We’d like to welcome Dr. Osborne as our new Chief Dental Officer (CDO) of FPC. As the CDO Dr. Osborne will provide both strategic and operational advice to executive leadership and owners to help develop new services and refine current service offerings to improve production, profitability and enhance patient care for practices. Dr. Osborne comes to FPC with a wealth of knowledge as a dentist as well as a consultant. Dr. Osborne currently serves on the Expert Review Panel for the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, Smile Source Inc Director of Insurance and Third Parties, as a lecturer for American Sleep Dentistry/Prosomnus/Smile Source Inc./ Dentsply, and as an Independent Reviewer for MedConfirm, MCMC, Genex Services, OccMD (Worker’s Comp and injuries). Dr. Osborne owns and operates Legacy Dental Associates, PC in Frisco, TX and is a current FPC client as well. Thank you for stepping up to fill this role for FPC and all our valued clients Dr. Osborne!
By Kevin Brady
All dentists want a practice with high performance, productivity, and profitability. These three P’s represent the standard by which successful dental practices are measured. There is, however, another “P” that many dentists forget, which is arguably the most important—patients.
Happy patients lead to positive outcomes and accelerate the other Ps. Enhancing customer service and public relations are key to running a thriving dental practice. To accomplish this requires dentists to devote more time to patients and provide them with what they need to complete their treatment recommendations. By incorporating current, proven, safe, and secure technology into the dental practice, staff can focus more on patient care.
Performance indicators Recall is the performance enhancement engine of most dental practices. When patients commit to and show up for regular recall appointments, dentists are able to diagnose potential issues early. These appointments allow time for patients to express their concerns and discuss what needs to be addressed with their teeth. In order to have an effective recall program, the practice needs a good hygiene program to encourage patients to return at six-month intervals. This means the practice has enough staff to see both recall patients and those coming in for more time-consuming dental treatment.
If the one-on-one time with the staff decreases, performance may suffer and patients may become uneasy about accepting recommended treatment that wasn’t effectively explained to them. One way to solve this dilemma is to use a third party partner to assist the staff in various aspects of running the practice.
Claire Ficsor, DDS, owner of Windermere Family Dentistry in Littleton, Colorado, believes that using a third party partner makes her practice better. “It frees up my staff to do what they’re supposed to do and what they’re good at: scheduling, getting patients in for treatment, and focusing on patient care, which is what it really should be about,” said Dr. Ficsor.
Productivity indicators A full patient schedule along with healthy collections is indicative of high productivity. In fact, according to the ADA’s Practical Guide to Expert Business Strategies, “Controlling the schedule requires constant vigilance, commitment, and training. It is the foundation for the success of the entire practice.”1 It takes valuable staff time to maintain this schedule and work with patients and insurance companies to collect payment. When staff are concentrating on reminding patients about appointments, preparing monthly invoices, and communicating with insurance companies, they aren’t focused on patient treatment and business building tasks.
Here are several signs that the practice is busy, but not productive:
- The main objective is to keep the schedule full rather than focused on patient care.
- Both the hygiene and dentist schedules are booked for weeks or even months, forcing patients to wait long periods of time for even routine procedures.
- There is no consistency in the procedure schedule—patients are booked for 30, 60, or even 90 minutes.
- Staff skip lunch breaks to catch up.
- There is low patient retention.
- Revenues are flat.1
Technology can help staff maintain a full patient schedule through automated email, text, mail, and phone call reminders to help patients with their appointments. These software programs also provide practices with crucial statistics, such as appointed and completed versus missed appointments, to increase productivity.
Some dental business partners do more than just furnish the software. They also provide advisors to analyze reports generated by the software and suggest changes to enhance the productivity of the practice. Dr. Ficsor said having these advisors to help her practice made all the difference. “My software company provides a practice advisor that helps my team and me set up and manage these valuable services,” she said.
The time involved to keep up with changing insurance rules and regulations can be overwhelming to an already busy dental staff. One solution is to outsource patient and insurance billing and posting, scanning of explanation of benefits, and collections follow-up to an experienced third party dental business partner who can accurately file insurance claims in a timely manner. When selecting a dental business partner, it’s crucial to ask a lot of questions.
Verify that the partner has experience and is not just an overnight startup with no relationship with insurance companies.
Another productivity indicator is the quantity of patient referrals. Satisfied patients refer others to the practice. Happy patients believe the staff truly cares about their dental care and goes the extra mile explaining treatment options. “It’s always good when a patient comes in and it’s about them,” said Elizabeth Lawrence, office manager at Precision Dental Care in Dry Ridge, Kentucky. “We greet them and tell them, ‘We’re going to help you. We’re going to make you better.’ It’s not all about late payments or past due things.”
Patients appreciate any additional services offered by the dental practice, such as flexible scheduling, financing, automated insurance billing, and e-tools that give them online access to their dental information. Lawrence appreciates that their dental business partner’s program is all inclusive. “It’s got everything in it from accounts receivable to support staff to charting—the list goes on,” she said.
