In a nutshell, KPIs would be the more important statistics you would keep to gauge the success and expansion potential for your dental practice. Tracking these gives you a complete picture of your practice along with what you should do next in order to grow your practice.
If you’re in private practice, tracking your statistics is a MUST. Beyond giving you a competitive edge, it’s vital to your overall success. And to that I’ve listed and explained the statistics you should start tracking for your practice as soon as possible! Hope this helps!
KPI #1: Total Collections
The fact that keeping this statistic is obvious doesn’t make it any less important! I’ve spoken with many doctors who don’t know how much they collect on a monthly basis, let alone in a given week or day. I suggest looking at Total Collections at least on a weekly basis. This way you can see where you’re at and plan throughout the month. You can’t make monthly goals if you don’t know where you stand as the month progresses.
(Related: Dr. Winteregg’s Scheduling Policies)
KPI #2: Total Production
Fifteen years ago, 97% was the standard Collections percentage. More and more these days, however – with managed care and so on, it’s not uncommon to see a doctor perfectly “OK” collecting maybe 70% to 80%% of production! This is NOT good! If production is a lot higher than collections, then you know you’re participating in a lot of plans, or that you might have someone writing off things that shouldn’t be or there is a backlog of Accounts Receivable. Either way, that should be looked at and fixed. And remember what creates overhead is PRODUCTION (i.e. labor costs, lab, supplies, etc.). If you don’t collect it, you have problems. It may be horrible to say – but you’re better off financially producing and collecting $80,000 than producing $100,000 and collecting $80,000. With our clients, we like to see a collection percentage where it should be: 97% or higher.
By comparing Total Production to Collections, you can see how much you’re writing off for various insurances, and then decide whether or not it’s worthwhile to keep participating in those plans. I consider the amount you write off to be a marketing expense – you’re essentially “spending” this percentage in order to get new patients. If you’re writing off 10% to participate, that’s not a bad marketing expense. But if you’re writing off 20, 30 40%? Well, that’d be a really high marketing expense, and you may consider phasing out of that plan and marketing for more fee-for-service new patients.
KPI #3: Overhead
You need to know what it costs you to operate. What you need to collect to both cover your overhead and then become profitable. Nobody likes finding out at the end of the month that they didn’t collect enough to pay themselves.
Ideally, this should be broken down into overhead categories so you can see how much you’re spending on things like payroll, labs, supplies, marketing, rent, etc, and whether or not that’s too much. If you’d like help with this, we’d be happy to do a free assessment with you and give you an overhead sheet and suggested percentages for each category. Request your free assessment here.
KPI #4: Recall Appointments in Hygiene
How many recall patients do you see every week? Is your Hygiene Department growing? It’s important to take a step back and look at your numbers – maybe you see that in the last 12 months you had 500 new patients. You then do the math – if those patients came in twice a year for their cleanings, how many Hygiene days should you have added? Did you add those days? That will tell you if you’re actually growing because otherwise, you’re losing patients.
Like most businesses, you want the bulk of your income to come from your existing customer base. After all, a) it is easier and less expensive to get an existing patient back in than a new patient, and b) you’re their doctor, so you should be seeing them and ensuring they get/stay healthy from an oral perspective.
Another result of keeping track of recall appointments is that you’ll be able to tell how many patients you’re keeping healthy because the only way to maintain your work is to see the patient back in Hygiene.
So, the real test is: How many patients are actually active in Hygiene? It’s not uncommon to see 1500 active patients in the system, but the practice only has three hygiene days, which means only 20-30% of their patients are actually coming in for regular Hygiene appointments. And that’s not even taking into account all the “inactive” patients they’ve lost over the years. A practice like that isn’t growing; they just don’t see it yet.
KPI #5: Total Patient Count vs. Active Patient Count
A lot of people just track Active Patients, but I think that can be misleading. I’m definitely concerned about active patients, but whether they’re “active” or “inactive,” they should be worked on to get back in for recall.
Sure, some patients become inactive because they moved out of state, passed away, etc., but I’ll bet that doesn’t account for all your inactive patients. Many of them should be coming in for hygiene but aren’t – simply because the practice isn’t persisting enough to get them back.
If you’re only tracking your active patient count and not comparing it to your total patient count, you don’t know how many patients you’re losing.
This is why keeping track of how many days of hygiene you should be having versus how many you actually have is important. If you know you saw 500 new patients and you didn’t add on any hygiene days, then something is terribly wrong.
To see the minimum number of hygiene days you should have based on your patient count, use our free Hygiene Potential Calculator.
KPI #6: Daily Hygienist Production
What are your hygienists producing per day? This is another indicator of whether or not you’re getting the patients healthy in hygiene. In a PPO driven office, the national average is about $1,500 per day. In a fee-for-service office, this number should be over $2,000. If you’re not exceeding these numbers, it reveals a few potential problems, like:
- Hygienists aren’t doing everything they can to get patients healthy (periodontal therapy, etc.).
- They are doing these things but aren’t charging for them.
- Too many cancellations on the hygiene schedule, meaning your reminder and confirmation procedure may need to be updated.
- Hygienists simply aren’t busy enough, meaning that you’re probably losing patients.
(Related: 5 Simple Ways to Boost Hygiene Production)
KPI #7: Dollar Value Treatment Presented vs Accepted
Many people track “Case Acceptance Rate” but this is another one that can be misleading. Say you’ve diagnosed 6 crowns for a patient, but they only do the one that their insurance will cover this year. Technically that counts as “accepted treatment” so you can get a false sense that you have a stellar 90% case acceptance rate while patients aren’t really getting fully healthy and tons of production is walking out your door every day.
