The rules of efficiency

Sept. 1, 2000
The rules of efficiency have not changed in the last 100 years. Dentistry, like other businesses, has a goal of achieving a certain level of quality in the least amount of time. The problem is that, unlike a machine, dentists wear out both physically and mentally. Regardless of one`s physical condition, there is a saturation point where physical and mental fatigue will take an awesome toll on even the finest clinician.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA

The rules of efficiency have not changed in the last 100 years. Dentistry, like other businesses, has a goal of achieving a certain level of quality in the least amount of time. The problem is that, unlike a machine, dentists wear out both physically and mentally. Regardless of one`s physical condition, there is a saturation point where physical and mental fatigue will take an awesome toll on even the finest clinician.

Our healthy economy, technological breakthroughs, and new dental procedures have made dental offices busier than ever. But increased volume does not necessarily translate into higher profits. It creates marginal increases in profitability; however; the volume-to-profit ratio does not always show a corresponding increase.

Step-by-step systems are the key to practice growth

Inefficient systems are the culprit when dentists reach their volume ceiling too early. Dental practices must be designed with excellent step-by-step systems that allow for maximum daily production without a high level of stress.

Stress is one of the first signs that a practice has less than acceptable systems operating within the office. Most dentists own their own practices. This added responsibility further compounds stress. An owner can`t tolerate stress long- term and will sometimes make poor decisions as a result. Some dentists try cutting back on their schedules, increasing the staff, or even adding office space.

The solution is reorganizing the office systems. No one system will make a complete difference for your practice. Relief rests with the successful integration of systems such as: Scheduling (time management, case presentation, selling); hygiene productivity (feeder system for more dentistry to the dentist); and new patients (new customers).

Are your systems the right systems?

Although most dental practices already have some business systems in place, they`re typically not optimized for each specific office. Randomly developed business systems usually hamper a practice and force it to run at least 30 percent below its growth potential.

If your practice`s business systems are incomplete or inefficient, you are losing a lot!

In dentistry, the keys to long-term success, faster staff training, increased profitability, and decreased stress are effective, efficient, well-documented business systems. The best-run practices have the best-run systems.

In assessing the efficiency of your practice, you must look closely at a number of areas that are key to the long-term profitability of your practice.

(1) Overhaul your scheduling system. Ask yourself continuously if you are doing the most productive thing possible while maintaining quality.

(2) Train your hygienists to identify and sell more dentistry. They are highly skilled and educated individuals who can play an important role in increasing doctor production.

(3) Implement a treatment coordinator position. A treatment coordinator can present treatment options, as well as fees, insurance, scheduling, and follow up.

(4) Do not use overhead as your benchmark of productivity. Overhead is a finance issue that does not necessarily indicate whether your practice is running well. We at The Levin Group are seeing more practices with low overhead and low profit. It`s obvious that these dentists are not investing sufficiently in their practice.

The truth is that the average profit per patient is only growing slightly in dentistry. Efficiency is the key to creating outstanding production while maintaining a high level of quality. The key to efficiency is using step-by-step documented systems.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA, president and CEO of The Levin Group and the Levin Advanced Learning Institute, provides worldwide leadership in dental management for general dentists and specialists. Contact The Levin Group at (410) 654-1234.