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By Choice Dental Solutions, Jul 5 2018 01:00PM

If you’re a dentist, there’s a good chance you read articles all day long proclaiming that active dental patient count is the single most important statistic that indicates the success of a practice. However, is that really the case? Here’s what you need to know about active dental patient count and what it can mean for a practice.

What Is Active Dental Patient Count?

The active patient count is the total number of patients you saw in your dental practice over a set time period. Depending on your practice, the time period might slightly vary, but it’s generally 1-2 years. This patient count includes any patient seen for any reason, not just people seen for cleanings or fillings. This number is a baseline for the health of your practice, financial success, future success and staffing needs.

If you purchase a practice, you are also purchasing the active dental patient count and the opportunity to retain those patients. A patient base can take 7-15 years to build, on average, so purchasing that base is a serious value to you.

Calculating Patient Count

There are three simple ways to calculate this number:

1. Using practice management software

2. Physically counting the charts of patients you have seen within the specified time period

3. Conducting a partial chart audit and use the sample to estimate the total number of charts

The Role of Active Dental Patient Count in a Practice Purchase

The active patient count represents an instant and ongoing cash flow coming into the practice. The dollar value that is assigned to all of the active patients is called goodwill, and it’s typically one year’s adjusted net practice income. This can be worth far more than just the dollar value since these patients will return to your practice and immediately give you a base to start from.

The Role of Active Dental Patient Count in Practice Management

The active patient count is one way to calculate the potential of a practice. For example, an active patient base of 1,000 patients spending $450 a year would gross receipts of $450,000. The normal attrition rate is about 17%, as patients move, pass away and insurance changes. Active patient count also allows you to see what staffing needs are. Most hygienists can see 10 patients in a day. If you have far more patients who need to be seen than hygienists, you should hire additional staff.

Monitor Your Active Patient Count with Choice Dental Solutions

Are you looking to expand your practice? Give Choice Dental Solutions a call at (410)773-4460.

By Choice Dental Solutions, Jun 20 2018 01:00PM

As patients struggle under the weight of steep healthcare costs, it’s important for every dentist to understand the importance of maximizing time-of-service collections. While it is not always fun or simple, every successful healthcare practice makes a real effort to collect copays, coinsurance, deductibles and uncovered service costs before the patient ever leaves the office. How can you take your practice to the next level and increase your time-of-service collections?

Create the Expectation

Most patients do not have enough in their checking account to cover a root canal, let alone the steep price that comes with a dental implant. Creating the expectation of paying when the service is performed will change the conversation with your patients. Inform your patients in the office, when they arrive for the appointment and via letter when the policy changes. How much do patients need to pay when they have at time-of-service? When do they need to submit insurance information? Making things clear will ease awkward conversations with patients and increase the chance of success for your time-of-service collections.

Move Revenue Cycle Management from the Backend to the Reception Desk

Revenue cycle management can be complicated and fraught with miscommunication between the frontend and backend. It’s hard to emphasize the importance of payment at time-of-service to patients when employees don’t understand what role they play in the grand scheme of things. Train your reception desk employees on what information is needed from patients and why it matters. If they don’t know why a copy of the insurance card is important, explaining it to them will increase the chances of it being performed every time.

Add More Payment Options

Today’s patients have more ways of paying than ever before, and increasing your percentage of time-of-service collections means increasing your number of accepted payment methods. Credit cards and smartphone apps are more common than cash and checks, and practices should take note. Allow patients to pay bills online, not just over the phone or via mail. A recent survey found that 70% of patients want to use an electronic payment method, like eCheck or credit card. A whopping 64% wanted to use either Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Android Pay. One of the main draws of many urgent care facilities is their ability to accept many payment methods.

Make Prices Clear

Price transparency is a real problem in healthcare. Take a lesson from retail and don’t be afraid to tell patients upfront how much their services are going to cost. This will take training in most offices, but patients appreciate knowing what to expect. This also helps to stop sticker shock at check-out when a patient sees exactly how much their deep cleaning or filling costs.

Increase Time-of-Service Collections at Your New Practice with Choice Dental Solutions

Are you looking to expand your practice? Give Choice Dental Solutions a call at (410)773-4460.

By Choice Dental Solutions, Jun 6 2018 01:00PM

One of the hardest parts of working in the medical field is having to be the bearer of bad news. From root canals to extractions, dentists have plenty of bad news that they need to deliver to patients on a regular basis. While it might never be easy for you, there are many ways that you make it easier. Here are our best tips for softening the blow and delivering bad news to your patients.

Acknowledge That You Will Feel Bad

One of the many reasons why doctors and dentists go into medicine is to make patients feel better. However, delivering unfortunate news is the opposite of that. Regardless of how a patient feels before hearing something bad, go into the situation knowing that the news you are going to give will make them feel worse. Trying to make patients feel better about bad news is counterproductive and can actually damage the doctor-patient relationship.

Give Context

Just like you prepare yourself for delivering a diagnosis, give your patients time to prepare as well. Even a few seconds of preparation can help to ease the pain of hearing something negative, even if it is only a little bit. Don’t overdo it and ask a patient to sit down, but don’t be afraid to tell a patient to brace themselves.