Protecting patients When practices use technology partners to enhance performance, productivity, and profitability, it’s important to make sure to company and the product protect and safeguard patients’ data. In today’s world where data breaches are the norm, patients might be reluctant to use any e-tools or other online services. Alleviate these concerns by ensuring that the dental business partner protects patient data through modern AES encryption and other secure online methods.
Poor performing dental practices experience a myriad of problems. For instance, there may be staff issues that lead to high turnover. High turnover results in reduced efficiencies within the practice since dentists spend more time training new employees and less time with their patients. Patients notice the constant staff changes and increased waiting time.
In order to have a high performing, productive, and profitable dental practice, focus on the fourth “P”—patients. The solution is to work with a strong, experienced, dental business partner who allows dentists and their staff to focus on more productive and goal-oriented tasks when they take care of the business tasks.
References 1. American Dental Association (ADA). The ADA Practical Guide to Expert Business Strategies: Advice from Top Dental Consultants. 2014.
The current health-care landscape is producing a stressful environment for dentists and their staff. Dental professionals find themselves dealing more with regulatory requirements and people-related issues instead of patient treatment plans. What’s the solution? To become more productive and efficient in running the practice. By taking advantage of the various technology support services that help practices run more smoothly, dentists will have more time to practice their craft and spend time with patients.
As any owner of a dental practice knows, there’s a lot more to running the business than treating patients.
Billing patients and insurance companies, handling accounts payable and receivable, and becoming proficient on dental software programs.
All of these duties have a negative impact on both the time dentists are available for their patients, and the profitability of the practice. A viable solution that benefits dentists, staff and patients is outsourcing. Contacting out the busy work dentists and their staff have more time to better serve their patients.
It’s no secret that dentist’s face increasing constraints on their time. First and foremost, a dentist’s role is to be a dentist. This means providing high-quality care for their patients, which entails creating treatment plans and participating in continuing education to keep abreast of the latest innovations in dentistry.
At the same time, dentists need to be the CEOs of their practices. In this capacity, they are tasked with:
- Hiring, training, firing and managing staff
- Marketing the practice
- Understanding insurance changes and HIPAA regulations
- Managing the billing, collections and accounts payable/receivable processes
- Ensuring the office is running smoothly
- Maintaining office technology
- Dealing with economic conditions affecting the bottom-line of the practice
In conversations with dentists, I’ve found business issues are taking up more and more of their time. Dr. William K Rich from Precision Dental Plan in Walton, Kentucky, is one dentist who has seen the business issues grow exponentially.
“Compliance issues are an increasing challenge with credentialing, audits and regulatory issues around HIPAA,” Rich said. “It’s difficult to keep up with the administrative burden.”
To the basic demands of being businesses name producers, dentists have very little time to actively manage the practice. Yet, ignoring the business side of the practice and severely impact the growth of their business.
For example, a dentist may have the best state of the art equipment available, offer a multitude of services, and produce at a higher rate every month. But if the office is only collecting at 60 percent of the revenue associated with this work, the business is not running at its best capacity. The answer lies in establishing and maintaining reliable billing, collections, scheduling and other office systems so that the practice will run efficiently.
Running an efficient dental practice
Typically, the front office personnel are responsible for billing patients and insurance companies, with oversight from the dentist(s) who owns the practice. In addition to determining the correct billing codes for insurance paperwork, as well as the patients’ payment responsibilities, staff are tasked with the printing, folding, stuffing, sealing, stamping and mailing of monthly invoices. They also handle the management of insurance companies explanation of benefits, accounts receivables, collections and scheduling of patients. All of these duties are time-consuming.
Possessing the education, equipment, and knowledge to be a successful dentist is only part of what is required to operate a successful dental practice. Dentists also need to know how to run the business side of the practice. Yet running an effective business practice places additional time demands on dentists and staff, drawing them away from the patient-related tasks. One alternative is to use outsourced partners to take over labor-intensive business functions so that dentists can make their business more successful.
Outsourcing dental business functions
Many dental practices use consultants or outside companies to manage some or all of the day-to-day business aspects of the dental practice. While outsourcing these tasks may be cost effective and economical, the bigger appeals are the time saving features that allow for enhanced business efficiency.
“A lot of dentists come out of school dreaming about doing dentistry and they become disillusioned after a short time learning that not only do they have to do dentistry, they have to run a business,” said Dr. Michael Criscione, owner of Criscione Family Dentistry in Lake Oswego, Oregon. When dentists are overwhelmed with the business aspects of their practices, it’s time to seek help.
Salem, Or. First Pacific Corporation (FPC) announced today that it has expanded its territory to include Georgia in addition to increasing sales personnel in California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.
Founded in 1961, FPC provides a comprehensive set of practice management tools that support both the business and clinical sides of dental practices. This unique suite of services enables dental professionals to focus on performing dentistry and patient care, while achieving practice production and profitability goals.
The long-term value FPC adds to dental practices goes beyond just income. Flexible patient financing provides the financial bridge many patients need to complete recommended treatment today. The suite of services provided by FPC along with its business expertise and financial strength form the foundation to build or enhance a thriving dental practice.
Attention news media: Please contact Samantha Bruce at 503-588-1411 if you have additional questions