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Statistics: Good vs. Bad Habits in Dental Practices

Statistics: Good vs. Bad Habits in Dental Practices

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.

stat chart

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.


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Dental Consultant  WashingtonI'm extremely happy with my decision to utilize Cambridge Dental Consultants. My dental practice consulting has been awesome! I love that I can call or email him whenever and always get a quick response. He even calls and checks in if he hasn't heard from me for a bit. My production increased immediately after the first in-office visit and has continued to climb. The initial investment was recouped in increased production about seven weeks after our first meeting.

My average per day production for the first four months I worked with Cambridge Dental Consultants has been 20-25% higher than the prior two years. In fact, all of the four months have had higher average per day production than ANY month in the two years prior to working with Mike.

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Dr. Shane Blake, DDS, Coudersport, PA

Shane BlakI have owned my dental practice since January 2005.  The practice is a rural solo provider practice.   The practice has always been successful but something was always lacking.   I did not manage the practice by the numbers and its shortfalls were overcome by sheer determination and hard work for both myself and the staff. 

My motivating factors to sign up with Cambridge Dental Consultants in January of 2017 were that I had reached a point in my career where time with my family was worth more to me than the professional fulfillment that dentistry can provide.  The practice was so micromanaged that it required most of my time and I didn’t understand how to motivate both myself and my staff beyond the sheer nose to the grindstone path to success that had guided us the prior 12 years. 

Cambridge Dental Consultants was instrumental in educating each staff member in what expectations are and how performance for each position is measured.   Staff members became more aware of their part in the overall success of the practice and doing their part.  Ultimately this led to a less stressful and more productive average day which decreased management stress and headaches and allowed life to be enjoyed just a little bit more with a little more time. 

We have had many changes in the practice after our initial integration over the last 1 ½ years.  Cambridge Dental Consultants has been helpful in navigating those planned and unplanned changes.  My only regret is I had not use Cambridge''s systems sooner.

Dr. Kristin Rushing, DDS, Nashville, TN

Dental Consultant TennesseeI used Cambridge Dental Consultants as well, it gave me a good foundation for employees to know what was expected of them as well as very detailed job descriptions that could be used to train new employees if I needed to replace a staff member. My dental practice consulting made me more  knowledgeable about what my numbers and percentages should be but also things to look for when they are off.

Everyone is accountable for their numbers and communicate better as a team. We all want to be more productive and time was spent looking into my specific concerns as well as reviewing all facets of the business. Everything was reviewed including input from staff on ways to improve the office. I feel the morale in my office has changed and we are overall headed in a much better direction. As a side note, I've used a different consultants previously and their motto was simply to increase production. Patients felt pressured and we still had communication issues among the staff.

Dr. Andrea Mulholland, DDS, Columbus, OH

Dental Consultant FloridaI have been the owner of a general dental practice for ten years now. I work four days a week and have an associate who is with me for three days.

The practice has always done well but I knew there were many aspects of it that needed improvement but I didn't know how to proceed. I researched several practice management companies but decided to go with a Cambridge Dental Consultants because of their good reputation and because I didn't feel pressured.

Cambridge Dental Consultants worked with me for the past year and a half and he has helped my practice tremendously. He really knows the ins and outs of a practice but I appreciated that he didn't use a cookie-cutter approach. He really treated my practice like the individual practice that it is and I didn't feel pressured to follow any suggestions that I wasn't comfortable with.

I know there are a lot of dental practice consultants out there. I just really feel like Cambridge Dental Consultants is one of the best and was the best for me and my practice..

Dr. Ron McHargue, DDS, Moses Lake, WA

Dental Consultant New York Nassau CountyI was fresh out of school when I bought my practice in 2012. It came riddled with staff issues and I had no knowledge of business. I thought I could handle it and went for a year and a half before really coming to the realization that I was in over my head. I was stressed completely and needed help with staff issues and business advice.

I contacted Cambridge Dental Consultants because of what I read on Dentaltown and because of their fair price and money back guarantee. Our Cambridge Dental Consultant was very helpful in getting me over a couple of big hurdles dealing with staff. I now have a direction and a good plan for tracking numbers and keeping a pulse on my practice. I was hesitant to even hire a consultant, but I am very glad I did and wouldn't hesitate to get Cambridge back and work with them again

Dr. Ed Warr, DMD, Ashland, OR

Dental Consultant  OregonMy experience with Cambridge Dental Consultants has been great. In June of 2014 I was very concerned as my year was down by about 6% from the previous year. I had used dental practice consultants before and hadn't liked any of them. But, I knew I needed help with what I did not know - I went to school to earn a DMD, not an MBA.

After researching several and having several phone conversations regarding their methods, I committed with Dental Consultants.

Their money back guarantee was a nice touch to lower the risk factor for me. So, I finished 2014 up 8% over 2013. In six months, Dental Consultants helped me introduce practices that helped me have a 14% turn around in six months. I whole heartedly recommend Cambridge and their services.

Dr. Jeffrey D. Weaver, DDS, Port Royal, SC

Dental Consultant South CarolinaWe have been using Cambridge Dental Consultants since Dec 2013. We are really just getting started, but so far everything has been great. They really have given us the tools to quickly get our team focussed, and have created systems and measurable statistics for each area. YTD for 2014 compared to 2013, our production is up 12% (over $20,000).

Our office felt "stuck", like we simply did not know what we should be doing to get better. We knew the potential was there, but did not know the next steps to take. What we liked from the start is that Cambridge dental consultant has been in every type of office and seen every type of problem/issue there is. Their ideas are proven and, so far, we have been very happy with the results. Our team is really pleased with the direction we are going.

We built our office in 2007 and, had we known, would have started with a dental practice management consultant much sooner. Good luck with your decision. I think you will be very pleased with Cambridge Dental Consulting.



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