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Growth—Products and Services That Help Your Practice Accomplish More of It

Publication
Article
Dental Products ReportDental Products Report November 2021
Volume 55
Issue 11

From growing the practice to expanding a clinical skill set to adding new services, we look at products and services that can help dental practices accomplish more.

Growth—Products and Services That Help Your Practice Accomplish More of It

IPOPBA / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

So, what is growth? Carrie Weber, owner & chief communications officer, The Jameson Group, says each practice may measure growth in its own way.

“Perhaps you determine growth by your profit margin, perhaps you determine growth by sheer numbers of active patients and new patients, or maybe growth to you is in a more philosophical level and psychological level where you are doing more of what you want to do and less of what you don’t,” Weber says. “In whatever way you measure growth, the primary way you can achieve it is through development and delegation.”

“Maximizing every team member’s skill and talent while also delegating those items that are not the best and most productive use of your time or theirs can make for a rock-solid foundation on which to grow your business – however that looks to you,” Weber continues. “At Jameson, we find that by getting everyone on the same page of best practices and processes, training and developing the talents of the team, and delegating when and where possible—this creates space for new opportunity to grow.”

In addition to empowering your team, DeWitt Wilkerson, DMD, author, lecturer, and adjunct professor at the University of Florida, College of Dentistry, says identifying new ways to empower patients toward better health is a growth opportunity. He is passionate about transitioning dentistry from “tooth carpenters” to oral physicians.

“We are a specialty field of medicine called dental medicine. So, what role could we play in improving the health care of all of our patients and our nation?” Dr Wilkerson says.

Riddhi Gangoli, DDS, PhD, MS, and senior director of Professional Engagement and Education for SmileDirectClub™, agrees that having a broader view of dentistry also delivers a patient-focused experience that appeals to people from all socioeconomic demographics.

“So, what can we do to not make dentistry as intimidating? Having a broader view of dentistry will help us in the future,” Dr Gangoli says.

Brandon McCarty, CEO of CureMint, encourages practices to set growth goals as an increase in profitability instead of just a topline revenue number.

“From a private-practice perspective, growth is typically measured by the ability to increase patient flow through improved marketing or the addition of offices. Instead, measure growth through increased profitability and, particularly, your operating margin where costs to run the business is part of the equation,” McCarty says.

Serge Longin, co-founder and CEO of RevenueWell, agrees that focus on patient experience and profitability leads to sustainable healthy growth. RevenueWell’s data over the past year shows offices benefiting from tighter operations. Longin says that well-run systems, processes, and tools enable profitability and sanity during periods where you need to do more with less. Jay Levine, vice president at RevenueWell and president of PBHS, a website design and marketing company, agrees, adding that optimization also means making the practice more visible and approachable online, for their target patients and procedures. However, Levine says dental practices at capacity often feel reluctant to take on more because they are “too busy.”

“I say, “You’re too busy providing what services?” The practice needs to consider the opportunity costs of not fulfilling higher producing cases that they are passionate about growing,” Levine says.

Ted Teele, CEO of Kaleidoscope, a comprehensive orthodontic and dental practice marketing platform, also thinks that many clinicians want to grow while at the same time protecting their work/life balance. Teele shares Levine’s view of targeting patients and procedures that provide more value-add to your bottom line, especially if they fit efficiently into the practice workday.

“Once you decide which patients to target and which procedures would be most profitable, then the next task is determining how the practice will attract the desired patients—and, that means that the practice needs a marketing strategy,” Teele continues.

However, growth doesn’t always come from new patients or added treatments. Sometimes you can find growth with what you already have. David Means, director of marketing for Planet DDS, says a winning strategy for growth is to have the tools to analyze the existing patient base and focusing the practice’s efforts on converting those opportunities.

“Start there before adding on new things at a greater cost,” Means says.

Howard Klein, president of Lanmark360, a full-service health care communications firm, agrees that dental practices should bring value to existing patients and the organic growth created by positive patient experiences.

