Dental Practice Check Up – Three Numbers Assess the Health of Your Practice
By Elise Nussbaumer, MBA
Author Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org, 678-773-6923
Most dentists recommend patients have a comprehensive exam every 3 to 5 years and a periodic exam twice per year. But how often do dentists perform a comprehensive exam on their practice? In the same way that achieving optimal oral health begins with examination and diagnosis, achieving a healthy practice begins with a thorough analytical exam. While a professional consultant may be needed to perform this comprehensively, here I describe 3 numbers that are easy and essential to calculate. These patient focused diagnostics are one of the best assessments of the health of your practice because without patients, there isn’t a practice.
Active Patient Base- It’s the number of patients you can confidently count on for business. How is it defined? What does it tell you about your practice? It’s the number of patients that are due for a hygiene visit over a 2-year period. This is typically an easy report to generate in the recare module of practice management systems. This report provides a more accurate number than the patient statistics report. Here are some fun facts to know about your active patient base! For every 200 prophylaxis active patients your practice needs 1 day of hygiene per week to treat them. For every 100 periodontal maintenance active patients your practice needs 1 day of hygiene per week to treat them. A hygienist reaches saturation (meaning a fully utilized schedule) somewhere between 600 – 800 active patients. A dentist reaches saturation somewhere between 1200 – 1600 active patients. This is an exciting number to know and keep track of, as it helps determine how many providers your practice needs to treat your patients.
Retention Rate- Retention rates indicate how successful the practice is in creating and maintaining strong relationships with patients. It’s also an indication of how well the practice communicates the need to return routinely. Do you have a growing number of patients, but are having trouble keeping schedules full? How is a retention rate calculated and what does it tell you about the health of your practice? It’s the percentage of total active patients that are scheduled for a hygiene visit. Here are some fun facts to know about retention rates! Practices have reached the optimal level of retention at 90%. It has a major impact on hygiene schedules; meaning if it’s low, schedules will suffer, if it’s high, schedules are maximized and hygienists are added to the team. In turn, it impacts the doctor’s schedule. When retention is high, hygienists see the maximum number of patients, and doctors perform the maximum number of periodic exams, fueling their schedule.
New Patient Flow- This is a number that foretells the growth of a practice. It indicates that marketing efforts are working or need attention. How is it defined and what does it tell you about your practice’s opportunity for growth? It’s the number of new patients seen per month when utilizing the 0150 or 0180, true new patient, codes. For a single practitioner, receiving 20 new patients per month is ideal. This translates into 216 additional active patients in one year (assuming 90% retention). This would add at least 1 hygiene day per week within a year. If your practice is receiving well below this number look into marketing efforts and if your practice is receiving well above this number but you have not added hygiene time in the last year, look into retention rates. When your practice is not adding hygiene time it’s as if you’ve lost as many patients as you’ve gained, and it’s time to take a closer look at what’s under the hood. A proper new patient experience is critical to the growth of your practice.
Bio: Elise has 20+ years experience in dentistry. She held several positions as a business team member and was a chair side assistant. She has been working as a practice management consultant for the last 10 years. Her cumulative time working in the industry coupled with her MBA in management has given her a well-rounded education in the business of dentistry. She has analyzed hundreds of practices and is the trusted advisor and coach for numerous dentists and their teams.