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Checking your own dental systems can lead to more profits.

Can your current dental practice systems be the key to efficiency and profitability?

Dec. 13, 2023
There are some unique ways to increase practice profitability that you may not have thought of. The surprise is, profits can often be achieved by examining your own systems.

Some steps are obvious when it comes to increasing revenue in a typical dental practice. These include attracting new patients, a productive daily schedule, and performing high-end dentistry. Take this a step further, and you can increase your capacity to produce by adding extra treatment and hygiene rooms (if your space allows), or by adding more providers and staff.

Dental procedures such as orthodontic aligners, endodontics, porcelain veneers, implants, crowns, and bridges can be highly profitable.1 Options include doing the services yourself or hiring associates or specialists. However, there’s a caveat to a positively chargeable service—the price tag doesn’t necessarily mean there will be profit. If a procedure is too time-consuming and has a higher operating cost than the service fee being charged for it, then it can't be considered profitable.

Improving your efficiency by upgrading your workflow system will provide more time to perform more treatments. Workflow improvements can include reducing room setup time, modernizing the sterilization process, or decreasing chair time of dental procedures through training, newer materials, and technology. A benchmark growth of 15% is the goal for most practices.

All these actions sound great on paper, but how do you break it all down to understand what you’re doing now and how each issue can become a profitable, actionable opportunity? You can produce reports on your dental software that give you statistics, but what do you do with that information? Innovation comes from looking within your practice and, with the correct information, identifying areas for improvement.

You might also be interested in: 6 dental practice KPIs to measure success and streamline systems

KPIs to increase practice revenue

The partial list includes indicators of practice health to think about before making financial changes to increase revenue. Some of these are:

  1. Identify your business hours for each provider versus net collections for each provider.
  2. Identify the strengths of each provider and the resources available to them (the types of procedures they’re skilled to deliver).
  3. Identify procedure utilization rate by each provider (provider by code analysis) and production by provider reports (compare benchmark standards). Example for provider 1 from January 1, 2023, to July 1, 2023: D0150: 25; D0210: 10; D0330: 0. A question would be why 25 new-patient evaluations were reported and only 10 intraoral radiograph sets, and yet no panoramic radiographic images were taken.
  4. Identify the last time the office raised fees. Be careful; offices must identify where the office fees (standard or regular) are on the national average scale. The ADA recently polled dentists about raising fees in 2023.2
  5. Identify which fees should be raised, how much, and how often.3
  6. Identify the proper CDT codes for the procedures to create legal documentation and use codes and combinations of codes properly for better reimbursement from insurance payers.4 Note: if you're not maintaining a balanced fee schedule, implementing up-to-date clinical procedure protocols, and using the latest insurance code set, it could cost you tens of thousands of dollars in unrealized yearly profit.
  7. Identify dental insurance net production versus net collections.
  8. Identify and standardize clinical documentation that supports each provider for uniform excellence.
  9. Identify the number of active patients: adults and children (under age 18) and the number of new and reactivated new patients. Review your utilization reports to determine if you’re on track with norms for your patient growth. Are you losing more patients than you’re gaining?
  10. Identify hygiene production statistics by code analysis and give recommendations to improve the numbers, such as gingivitis and periodontal procedures related to patient demographics. For instance, adults older than 35 have a higher rate of periodontal disease than younger people.

Find answers in your practice systems

When calculating the effects of each system on revenue enhancement, there is much more to this than just adding more providers and hours to your schedule.5 The answer to increasing revenue is not necessarily working harder, increasing your patient base, or spending more on treatment rooms, technology, and staffing.

Instead, answers may be within your current practice systems. Before adding more to overhead expenses, investigate the everyday use of providers, teams, and resources, such as insurance coding for maximum reimbursement. Monitor hygiene department production for periodontal disease assessment and protocols. Analyzing new-patient marketing and retention is imperative to practice growth.

Running the numbers and making change can be a DIY project, or you can turn to experts with vast knowledge who can retrieve the information quickly and are able to do the deep dive that you don't have the time or expertise to accomplish. These sources include Jarvis Analytics, Practice Booster, and the American Dental Association.


James DiMarino, DMD, MSEd, CDC, researched and implemented advanced dental technologies as a Dentrix and Schick trainer. He is a patented inventor, educator, publisher, and lecturer. Dr. DiMarino worked for the insurance industry as a dental consultant, a state dental director, and a national dental insurance director. In 2018, he completed the certification requirements to become an AADC certified dental consultant. Contact him at [email protected].


Editor's note: This article appeared in the November 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here. 


References

  1. Nadaud MJ. Key performance indicators. Dental Economics. March 1, 2019. https://www.dentaleconomics.com/practice/article/16386298/key-performance-indicators-for-dental-practices-management-by-statistics
  2. Burger D. HPI poll: Dentists plan to raise fees in 2023. American Dental Association. February 6, 2023. https://adanews.ada.org/ada-news/2023/february/nearly-three-out-of-four-dentists-plan-to-raise-their-fees-in-2023/
  3. How to raise dental practice fees and keep your patients. Henry Schein. 2022. https://dentalpracticetransitions.henryschein.com/raise-dental-practice-fees/
  4. Odle S. How proper dental coding affects your bottom line. Practice Booster. Updated June 2023. https://www.practicebooster.com/blog-article.asp?id=65543
  5. Blair C. Revenue enhancement services. Practice Booster. 2023. https://www.practicebooster.com/revenue-enhancement.asp
About the Author

James DiMarino, DMD, MSEd, CDC

James DiMarino, DMD, MSEd, CDC, researched and implemented advanced dental technologies as a Dentrix and Schick trainer. He is a patented inventor, educator, publisher, and lecturer. Dr. DiMarino worked for the insurance industry as a dental consultant, a state dental director, and a national dental insurance director. In 2018, he completed the certification requirements to become an AADC certified dental consultant. Contact him at [email protected].

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