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Dental Consultant Tips: Stat Management
Statistics measure habits, good or bad. They’re like gauges on your car's dashboard. They can tell you and your staff in an unbiased way what's going on in a specific area of the practice.
If a statistic is trending down, then it’s likely that something changed, which means you need to figure out what changed and get it reverted back.
This typically happens when someone changes things because they’re new to a position.
As an example, you may notice that the new patient statistic is trending down, and you learn that the new employee who is overseeing your internal marketing is no longer handing out referral cards. Obviously you want to make sure that referral cards are still being handed out if this was a part of your successful marketing actions.
In this example, you have one employee who is responsible for the statistic of new patients. This is where accountability comes in. You know that the most successful step is handing out referral cards. So you’ve set a quota for the number of cards handed out on a daily and weekly basis. (Note: the morning huddle is a perfect to time to review the statistics for the week and month and to assign daily or weekly quotas.) On the other hand, if something is doing well, the old saying, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” applies.
Statistics for employees
I used to recommend assigning lots of different statistics to all employees. I no longer do this as it is actually counterproductive. Some statistics make sense to assign to a specific employee, but not all of them. Dental assistants are good example of this. I used to have a very complicated point system that I used for dental assistants. It was actually useless. The only statistic that makes sense for assistants is the production that comes from the provider being assisted. So you can't be rote with statistics. Each practice is different. How statistics should be set up in an office vary.
Big vs. small statistics
The real secret of stat management is to concentrate on actions that can be directly controlled by an individual employee. This is opposed to the "bigger" numbers that should be monitored but are the end result of the "smaller" numbers, i.e., production, collections, and new patients. This may sound a bit complex but it is actually quite simple, and it’s a thousand times more effective than placing to much of your staff’s attention on the end result numbers (production, collections, and new patients).
Here’s an example of a big stat: Number of reactivated patients
To only concentrate on the big stat of number of reactivated patients is nearly useless. It is much better to concentrate on the small stats that will result in reactivated patients.
Here are examples of small stats:
1. Number of reactivation calls made
2. Number of inactive patients actually spoken to
3. Number of reactivation appointments made
The above "small" stats can be given daily or weekly quotas. When figuring out what small stats to monitor, work backwards from the big stat. You then set daily-weekly-monthly quotas, depending on how tightly you want to manage your staff and practice.
Examples of daily quotas:
Reactivation calls made: 10
Inactive patients actually spoken to: 5
Reactivation appointments made: 3
Reactivated patients: 1
Another example is to monitor dollar value of treatment presented vs. dollar value of treatment accepted. If you know that your treatment accepted generally runs around 80%, you’ll know right away that you need to correct something if you see the percentage trending down.
By jumping on a downturn early in a month you can actually prevent production from going down or turning into a longer downturn. Here are some key statistics I suggest be monitored: doctor production, hygiene production; total collections; number of active patients; number of reactivated patients; number of patients seen in hygiene; number of unproductive hours in hygiene; treatment presented vs. accepted; and number of new patients.
Using stats to correct staff
As I said, you can’t be rote with stats. As an example, if the number of calls being made for reactivation is trending up but the number of patients being reactivated is trending down, then you know that either the person is falsely reporting the number of calls made, or the person needs more training and drilling on their phone skills.
Red line graph
The pièce de résistance is the use of a red line graph. It is one of the most effective and easy-to-use management tools you'll ever come across. The red line graph visually displays the monthly target and how you’re doing every day for any stat you want to track. The red line graph is one of our most important statistic management systems, and all you need is a piece of graph paper.
So remember that statistics measure habits, good or bad; don’t be rote when using stats; concentrate on the small stats that lead to the big stats; use stats to detect employees or areas of your practice that need correction, and use stats to set quotas and goals.
Kevin Tighe, Cambridge Dental Consultants, Senior Consultant, got bitten hard by the business and marketing bug during long summer days working at his dad's Madison Avenue ad agency. After joining Cambridge as a speaker in the mid-1990s, Kevin went on to become Cambridge’s senior consultant and eventually CEO. Cambridge Dental Consultants is a full-service dental practice management company offering customized dental office manuals. Frustrated? High overhead? Schedule a chat with Kevin at
What Does A Dental Consultant Do? Charge?
