Using practice management reports to be a better business owner

April 10, 2015
Dentists don't want to guess when it comes to making business decisions for their practices. That's why, like many other successful business owners, they rely on the reporting capabilities of their software systems to give them real numbers and data that can help them to gauge the health of their practices. As a technology advisor, I frequently help dentists interpret and prioritize the long list of reports they can generate using their practice management systems. While I am most familiar with Eaglesoft from Patterson Dental, other systems have similar reporting capabilities that can help to answer dentists' questions about what happens in their offices on a daily or weekly basis.

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Jenny Allen

Dentists don't want to guess when it comes to making business decisions for their practices. That's why, like many other successful business owners, they rely on the reporting capabilities of their software systems to give them real numbers and data that can help them to gauge the health of their practices. As a technology advisor, I frequently help dentists interpret and prioritize the long list of reports they can generate using their practice management systems. While I am most familiar with Eaglesoft from Patterson Dental, other systems have similar reporting capabilities that can help to answer dentists' questions about what happens in their offices on a daily or weekly basis.

On a daily basis, I advise practices to review reconciliation and deposit reports, the day sheet (a summary including payments made at the time of service), unassigned credits, appointments not walked out, and postop calls. At least once per week, I recommend reviewing reports on prescriptions, deleted transactions, adjustments by type, delinquent accounts, outstanding claims and preauthorizations, and for multiprovider practices, collection/production summaries and credit distribution audit trails.

These reports are probably already familiar to many practice owners. However, when we start to look into the reporting capabilities of practice management systems that go beyond the basic daily and weekly numbers, I find that many offices are not taking full advantage of all the insights their software can offer. If the only reporting features you use are the "usual suspects" that cover the basic financials, you may suffer from a type of tunnel vision that is causing you to miss out on some important hidden data and potential sources of revenue.

The following is a brief overview of some higher-level reports in Eaglesoft that many practices can benefit from. Unlike daily or weekly reports, the reports highlighted here can be more helpful on a monthly or quarterly basis to shine a light on bigger trends in your practice.

Patient Analysis

This feature gives you insights into your practice that can help you make critical decisions. First, it offers details about how many of your active patients visited the office during the past 12 months and how many have future appointments. This report further categorizes active patients by age, gender, insurance status, and zip code-all of which is helpful for targeting marketing efforts. The Patient Analysis also includes data on how many new patients have been seen each month and year.

I believe the most important asset to any office is its existing patient base, and the Patient Analysis report is crucial to understanding how well you are actually doing with retention. When I show people this report, they become newly aware of the potential already present in their practices.

Moneyfinder

This tool is helpful for finding hidden revenue streams in the practice. Users can query the software for almost any type of service or patient who can give a boost to production. For example, patients who are late on recalls or patients who have had a root canal but not a crown can be found easily with Moneyfinder. The tool gives the front office a targeted list of patients who almost certainly need a procedure completed. Preset categories make it easy to get started, or practices have the option to create customized queries with their own criteria.

SnapShot

This report lets users quickly see accounts receivable information in an easy-to-understand graph format. No complicated querying is necessary; the report is accessible with just one click.

Trends

The Trends report helps practices input goals in several different categories in order to compare their performance with monthly and yearly benchmarks. Say, for example, that your practice does its forecasting in January. During each month throughout the rest of the year, the Trends report can help you see your progress toward each of the goals you set. It's a simple way to track progress and stay on course.

Revenue Opportunities

This report can be used to point users down a path toward other reports that will help increase practice revenue. For example, a preset option such as overdue recalls will show how many patients in the practice meet that criterion. This feature shows you existing opportunities in your practice and leads you to the right report so you can simply review it and follow up.

Digging deeper and involving your team

While these reports are specific to Eaglesoft, I encourage practices that use other systems to look into the systems' advanced reporting capabilities, as they may offer similar insights. Once you've looked into the advanced reporting capabilities you have, I recommend sharing your insights with your entire practice team. Growing the business is everyone's responsibility, so when each staff member knows your current status, the whole team is better able to work toward the practice's overall goals by making greater contributions toward the bottom line.

Jenny Allen is a certified Patterson Technology advisor. She has extensive experience in dental practice management and has been an Eaglesoft trainer for more than six years. As a skilled communicator, Ms. Allen has been lecturing to dental groups and speaking at state dental shows on various topics for the past several years. In addition to her lectures, Ms. Allen also conducts onsite trainings and webinars for Patterson employees and customers.

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