Is Your New Dashboard the Answer?

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Is Your New Dashboard the Answer?

The buzzword in dental software right now is Dashboard. Each and every software company is currently racing to the finish line to complete their own version.

What is a Dashboard and how can it help you? A dashboard is a display in your software that in a glance will let you know how your practice performed on any given day, week or month. It gathers information directly from procedure codes and financial items and summarizes the results electronically.

Dashboards use a variety of pie charts, columnar charts and speedometers to display results and offer the option to set goals and monitor progress. Dashboards from some companies have smart phone capability, allowing users to dial in without having to be in the office.

Although dashboards will be very successful in providing real time feedback about your practice, the “heavy lifting” of setting and reaching goals will still remain with you and your team. Your goal objectives should be in line with industry norms, your current performance levels, and your own personal goals.  If you’re uncertain about your own direction you will have trouble describing to your team where you want to go.  Your team is “the vehicle” driving your office to its destination goal.

What is industry norm? Is it what your friends are bragging about in their practices? Or is it a tried and true number that is the standard in Ontario Dental offices.  Industry norm can be derived from the ODA model as well as numbers derived from practices.  In our consulting world, we suggest that practices use some of the following industry norms when setting goals. 

One area to observe is patient retention; the number of patients that regularly participate in your hygiene program. At the end of each month assess how many patients are still left with unscheduled hygiene appointments. Is this number less than the number of new patients that your practice attracted this month? If it is not less, then your practice experienced negative growth in that month.

You can avoid this situation by ensuring that your team is using effective methods of educating patients while in the hygiene chair, booking their next appointments at times that are accessible for the patient’s schedules and reliable means of confirming their appointments.

Industry norm for hygiene open time should optimally be at ten per cent unscheduled time. Many offices may find on some days, this number seems like pie in the sky.  However, this can be achieved by employing the same methods mentioned above for patient retention, but this goal needs a realistic approach. If you are currently experiencing twenty three percent open time you can’t expect to achieve ten per cent open time the next month by simply changing some systems in your office.  You’ll need to gradually ease into that ten per cent goal.

For example, overall production could set a goal to increase each year by ten per cent. That goal is not restricted to production in the owner’s chair.  It is achieved by growing your hygiene program, increasing acceptance of major restorative treatment and by growth of your patient base through internal referrals.

Most teams find it difficult when an owner sets goals and neglects to explain how and why the goals were reached. Messaging is important. There’s a good chance the announcement of a strictly numerical goal could have a negative impact on team. They could choose to translate it as extra effort on their part = the owner taking home more money. Goals should be developed with your Office Manger in numerical terms but be brought to your team in percentages or a daily goal.  For example you could share that ‘we would like to decrease hygiene open time by 2 percent this month by booking three more appointments this week’. Team can clearly visualize these small tangible goals.

The SMART method of goal setting will help your team work with you. This pattern will increase team participation:

S – Specific 

  • Goals are well-defined and clear to all involved

M – Measurable

  • The goal has been measured as obtainable and completion timeline has been determined
  • Goal completion is signaled

A – Attainable

  • Goal should be set at a level that is attainable to encourage team involvement

R – Realistic

  • Goals are achievable within the availability of resources, knowledge and time

T – Time-Based

  • There is enough time to reach the goal

When your team has been challenged and they attain a set goal, celebrate! This doesn’t have to take place as a bonus but with recognition and perhaps a catered lunch.

As an owner or office manager you may have read plenty of articles or attended courses in some or each of these areas.  If you think the concepts you learn may work with your team and patient demographic then incorporate them into your daily routine.  However, keep in mind that before team can carry out new methods to full ability, their training must encompass full education and understanding of all concepts.

We’ve discussed that dashboards are designed to show you the financial speedometer of your practice, but it’s the owner and team who essentially set and reach ultimate goals. In addition, there are some other important practice areas that may not be covered in dashboard statistics. They are treatment acceptance levels, patient compliance to diagnosed perio intervals and patient referral base.

When setting your goal for treatment acceptance you would want to ensure that your team or your Treatment Coordinator is booking 75% of all the treatment you diagnose. If you are diagnosing treatment that is not being completed you may want to look at your patients reasons for non-compliance.

Patient compliance to the perio intervals that are being diagnosed is an important marker in your hygiene program. This goal would be determined by the demographic of your practice, if you have a younger patient base then this number would naturally be lower, if your patient base is generally forty years older or more then your percentage would be higher.

You want to be able to measure your referral source base for all new patients.  This will direct you as to where you should spend marketing dollars. If it’s your website that is attracting patients then you would want to keep your SEO high. If existing patients are your source, then ensure that your internal customer service is outstanding.

Dashboards are the newest and brightest additions to your software – superb markers for your statistics with information coming directly from your software and real-time delivery. Since the chance of human error is very small, dashboards offer a high accuracy rate. You and team should find them to be an invaluable quick referencing addition to add to the tool box. Enjoy using them and remember that the answers to practice success still lie within your goals and equipping team to help you all achieve those goals.

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