February 20, 2011
I shudder when dentists say to me, “I just don’t know what I would do without ‘so-and-so,’ she just makes this place run.” Dentists who allow this to happen are setting themselves up for economic, professional and personal catastrophe. That may sound like high drama, and it is. I’ve seen it happen in too many practices too many times.
The last thing you want is a situation in which your professional success or failure is contingent upon the actions of one employee. Every practice must have systems in place to ensure that the business is not dependent on any one person.
Specificity is essential to success in every dental practice. The old “everyone does everything” doesn’t work in today’s demanding workplace. Certainly, you need cross training, backup systems and protocols so that other staff members can step in when necessary. However, individual employees need to know what is expected of them individually.
For example, let’s look at patient retention. There is no industry standard for patient retention, but the dentist can and should set his/her own goal for this. The practice should begin by measuring how many patients it’s losing each month. From there, you can evaluate the various systems that directly affect patient retention, such as recall, and establish realistic goals to improve them.
Collections are another example. The goal should be a 98 percent collection rate. Case acceptance should be at 85 percent; hygiene should produce 33 percent of practice production; 85 percent of emergency patients should be converted to comprehensive exam; and the schedule should have fewer than 0.5 hygiene openings per day.
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