Dental practices are facing narrow profit margins as increased costs associated with practicing during the COVID-19 pandemic mount.
Narrow profit margins are creating the need to identify areas of the practice to streamline. While most practices will recover, not all will recover at the same rate or to the same extent. Incorporating strategies to increase production and lower overhead is critical.
Schedule Longer Appointments
The Health Policy Institute, on September 16, 2020, reported approximately 21% of the population are fearful of returning to the dentist. Reduce their anxiety, and increase your profit margin by completing as much treatment as possible in one visit. The patient has fewer appointments and you have less invested in PPE and infection control.
Promote Same-Day Dentistry
The patient is already there and more likely to accept treatment if it can be done before they leave the practice. You also eliminate the possibility of a future no-show and follow-up calls.
Teledentistry became popular in April when dentists were open only for emergency care at a rate of 24.8%. Most dentists returned to old protocols by July with just 12.2% using this platform. Large practices and DSOs are far more likely to utilize teledentistry as a cost-effective means to screen emergencies. The HPI, through surveys to dentists, found approximately 50% of teledentistry appointments resulted in referrals to specialists. Other times, the teledentistry event eliminated an additional exam appointment (and the PPE, infection control, and staff expense associated with that visit). Continue to promote teledentistry by establishing a screening system with your front office team.
Use Cassettes & Instrument Tubs
Streamline your clinical processes to reduce patient care time. Portable instrument tubs, easily moved from op to op, will reduce the number of times a doctor is waiting while an assistant finds a needed item for the procedure. Cassettes further increase efficiency due to the high level of organization, completeness of the setup, and ease of sterilizing.
Outsource Claims Processing
Consider outsourcing insurance claims processing. Most claims processing companies will charge 2-4% of insurance collections for their service. A $2M practice, with $1.5M in insurance collections, would pay approximately $45,000 to outsource this service, which may be less than hiring a staff member to do this in-house. Also, they are experts and are likely to have a higher collection rate.
Improve Staff Effectiveness
Staff expense is the highest expense category for general dentists. Creating quality systems, allowing for cross-training, and quick onboarding will improve the efficiency of your team. Without quality control and training systems, a new employee can take weeks or even months to operate efficiently. Incorporate scripting to provide consistency for the team and patients. Monitor clock hours and establish a guideline for clocking in and out related to patient care time.
Remaining focused on the expense categories making a bigger impact on your bottom line is key. Are you managing your overhead through efficient systems to increase profit, build reliability, protect your practice, and maintain a work/life balance? Reach out to your Burkhart Account Manager or the Practice Support Team to compare your overhead to healthy benchmarks and review your systems.
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