Monitor critical systems

June 1, 2004
"That which is not monitored cannot be measured." Thus say all business-management gurus. Running a business is multifaceted, including a dental business.

Cathy Jameson, PhD

"That which is not monitored cannot be measured." Thus say all business-management gurus. Running a business is multifaceted, including a dental business. There are, what I call, "Critical Factors of the Business of Dentistry." These are aspects of your practice where goals are set and systems are put into place that allow you to accomplish those goals.

As you consistently administer your systems and faithfully monitor the success and effectiveness of these systems, you can:

1) Keep on doing the things that are working well.
2) Change the systems that are not working well and not giving you the desired results.

Your practice has approximately 25 major management systems and numerous subsystems that coordinate with them. Each of these systems needs to be set up properly and administered correctly. Set goals in each area and establish monitors so that team members can hold themselves accountable for their work ... and you can hold them accountable as well. The monitors allow you to "diagnose" the health of your practice.

In this column, I will outline 10 of the major areas to be monitored, but please remember, there are 25 different systems that require monitoring.

1) Production: What do you need and want to produce daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly?

2) Collection: Are you collecting 98 percent or more of what you produce?

3) Practice-building: What are you doing to promote your practice and the services you provide? Are the programs working? Are you accomplishing the goals for each practice-building program you launch?

4) New patients: Are you attracting an appropriate number of new patients to keep your practice healthy? How much dentistry is being diagnosed and accepted by each new patient? You will need this data to know how many new patients per month you require.

5) Case acceptance: Are you tracking how much dentistry is being diagnosed and how much is being accepted? Do you have a retention program in place where a treatment coordinator follows up with patients who have not completed treatment?

6) Patient financing: Do you offer patients several payment options? Are you staying out of the banking business? Do you make sure that payment is collected before or by the time treatment is completed? Are you offering financing programs? Are you using them fully?

7) Scheduling: How soon can you schedule a large case? How soon can you schedule a hygiene patient? Do you have plenty of time to provide excellent care? Do you feel rushed? Do you run behind schedule? Does your schedule cause stress for the doctor, team members, or patients?

8) Broken appointments: Are you tracking the number of broken appointments, no-shows, or cancellations? What percentage of these patients are being rescheduled? What percentage of these voids are being filled? How much time is your appointment coordinator spending on filling voids in the schedule? What is not getting done because of the time spent on this?

9) Personnel management: Are you current with your personnel policy manual and benefit package? Do you provide regular, effective performance reviews? Do you have the right number of team members? Are they well-trained in their respective areas? Can they cross over when necessary? Is your team cohesive? Are they goal-oriented? Are they committed to developing the practice? Is your compensation fair? Does conflict on your team cause stress?

10) Hygiene: What percentage of your total production is coming out of the hygiene area? What percentage of your hygiene production is made up of periodontal procedures? What percentage of your active patient family is involved in hygiene?

These 10 critical factors form the foundation of your success. They represent 10 of the essential systems that make up your business. Study these systems. If you have areas that could benefit from improvement, don't wait. Start now to make changes if your monitors indicate your practice will benefit.

Dr. Cathy Jameson is president and CEO of Jameson Management, Inc., an international dental practice-management consulting, lecturing, seminar, and product provider. An accomplished speaker, writer, and workshop leader, Cathy earned a doctorate in organizational psychology, focusing her studies on effective stress-controlled management. Cathy's books, Great Communication = Great Production and Collect What You Produce are top sellers for PennWell Books. You may reach her toll-free at (877) 369-5558, email her at [email protected], or visit her Web site at www.jamesonmanagement.com.

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