar accounts with him of their struggles with anxiety, depression, and fatigue. He had no desire to follow in their footsteps. He also had great concern about the number of patients who weren’t receiving the care they needed because they were invisible to him and his team. This only added to his stress levels. DI has opened a whole new world to Saltwater Dental and has allowed them to provide better care to their patients.

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“I am using Dental Intelligence to provide better care to my patients,” Dillon said. “If this software wasn't a part of our practice, so-called ‘little problems’ like fillings or a crown can end up going untreated because we forget about them. The patient forgets about it, time goes by and pretty soon that ‘little problem’ has turned into a much bigger issue. But it could have been treated and addressed at a lower cost and with much less pain if we had treated it proactively instead of reactively. This has everything to do with the quality of the data we have access to about each patient. I look at DI as a partner in helping our practice to provide the best care possible to our patients, while at the same time, my stress level and anxiety about my practice is gone.”

A Path to Real Growth

Another way Dr. Jensen is using DI is as an engine for growth. “Since implementing this solution at Saltwater Dental, our referrals have gone up as well. A new patient will call in and say ‘Carol, who I work with, referred me to you and mentioned that you guys will watch my insurance benefits to make sure I use them.’ Or they’ll say things like they don't even feel like they have to think about their dental anymore. They come and they learn that they can trust us and then they listen to us when we say things need to be done.” Dillon said this type of patient care is possible because they have data to easily keep a close eye on everyone without time-consuming reports and paperwork.

“It's super easy to say to the patient, ‘Hey John, I saw that you needed a filling done. You know, we've got 20 minutes. Why don't I have you hop over to my chair and we can get that done for you? It's also helped us to get family members scheduled by reviewing the patient’s profile found in DI and see if a spouse or child needs to schedule an appointment or has unscheduled treatment.”

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What’s the impact of this greater visibility? “When I bought Saltwater Dental,” Dillon shared, “The previous practice’s re-appointment rate was hovering between 60-70%. Now, on average, we are typically above 90%. When people don't slip through the cracks, it becomes super easy to pick up some low hanging fruit and increase your production and profitability. For example, in November and December when patient’s insurance funds are about to expire, they don't mind at all when we give them a call and to say, ‘Hey, we notice you've got some work that needs to be done. We're sorry we forgot to get you scheduled. As you know, if you don’t come in before the end of the year you’ll lose those dollars.’ People are excited to come in and they're appreciative that we're looking out for them. I think the patients really appreciate that someone's in their corner and that we’re wanting to make sure their benefits are being maximized every year.”

Increasing Production, Without Adding New Patients

An area almost all dental practices struggle with is in knowing how to market themselves effectively and efficiently. With so many options available, and with so many competing voices encouraging you to spend your hard-won dollars to advertise with them, it’s easy to understand why many practice owners want to just give up in frustration. Dr. Jensen has discovered a better way. “This software has also been a game-changer for us in our approach to adding new patients. I’ve spoken to colleagues who’ve been practicing dentistry a lot longer than I have, and of course there are things I’m still learning, but it’s disheartening when I hear about dentists dumping thousands and thousands of dollars into marketing because they believe that’s the best way for them to grow. I try and explain to them that there is so much opportunity for growth sitting in your practice that they aren’t able to see, but they struggle to understand why that information isn’t already available in their practice management software.”

For example, when Dr. Jensen bought his practice there were around 900 inactive patients on his records. DI defines an inactive patient as either being marked active in your PMS or they have completed an appointment within the past 18 months. Since implementing Dental Intelligence Analytics, Dillon and his team have reduced this number from 900 to around 100 inactive patients. With a very small exception, the majority of these once-inactive patients have been grateful for the reminder that they’ve not been in to see their dentist in the last 1-2 years and they’ve readily scheduled an appointment to come back in.

“I bonus one of my assistants $5.00 each time she schedules an inactive patient using Dental Intelligence,” Dillon said. “She’s doing a phenomenal job. It really helps to be able to see all of the notes about the history of each patient in one place. Those bonus checks are my most favorite thing to sign as a practice owner, and not just because I love celebrating the work of my assistant. I’ve looked at the metrics on what a patient is actually worth over their lifetime in our practice, both themselves and those they might refer, and it’s thousands and thousands of dollars.”

Being able to use Patient Finder also allows Dr. Jensen to easily find the type of dentistry he’s most interested in doing. “I can quickly search for all my patients that need implants or crowns using the Patient Finder. Then we call those patients and say something like, ‘Hey Robert, I see we haven’t done that implant for you on #19. Would you like to come in for a free consultation and we can discuss your options?’ It’s so nice to be able to quickly filter and identify the exact kind of opportunities we’re looking for.”

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For Saltwater Dental, growth has been a team-wide activity. “We have all taken ownership of some part of our key numbers,” Dillon said. “Certain assistants are responsible for checking daily on families that need to be scheduled. Operative assistants are in charge of checking for patients that are coming in with unscheduled treatment that needs to be done. Hygiene assistants are responsible for checking their patients for work that needs to be completed. And everyone knows to ask about unscheduled work. It’s a team effort.” He also talked about how DI has greatly reduced the number of meetings they have while increasing the effectiveness of the meetings they do hold.

“Dental Intelligence has made it so we're not having death by meetings,” Dr. Jensen related. “It's now really easy to quickly assess where we're bleeding and what we need to do to stop it. And it's not finger pointing. It's just, ‘Hey team, here are some facts. We’re currently reappointing at 70%, so what can we do so we can be more thorough at getting people back in the chair in six months? What can we, you know, where our treatment acceptance rate is here, what can we do to bump that up?’ And when you have metrics to look at, like I said, there's no blame. It's how can we as a team take action if we are letting things fall through the cracks? I love that it's facilitating better conversations built around data. It's collaborating. I love being able to go in and be a good clinician. I get to be someone that just has to worry about the Hippocratic oath I took. And just being a good healthcare provider when you put the right systems in place and the benefit is tenfold. It's a no-brainer.”

There IS Life Outside Your Dental Practice

So, you’ve made it this far. You’re trying to find the best solution for growing your practice, but not at the expense of the rest of your life, right? Wearing the doctor-hat by day and the business-owner hat by night is not a long-term strategy for success, or peace of mind. Is it really possible that software could help you to do both? Doesn’t every company claim to be the answer to all of your problems? For Dr. Jensen, DI has helped him fix one big problem that was measurably impacting his quality of life.

“It kind of boils down to how, how's that working?” Dillon concluded. “You know, that lifestyle of working harder and longer as your frustration grows. I'm thrilled with just working smarter and having systems in place that do so much of the work for me. Being able to see the broader picture and being able to break that down into just the smallest important details. Things aren't bleeding through the cracks anymore. DI has enabled us to create a culture where our patients are grateful that they're not having to worry about appointments and are making sure they're maximizing their benefits. They know that someone's being sharp and accountable for being their healthcare provider.”

How about quality of life, Dr. Jensen? “Dental Intelligence has impacted my quality of life tremendously. Being able to come home after I finished the last exam or cleaning is so refreshing. I love knowing that I get to go home immediately after work with the rest of my team and not stay long hours into the evening to deal with the business of my practice. Sometimes I’ll have been home for two hours and I get calls from colleagues who are still in their office. I truly feel sorry for them. It's just nice to have so much of that metric work already done so you can go live. You can go and actually enjoy a life outside of the dental practice. I just love it. I get to focus on what I'm good at. I think the happiest people I know are the people that know when it's time to delegate something to someone else. The day I began using Dental Intelligence was the day I started to get my life back.”

5 Compelling Reasons to Implement Online Scheduling in Your Dental Practice

Dental Intelligence allows patients to schedule appointments at a time that is convenient for them, giving you access to patients who do not have time to call during the day.

