Tips for increasing your practice productivity

Search Dental Tribune

Tips for increasing your practice productivity

(Photo: Henry Schein Practice Solutions)
Denise Ciardello, USA

Denise Ciardello, USA

Thu. 5 November 2015


There’s no need to stare at an empty schedule or write another check for advertising that isn’t bringing in new patients. There are a number of things you can start doing today to have the most productive and efficient practice. One tip: Make a personal connection. Your patients need that personal connection to feel appreciated. Great customer service costs your practice nothing, yet it could benefit you a great deal.

Take a moment to interact with each patient. Smile! Create a culture where people are glad that they chose, and continue to choose, your office. Remember, patients are not an interruption: they are the reason that you are there!

Another simple way to deliver stellar customer service is to have a quick daily huddle with your team to review information for patients coming in that day. Patients will feel valued when you call them by name, know who referred them and understand what their concerns are.

Send welcome letters and thank-you notes for another nice personal touch. Don’t forget that something as simple as a notification that an appointment is scheduled (or that one needs to be scheduled) can bring a patient in. It’s often these little things that make the biggest impact.

In one study, 52 percent of people reportedly chose their dentist based on a referral from friends and 43 percent from a family member. Twenty-seven percent of all referrals came from a current or former patient (Source: Journal of Dental Education, June 1, 2012). Each patient you interact with could be your next referral source, an advocate for your practice, the one that could put you over the top for your monthly goals.

So take the time. As each member of your team makes patients feel valued in every interaction, you will reap the rewards of a happy, buzzing office.

Tip: Remember the three Rs

The three Rs you learned in school were important, but for a healthy and productive dental practice, you need to master these: Recall. Reactivation. Referrals.

Dentists pour a great deal of effort and money on external marketing to try to attract new patients, but they forget the treasure trove they already have: their patient list. Revitalize your practice by using this incredible resource.

  • Recall is truly the heartbeat of the practice. When patients are having regular visits in the hygiene chair, you will benefit from their repeat visits as well as revenue from any treatment you recommend. A good rule of thumb for a general practice is that 33 percent of your overall production should be coming from procedures performed in the hygiene chair, meaning everything but exams. Remember: when you keep the hygiene schedule full, the restorative schedule will stay full as well.
  • Reactivation goes hand in hand with recall. Getting previous patients back into the office is much easier than attracting new patients, since patients who have been in before are already familiar with the office, the dentist and the team. Make your reactivation campaign methodical. Start with your practice management (PM) software, which should have reports telling you who these patients are and how to locate them. Your team may need to divide up the list to tackle it. Create a standard script so everyone can approach patients in the same way. Make―and most importantly, write down―your goals, get everyone on board and hold them accountable. Henry Schein Easy Dental is the easiest, most affordable solution, designed to be powerful yet simple. It streamlines and automates processes and daily operations so you can focus on your practice. Great practice management software doesn’t have to be complicated. Henry Schein Practice Solutions can help you discover your simple solution.
  • Referrals. Do you know what your patients are saying about you? Americans tell an average of nine people about a good experience, and they tell up to 16 (nearly two times more) people about their poor experiences (Source: American Express Survey, 2011). Asking your patients for referrals lets them know that you are accepting new patients. To accelerate referrals, consider sending thank-you cards for patients that refer others or having a referral campaign with a drawing for all the patients that refer friends and family members to your practice.

Tip: See your financial big picture

Your practice’s financial health all begins with your financial policy. It’s deceptively simple, but consider what you gain when these expectations are set up front:

  • When patients will pay their portion.
  • Methods of payment your office accepts.
  • Explanation of any in-house payment plan.
  • Details of third-party patient financing, such as CITI Health Card, Care Credit, etc.

Much of your financial headaches come from trying to resolve issues stemming from your expectations that, for whatever reason, may not have been clear to patients when they received treatment. Going over your financial policy with patients before doing any work will greatly ease these administrative headaches.

Take a minute to help patients understand. By giving the patients a general idea of what procedures will be covered by their insurance and at what percentage, they’ll know better how to use their benefits intelligently. Then they will understand how and when they are expected to provide payment to you themselves.

Have the financial discussions first. Before you even schedule any appointments for planned treatment where payment will need to come from both the patient and insurance, you need to discuss with patients how much and when they are going to pay.

This is true even in case of emergency treatments. Discuss payment before emergency patients are numbed up, so they can make an informed decision about what they are able to pay for and then receive only those services.

If the doctor is in the middle of treatment and the treatment plan changes, it can be hard to stop and consider the financial aspects, but if possible, find a place to pause and let the financial coordinator come in and give the patient a quick update. I recommend that the assistant be in charge of reminding the doctor with a cue like, “Doctor, do we need to have Betty come in and give Mrs. Gonzalez an update on how the insurance may change at this point?”

The bottom line is that having these financial conversations before treatment will prevent awkwardness, unwanted surprises and any hard feelings afterward, so your patients will leave satisfied and happy to come back.

The bottom line

Developing a thriving and productive practice can be challenging at times, yet it’s within your reach when you pay attention to the several moving pieces that combine to create success. A foundational piece of the solution is smart practice management software. Henry Schein Easy Dental is the easiest, most affordable solution, designed to be powerful yet simple. It streamlines and automates processes and daily operations so you can focus on your practice

(Note: Find these tips and more when you download Denise Ciardello’s free eBook at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *