How important are business systems?

Oct. 1, 2003
Dental practices are capable of continued growth irrespective of their current level of performance. In most cases, growth requires the development and implementation of effective business systems.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA

Dental practices are capable of continued growth irrespective of their current level of performance. In most cases, growth requires the development and implementation of effective business systems. These step-by-step operating procedures ensure that the practice consistently meets its goals while providing exceptional patient care and customer service.

Case study

A general practitioner with an annual production of $850,000 enrolled in our management-consulting program. This solo practice was 22 years old, had a staff of nine, and a four-day workweek. The dentist was relatively happy in practice; however, he complained of an overwhelming level of stress. The dentist's key objective was to reduce daily stress without jeopardizing practice profitability levels.

The preliminary assessment indicated that the practice had significantly outgrown its basic operating systems and was stretched to meet its production level. As practices mature, they simply outgrow their operational methods. Streamlining operations through better systems ultimately results in decreased stress. The majority of practice stress is not due to patient care issues, but rather to inefficiencies and bottlenecks in business systems. New systems are required to achieve continuous excellent performance.


Levin Group designed the following approach to reduce stress in the practice, yet maintain growth:

• Scheduling goals were put into place and communicated to the entire team. The new annual production goal was set at $1,000,000.

• A new scheduling template was designed to allow the practice to reach its production goals consistently with a 5 percent margin of variation. The schedule was structured to eliminate huge daily variations and to ensure a steady and predictable pace of production.

• The schedule permitted only certain services at specified times to ensure maximum efficiency. The new schedule was designed to allow for a good service mix and sufficient treatment acceptance to keep the schedule full. More complicated and higher production services were performed in the morning with a goal of completing 65 to 70 percent of daily production in the morning.

• The dental hygienists were trained to identify new treatments and services, including full-mouth series every three years, adult fluoride treatments, oral cancer screening, and periodontal initial therapy incorporating the use of oral antibiotic therapy. The hygiene department also added ancillary services such as dental sealants, dispensing of powered toothbrushes, and the introduction of whitening services. The hygienists were also trained to identify and discuss restorative treatment needs with patients. This led to an immediate rise in a wide scope of services such as cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, and occlusal appliance fabrication.

• The dentist and team went through extensive case presentation and communication skills training. Scripts were put into place covering all routine patient conversations and case presentations. In addition, a step-by-step process for presenting treatment to patients was designed and implemented.

• The financial coordinator was trained on the four financial options recommended by Levin Group. These include 5 percent cash upfront discount, credit cards, half payments before the case begins and half before the final appointment, and patient financing. The practice enrolled in a CareCredit patient financing program, allowing them to extend comfortable payment options to all patients. In the first 12 months, this practice was able to provide approximately $60,000 worth of dentistry using outside patient financing.

• Customer service surveys were put in place and results were used to enhance quality.

In 12 months, this practice grew by approximately $220,000 while significantly relieving stress. According to the dentist, "I'm working easier than ever before while producing the highest gross revenue that I have ever produced. At this pace I could practice forever." Success hinged on this practice not simply tweaking its systems, but thoroughly redesigning them.

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. Dr. Levin has authored more than 2,500 articles and 48 books on practice management. Contact the Levin Group at (888) 973-0000 or at www.levin

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