Dr. Maria Kunstadter

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September 14, 2021

Scheduling,Patient Experience,Patient Communication
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Today's patients want more transparency and options when it comes to their dental care. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations and overlook other important aspects of a successful dental practice, such as providing an exceptional patient experience.

In fact, how you run your dental practice leaves an indelible impression on your patients and has a significant impact on their retention rates. It's critical that you stay organized, stay on top of things, and learn how to run a dental practice by winning the hearts of your patients.

There are numerous benefits of using Online Scheduling in your dental practice. Aside from demonstrating that your practice is up to date, it will increase the satisfaction of both your team members and patients with your practice.

  1. More visibility of appointment to your patients

There are endless opportunities for dentists to not only reach out to existing patients about their services, but also to connect with them on a regular basis, thanks to today's rapidly evolving digital world.

Online Scheduling smoothes out the process. Patients will be able to view available appointment times and select the ones that work best for them. The appointments will appear in your schedule without any intervention from your team. 

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It's never been easier to stay at the forefront of patients' minds, showing them you're available to care for them, thanks to scheduling software that can be accessed at any time from anywhere by your patients.

Appointments will appear as soon as patients schedule them with your Online Scheduling that is linked to your practice management system. This reduces the amount of data entry required, allowing team members to devote more time to tasks that benefit the practice.

  1. Reduce no-shows and cancellations

Real-time Online Scheduling reduces no-shows and cancellations by allowing patients to select times that they know will work for them rather than pushing them to modify their schedule depending on available appointments. They're more likely to keep the appointment if they get to choose the time they want rather than being pushed into something they don't want to do.

Having an appointment scheduling app that empowers the patients to choose their appointment time will more likely to reduce appointment cancellations and help in avoiding patient no-shows. Also, the software can send push notifications onto the patient’s phone to remind them that they have an upcoming appointment to the dentist’s office. 

In case any of the patients end up cancelling their appointment, automating appointment scheduling can help fill up the gaps in the calendar and boost practice efficiency. The software can prioritize filling up the most recent appointments first so that your dental practice is not affected by patient no-shows. 

  1. Streamlining of practice workflows and increased efficiency

Your patients should not have to struggle to make an appointment. Online Scheduling allows patients to schedule appointments at a time that is convenient for them, giving you access to patients who do not have time to call during the day. Conduct some research to determine which system is best for you, then devise a strategy for incorporating it into your practice. You'll notice an increase in practice productivity and revenue as a result.

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Also, integration of appointment scheduling software with the EHR software will provide dentists with access to the patient’s history and be prepped up for the procedure that is due before the patient turns up.  

  1. Increase levels of patient satisfaction

Finding ways to delight your patients is critical for the modern dental practice because it allows you to fill your appointment book, increase referrals, and establish a stellar reputation in your community. 

Though providing excellent customer service is still the first step, technology allows you to go above and beyond for your patients. One of the most valuable services you can offer your patients is the ability to book appointments directly from your website or app. 

Online appointment booking helps patients stay current on their dental work in today's hectic world, and they'll appreciate the ability to see your schedule and book their appointment right from their phones, tablets, or computers. Your employees will appreciate the break from making appointment reminder calls, and it will allow them to spend more time running your office.

  1. Reduce call volume and interruptions to save team time

By reducing the number of inbound calls and missed appointments, Online Scheduling will free up time for your team. According to CallTracker return on investment data, 33 percent of all inbound calls from marketing sources go to voicemail in a typical dental practice. Unfortunately, 87 percent of potential new patients who reach voicemail do not leave a message or make an appointment. 

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This is a colossal waste of your marketing dollars, but it comes as no surprise. Someone once said that scheduling coordinators should be like octopuses, with a huge head and eight arms, in order to accomplish everything and greet everyone at the front desk.

While patients read our recall reminder emails or search for a new dentist at all hours, most practices only answer the phone during business hours. Playing phone tag and rescheduling appointments places an unnecessary strain on the team while also being inconvenient for patients.

Locating and seizing opportunities to assist your patients will give you the competitive advantage you need to stay ahead of the pack. Giving your patients the option to schedule appointments with your practice online will give them yet another reason to choose your practice over other dental practices in the area.

The Best Way to Increase Production Per Visit

"Dental Intelligence just allows you to operate much quicker, faster and to adapt if needed. It lets you see everything instantly so you know what matters."

Dental Intelligence

|

September 14, 2021

Production,Treatment Acceptance,Metrics & Reporting
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Dr. Devin Giron loves looking at numbers. Important metrics like production, hygiene, new patients, case acceptance, and much more. As the owner of a new dental practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Devin certainly had lots to think about as he tried building his practice. With the dual (and sometimes competing) roles of doctor and practice owner, he needed to be able to quickly see the information that told him what was happening each day in his practice. But he also needed to understand what that data meant, and what he could do to fix things that weren’t working.

“If you're not measuring anything,” he said, “you are kind of trying to hit a target blindfolded.” One of Dr. Giron’s frustrations was having to be reactive to key performance metrics because he usually couldn’t see something until it had already happened, making it hard to respond proactively. “There are always a lot of things to think about and pay attention to in a dental practice,” Dr. Giron shared. “Although I wanted to know about everything that was happening, or at least the most important ones, I couldn’t do that without some help.”

To address these and other challenges, Dr. Giron began working with Productive Dentist Academy, a consulting firm with decades of proven success helping dental practices to improve and grow. One of the first solutions PDA introduced him to was from their partner Dental Intelligence, the leader in actionable growth metrics. Dental Intelligence works with thousands of practices to see and understand what is happening and, when needed, to change what is happening. Devin quickly began to see an impact on his practice’s growth as he implemented the systems and processes introduced by PDA and DI.

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For Dr. Giron, one of the most important areas he is now able to track in great detail is his production. According to DI, there are only two ways that a dental practice can increase the amount of production: More visits or more Production Per Visit (PPV). In other words, you can add more patients to your schedule, or you can increase the amount of dentistry you provide to patients already scheduled…or both! But without knowing what your practice is currently doing, it’s hard to know which of these two levers to pull, and in which order.

Devin was able to use the insights provided by DI to see both current and scheduled appointments, so that he and his team could make adjustments to the schedule in order to still reach their goals. For example, Dr. Giron was able to look at his November schedule and see that since he would be going hunting later that month, meaning he wouldn’t be producing during those two weeks, he would need to try and make up for that by increasing the number of visits and the amount of production per visit to his schedule in the weeks before his hunting trip. This insight gave him power to act proactively.

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One of Dr. Giron’s favorite metrics from DI is average Production Per Hour. This is determined by taking the provider’s Gross Production and dividing it by their Clinical Hours (the actual hours they are chair side treating patients). The impact of tracking clinical hours comes in being able to measure the type and amount of dentistry you are providing vs. just keeping track of the total hours a clinician is in the practice.

In other words, even though the doctor might be in the practice from 8am-5pm on a Tuesday, three of his nine hours are spent in meetings, taking lunch, visiting with the office manager, etc. and not in treating patients. Dr. Giron found that tracking production per hour revealed blocks in his schedule he could adjust in order to spend more time caring for patients and less time in other, lower-value activities.

Another area Dr. Giron wanted to improve was his case acceptance, especially his restorative elective acceptance percentage. DI provides several robust measurements for a practice to see both clinical and hygiene acceptance, which has already made an impact on this practice. “I wanted to know what our production per hour was, but I also wanted to know what the treatment acceptance was as well as knowing what percentage of periodontal disease Dental Intelligence was saying my patient population has.”

Getting people back onto the schedule has also been a priority. “I'm always making sure our reappointment rate is getting measured not only for hygiene, but also for any patients,” Dr. Giron said. His team is now using DI to find people with unscheduled treatment, and they are then calling those patients and capturing those calls in the software.

