The average overhead for a dental practice in 2023, according to Practice Support Team (PST) data, consumed a whopping 68% of collections!
Dental practice overhead has increased dramatically over the last couple of years due to inflation, increased staff compensation, stagnant PPO fee schedules, and supply costs. If your overhead has crept up, review the following strategies to decrease overhead costs and increase profit margins without sacrificing efficiency or patient care.
Position Fees Correctly
Update and balance your fee schedule annually. Your fees, relative to your zip code, should reflect the quality of care you provide regardless of insurance contractual write-offs. While insurance adjustments will increase with higher fees, you will create greater leverage to re-negotiate contracts, increase collections with dual insurance patients, receive additional reimbursement from out-of-network patients, and help increase the fee profile in your area. In 2023, we found the average fee percentile to be at just 58%; by contrast, a healthy benchmark is the 80th percentile.
Understand your Key Performance Indicators
PST found an average annual opportunity loss in 2023 of $168,721. All of these losses were recoupable with small, incremental system changes. Know your annual patient value (production/active patients) and monitor for inflationary growth. Review coding protocols to ensure your periodontal philosophy of care is reflected in the codes billed. If preventative care, including fluoride, is important to the practice, review the number of opportunities your team provides for fluoride. Review the restorative mixture of services and consider expanding your range of services while monitoring the percentage of higher profit margin procedures.
Incorporate More Efficient Hygiene Care Models
Long-standing hygiene care models may need to evolve as clinical team wages increase. The traditional 1-hour hygiene appointment has been the standard for many years. However, in response to inflationary and wage pressures, developing models that treat more patients per day with the help of a dental assistant is becoming the norm. Doctors should consider assisted models based on the number of operatories available, patient demand, and philosophy of care without sacrificing the patient experience.
Capitalize on Overhead-Saving Technology
Digital scanners, 3-D printers, CBCT, CAD/CAM systems, AI, and automated scheduling with confirmations are proven to increase efficiency, reduce chair time, provide more predictable results, and increase case acceptance.
Leaders within the American Dental Association (ADA) and Association of Dental Support Organizations (ADSO) shared their thoughts about what they envision for the future of dentistry in the next three to five years. They noted that technology will continue to be a game changer, with greater use of CBCT scans and artificial intelligence that will help practices provide more efficient, patient-centric care.
Reduce Contractual Write-Offs
For many practices, the pros of being in-network outweigh the cons, or the practice may not feel equipped to make a change. The fear of losing patients can be overwhelming. Dropping a plan requires excellent communication skills to maintain patient loyalty, and some practices are unsure they can pull it off. The first step is understanding your plan contracts and exposure. You may be able to re-negotiate fees or move to a third-party administered plan to gain higher reimbursements. After careful data analysis, you may feel more empowered to drop lower-paying contracts.
Burkhart provides practice management support at no cost to our Platinum and Supply Savings Guarantee clients! Request additional support and resources through your Burkhart Account Manager or the Practice Support Team.
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