“A positive, favorable reputation is what drives growth,” Klein says. “With social media and crowdsource reviews and other online networks, a practice’s reputation can make or break a dental practice today.”

Tim Quirt, DDS, vice president of clinical operations at Heartland Dental, adds that increasing patient acceptance is crucial to growth. Moreover, the current dental environment is perfect because patients live longer and want to keep their teeth. He encourages dentists to move into new treatments to help their existing patients and have resources to help with more complex cases, too.

“Invest in yourself to ensure you have the skill set to take on some of these cases in your practice but still have a relationship with your specialist,” Dr Quirt says. “The more you do in your practice, the more you look at treatments differently. As a result, your practice gets busier, and the specialists do, too.”

Sam Ahani, DDS, CEO of Refera, an online referral platform for GPs and specialists, agrees that making the most of existing patient opportunities and keeping up specialist relationships is essential. He also thinks growth can happen by taking an online, digitized approach to referrals. However, the specialist paper referral process has a crack that patients fall through and then out of the practice care cycle. Dr Ahani says 50% of patients never make an appointment with a paper referral.

“A lot of these patients never come back to the dentist that referred them. It’s even more painful because the patients you refer out are often your best patients,” Dr Ahani says. “They don’t want to come back because you told them to do something, and they didn’t follow through with it. So, it’s uncomfortable for them to come back and have that conversation with you.”

Brent Garvin, senior product manager for Planmeca, says practices can increase production with existing patients by implementing 3D imaging instead. Garvin says this approach avoids the disruption and expense of adding new services and enjoys a shorter learning curve. Also, 3D x-rays allow for more comprehensive treatment plans than 2D, which increases efficiency in the operatory. Plus, it’s a shorter learning curve since reading x-ray is already part of the workflow.

“They’re looking at a 2D x-ray. All they have to do is learn the third dimension and look at the x-ray from all three sides. So, it’s much easier and a better way to go,” Garvin says.

Brian Harris, DDS, The Virtual Dentist and Creator of Smile Virtual and Klēn Home Care products, thinks growth requires a patient-driven practice focus and giving patients what they want. Virtual consultations give patients a way to get information about procedures before scheduling and undertaking onboarding procedures with the practice.

“You are meeting the patients where they are at, serving them, helping them see what’s possible, and giving them a cost breakdown. You are doing all that before they ever set foot in your practice, and because of that, you gain their trust, and they’re moving forward with elective procedures,” Dr Harris says.

Ashleigh Stanford, director of marketing and business development for Vista Apex, agrees that teledentistry is an opportunity for dentists. Also, she concurs that dentists should streamline the new patient inquiry and intake process. However, the current dental practice environment doesn’t make growth easy.

“Dentists are being squeezed by insurance companies, while overhead costs are increasing. Combine that with the labor shortage, and there is a real challenge for clinicians to become experts at change management and business operations suddenly. So now more than ever, it’s important for practice owners to understand exactly what their value proposition is and communicate it to patients,” Stanford says.

Greg Pellegrom, co-founder and CEO at SmileSnap, a software as a service (SaaS) platform for virtual patient engagement, agrees that there should be a reduction in the barriers to entry for new patients. He thinks practices should reduce the friction points along that consumers’ journey to becoming a patient.

“You lower those barriers, and you’re going to get a lot more people saying yes to treatment,” Pellegrom says.

However, reducing the barriers to entry isn’t enough. Growth is difficult if you don’t keep what you have. Pellegrom says that patient acquisition and retention go hand in hand. Therefore, practices should have a process to acquire and retain patients.

“If you have a ‘leak in the bucket’ at the bottom of the funnel, then it doesn’t matter how many new patients you fill in at the top. So, you end up spinning your wheels,” Pellegrom explains.

The leak can be in other places in the practice, too. For example, not having hygiene staff can create holes in the schedule that challenge growth efforts. Joe Fogg, CEO of onDiem, a national on-demand dental staffing platform, sees first-hand the challenges new COVID-19 vaccine mandates will present for dental practices of all sizes starting in the fourth quarter of 2021. Many of Fogg’s customers are less focused on new production and revenue right now and are simply trying to maintain what they’ve already built.

