Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA
Levin Group has identified that the approximate breakdown for doctor production is 40 percent from new patients, 50 percent from hygiene patients, and 10 percent from emergencies. This model is applicable to general practice at all levels of production.
Increasing production in any of these categories will have a significant impact on practice performance. One category that is usually far below its potential is that of the new patient. New patients are critical to practice growth not only because they contribute to total production and profit, but because they replace patients who become inactive for any reason.
Increasing new-patient production — a case study
A Levin Group consulting client presented with the following practice statistics:
o Gross revenue: $575,000
o Overhead: 67 percent
o Five staff members including one hygienist
o Four treatment chairs
o Four-day work week
This dentist's chief compliant was, "I cannot seem to get the practice over the current production ceiling. We have been flat for three years."
Comprehensive review of practice statistics showed that the practice had not been flat, but actually experienced a 1.3 percent decline over the past 36 months. It was clear that the doctor did not know how to move the practice forward. Findings included:
1) The doctor had attended several advanced clinical courses in cosmetic dentistry. He had a strong desire to increase the amount of cosmetic dentistry performed at the practice, but was facing low case-acceptance rates.
2) The staff had below-average verbal skills. This had a measurably negative impact on practice performance due to weak patient communication, education, and motivation.
3) The average new-patient production had not increased in the last three years. This meant that this variable was not contributing to increasing total practice production.
4) New patients were first appointed with the hygienist.
5) The practice average was 37 new patients per month.
An analysis of the above findings indicated that the practice had significant potential to grow. Levin Group compared this practice performance to its standard comparative model and demonstrated that it was at least 50 percent below the average new-patient production potential. This meant, in essence, that the practice was working much harder and seeing more patients to produce less than is achievable with solid management systems.
Levin Group solutions
1) Levin Group put in place all of the standard practice systems, streamlining operations and ensuring the best efficiency and effectiveness.
2) The dental team was extensively trained on using effective patient-communication scripts in all operational areas. The team's verbal skills improved dramatically, resulting in significantly higher average new-patient production and increased case acceptance.
3) All new patients were scheduled within 7 to 10 days, taking advantage of patient motivation once an appointment had been made. Studies now indicate that the longer it takes to schedule a new patient, the lower the case-acceptance rate will be.
4) New patients over age 25 were scheduled with the doctor first. A comprehensive new-patient diagnosis and treatment-planning system with a step-by-step checklist was developed and implemented by the dentist. It included the standard comprehensive exam as well as a cosmetic, occlusal, and, when indicated, implant examination.
5) A comprehensive patient-education program was implemented. In instances when expensive treatment was required, the dentist invited the new patient back for a formal case presentation. A two-appointment process for larger cases increases case acceptance dramatically. Be sure to invite key decision makers.
Within 12 months, this practice was able to grow total production to $776,000 — a 35 percent increase achieved by implementing the solutions described above. The team became extremely adept at patient education and communication while providing excellent customer service.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA, is founder and CEO of Levin Group, Inc., the leading dental management consulting firm specializing in implementing documented business systems into dental practices. Levin Group is dedicated to improving the lives of dentists through proven dental practice management and marketing consulting programs that help practices reach higher levels of success and profitability. Levin Group can be contacted at (888) 973-0000 or at www.levingroup.com.