When you’re trying to increase your dental practice’s profitability, one of the most important things you can focus on is to increase production. Obvious, right? Production is what keeps the lights on, pays your staff (and your kids’ tuition,) among other things. Most importantly, it’s what keeps your patients healthy.
For all its importance, you would think increasing production would be easier to track, but not necessarily. However, just because it’s hard to track doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Once you know what works, it won’t take hours to track your practice’s production. This process begins by breaking production down into manageable pieces that you can track. Dental Intelligence uses the Profitability Formula shown at top.
Most practices understandably assume that if their schedule is full, Production Per Visit (PPV) will take care of itself. Having your schedule full is good, but you’re not focused on optimizing Production Per Visit as well, you’re probably just working more without seeing much of a difference to your bottom line. So, let’s take a look at the different options you have for increasing PPV and setting your practice up for success.
Increase Your Fees
There’s a reason this is first on the list. Increasing your fees is one of the simplest ways to affect supply and demand and is one of the first levers you should consider pulling to increase your PPV. Now, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of solution. You can’t just start increasing your fees and hope for the best. If you’re not already busy, increasing your fees probably won’t help grow your practice. However, it can help if you are so busy that:
- Your next available hygiene appointment is measured in months and not weeks,
- You’re considering extending your hours to accommodate everyone, or
- You regularly lose business because you don’t have an opening soon enough.
The basic principle is this: The lower you price your services, the more demand there will be for them. Conversely, as you raise your fees, demand will naturally begin to slow. In this case, that’s a good thing, because while the pressure on your schedule eases due to higher fees, your production per visit will be increasing.
Choose Your Best Patients
When you consistently have a full schedule, you have the luxury of being picky with whom you choose to schedule and whom you choose to let walk out the door without an appointment scheduled. That means there’s no need to continue to reschedule patients who cause you and your staff headaches.
You can go about this however you want, but most of your stress-causing patients will simply fade away once you stop chasing them. So, when a chronic canceler inevitably cancels, don’t automatically offer to reschedule. The same goes for the patient who always shows up 30 minutes late and throws your whole schedule off. Requiring that everyone pay at time of service will help you winnow patients who never pay their bill on time. Maybe none of those problems bother your practice, but something else does. Whatever your situation, if you stop accommodating the patient behaviors that disrupt your practice, you’ll find that your practice runs smoother and more efficiently—and you’ll see your production per visit increase.
Expand Treatment Offerings
This can be as complicated or simple as you want it to be. Expanding treatment offerings isn’t just about adding new procedures and services. Sure, adding sleep apnea and aligners to your services can help increase your production per visit, but that may not be the simplest solution.
Instead, consider starting by consistently offering the optional services you already have available. It’s not uncommon for practices to see a significant increase in production per visit just by focusing on simple add-ons like fluoride, sealings, and teeth whitening.
Diagnose More Treatment
This may seem like an odd suggestion. After all, you should just diagnose the treatment your patients need to get healthy, right?
Yes. But what counts as a healthy mouth at your practice? Does everyone agree on what that means? Unless you’ve instituted common standards in your practice, it’s likely that some practitioners are under-diagnosing their patients. This is another easy way to increase your production per visit. All it takes is getting everyone on the same page so that your whole practice is diagnosing the correct amount of treatment.
Increase Case Acceptance
Increasing case acceptance isn’t just for increasing visits. It’s also a valuable tool for increasing production per visit. The key here is helping the patient understand the importance of accepting diagnosed treatment. A few things you can try to increase acceptance include:
- Make sure that your patients understand the importance and urgency of each procedure you diagnose.
- Use clear and easily understandable language instead of technical jargon.
- Offer a small discount or free perk (i.e., teeth whitening) to incentivize same-day treatment and acceptance of more complicated procedures.
- Focus on helping the patient get healthy, not on the cost.
If you can get your case acceptance up, your production per visit will inevitably follow.
Scott Livingston is the Director of Communications for Dental Intelligence. His focus is on helping the company tell the story of how actionable data can measurably improve patient care, team collaboration and dental practice profitability. Outside of work, Scott enjoys spending time with his family, hiking the many trails in Utah, and serving others in his church and local community.