Mentioning the words PRACTICE METRICS can elicit two different reactions in people. Either you will see a blank stare come across their face or you will see the look of absolute joy in their faces. There are many software companies right now promising that their metrics from their product will change your practice, this is true if you are measuring meaningful statistics and you know how to implement the changes needed to change the metrics. Many dentists will find that these stats put them into “analysis paralysis” which means that you are provided with far too much information so you would rather ignore it all. The flip side to this is the dentists who go by their gut feelings and don’t know the true measurements in their practice. In either scenario, if you are using information that isn’t meaningful or information that can’t be substantiated from your software to make decisions then you are going to run into problems.
Using data from your software can be extremely helpful in the following areas:
- The king of all metrics for making practice decisions is the active patient count in your practice. All decisions are based on this number, generally when software gives you this count it includes any patient that has been seen by the practice for any reason during a specific time period. You will want to know how many patients are active in your hygiene department more than in your entire office. These are the patients that come in for regular care, listen to patient education and follow through with your recommendations. These are the patient numbers that you should consider as your base when calculating patient revenue per year, your hygiene demand, your dentist demand and any production goals you wish to set.
- If you want to know where your new patients are coming from then you can run a report that will give you their referral source. In most dental practices we would see 70% of new patients coming from internal referrals (existing patients) and 30% of our patients coming from external sources (likely electronic sources or signage). By entering this information into the computer by the time of the new patient exam then you will easily be able to collect this information and adjust your referral and marketing plans accordingly.
- If you have set production goals in your office, you will be able to use the reports to breakdown your hygiene production and your dentist production. Using these numbers will allow you to set new goals and be able to give your team a number to work towards that is based on fact, not a figure that you have always your practice to achieve. We like to have teams work towards percentages of growth and not a dollar value, it is easily adapted to with this manner.
- You can use your data to calculate your hygiene supply and demand to ensure that you are offering the correct number of hours for the hygiene program in your office. To calculate this, you would look at the hygiene supply (the number of hours that hygienists are scheduled) versus the number of patients you have and the hygiene intervals that they are in. If you have too much open time or not enough open time, then this data can help you make the decisions to achieve a balance.
- Accurate data around treatment acceptance is extremely helpful in any dental practice. Data that can be looked at is completed major restorative treatment, outstanding major restorative treatment. You would expect to have 80% treatment when completing this calculation. Just “feeling” that patients are accepting treatment isn’t good enough. If you wanted to improve this statistic you would look at patient education methods, treatment coordination and follow-up as well.
To avoid collecting too much information always ask the question, “That’s great information what does it mean for moving the practice forward?” If you aren’t making a decision with that information, then you shouldn’t be collecting it. You will then want to create an implementation plan based on your collected data and finally share your findings with your team so that they will understand where and why you want to make changes. The famous quote “knowledge is power” rings true in a dental office but too much knowledge will lead you to be paralyzed into inactivity as it will overwhelm you and your team.