Many dentists will tell you dental consulting works. If dental practice management firms had no worth or benefit they could not stand up to harsh economic realities for long. What a veteran dental consultant brings to the table are systems and protocols successfully implemented in other practices that have been improved and tweaked over many years. Top dental consultants talk and network with each other. They pay attention to what works and what doesn't work across all dental practices.
Marketing & New Patients
Practice management consultants generally have little marketing training or background.
Note: Cambridge'a consultants are Certified SEO and Ad Words Specialists
Dental Office Systems
Key systems dental consultants implement:
- New Patient Phone Call
- Insurance Processing
- New Patient Experience and Patient Education
- Financial Arrangements
- Unscheduled Treatment Followup
- Stat Monitoring
- Daily and Weekly Checklists
- General Policy Manual
You will not get much ROI from your dental consulting if your staff do not have your back. You do not beed a team of cheer leaders jumping up and down with enthusiasm, but you do need staff who are smart and take some pride and ownership in what they do. If there is more than the usual drama in your practice that needs to be sorted out before you will get any real results.
What gets monitored gets done.
The "big" obvious numbers are important to monitor, but when you look at them they are typically already "in the books". You want your team to concentrate and be accountable daily on the "small" stats that bring about the "big" stats. How many practice owners know how many calls were made to unscheduled patients each day or overdue re-care or inactive patients? Many dentists vastly underestimate how much daily "outflow" is needed to keep a schedule full. How may dentists know what % of slots were open in their hygiene schedule each day? How many know how many NP calls there were yesterday, who scheduled and if they end up showing up? More importantly how many staff know considering it's their job to do?
The only way to monitor what gets done is with daily stats especially for your weak areas. For example, one employee should be specifically responsible for calls to patients who are unscheduled, overdue re-care or need reactivation. Other staff can and should help in coordination with the accountable employee, but that employee accountable reports daily on a spreadsheet like this: 1. # of calls or personal texts sent 2. # of contact
3. # of appointments with name and date 4. # of arrivals
It is the employee who is either making themselves valuable to you or not. If they are doing so, dismissing them will never enter your mind. On the other hand, if they are not making themselves valuable, you will be doing them and yourself a favor by giving them the opportunity to find a practice or other employment that is a better fit for them.
What most practice owners are missing is not how to book an appointment but how to be effective leaders. The best systems in the world are useless if the staff do not comply. Good leaders know how to get staff to willingly follow through and comply. Agreement among all team members is key. Your written office policies should contain those agreements and should answer most questions staff come up with. Doing so will save you much time and simplify the management of your practice. Staff non compliance is a sure sign of poor leadership. The primary reason practices underperform is staff non compliance. Key traits of leaders. All it takes is discipline:
- Always keep a cool head especially when "under fire"
- Realize that all mistakes are an opportunity for you and your staff to learn.
- Set a good example.
- Always be learning.
- Take care of yourself.
- Fight the impulse to address multiple issue at the same time. Frantic activity creates spotty results.
$35.000.00 is the average fee for a one year program with dental practice management companies you are likely familiar with. For those companies that require you and your staff to travel to their facility or seminar you also need to add in the cost of travel, staff pay and lost production from time away from your practice.
Questions You Should Ask
- Do you and/or your staff have to travel or does the consultant come to you?
- Is the program mostly one on one consulting versus seminars or courses with multiple clients in attendance? There are advantages to both.
- If the dental consulting is one on one who will actually deliver the consulting? I recommend knowing who your specific dental consultant will be prior to signing on the dotted line.
- Is program based on a specific dental practice management system? You want to avoid cookie-cutter programs. Ensure the program will be tailor-made to fit your practice's specific needs.
- The cost (including travel expenses and downtime) is certainly not the only factor, everything else being equal, it is still a major factor to consider. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little.
If you do a little homework it should be fairly easy to pick a reputable consultant that is a good fit for you and your practice.