Be Clear and Unequivocal

Don’t say, “There’s a small spot on your tooth I’m concerned about” if a patient needs an extraction. Instead say, “We need to extract this tooth.” Softening the blow with technical terms or by minimizing the bad news won’t do any good. In the best cases, it will delay the patient from understanding what has occurred. In the worst cases, it gives patients skepticism about the severity of their diagnosis and encourages denial.

Allow Time for Processing

It’s tempting to launch into a 20-minute-long explanation of what a diagnosis means and what the treatment plan should be, but when you deliver shocking news, a patient will probably not be listening to anything else you say for at least a few minutes. Allow your patients time to process the diagnosis before you lay out the treatment plan and logic behind the procedure you are recommending.

Never Allow a Patient to Feel Hopeless

In dentistry, sometimes things feel hopeless. Suggesting multiple fillings on a pediatric patient is not pleasurable. Recommending a denture for a patient with severe tooth loss can feel bad. However, you should never let your patients feel hopeless about their health or situation. Patients will be more likely to follow a treatment plan if they feel optimistic about their health afterward.

Take on a New Associate or a New Practice with Choice Dental Solutions

Are you looking to expand your practice? Give Choice Dental Solutions a call at (410)773-4460.

By Choice Dental Solutions, May 16 2018 01:00PM

A new associate can be a great way to elevate your dental practice to the next level. Associate dentists can help with everything from growing the practice to allowing for the current dentist to ease their way into retirement. How can you tell whether or not you’re ready to expand your practice and take on a new associate?

You’re Busy

The biggest reason to add another dentist to your practice is that your practice is simply too busy to handle the patient load with your current number of employees. As a rule of thumb, most practices are ready to expand with an associate when the active patient number is higher than 2,000 in a general practice, 4,000 in a pediatric practice and 250 cases in an ortho practice. Your schedule should also consistently be booked 4-6 weeks in advance, including next appointments only, not pre-booked treatment plans. Beforehand, you should thoroughly research the return on investment and project how adding an associate will change finances for the better (or for the worse!).

You Know What You Want

Do you need an associate to perform procedures that you always refer out of your practice? Do you need an associate who is skilled in an area where you are weaker? Finding ways to harness business you are currently losing is always a good idea, and a great reason to add an associate. Think about how many cases you refer out every year and examine what they are. If you refer out hundreds of endo cases, it might be time to hire an endodontic specialist to help out.

Know Your Options

Finally, you should familiarize yourself with your hiring options. You can take on an associate as an employee, which is best if you plan to stay with the practice for at least 10-15 more years. This grows your practice without needing a longer-term commitment. Or, you could have a new associate that is a buy-in partner. This is ideal if you are seeking a gradual buy-out of your dental practice. Your last option would be to hire an associate as an independent contractor.

Why You Shouldn’t Hire an Associate

If you find yourself hiring a new associate for any of the issues below, you should rethink your decision:

• Your competitors are adding associates

• You want to have an extra person to cover for travel and vacations

• You want another peer on the same level as you

Take on a New Associate or a New Practice with Choice Dental Solutions

Are you looking to expand your practice? Give Choice Dental Solutions a call at (410)773-4460.

By Choice Dental Solutions, May 2 2018 01:00PM

Patient retention is one of the most difficult things about a practice transition. In some cases, dentists lose almost 50% of a practice’s existing patients over the course of the following year. While aiming to keep every single patient is unrealistic, using these tips will allow you the best chance at maximum retention.

Update Your Website

Many practices slow down marketing spending when they know they will be hitting the market in the next year or two. As a result, there’s a good chance that the website for the practice you are taking over is outdated and less-than-attractive. Invest in your new practice by giving it a facelift and adding features like online scheduling. The efforts you put into optimizing the patient experience will help with patient retention.

Personalize Reminders

While online and text message reminders have their place, you can’t beat a personal touch. Existing patients will appreciate your efforts in getting to know them personally, and phone reminders also have the best success rate.

Use Surveys

Patient satisfaction services are a great way to get a window into how your patients are feeling about, well, being your patients! Once you get results from the surveys, pay close attention to the results. Remember that there will always be negative and positive reviews. You should focus the most effort on the reviews that lie in the middle. Is there something simple you could do to make patients happy? Don’t be afraid to send out more than one survey over the course of the first year to prevent patients from leaving.

Don’t Change Too Quickly

It’s easy to want to give the practice you are taking over a total makeover, but keep this in mind—the patients who have stuck around have done so for a reason. Learn about why patients loved the previous practice owner. Make changes gradually, and don’t be afraid to offer some transparency about why some changes are taking place.

Ask for Recommendations

Finally, take the time to talk with the patients that do decide to leave the practice. Make it clear that you aren’t calling to chastise them or beg them to return. Instead, you want to learn about what you could have done to keep them around. While you won’t get responses from some patients, the patients that you do hear from will have valuable information.

Purchase Your Dental Practice and Raise Patient Retention with Choice Dental Solutions

Are you looking to expand your practice? Give Choice Dental Solutions a call at (410)773-4460.