The managing of your own dental practice means much, much more than ensuring that your patients receive quality oral health care. To provide the very best in care you need to optimize the business side of the practice and ensure that it’s operating as smoothly and efficiently as possible. That’s easier said than done, of course, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t begin taking steps to do exactly that even if nothing more than getting you a bit closer your ultimate goals.
To help you focus, the following few simple examples might help you improve your practice. Try them out if you think they’ll help you bring your practice more efficiency, patients and maybe a little extra money.
Focus on your patients
It seems simple right, but you’d be surprised how many providers spend time on non-revenue generating activities. Achieving your financial goals is an obvious need for your practice so the most likely step toward this goal is spending the most time with patients as possible. So much time, in fact, that it should take up nearly all the hours you have in a week. Some suggest that each dentist in practice spend at least 37 hours a week on direct patient care (or about 93 percent of your time). How does your patient-facing time stack up?
Improve patient flow with an efficient schedule
Using a comprehensive and flexible scheduling system can help you move as many patients through your practice as possible and that can help you meet your patient face-to-face goals. Additionally, utilize the scheduling system to make sure you have no gaps and to measure user traffic through the practice. Automate the process for reminders which can increase your productivity and daily patient flow. Active management of the schedule should translate into more income and possibly some new patients.
Send out customer service questionnaires
While you might be fearful of online review portals, in today’s world of online everything, you need to at least have a published profile on a site like Yelp. If you don’t already, create a profile there now and follow this up by encouraging your long-term patients to recommend your services. Securing positive online reviews can serve as a tool to help you recruit new patients. These reviews can help you open a dialogue between your practice and patients and maintain patient flow.
Understand the competition
Dental practice competition grows daily so standing out from others in the community can be a challenge. Staying vigilant requires keeping up to date on what other dental practices are doing throughout your service area. If you are providing a service or feature that is superior to your competition, emphasize it on social platforms, in your marketing channels and on your website. Such differentiators may include your practice’s minimal wait times, a stellar list of accepted insurance payer relationships or low-cost care options. Even community based efforts, partnerships or sponsorships can be ways to help promote your practice and services or differentiate yourself from your competition.
Organize for efficiency
Organization is optimization. There’s no need for clutter or congestion inside the walls of a well-oiled dental office machine. From parking to checking in for an appointment, every process during the visit must move seamlessly to encourage patients to return. Workflows can enable optimal patient flow. Some ways to achieve this include: keeping the reception area free from clutter so patients can complete paperwork at the counter; keeping exam rooms close to the waiting area to reduce migration time and maximize patient-facing time; organizing the office like a highway for quick flow so there’s no need to retrace their steps; and keeping rooms available in case there is a surge of patients in one day.
Of course, this list is just a small example of things you can do to improve practice processes, and while these tips may only be scratching the surface, they may help your practice differentiate from others and can have a dramatic impact on the future of your practice.