Date ArticleType
6/18/2014 The Dental Professional

Does every member of YOUR dental team contribute to the profitability of the practice?

Does every member of Your dental team contribute to the profitability of the practice?

By: Lynne Leggett

I would like to offer a fresh perspective for office managers to study the financial health and well being of their practice. As office managers, we are inundated with reports and stacks of data. Sometimes it is hard to focus on the bottom line with so many things that need our attention.  But I think it is important we keep our eye on one of the most crucial aspects of our occupation – profitability. 

With added pressures of the floundering economy and evolving healthcare systems, it is important we streamline our practices and make sure each team member has defined goals that they understand, and how they translate into a profitable business.

So, let’s answer our own question – does every member of your dental team contribute to the profitability of the practice?  Of course!  Each and every employee is an integral component of your organizations’ success.  Let’s take a moment to look at our practice with new eyes, beginning with the front desk.

The patient experience begins with the front desk. Whether it is the initial phone call or someone walking into the office for the first time, this is genesis of their experience with the practice.  It goes without saying that the first impression is paramount in establishing trust with the patient.  The front desk must be friendly and efficient while creating an atmosphere of inclusiveness.  Every patient must feel wanted and appreciated.  This cannot be overstated.  The area must be neat and inviting, or the patient may think the care they will receive will be substandard. Since your front desk is the first impression a patient receives, it must be the best!

The next opportunity is an assistant or hygienist, depending on how the practice is composed. How they establish rapport with the patient and make them comfortable is essential.  Patients want to see this team member as knowledgeable and helpful.  Are they talking to me as a person or a body?  Are they going to lecture me about perceived bad oral hygiene or steer me towards healthier habits without harsh judgments?  This approach either makes the patient feel comfortable, or makes the patient feel belittled and harangued.  Here, the team member can greatly improve patient compliance through active listening techniques and gentle persuasions, which increase the likelihood that the patient will continue with the office.   

Next, we will discern the care your patient receives from the administrative team. Treatment plans, making future appointments, understanding what insurance will pay and what the patient is responsible for - all of these are opportunities for taking care of the patient.   Communication skills and knowledge with these issues allow the patient to feel wanted and gives them the tools to understand expectations.  Do not ever allow a patient to leave confused about care, costs, or future appointments – they may never return.

Does the entire team understand their purpose and importance? I urge you to review each team member's roles and responsibilities to make sure they understand their function in the practice.

You may be saying to yourself that all of this is true, but how does it relate to the profitability of the practice?  In specific terms, is the correct amount paid by the patient on their date of service? Is their claim sent that day and followed up to make sure the practice is paid ASAP? Is the schedule always full? Are production and collection goals being met? These are just some examples of how the staff can contribute to the bottom line of the practice. All of these patient interactions are opportunities for the team to contribute in a positive or negative fashion toward the profitability of the practice.  You must make it a priority to determine if the patients’ needs are being met.  Do patients leave satisfied that they received great care, or are they beating a path to your door?  Patients give plenty of clues concerning their satisfaction – make sure you are looking for them!

Simply put, a profit has to be made or the dentist will not be able to continue to help people. I have yet to meet a dental professional that did not want to take care of patients. In fact, I think everyone I have ever met the dental community, no matter their role, wants to help others. This is a marvelous gift!

 And you, as office managers, play a most crucial role in facilitating and improving overall profitability through each team members’ understanding and implementation of their roles and responsibilities, as well as great patient service.

This information is not new or revolutionary – just the most important aspect of any profitable practice.  How can we prosper so we, in turn, can help our patients?  This is a noble goal indeed, and one that will produce the most satisfaction to every team member, no matter their title.

 Lynne Leggett headshot About the AuthorLynne Leggett B.S., FAADOM, is the president and owner of Victory Dental Management. VDM educates and supports dental offices empowering them to realize their unique goals. Lynne has over 20 years of business experience in several different industries including dentistry, medical, pharmacy, sales, transportation, logistics, and project management. Her unique perspective utilizes those diverse experiences to focus on all aspects of a dental office.She is an active, lifetime member of AADOM, the Virtual Study Club, and received her Fellowship in 2011.