Giron team

They also use DI to run their Morning Huddle, but in a much more effective way. Before working with DI they would just review the daily schedule during their huddle. Now they are using the huddle to find opportunities to schedule or reschedule patients and also to discuss their performance as a team.

What about new patients? Every practice, especially a new one, needs new patients to grow. Dr. Giron’s practice has loved having a way to keep track of the journey of each new patient through the practice and critically, has been able to convert most of those new patients into returning ones. According to Devin, “Our new patient flow was great because we could see how many patients came in, how many patients would be lost due to inactivity or also just then leaving the practice. So, we could kind of figure out why they left the practice."

"Being able to find holes in the schedule and discover opportunities with patients coming in who may have unscheduled treatment has also been a big plus. Trying to find all of this info without Dental Intelligence would be either very difficult if not impossible. Now it’s just a click of a button away.” This new practice now has over 900 active patients – their greatest number of active patients ever. Incredibly, they added 270 new patients in the last year in spite of only beginning to use marketing just four months ago."

Giron 4

Another exciting development for this practice from implementing DI has been the impact doing so has had on their goals. When Dr. Giron’s team hits their goal for each day, they have a bag of chips with different value amounts ($25-$100) which they get to take from the bag 1, 2, 3, or 4 times a week depending the number of days in a row they hit their goal.

At first, they were a little scared when the goals would go up, but now they are encouraging each other and pushing each other. When Dr. Giron started with Productive Dentist Academy his practice was averaging just over $300 per hour in production. Now they are currently at $600 per hour. That’s incredible growth!

“What gets measured gets done,” Devin added. “If you’re not paying attention to the big things, you will probably not be paying attention to the ‘small’ things that can become big things over time. DI lets you see everything at a glance.”

When asked why he would suggest that every dentist should be using DI in their practice, he didn’t hesitate to respond. “Dental Intelligence just allows you to operate much quicker, faster and to be able to adapt. If you're noticing that you’re not going to be productive next week, it allows us to ask, ‘What do we need to do to get patients in?’ It's just more of a real-time pulse of what's really going on in our practice. Numbers don't lie, so you’ve got to pay attention to them.”

Building and Growing a Thriving Dental Practice

"Dental Intelligence lets us ask what we want out of our work. It’s like having an extra employee telling us what we need to pay attention to."

Dental Intelligence

|

September 16, 2021

Metrics & Reporting,Patient Communication,Office Operations

“Transparency, as used in science, engineering, business, the humanities and in other social contexts, is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed. Transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability.” (Wikipedia: Transparency)

Building and sustaining a successful dental practice in 2021 is no easy feat. Costs are up. Competition is fiercer than ever before. Group dentistry, whether of the DSO or corporate variety, is here to stay and rapidly expanding. Hiring, overhead, liability, government regulations, PPE, longer appointments, and many other obstacles stand ready to knock a practice down. Not to mention a global pandemic and all the unique challenges it has created for virtually every dental practice in the world. And yet, remarkably, many dental practices are thriving in this moment of transformation. How is that possible? Meet Q Dental in Champaign, Illinois.

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Alicia P., Office Manager at Q Dental, recalled a period of time after owner Dr. Jung had purchased the practice from its previous owner, Dr. Sensenbrenner, and was focused on retaining as many of Dr. Sensenbrenner’s patients as possible while establishing connections with those patients and the Champaign community. “Dr. Jung spent a lot of time making sure the transition went well and patients felt comfortable with him,” Alicia shared. “He wanted to build on the work Dr. Sensenbrenner had done in the community while also developing his own connections.

After devoting a year or two to this effort, Dr. Jung felt it was time to grow. But in order to do that, we needed help.” It was at this point that Q Dental heard about Dental Intelligence, the leader in cloud-based practice analytics. DI supports over 10,000 U.S.-based practices who use the company’s growth and patient-communication platforms to improve patient care, team collaboration, and practice profitability.

According to Alicia, “We were looking for a solution that would make our practice more transparent. Even though we used a practice management system (PMS) to run things, pulling relevant and actionable data out of our PMS was pretty challenging. As soon as we saw DI’s visual interfaces and how user-friendly it was and that all of the work was already done for us, we knew we needed to make this investment. We can track day-to-day, week-by-week, year-over-year, or any customization we want. It’s so powerful to now see the trends and understand what they mean. This solution has helped to make us much more effective and efficient in our work.”

Has lack of transparency been a challenge for your practice? If so, that’s a common issue. Practice management software is a vital part of the overall function of a dental team, but extracting key performance indicators from your PMS can often be time-consuming and complex. Most make the effort but at some point, determine it’s not worth the struggle. For Q Dental, having a solution like DI to capture, normalize, and display all of their KPIs hasn’t just given them instant access to the things they need to know. It has also enabled them to provide better care to their patients.

Q2

“It was so easy to open DI and see the people we needed to immediately contact, or to quickly see what treatment plans needed follow-up, or who had missed hygiene appointments,” Alicia said. “We didn’t have a single patient fall through the cracks during the pandemic –having DI was like having a full-time employee who worked during the entire shutdown and had everything ready for us when we opened the doors again. All the info we needed was right there — easy to understand and immediately actionable.”

Do you have patients that have fallen through the cracks? Here are some questions that will help you to think about the importance of making sure every patient has a scheduled appointment:

  • How many of your active hygiene patients have a scheduled appointment?
  • Put another way, how many of your active patients are NOT currently scheduled?
  • What is the percentage of your active patients that are scheduling their next appointment before leaving your practice?
  • How many of your active patients have unscheduled treatment?
  • How many of your active patients have family members with unscheduled treatment?

Other important questions could be added to this list, but these should get you started on some important conversations about how your practice is currently handling the scheduling and treatment of your patients. At Q Dental, Alicia shared how Dr. Jung spends significant time with each patient and is conservative in the treatment he presents to them.

This often leads to those patients leaving without scheduling that presented treatment, which is true of most practices. The difference at Q Dental is their use of Follow Ups, which creates a scheduled follow-up for every patient and then notifies an assigned team member when it’s time to contact that patient to discuss scheduling presented treatment. Can you imagine?

“Using Follow Ups allows us to focus on the things that we need to focus on: Running the practice, engaging with patients, managing the collections, and all the many other aspects that are vital to the health of the practice,” Alicia shared. “Before we began using Dental Intelligence, we had to spend that extra time running reports, tracking down patient information only to discover that six weeks ago, a new patient came in but didn't reschedule. Without that data, do you really even know they exist anymore?”

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Please don’t miss the message here. Data is great and being able to really see what is happening in your practice matters. But even more important, data directly impacts the health of each patient. As the saying goes, “the more you know, the more you can do.” This is the true value of using metrics in a dental practice.

When asked what all of this new transparency meant for Q Dental and their patients, Alicia had an instant response. “Creating and, if needed, changing our goals is very easy with DI. We’ve seen an increase of 10% in hygiene reappointment from 70 to 80% because we have a goal that we can see and stay focused on. We’re also seeing success with our front desk and reappointment rate. When we started using this platform, more than half of our active patients (out of 2,000) didn’t have a scheduled appointment. But by focusing on this as a goal, we since have reduced this to around 800 patients.”

Q3

For leaders in a dental practice, having tools that encourage your team to unify around a culture of growth can be invaluable. Here’s how Alicia uses the Morning Huddle to create this culture: “Each morning in our huddle we all look at the same data together. This is so much more effective than one person doing all the talking and everyone else is just sitting there on their phones. We go through the schedule, who has family members needing treatment, who owes a balance, etc. The entire team knows the drill, which makes for a much smoother day. This ensures that our patients don’t fall through the cracks. We also focus during our huddle on these unscheduled active patients to try and get them scheduled, as well as on improving our diagnostic and acceptance treatment percentage.”

