One of the most common questions I get from offices I work with is “How do I get more new patients?” My response is usually followed by 3 questions, “How many new patients do you have per month now? How many do you want? What are you doing to attract and retain new patients?” After they answer, we start to dig deeper into their processes and bring awareness to what their current reality is, and how we can improve the new patient experience. I think everyone would agree that tracking new patients is an important metric to know. However, is it one of the top 2 metrics to track progress and practice growth? My answer is I don’t think so, and let me tell you why…
When we put a significant amount of time, energy and money to attract new patients into the office, what happens to our existing patients who already know and love us? Are we putting equal amount of energy to retaining them and keeping them happy? I’m not talking about allowing existing patients to get away without paying or running your schedule by only being able to come it a a certain time per day. I’m talking about saying thank you, taking time to explain their treatment needed, taking intra-oral pictures, showing them a patient education video, sending a thank you card, birthday card or sympathy card when needed, talking about your menu of services (instead of assuming they know everything you do), and getting to know something personal about them and asking about it on their next visit. You may be thinking, “I thought you were going to talk about metrics? Where are you going with this?” Yes, I am; and building rapport is critical in practice growth. So here goes…
“Dat dat daaa”…… (Hopefully you just sang that in your head:)
Here are the 2 metrics that I believe are the most important to know… to grow!
1.Case Acceptance. Before you say, “I already track that, tell me something new.” Let’s take a look at HOW to track Case Acceptance.Are you looking at the practice as a whole, are you breaking it down by provider, are you tracking your daily case acceptance rate? Here is what I have found to be the biggest eye opener for my practices and it can be easily integrating into your day.
–Daily Case Acceptance Tracking
First, start tracking your daily case acceptance with a simple spreadsheet. I know you probably have software that can track case acceptance and this seems “old school”, trust me, try it for at least 2 months to compare. The software may not be tracking the data the same way.
Create a spread sheet with columns: patient name, provider name, treatment coordinator initials (or whoever discussed the treatment plan and finances with the patient), $ presented, $ accepted, date scheduled, notes. I typically like to have a separate tab for each month.
If patients do not need treatment, they do not go on the sheet. So, you may have 30 patients in a day and only 10 need treatment. Those 10 get put on the daily sheet.
For example: Mrs. Patient is handed off to the treatment coordinator to schedule for a crown and 2 fillings on the upper right. She is told it will be $2,500 and her portion is $800. The patient says she needs to talk to her husband before she schedules. On the spread sheet you put $2,500 presented, $0 accepted. In the notes section: “Mrs. Patient needs to talk to her husband. I told her I would follow-up with her tomorrow.” That patient is NOT ACCEPTED because she did not schedule.
The purpose of tracking daily case acceptance is to have an awareness of who is leaving with and without scheduling each day, and to have an easy way to follow-up with those patients. Let’s say it is March and we have a large opening in our schedule. The treatment coordinator can go back and look at who didn’t schedule in the previous months and read the notes. (I also use color coded cells so it’s easy to see at first glance. Red=not going to schedule, yellow=pending, green=scheduled/complete.) The feedback I get from the team is, once they get it implemented, they love it and it’s easy.
This is an eye opener for the clinical team. The patient is “all in” when they are in the back and agreeing to everything…once they reach the front, something happens and the agreed upon treatment seems suddenly…optional.
Keep in mind, this is meant for tracking who leaves with a scheduled appointment each day. If they call back to cancel and don’t reschedule, it will be reflected in the next type of case acceptance tracking discussed.
–Case Acceptance Tracking/month for the Whole Practice AND for Each Provider.
If you are going to use your software to run reports each month, it is critical that each team member is using the software the same way, and the way it is supposed to to used. For example: If a box “accepted” needs to be checked every time a patient accepts treatment, then everyone needs to be consistent with doing it that way. Understanding when to use the case acceptance status buttons is important to having accurate data. Every time a new employee comes into the office, there is a potential for error if not trained properly.
Let’s say we are using the software as accurately as we know how. At the end of the month, run a whole practice report by % of case acceptance and then break it down by provider. Seeing a %, instead of $ amounts, helps to make it more relevant. If I hear, “Our case acceptance rate is 84%.” that makes more sense to me than, “we lost $250,000 is unscheduled treatment this month.” Do you agree? I would then follow up by saying, “If our case acceptance is 84%, how can we get to 86%? then I would say “growing our case acceptance by 2% means we increased by $$$, (whatever the dollar amount would be).” and the team says! “Yes, let’s do it!”
Ultimately the result is you were able to provide additional dental care to patients who needed it. Isn’t that why you got into dentistry in the first place? Celebrate your wins and focus on existing patients, as much as the new patients, to fulfill your sense of purpose and give exceptional care to patients as your practice grows!
2. Production Per Hour by Provider. It has been said, many times, that being busy does not mean the same thing as being productive. Do you know how much you produce per hour? I don’t mean a “good guess” or what your body is telling you from been hunched over all day. What I mean is, on any given day, do you know the dollar amount attached to the hours you worked? Understanding what your current hourly production amount is helps to discover:
1. How many cancellations and no shows do I have effecting my hourly production?
2. Why are some days extremely higher/lower than others? Is that planned, or is it
due to unpredictable scheduling?
3. Regardless of how many hours a provider works, tracking hourly production gives a
more realistic comparison. For the patient hours available, $________ is what they
produced per hour. If there are major discrepancies among providers, why is that?
Is there a training opportunity?
4. Are we attaching procedures to the correct provider? Are we attaching procedures
at all or are we typing in the note section the treatment the patient is scheduled
5. Now that we have this information and are aware, what’s next?
When we look at case acceptance and production per hour for each provider from the lens of intention, purpose and results, consider what the desired outcome is to determine your next steps. The purpose of understanding any metric is to have awareness and then try to improve. Sometimes digging into metrics and comparing providers can have a negative impact on the team. The team will react to the leaders response. Taking a negative situation and creating a positive response makes a difference in whether your team supports and respects you, or whether they say yes to your face and then do what they want.
Bringing this back to my original statement at the beginning regarding building rapport with patients. People buy on emotion and justify with logic. When a patient feels an emotional connection to the person(s) who is offering the service their loyalty to your brand and potential for a referral increases. Understanding your case acceptance and production per hour ultimately creates a desire for an increase in customer service and patient care. Metrics aren’t “just numbers”. Being intentional by knowing the success of your business and how many people you are helping will remind you of your purpose and give you the results you are searching for!
If you have questions, comments, would like help with creating a Case Acceptance Tracking Sheet or Consulting Services reach out to me anytime!