Since your patients are the reason you do what you do, everything should revolve around understanding how many patients you serve. How do you know when it’s time to add more hygiene days? How do you know when your facility has become constricted and is limiting your potential for growth? How do you know when you need to hire more staff or more importantly another hygienist or an associate? Most decisions you make as the practice grows will be dependent on this information, so knowing how many “active” patients you have is half the battle.
Many dental office administrators can take an educated guess when asked how many patients the practice cares for but more often than not, struggle with how to gather this important data. A demographics report from your practice management software will provide this information, but keep in mind that if you are not inactivating patients when appropriate, the number of active patients may be artificially inflated. Another essential element is that being a “patient of record” in the software does not automatically mean that the patient is being seen for care on a regular basis. A physical count will tell you the number of patients you may have, but a more efficient and effective way to get as close as possible to an accurate census is to use the patient’s last hygiene visit as a benchmark. How you define an “active patient” is the key. In your practice management software, generate a report of patients that have been seen in hygiene in the last 12 months. Make sure you are counting each unique patient and not counting a patient twice because they have been seen for hygiene two times (or more) in 12 months. To evaluate growth, keep a log of this data and generate a new report at least every 3 months.
The actual patient body represents a source of ongoing revenue for the practice, so the next step is to find out how many patients leave the practice with their next appointment reserved. A patient will demonstrate their commitment by reserving their next appointment in advance. Review your schedule from the previous day during the morning huddle. This venue is the perfect opportunity to review the list of patients you saw yesterday to determine if they are scheduled ahead, either with the hygienist or with the doctor. If the ratio of patients appointed ahead is less than 80%, discuss what measures you would like to put in place to help increase this retention level.
Reviewing this data on a daily basis will provide you with the insight needed to determine if you are keeping your patients and, consequently, if the practice is healthy and growing. OnTrack will help you gather this data quickly and easily.
Go to www.pattersondental.com for more information or speak to your Patterson representative about how to sign up to use OnTrack in your practice.