Data transparency. Do you have it? Are you able to clearly see and understand the information vital to the efficiency, function, and growth of your dental practice? Every person working in your office deserves to know what is happening and how they are performing. Every patient deserves to receive the quality of care that results from their dentist using meaningful metrics to guide how they offer and provide treatment. For Alicia at Q Dental, adding a solution like DI to their practice changed everything. In her words, “Dental Intelligence is now the core of our practice.”

Q 1

“Dental Intelligence lets us ask what we want out of our work,” Alicia said. “Before we were just maintaining and not growing. With DI we can manage all of that — it’s like having an extra employee telling us what we need to pay attention to. Instead of me needing to hire that person, DI allows me to focus on other important responsibilities I have as the office manager — there’s so much less stress now. We know where we are and understand what we need to do to improve. It’s not enough to see production numbers — we need to know what they mean and what to do to improve them. Dental Intelligence helps us to do this."

"If we want to increase production, they help us to see the path on how to achieve this. It’s so simple to use. You don’t need to be tech-savvy. Anyone can benefit from it. It’s just so easy. It has paid for itself many times over. Even with a shutdown, we still hit our production goal for 2020. DI made it so easy to jump back in and focus on getting every patient we could have in.”

Yes, it is a challenging time to practice dentistry. It’s also an amazing time to practice dentistry. Technology and training and education have never been better. Data has transformed everything from how dentists provide care to how a practice is managed. New tools for patient communication, online scheduling, payments, and so many more are now available. Rather than fearing these changes and the incredible transparency they now offer, embrace the moment and anticipate the growth that you’ll experience. Let these powerful tools help you offer better care for every patient.

Why Office Managers LOVE Data

"Dental Intelligence has paid for itself 10x over. It’s the best dental practice management tool I’ve ever experienced."

Dental Intelligence

|

September 16, 2021

Office Operations,Metrics & Reporting,Patient Communication
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Are you an office manager? Raise your hand if this sounds familiar.

It’s 7:00am. You’ve been in the office for almost an hour. Four voice messages were waiting for you when you walked in the door. Two hygiene cancellations and also a two-hour appointment with the dentist that needs to reschedule. The doctor’s not going to be happy. The fourth message? It was from Amy, your front-desk coordinator. Turns out the cough she had yesterday has gotten worse, and she won’t be in today, which means YOU will now be the front-desk coordinator. Oh boy.

Your huddle starts at 7:30. Everyone will be expecting to see how their schedule looks for the day, if there are any holes, and who they’ll be treating. Each and every day, you print out those schedules and add notes unique to each clinician, which is a ton of work. Not to mention…

  • Managing that huddle, day after day
  • Calling the copier repair company
  • Getting the collections report done for the month
  • Answering 217 phone calls
  • Ordering lunch for the doctor
  • Meeting with the treatment coordinator to discuss goals
  • Figuring out what the smell is in the woman’s bathroom
  • And on…And on…And on…

Being an office manager is one of the most demanding roles in dentistry. High stress. Long hours. Heavy workload. You’re taking care of a hundred different things, often all at the same time. No wonder you sometimes head home with a headache, sore feet, and maybe even a few tears.

This is exactly what Margaret, office manager for Greenwood Dental in American Fork, Utah, was experiencing as she managed this large, well-established family practice. With almost 3,000 active patients, Greenwood Dental has a reputation for friendly, personalized treatment while using many state-of-the-art tools and solutions to provide their patients with the best possible care.

All this being true, Margaret and her team were struggling to overcome several significant hurdles that were keeping them from further growth. Like many practices, they'd hit a wall and couldn’t seem to get over it. Two of their biggest pain points were ones common to every other dental practice: Recall and holes in the schedule created by cancellations & no-shows, and the impact these problems had on their office culture. What they discovered and how they overcame these and other challenges can help your practice as you face and attempt to solve similar obstacles.

“Recall was my worst nightmare”

When asked what her most frustrating day-to-day obstacle was, Margaret didn’t hesitate. “The biggest pain for me was recall. In Dentrix, you have to print out a 100-page report showing all cancellations, after which you then need to review the report, double-checking to see if they are really still current patients. You also have to look for specific things, like how long ago they were diagnosed and how likely they would be to get back on the schedule. You’re also in the dark about whether or not there were any additional undocumented conversations regarding treatment plans, payment, etc.”

Margaret recalled literally going through every single patient on the report, one by one, and deciding whether or not they should be called to try and reschedule. “It was such a pain! I had no way to filter these names by any custom criteria,” she said. The printed report was also out of date after one day, which meant it had to be generated each time she wanted to make more calls. “This wasn’t something you could do in five minutes,” Margaret added. She often ended up feeling like her entire day was wasted just trying to stay on top of recall.

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“The doctors would understandably get frustrated with holes in the schedule and wonder why those weren’t filled,” Margaret continued. “They understood I couldn’t help it when patients cancelled, but I was still held responsible for how I handled those cancellations.” Her response was to keep an active cancellation list and try to get someone on the schedule the moment a time opened, but this was also not optimal.

“I would get the ‘Are you doing recall?’ question at least once a week from the doctors, which I didn’t look forward to,” Margaret said. “I wanted to do my best in my job but doing recall was never my favorite. It also often felt like cold calling, which I certainly didn’t enjoy. I kind of felt like I was stuck. This was just how things had always been done and it didn’t seem like there was ever going to be a better way.”

Another issue for Margaret was trying to get help from her team. This hadn’t been part of the culture of the practice, and she wasn’t clear on how to overcome that. “I worked hard to get the assistants or hygienists to help me with recall because it was so hard to do all by myself,” she said. “I wanted them to share the burden with me whenever possible, but they were just as unhappy doing recall as I was, so I had to continually try and sell them on how important it was for the practice.”

The Impact of Dental Intelligence

After a lot of research to find a solution that would help relieve these problems with recall, Greenwood Dental learned about Dental Intelligence and began implementing their platform. Dental Intelligence is a cloud-based dental practice management solution that helps dental practices use actionable metrics to grow and improve in ways that are important to them. They don’t just provide practices with a lot of statistics and reports, but instead work closely with practice owners and team members to improve patient care, team collaboration, and practice profitability.

According to Margaret, “With Dental Intelligence, it’s been a night and day difference from how it used to be. I excel in customer service. It’s what drives me each day — giving each patient a great experience with our practice. Having DI has made it very easy to keep track of conversations with patients, so I have more connection to them and their situation when I call them back about rescheduling. It no longer feels like I am cold calling them. I know so much more and can have much better conversations with them. I can now be a consultant, talking them through their options and helping them to make a decision. I no longer spend time trying to talk them into treatment.”

Using Follow Ups, Margaret can now quickly enter her patient notes and she then no longer needs to worry about remembering what she discussed with them. “These tools are improving our relationships with our patients,” she said. “Now I’m an advocate for that patient instead of an annoyance to them. Because I know so much more about their situation, I can go to work finding a way to help them get the care they need. I’m still selling, but it’s a very different kind of selling. I still need to talk about implants and cosmetic and all the other things we do, but it’s coming from a very different place than it did before.”

Not only is Dental Intelligence helping Greenwood to relieve the pain of recall, but it’s also positively impacting their schedule. “We’re growing more than we have before,” Margaret shared. “We’re basically scheduled out solid for the next four months. Although we’re still adding new patients, our challenge now is where to fit them on the schedule.” This improvement has helped Greenwood to have new conversations about the growth of the practice and what the next year looks like for them, which is very exciting.

