Steps Toward Dental Practice Improvement
It is easy to admit that dentistry is a highly rewarding career. Dental practice ownership can be challenging, but it is financially stable and you get to work autonomously in a health care field helping others. However, there are always areas of a practice that need improvement, some tweaking to ensure optimal success, both in patient care and in profitability. In order to recognize the areas of your practice that need improvement, it is wise to sit down and really take an honest look at where your strengths and weaknesses are.
Unfortunately, dental school and residency programs do not offer a great background in running a dental practice. Nearly all of dental school is focused on clinical skills and patient care, but a good portion of being a dentist and operating a dental office is understanding how to manage a practice financially.
What business courses should be taught in dental school and residency programs? There should be a major focus on students understanding the importance of good communication skills with a dental team and working collaboratively with staff like hygienists and assistants. Understanding how dental insurance impacts an office is crucial to production and collections in an office. In today’s climate, understanding how a digital presence has a major impact on your office can define and affect the growth of your practice. Here are 3 areas you can guarantee that your dental practice may need a bit of improvement in for long-term office success.
1. Improvement in Business Cash Flow
There is no question that running a dental practice is costly. Aside from payroll and administrative finances, dentistry has a string of pricey requirements, including advanced technology like CAD/CAM equipment, Panoramic and 3-D Cone Beam radiography, digital scanning like iTero, and digital software. It also has endless disposables and materials used for preventative, restorative, and surgical dentistry.
Most dentists are unaware of exactly how much it costs to run a dental practice efficiently. According to DentalIQ, “managing expenses without sacrificing quality is a key aspect that can save a practice anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000 annually.” General and pediatric dentists often do not realize their business cash flow needs and do not use comprehensive balance sheets to forecast their costs. On average, dental offices need collections of $15,000 to $21,000 to cover debt, and this does not take into consideration the owner’s compensation. Understanding the financial aspect and getting that area under control will be a great improvement to your practice.
2. Improvement in Practice Focus
As a new dental owner or a seasoned one, you need to look at your scope of practice and view your services provided. Are you content with your patient care? Are you up-to-date with the latest technology and standard of care? Are they areas where improvement can be made?
Dentistry is one of the quickest evolving fields in health care. Each year materials, technology, and equipment advance—and if you don’t keep up, you’re falling behind. Take a good look at your practice and what type of services you offer your patients. These days dentists are more than just drill-and-fill shops. Instead, they offer comprehensive care ranging from preventive treatment to full-mouth reconstruction and spa services.
Many general and pediatric dentists offer orthodontics as an incentive for patients to keep the service in-house and avoid the complications of finding an external orthodontic provider. Orthodontics is a lucrative field that offers more cash flow and less physical stress. Taking a virtual or in-person orthodontic course can help dentists incorporate orthodontics into their practice and let them work smarter and not harder.
3. Improvement in Digital Presence
A digital presence is necessary in today’s world for a dental practice to grow and survive. Regardless of your area of practice, you need to have an online presence for marketing, patient communication, and patient reviews. The days of print marketing are nearly gone thanks to the use of Facebook and Google ads.
There are so many ways you can build an online presence, but the most common and productive ways are to develop a well-designed website and social media platform. When you look at your dental practice, you should see if there are any areas for improvement, like your website design. Is it updated and modern? Does it have a communications and pay-bill function? Without a well designed website and SEO keywords that define your practice, it is unlikely patients will discover your office.
Social media is a must in dentistry. Look at your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tiktok to see if you are reaching your local demographic. Your Facebook can help inform patients of your location and be used for referrals in local Facebook groups. Facebook ads are effective in reaching a community of patients looking for orthodontics, dental implants or teeth whitening. Instagram is an effective way to show how you can help your patients by either showing before-and-after patient photos or videos and demonstrations of patient services. Patients love to see photos from orthodontics and how it transforms a smile.
Change in your dental practice needs to be constant.
There are always areas of improvement needed for dental practices, but the most important factor to remember is constant evaluation of your office. Not every area needs to be changed at once, but it is always a good idea to keep up-to-date with your dental practice mission and how you can provide better patient care. When you can find areas that need adjustment, it will make you a better dental owner and give you room for more revenue and growth.