Last updated on November 9th, 2022 at 03:10 pm
Q: Our office is doing OK, we’re happy with our level of collections and new patients, but we’d like to do a lot better. Any suggestions?
A: Thank you for your question. Being unfamiliar with your practice and having never met you, I’m going to keep my answers pretty general. I’m also going to break my advice into four parts:
1. To increase new patients, I’d look at a couple of areas:
- Marketing: Is your marketing effective – i.e. is it getting a response? Is your marketing “targeted?” To learn more about effective marketing, I’d suggest filling out our New Patient Acquisition Questionnaire by clicking here to get one-on-one professional help from one of MGE’s top executives.
- Capacity: How long does it take for a new patient initial (not emergency) to get in for an appointment. If it takes one week or more for a new patient to get in (at any point of the day) – that’s too long. I’ve seen offices who want more new patients spend tons on marketing only to make new patients who call in wait weeks for an appointment – what a waste! Assuming you have no problems with “A” or “B,” I’d look at:
- The Front Desk: How’s your front desk at getting people to schedule? Track the number of new patient calls versus number of appointments. If there’s a huge disparity – you may be able to recover plenty of new patients by fixing how your front desk handles incoming calls (we have a course specifically for training a receptionist and a course dedicated to phone skills on DDS Success).(Related: Are You Spending Too Much (Or Too Little) On Internet Marketing?)
2. With regards to collections, the main area I’d focus on here is case acceptance.
For this, you can do a little experiment: Calculate how much treatment you diagnosed this past month. Imagine for a minute that 80% of what you diagnosed was accepted and paid for. What would you have collected? Chances are you would’ve needed an associate to be able to produce all of it within a month!
This is a BIG area – case acceptance or “sales.” As you improve, there are a number of benefits – higher collections and more patients accepting the FULL treatment plans they need to get healthy, not just do what insurance covers.
Many ways of expanding your practice can be quite expensive – spending more on marketing, purchasing new technology, buying charts or additional locations, plumbing more ops, etc. But MGE clients on average increase collections by 31% within three months (and 89% within one year) WITHOUT significantly increasing overhead. This is because it’s free to fine-tune your case acceptance and start doing more quadrant and full-mouth dentistry with the patients you already have.
Of course, in order to do more production with the patients you already have, you need to be SEEING these patients! This brings me to my next point…
3. If your hygiene department isn’t growing, your practice won’t be growing.
I’ve seen doctors drive themselves crazy trying to attract new patients but still never grow because those new patients were just barely replacing the ones they were losing out the back.
If you’ve had the same number of hygienists working the same number of days for more than a year, that means you are losing patients. If you’re seeing 25+ new patients per month, then every six months you should be adding at least one day of hygiene per week.
So if your hygiene production is stagnant, I would put a big focus on recall immediately. Getting patients back in for hygiene is a lot easier and cheaper than acquiring new patients. If you don’t know where to start, download our free Reactivation Program here. It’ll walk you through the steps for reactivating overdue/inactive patients.
4. Lastly, you mentioned that things were going OK and you wanted to do better.
This is very good. I’ll give you a word of caution though: some of the things you are doing are working – or you wouldn’t be doing “OK.” Be careful when making changes – we all tend to want to start off “fresh and new.’’ You see this when people take over a new job – despite the success of their predecessor, they go and “change” everything and make a big mess of it. So, to you I say this: Learn how to market better, learn how to increase your case acceptance – while doing all of this, ensure you catalog all the things that HAVE been working in your practice and DON’T CHANGE THEM! Sure, you can implement a new marketing plan, but that doesn’t mean you completely trash the old one (if it was working). Do them concurrently. This applies ANYWHERE. Otherwise, you “sweep” away all of your successful actions while implementing something new. It’s something to keep in mind as you are looking to improve.
Now, if things aren’t going well – that’s a different matter entirely. Then you have to change things fast to get them turned around. I think the difference here is pretty obvious and I hope this helps.
As always, if you have any questions, call us at (800) 640-1140 or email me directly at SabriB@mgeonline.com. And again, if you’re not sure where to start, I suggest you do a couple things:
1. Fill out our New Patient Acquisition Questionnaire below to get free professional advice from one of MGE’s top executives.
2. Schedule a free demo of DDS Success by clicking here to see how having DDS Success in your office can benefit you and your team.
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