“We’re now filling the schedule in the right way, with the right patients,” Margaret said. “Now we’re talking about things like ‘How are we going to add new families? How can we set aside time for deep cleanings?’ DI is helping us to have new conversations that we couldn’t have before. We love the challenge of trying to juggle the schedule now to take care of all of the patients we have while still bringing in new patients. Dental Intelligence is also helping us to reduce the number of patients that are falling through the cracks. It’s been a game-changer.”

Another one of the most impactful tools for Margaret and her team has been Call Insight. “Before using DI, I would rack my brain when a patient called, trying to remember how many kids they have, if they have unscheduled treatment, and on and on,” she said. “So many things to keep track of! Now, with Patient Card, I just type in the patient’s name and the tool shows me everything I need to know about not just that patient, but anyone associated with that patient."

"For example, when a patient calls, I can immediately see their name and other info I need to see about them. I can also see that one of their children hasn’t had a filling done yet and can ask about that while we’re on the phone. I can also check insurance, outstanding balances, etc. The phone call will probably end up being longer, but it will also be so much more productive and once again, will help us to build that patient relationship.”

“That’s Not My Job”

A second and related challenge Greenwood Dental was trying to improve was their office culture. According to Margaret, “One of the issues we had was the ‘That’s Not My Job’ syndrome, as in, it’s not my job to…answer the phones, take a payment, clean an operatory, etc. We didn’t have an ‘All-hands-on-deck’ mentality. Dental Intelligence has actually helped to change our culture.”

Greenwood Dental is an experienced practice with a lot of veteran team members, so adapting to new systems doesn’t always come easily. However, with the insights from DI they now have into each team member’s performance, everyone is more motivated to improve. Margaret has learned how to take x-rays. Assistants have come up and learned how to take payments when she is on the phone. They know how to check out a patient. Hygienists are now helping assistants whenever possible.

Greenwood also now holds a monthly meeting and uses DI to go over their performance. “This meeting used to be dreaded and very unproductive,” Margaret shared. “No one paid attention. Now we are doing DI training during this meeting and showing everyone what can be done using data. We include a brief training on DI, discussing how you do something, so the team can see what we’re able to do. By discussing this consistently and paying attention to it, I’m having team members come up and ask me how to do something — they are wanting to learn some of our best practices, which is exciting.”

“The Best Dental Practice Management Tool I’ve Ever Experienced”

“I’ve enjoyed my job more in the past year than in any year previous,” Margaret shared. “It’s better than it has ever been before. I feel like I am excelling now and there’s a satisfaction that comes with that. It’s not about raises or bonuses — for me, it’s about the relationships I have with our patients and DI has helped make that more satisfying than in years past. DI has paid for itself 10x over. It’s the best dental practice management tool I’ve ever experienced in over four years in dentistry, and I’ve looked at or used many of them. It has made the biggest difference in our practice.”

Margaret and the team at Greenwood Dental aren’t unique. Like most successful practices, they were providing excellent care to their patients and were plenty busy. But to their credit, Greenwood wasn’t willing to settle for “good enough.” “Measuring and focusing on our key indicators has changed the culture of our entire practice,” Margaret said. “Attitude trickles down. Because I’m not stressed anymore, that impacts the rest of the practice. I’m comfortable with taking the time for an unhurried, pleasant conversation with patients and team members, which helps everyone else. I don’t leave work stressed. I come to work, I enjoy my job, I go home. I’m not sitting at home decompressing anymore — I’m not up during the night, tossing and turning. Even if I walk in the door the next morning and have one or even multiple cancellations, I’m not going to stress about it."

"I now know how to use Dental Intelligence to fill those holes with the right patients. Hygienists can come to visit with us at the front desk without worrying we’ll be in a bad mood. This means they’re happier too. They help more. Dental Intelligence has improved everything in the practice. My only wish is that I could’ve had access to this tool even sooner.”

Reaching Real Growth in Your Dental Practice

If a practice is doing more dentistry, more healthcare is getting done. The two go together. You cannot provide more healthcare without more production.

Dental Intelligence

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November 2, 2021

Production,Metrics & Reporting,Treatment Acceptance

Introducing Growth in Dentistry from Dental Intelligence

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Every company has an origin story, and Dental Intelligence is no exception. From the beginning, DI has had a simple mission: Help dental practices to grow. Growth is what we were founded on, and it continues to drive everything we do.

In conversation with podcast host Katie Poulsen, Weston Lunsford, Dental Intelligence founder and former CEO, shares the story of how Dental Intelligence got started and how the company continues to focus on growth.

 

Weston

Part of our mission statement here is that we truly believe that all people want to experience real growth and meaningful growth and that we have the tools and resources necessary to enable that. 

If we go back to 2004, I started a CPA practice and saw a huge gap of meaningful information that dental practices just did not have access to. A lot of practices were struggling to figure out why they had high production months. I had a conversation with a doctor who told me they had their best month ever and I asked him why that was and what do you think I heard from them?

Total silence! They didn’t know. And that wasn’t unusual. We couldn’t find anyone in the dental industry that was offering this ability to see and understand what was happening in a dental practice. We felt like they needed to know what was and what wasn’t working, and that’s what got us started on this amazing, crazy journey.

Simple Business Principles

It really came down to some simple business principles. We started evaluating the business of dentistry — taking the healthcare aspect out of it and looking at the business side — and of course, I know that healthcare is critically important — I’m not trying to reduce that. But if you evaluate dentistry like a business, then as in all businesses there are only two ways to increase growth (or production). You either get more buyers, or you get the buyers that are buying to buy more — those are the two options.

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So, we started evaluating the industry. We started seeing a lot of leading indicators that balance those two categories that practices were blind to. I remember one of my first meetings with a doctor and asking him how many visits they see on average in a month — he couldn't rattle off that number and that’s an important leading metric. Are we missing our production number because we don't have enough patients in the chair? Or do we not know where we need to be at all? 

Closing the Gap

After discovering this gap and seeing how widespread these issues were, we had a purpose and set out to solve these problems. At first, I was focused on helping the analysts at my CPA firm to solve them but then it started shifting when we began seeing HUGE movements in practices. We started seeing 100% increases in year-over-year growth and an average of 50% growth with the help of our analysts. 

Then we got to a point where these doctors were getting crazy smart with the data that we were giving them and asking us — How can I just get the data? I just want the data and analytics and tools and insight, but I don't feel like I need consulting anymore. That was the beginning point for Dental Intelligence. We became all about equipping practices with the information they need to make really smart decisions and create really meaningful growth. 

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Here’s an important principle I want to emphasize:

If a practice is doing more dentistry, more healthcare is getting done. The two go together. You cannot provide more healthcare without more production.

So, it’s a win-win for patients and doctors alike. In fact, when I talk to team members about improving performance in a practice for a business purpose, I always tie it back to saying that if you're increasing by this percentage on average for your practice that means you're seeing X more patients, and that means obviously that more patients are receiving the treatment they need.

Katie

I love that you mentioned this, because I know sometimes when we start talking about “business” with dentists a red flag goes up in their mind. They worry about being perceived as selfish or too focused on making money.

As a hygienist, this was key for me to buy in to what DI was all about. The data that we offer allows people to see where they’ve been lacking in the diagnosing or the treatment of a patient. That’s a powerful thing to see, and it’s what I really love most about DI.

Growth in Dentistry

Our podcast, as the name itself communicates, is focused on dental practice growth. But that growth looks different for each practice and to each person working in the practice. For someone it might look like more money, for another it might be more family time, and for someone else it might mean expanding to multiple locations and for some people it might just look like getting back into their community. 

What does growth in dentistry look like to you?

This is the question that will end each of our podcasts, and Weston gets to be the first one to answer it.