I like to track Dollar Value Treatment Presented vs. Dollar Value of Treatment Accepted. I would get a logbook and have someone responsible for logging all the treatment that was presented and what actually got sold on it and what the patient paid for. The Financial or Treatment Coordinator would keep track of this log, or the doctor or Office Manager in a smaller office.
It becomes very apparent if you’re presenting a lot and not seeing a lot. If you’re not presenting a lot, I’d ask: how many exams are you doing? How many recall visits are you seeing? Are you treatment planning comprehensively? Do you simply give up after the patient says no or “I’ll think about it,” and don’t bother bringing it up in their next hygiene exam? I know patient objections can seem difficult to get around, but it’s important to never give up on a patient – it’s our job to make sure they get healthy no matter what.
This is why MGE clients are able to increase collections by an average of $288,000 a year ($24,000 a month) after attending the MGE Communication & Sales Seminars. It’s not a matter of getting more new patients, it’s a matter of increasing case acceptance for complete treatment that patients need – not just what insurance covers.
KPI #8: Insurance Versus Patient Collections
In an office that is really getting patients healthy, insurance won’t make up more than 1/3rd of your total collections; 30-40% at the most. Because let’s just look at it honestly: today’s insurance benefits simply aren’t enough to cover what the majority of patients need.
So, if 60-80% of your collections are coming from insurance, its an indicator that you may be letting insurance companies dictate patient’s treatment instead of you – the doctor. At MGE, we help doctors reverse that and get a practice to the point where their patients are understanding the importance of and accepting ideal treatment plans – instead of picking and choosing off a menu based on what their insurance will cover. Learn more at the MGE Communication & Sales Seminars.
KPI #9: Cancellation Rate
Cancellations/no-shows should be virtually nonexistent on the doctor’s schedule. If patients aren’t showing up for treatment, it means that financial arrangements are not being made properly before scheduling them, and they’re not really “sold” on doing the treatment. It’s not a scheduling problem; it’s a sales problem.
I highly suggest coming to the MGE Communication & Sales Seminars to solve this, and also training your Financial Coordinator with our Financial Coordinator online course on our online training platform DDSSuccess.com.
On the hygienist’s schedule, cancellations should be under 10%. This comes down to a) communicating the importance of hygiene to your patients b) your reminder and confirmation procedure, and c) the quality of service your patients experience at each visit.
As a note: when you’re reactivating patients who haven’t been in the practice in a long time (which you should absolutely be doing on a regular basis) the cancellation rate is naturally going to be higher – perhaps 20-25%. You just need to factor this in when scheduling overdue patients.
On the whole though, I’m not too worried about cancellation rate on the hygiene schedule. Obviously, if it’s really bad you should fix it, but I’m much more concerned about the total number of hygiene visits and whether or not my hygiene department is growing overall. If your hygienists’ daily production is good and the hygiene department is growing, I’m not going to sweat a few cancellations.
KPI #10: New Patient Referrals
I like to see 50% or more of my new patients coming from referrals. If referrals only account for a smaller percentage of your new patients, it means you’re going to be spending a LOT on marketing.
A strong office with great customer service that is really working on referrals can get 40-60 referrals each month in new patients. I’m not even talking about a huge office with a bunch of providers. Even a solo doctor practice with a fair number of charts can be getting that many referrals.
At the MGE New Patient Workshop we give you low-cost internal marketing techniques and a highly effective Referral Program to up the number of referrals you get. It is something you can proactively improve. We also have a course on Word-of-Mouth Referrals on our online training platform at www.DDSsuccess.com.
KPI #11: New Patient Conversion %
Our friends at Viva Concepts did an eye-opening study a couple of years ago. They studied 1000 dental practices and found that the average office only converts 23% of new patient calls into scheduled appointments. If you’re spending money on marketing, that’s a sickening statistic, because it means thousands of dollars worth of phone calls are being wasted on the phone.
A great receptionist can convert upwards of 80% of phone calls into appointments. We’ve trained many to do this. (We show you how at the MGE New Patient Workshop.)
At the very least, I suggest creating a “Phone Call Log” for your receptionist – essentially a sheet of paper where they note down every phone call that comes in, the name of the caller, how they heard about you, and whether or not they scheduled an appointment. If you really want to be smart, you can go back and add in if they showed up and how much money they paid for treatment.
This way you can calculate your “New Patient Conversion Percentage” and your return-on-investment from marketing.
This is one of the many things we teach you at the MGE New Patient Workshop. It’s available in 9 cities across the US. Contact us today at (800) 640-1140 or fill out the form here for more information.
KPI #12: Total New Patients
This one is self-explanatory. New patients are the future of the practice; you need new patients in order to grow. If your new patient numbers are going down – that’s a bad thing. You should be working to ensure that number goes up over time.
But I think #10 and #11 above are actually much more useful KPIs for revealing what you need to change in order to improve your new patient acquisition. You need to know what is getting you good return-on-investment so you can plan intelligently.
You should also be looking at a) how many of these new patients are coming from heavily discounted insurance plans and b) are you retaining these patients in hygiene (i.e. are you adding hygiene days every 6 months)?
But yes, of course, you should be tracking your total new patient numbers.
I hope these KPIs help! There are more statistics you should track for individual employee performance and planning, but I think this is a good summation of the most important ones for overall practice performance.