Weston

I do like how you say it’s different for everyone. It really is. In fact, I was recently speaking at a boutique event put on by Benco and I had a doctor there raise her hand and she asked “What if I don’t want to grow anymore?” I asked what she meant and she said “I don’t want to see any more patients than I’m seeing now. I don’t want to expand operatories. I don’t want to open another office.” And I said “Okay, where do you want to grow?” For her it was about quality of life and time away from work, which is fantastic.

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I met a Dr. Johnson back east in Boston who called me up and he thanked me for what we were able to do for him and his practice. He was an MBA and a brilliant doctor doing very, very well as a single associate practice, meaning he was the only producing doctor and he had a team of 4 hygienists and he was doing almost four million dollars in topline production. He was a GP (general practitioner) - he did some ortho, but mostly general dentistry. He was doing crazy good, but he worked an additional 20 hours every week outside of the chair just to do the business side.

He called me up and said, “I just want to thank you - you saved my marriage.”

I asked him what he meant by that, and he said “Well, you gave me back 20 hours every week to be with my family because you are able to get me all the information I need at my fingertips.” To him, giving time back to his family was how he measured growth.

Katie

That’s super-powerful. It’s this kind of experience that inspired me to ask this question of each of our guests. My father was a dentist. He said he worked Monday through Friday, but he never worked in the mouth on Fridays because that was the day he was working on the business and then, when he finally came home, I saw what it meant to be a dentist. He’d work all day honing his skills and learning it. It wasn't an 8 to 5 job for him.

Weston

It never is, especially for practice owners. And again, I just want to reiterate — it doesn’t matter if you use DI or any other analytics tool for your business. You have to answer the question — What do I want to get out of the information? What do I want to shape for my future and my team’s future? 

But here’s action we want to empower — We see a lot of data and here’s the simple answer to your question - real growth means seeing an overall increase in patients receiving the care they need to get or stay healthy. There’s a lot of data behind that answer, but that’s what I want to see. So, to me, elevating oral healthcare, at least here in the United States where we serve right now, is something our whole team is passionate about. And not just more dentistry, but better dentistry. 

Let me give you an example. On average this last quarter, 62% of all restorative treatment that was diagnosed didn’t get accepted. That means it isn’t scheduled. Some of it will trickle in, but you’ll typically see over 54% of restorative care diagnosed NOT get completed over a 12-month period. That’s a problem. And I really feel like a big part of that is not knowing these numbers. We don’t know this information — we don’t see it. And every doctor and hygienist I talk to are all very passionate about improving oral healthcare. In fact, if hygienists could measure the pocket depth they reduced by footage over the years they’ve been practicing hygiene, that would be incredible!

Using Data to Change Lives

Weston

Something we say often at DI is that we’re changing lives. That’s a bold thing to say, but when you talk to our customers and partners, it’s what they tell us again and again: Our solutions and team members are changing lives.

When I talk to doctors, they all want to improve their case acceptance rate, but they don’t necessarily understand why it’s low, or where it’s low. It might be low because of the handoff, or what we’re saying inside the chair when the doctor leaves the practice. Or it might be low because the doctor needs to improve on some presentation skills, or it might be low because we don’t have good visual aids for patients when it comes to things they can feel but can’t see. 

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So, there are different ways to measure growth, and data can help people get smart about it. That’s one element. The other thing that I see right now in the industry as a part of improving oral health care is the percentage of our active patients that are unscheduled — It's insane. I know you know these numbers, Katie, but we have over 50% of our active patients (patients that have been in in the last 18 months) that aren’t scheduled, and then when we look at the number of inactive patients that are in our database, we have over 130 million in the database, and out of those 130 million 62% of them, as of right now, do not have a future appointment.

There’s a huge opportunity out there. And so, I really want to use information and data to get that proper information into team members’ hands in these practices so that they can do what they’re most passionate about - enabling more and better dentistry. 

Katie

Thank you, Weston! This is a great beginning to our Growth in Dentistry podcast. Please visit your favorite podcast provider and subscribe so you won’t miss a single episode. And also, be sure and share the show with your community — we’re all in this together!

Filling Your Schedule with the Best Patients (Part 1)

What’s one thing that every single dental practice struggles with? Finding, scheduling, and keeping the patients you want in your chairs is a never-ending job.

Dental Intelligence

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November 12, 2021

Scheduling,Team Culture,Office Operations,Production

What’s one thing that every single dental practice struggles with? If you answered, “filling their schedule,” you are the winner! Finding, scheduling, and keeping the patients you want in your chairs is a never-ending job.

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Kelly Schwartz, CEO of Schwartz Consulting Group, about some of the most effective ways a dental practice can fill their schedule with the right kind of patients. Kelly and his team work with over 750 dental practices, providing them with tools and resources to help them grow in the ways that matter most to each practice.

Here’s our recent conversation with Kelly. Our host is Katie Poulsen, Director of Customer Marketing at Dental Intelligence. We were also joined by special guest Curtis Marshall, our Principal Product Manager.

 

Katie

We’re talking about filling schedules this season, and you are very good at filling schedules with the perfect patients, so we’re going to talk about finding the perfect patient for the hole in your schedule. It sounds hard — you just keep making call after call. How does a practice achieve that when the schedule falls apart?

Kelly

I’m a big believer that you begin with the end in mind. So, if you’re a dentist who’s going to do a crown prep, you need to know what that crown should look like at the end of the procedure. You visualize where you want to go and build upon it. To be successful and to fill the practice with the right patients, we want to make sure that you know what your plan is for the day. 

That could be a schedule for the day, or it could be a certain number of patients or production - how do you pick the best patients? So, the first thing I look for is — do we have a goal for the day? Let’s say the goal is 5k in production.

How do we get there? It starts with keeping hygiene full.

By keeping the hygiene department full, that’s where most of the work diagnosed comes from and that can be converted with systems and education into the doctor’s chair.

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But your question is really, “How do we pick the RIGHT patients?” So, when I ask offices what the right patient looks like, they say the patients who have the most dollars of work to do. Which, in theory, is true. But I try to train the team to think of the patients that need the most care. So, if you, Curtis, come in every 6 months for a cleaning, that’s fantastic, but if you don’t need or want work - that’s one thing - but you want an eight o’clock appointment every six months - you don’t do the work you don’t refer the work, you just want eight o’clock so you just want the time not the practice.

Katie, on the other hand, needs treatment. And if she doesn’t get it, she’ll have more issues than you will. So, you want to pick the right patient so what we like to do — we love using Dental Intelligence because it’s the only tool I’m aware of as a coach — but what I like to do is train the team to find the patients that have been in in the last 18 months to find the most care.

Curtis

Just to clarify there Kelly, by care, you mean the most treatment needed, correct?

Kelly

Right, so the patient that needs treatment and goes untreated, they have a greater chance of having a problem and I don’t want that as your Dentist. Or — Katie, who just wants a cleaning and has a twice-a-year coupon from her insurance to come in - so Katie just wants to come in for a cleaning.

What I tell them to do is look at the patients who are overdue and then find the patients with the most treatment needed. Then we prioritize - so one of the things we’ll do is call the first 10 patients who have been in the last 12 months who had the most care, then we’ll call those who were in in the last 6-9 months who had the most care. Then we’ll go to all the patients who need 3k in production or more. Instead of going from top to bottom of list — we go to the patients who have the most care. The reason why is we want them to get in before they have more problems. 

Katie

I love that because it’s not just beneficial for the practice — it’s what’s best for the patient.

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Kelly

Absolutely! If I have five openings and fifty patients and I only have five hours in chair time open, let’s pick the patients we can get in and prevent them from having to spend more money. We want to catch it before it’s a problem.

So that’s where I start — hygiene chairs open.

In dentistry, if you have eight patients per day in a hygienist’s chair, you have 448 teeth to look at, but if you only put seven patients per hygienist per chair, you have 392 to look at, meaning you lose 56 opportunities to find teeth needing treatment. That’s really important. And then you don’t want to have a patient - a practice full of patients who don’t need treatment. Most practices’ goal is to get everyone healthy, right? In dentistry we can’t afford to have that. If we have sixteen hygiene patients who don’t need work, we don’t need assistants. We need a front desk. So, we like to prioritize those patients and have a system in place to get those patients in the chair with the biggest amount of treatment — I’ll call it the low-hanging fruit. So, we want to be productive and keep butts in chairs with patients who need care in our practice.

Curtis

Kelly, this is really cool — to recap here what we need is first you need to know your goal. So a question for you - if my goal is 5k in production — I hope yours isn’t but if it is, and you have many holes in your schedule, is that a perfect day? 5k? If you’re scheduled to it — your goal is 5k per day, and you’re scheduled to goal, but you have holes in the schedule, is that still a perfect day? 

Kelly

I train our front desk teams to have consistent productive days. If our goal is 5k, 6k, 10k — it’s either 1k over or 500 under. I don’t want to put so much pressure on that every minute of every day must be full. We want to be productive and grow. If we hit within that range every day for a month, then the next month might be $5500 a day. We’re making steady progression. We don’t set a goal at the beginning of the year and say that’s it. I’ve seen teams have a 5k or 6k day on the books but who have three openings and spend three or four hours trying to fill an opening in two hours which is not a productive use of time.

I’d rather look to the future to be more productive. Productive is more important than full.

In order to have a perfect day, you truly need to understand — “What’s a perfect day for you?” Ultimately, it’s production — nine out of ten times. So, you need to schedule to your production goal. Once you know what that is, the key is then making sure that you’re able to fill up those appointments with dollars.

If you have these holes in your schedule, then what you’re wanting to do to fill them by getting patients to have treatment already presented and get those patients scheduled rather than getting the Katies who have perfect teeth, right?

Here's where Dental Intelligence becomes so important. I still want Katie to come in for her appointment — that just needs to be part of my overall approach to scheduling. Instead of the old methods of scheduling, we use the tools DI 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 treatment 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, then I’ll use Patient Finder and jump in and pull in patients that - I’ll do a search.

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For example, let’s say I have a 45-minute opening, I’ll look for patients needing fillings that have been in within a certain timeframe. 30, 60, 90 days - they’ve recently been in and are motivated. Maybe they need a crown prep. I’ll pull patients who need crown preps. I’ll use that DI power drill instead of running reports in Dentrix, Eaglesoft, Open Dental, just looking for anybody.

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 particular day — the ones I’m most likely to reach.

One of the problems we have is when you call old school on a Dentrix, Eaglesoft or Open Dental list, and her last name is Adams, and my last name is Zebrowski — all the Adams get called 100 times and we never get to the “Zs”. So, we want to make sure we have a sequence of who to call, when to call, when to leave a message, when to hang up, leave an Online Scheduling link, etc. Use all the tools together. But if you open time on recall, I’m going to my pie chart looking for them. And if I’m looking to fill my doctor’s schedule, I’ll go to my recent restorative elective cases and look for the patients who were just in who need my care. I’m going to look for anybody who has zero % accepted on newly diagnosed treatment and I’m going to follow up with them quickly.

Here’s a question for you, Katie. Do you know the #1 reason that patients leave a practice?

Katie

Leave as in they never come back?

Kelly

Yes. The biggest reason is their perceived lack of caring from the doctor. So, 64% leave because they think you don’t care. Imagine that I, your doctor, told you during your visit three weeks ago that you needed a crown. But for one reason or another, without good systems, I don’t follow up with you for 60 to 90 days. When my team does call you, why am I calling? Because I care or because I want money?

It’s typically the latter - the doctor needs to fill his or her schedule.

But with DI, we set it up so that if you walk out the door without scheduling that crown - within fourteen days you’re being contacted by the office because we now know who the patients are that didn’t get the care they needed. We send them a letter, text, or email as soon as they walk out the door saying “We know you didn’t schedule, and we care, and we’ll contact you soon to get that scheduled.” And so, within three days you get this communication and a photo of your tooth because your dentist really cares. 

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Curtis

I have a friend whose last name starts with “Z” who actually told me he rarely if ever gets called because of that, and he works in marketing!

Kelly

It’s about “power tool” instead of “old school”. It’s 2021! We should have flying cars by now! If you think about day planners and file cabinets and answering machines and pagers, they’re all obsolete, but they’re not that old. Our “why” for doing this - talking to you today on Growth in Dentistry – is because we know that our systems at Schwartz Consulting Group combined with Dental Intelligence equals results.

So, here’s the question - getting butts into the hygiene chair is important. Two of the numbers I find that really give me the pulse on my practices and systems are:

1: Patient Treatment Acceptance - How many schedule after presented?

2: And of those dollars presented, how much is scheduled?

What’s a good number here in your opinion?

Curtis

As a % what’s a good case acceptance?

Over 90 for people saying yes. If I present to 10 people 9 should say yes. 

Kelly

That’s the goal. But what % of the practices do you think are currently performing at that level?

Curtis

Not very many. Based on the data we look at, most are at around 40-50%. 

Kelly

40-50% do treatment - that’s what data shows for the majority of clients, right? And what $ of dollars are scheduling?

Curtis

I believe 30% or maybe even the high 20s. 

 

Want to keep reading? Check out part 2.

Filling Your Schedule with the Best Patients (Part 2)

"Growth to me looks like finding the ideal day. The type of procedures you want on the patients you know with people you enjoy. So, it goes back to something simple - if you come to work every day and enjoy the people you’re working with, that’s growth."

Dental Intelligence

|

November 12, 2021

Production,Scheduling,Team Culture,Office Operations,Treatment Acceptance

(Part 2 of Filling Your Schedule with the Best Patients - Read Part 1 here)

 

Kelly

Okay so look at this - this is what our normal is - with our systems, with your tools of Dental Intelligence. Last year 64% of the dollars scheduled out of 2 million presented 1.3 scheduled. The patients in that same practice — 93% scheduled. So out of 3800 treatment plans, 3600 scheduled for 93% of the patients. This is the elite — it’s not that you can’t do it — you need the systems we’re talking about today. You need the power drill instead of the screwdriver to really make this happen. 

Katie

The one thing that — this is obviously a love letter to DI because we work here and Kelly uses it.

Curtis

And Kelly can use that power drill.

Katie

And obviously there are other ways to achieve this, but one of the things I’ve learned as a hygienist is that there are so many different ways to fill the holes in your chairs — Follow Ups, Patient Finder, restorative elective cases, cancellations, no-show lists. There are so many ways to go about doing it, and based off your goal, it can be achieved.

Kelly

Speaking of follow ups, you know they are follow ups to unscheduled treatment and for filling schedules out of recare, right? I want to make sure the teams are cautious here. If someone no-shows, why would they be on the top of my list to call back? If you don’t give us the courtesy to at least call 24 hours in advance, I don’t see you as a value to the practice. Now on the other side, I like to go to my cancellations.

Curtis

And the reason why is because those cancellations gave you more than 24-hour notice because they knew that they weren’t going to make their appointment?

Kelly

Correct. So, the first thing I do is go into restorative cases, find the patients who — for example — scheduled a crown. I want to get them rescheduled. Or if I want to quick-fill hygiene, I go to the hygiene patients who gave me 2 hours before cancelling, and I’ll call them. I’ll say “Hey, I knew you had to cancel and we appreciate you letting us know. We had a change in our schedule, would you like to come in? We’d appreciate you helping us out.”

I agree with Katie there are many different ways to fill holes in your schedule, but one of the things DI gives us is the ability to choose the best patient so a cancellation is a better patient than a no-show. But at the last minute, if I had a no-show today — someone called this morning and cancelled at 2, I might just call someone who no-showed yesterday and say “Hey Katie, I know you had to cancel yesterday but we had someone cancel today. Would you like to come in today?”

But again, I’m going to call you — not if you just need a cleaning but if you need treatment, right? You don’t have a bad history and one of the things that you can do in Dental Intelligence is I can look and see if you have a history of cancelling or no-showing. So, if you’re a 50/50 chance of showing, I might not even give you the courtesy.

Katie

It’s amazing what data lets us see now.

Kelly

So here’s another tool I like to use — when I’m looking at today in my Dental Intelligence Morning Huddle, I’m looking at the patients who are coming in today to have unscheduled treatment, but I’m looking also at the patients — if I’m a hygienist — I’ve got 9 patients coming in today and none of the first 3 patients need treatment — and none of them have done treatment, none of them have referred friends — I might not be offering them an 8 or 9 o’clock appointment down the road because I have 1000 overdue people who want to see me.

Curtis

WOAHWOAHWOAHWOAHWOAH I’m stopping you — I’m the crossing guard that just walked some kids across the street. I’m gonna say this one more time what I just heard and this is brilliant I’ve really never thought of this — you’re telling me that if a patient doesn’t have a treatment planner vs someone who does have treatment in their treatment planner, you want to schedule the patients with treatment in their treatment planner in the morning and then I’m going to finish the statement because then if they come in the morning we can get them to accept treatment so they can actually do the treatment on the same day — is that why?

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Kelly

What I’m saying is if I have 1000 people overdue, of which, say 100 need treatment, I’d rather give them the first opportunity to come in vs. somebody who takes those preferred morning appointments every 6 months. Same-day treatment is always great — a great way to grow a practice. But if I scheduled you effectively and to goal, you’re going to have very little opportunity — minus a cancellation or no-show — to do same-day treatment. 

So, it comes back to the big question — “What’s my goal?” If I’m a high PPO or maybe a Medicaid/Medicare practice that might be our focus and then we want patients for the reason you mentioned — but if I’m fee for service or traditional insurance, I’ll probably be scheduled to goal.

Curtis

What did you call that, Katie? 

Katie

Exponential growth. And also, it’s just what’s best for the patient — it always comes back to that. 

Kelly

If you could get a patient in today if time allows it — the sooner I can get you in the less chance of you having a dental emergency, right? But if I’m looking at my entire morning and this is a really strong practice but their whole morning is filled with patients who don’t need treatment and so they just keep pre-appointing, that’s a problem, right? 

The other more old-school thing is this — I say — Curtis asks me “Hey Kelly, would you like to schedule your 6-month cleaning?” Old school hygiene — I as a patient say “Well, I don’t know my schedule I’m gonna have to get back to you.” What do you think most hygienists say?

Katie

Most hygienists are trained to say “Let’s just put you on the schedule and then if you need to cancel, just call.”

Kelly

You just gave me permission to cancel! Instead, what I’ll say is “Since you don’t know your schedule, which day of the week is best to reach you? I’ll call you the first week of January, Tuesday, and I’ll make a follow up to call you Tuesday after 2 on your cell,” and then I’ll say “Curtis, I’m going to ask you a favor — When we call you, we’ll send you a link where you can schedule with Online Scheduling. When you schedule will you call me back, so I don’t have to chase you down?”

So, I won’t give you an appointment that I hope you show — creating stress when you cancel, I’m going to create a follow-up closer to the time you’re due and you know your schedule better so you can make an appointment you can commit to.

The old-school mentality is that every patient leaves with an appointment. That’s the way I was taught for many years. And then I hooked up with Dental Intelligence and it’s like I bought a microwave instead of a fire pit, right? I now have a more powerful tool that’s quicker and more effective. So again, I’d rather have people on the schedule. Let’s face it — as long as tomorrow is full, every day, that’s all that matters. People who book 3-5 weeks out is a luxury. But it can also be a curse because if I’m full for three months with people who don’t need work and my new patients can’t get in, that’s an issue. And again, when I go to my Unscheduled Patients pie chart in DI, I see a bunch of people who need treatment and I see a full schedule next week with people who don’t. I'm pulling my hair out, saying “We’ve got the wrong patients, guys!” So again, I want people who need our care, who will show, not people who think they’ll show, and then cancel. 

Curtis, would you rather have a full schedule tomorrow that just made appointments, or a full schedule that you hope will show

Curtis

100% option A!

Kelly

I’d rather know I have three openings this week to fill than three people. I don’t know if they're gonna show until the last minute because Dental Intelligence has given us that tool, that power drill, to find the patients in short notice. 

Katie

As a hygienist I was often double-booked. I had an assistant, right? I worked one day a week. My dad and brother are dentists. And a lot of people, just because of the way it is with family they all wanted to get in and see me. So, my schedule was always full with recare. Doing it the way you’re describing would allow more scaling and root cleaning and for me to do more fun cases!

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Kelly

There’s no one correct way but what I love so much is that with numbers, I can kind of prove my theory. For example — this is an office that has 2600 hours of hygiene. We kept 2344 of them or 0.89 patients per day with one hour prophy. That’s a 90% show rate. So, we’re not scheduling everybody in advance, we’re scheduling the patients that we know will have less cancellation and no-show. When we do it this way there’s less stress on me and the patient because I don't know what I’m doing six months from now on a Tuesday at 2. Sure, make that appointment. And I really don't care if I cancel or no-show. 

But if you have systems to take control — I have numbers to show we have a really good show rate when we make some tweaks with Dental Intelligence — we’re crushing it in most of our offices.

Curtis

So, to your point, to schedule the perfect patient, if I have ten openings in my schedule, I would much rather have nine of those filled with patients who WILL come vs. all 10 filled and have 3-4 break the appointment. I’d much rather know that these people are gonna show up instead of hoping they don’t break.

Kelly

Some of my offices are resistant to change and new tech. Take a board, you have 5 screws in a screwdriver, and you give it to the old school person, and then you give somebody five screws, a board, and a power drill and say “Let’s have a contest to see who can get all five screws in first.” That’s what Dental Intelligence gives us the ability to do. We’re able to become way more productive.

So, these are just a few tools that I use, Curtis, to really help us be more productive. There’s a lot of ways you can do it. We just like to use the power drill vs the old school way. But knowing your recare and recare numbers, those are the real effective things. It’s about retention, case acceptance and effective systems. Know your systems, use all your tools. The other thing - shut the door on patients that have gone 18 months past due. We can bring patients in but we want to shut the back door because retention is really the key.

Katie

This has been amazing. We want to ask all our guests what growth in dentistry looks like to you. We ask that because it means so many different things for everyone. What does it look like to you?

Kelly

Growth to me looks like finding the ideal day. The type of procedures you want on the patients you know with people you enjoy. So, it goes back to something simple - if you come to work every day and enjoy the people you’re working with, that’s growth. Anna and I, our team, we only work with the practices we really like. One of the things we’re trying to help our practices achieve is a “positive 16.” If we want to grow to a certain level - if we want to grow by 16 new patients a month and we’re losing 15, then we need 31, 32 new patients. But we want to see our growth chart go positive by 16, not below that. Net 16 growth. Average practices going up with a single doctor and double hygiene is going up about 200k a year. All but about 5 of our practices out of 100 we monitor had their best year ever last year in spite of COVID. The only ones that did not were the big groups that do 200k plus per month. They had a hard time making up those two-plus months of closure. But they definitely closed the gap. All of them when we look at production per hour had more productive — they just worked less hours. So, growth to me is being happier today than I was yesterday, working on patients, doing what I enjoy do

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.