New vaccine mandates are broadly affecting dental professionals in states such as California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, and Maine, and the possibility of a federal mandate could affect all states within the coming months. Fogg emphasizes the importance of creating new solutions and strategies to streamline compliance while building paths to help professionals navigate their personal choices and desire to keep working.

“Over the past 2 years, dental practices have experienced significant drops in production—first from the industry-wide shut down in 2020, and since then thanks to the Delta variant. New state vaccine mandates are only going to exacerbate the current environment. I am talking to customers who are seeing record low numbers and are concerned the new mandates will result in dramatic loss of staff when they can least afford it,” Fogg explains, adding that leveraging technology for staffing and compliance could help mitigate these effects.

Tonya Lanthier, RDH, DentalPost founder andCEO, agrees that staffing is crucial, adding that employee engagement and satisfaction correlate to business growth. DentalPost’s research shows that 29% of dental professionals left their practice this year, and another 22% said they planned to leave their current employer this year. Lanthier says the top reason cited was toxic workplace culture.

“Never has it been more important to look at your culture as a company,” Lanthier says. “Is the practice environment one that offers opportunity, fulfillment, and purpose?”

Practice leaders should invest in their people and improve their company culture, adds Lanthier. She also recommends clearly defined roles and expectations, clear communication, team meetings, onboarding, training, accountability, recognition, incentives, and investment in team development.

Products and Services to Help Dentists Achieve Growth
Once you know what type of growth is best for your practice, you need the tools to help you get there. There are many things available that can help you in that effort. Here are a few ideas, products, and services that our experts liked best to help dentists achieve growth.

Weber says capacity can limit clinicians; therefore, training teams to take the initiative and run systems takes the lid off of that capacity and allows the dentist and the practice to thrive. Jameson Coaching, a business solution offered through Henry Schein, works with dental offices on that level. Weber explains that Jameson helps the team become a group of leaders working toward the goals and vision that each practice owner has set through system implementation and skill strengthening to achieve those determined goals for professional growth and success.

“In addition, finding ways to outsource aspects of the practice that may be better suited for someone not in the day-to-day of the practice can help you to grow in productivity and profitability without growing in number of team. This is particularly important to consider during such a competitive hiring season like what we find ourselves in today,” Weber says.

Karen Golden Russell, vice president and general manager, Henry Schein Practice Services, says companies such as eAssist Dental Solutions allow dental practices to outsource some of the most tedious and time-consuming aspects of their business systems, collections, insurance management, and more. Golden Russell says these kinds of services provide peace of mind that your cash flow will be healthy despite the lack of staff or the limited expertise of your staff to provide these business-critical functions.

“Many of these services like eAssist only get paid when you get paid, so incentives are well aligned,” Golden Russell says.

As a senior faculty member at The Dawson Academy, Dr Wilkerson believes Dr Pete Dawson’s philosophy: that clinicians should implement better ways to do things. Dr Wilkerson developed Integrative Dental Medicine (IDM), which has 3 pillars that focus on the patient’s whole health: Inflammation and Infection, Airway and Sleep Disorders, and TMD and Occlusion. The implementation of related services and diagnoses in these pillar areas has become part of their business model.

For example, the Inflammation and Infection pillar’s goal is to reduce oral pathogens diagnosed through salivary testing. Dr Wilkerson’s team treats identified conditions with oral probiotics, root planing and curettage, and custom trays using hydrogen peroxide.

“StellaLife is a wonderful company that makes plant-based antimicrobial and wound healing rinses and gels that we use for infections, perio treatment, oral surgery, and implant surgery,” Dr Wilkerson says, adding that they also sell water flossers and electric toothbrushes through the office. “Those are all products that will produce income and also make our patients healthier.”

Dr Harris’ Klēn all-natural home products also address patient concerns about oral health with new products free from harmful chemicals. Klēn Home Care gives patients access to oral care products aligned with this trend. He compares it to a dermatology office with a line of skincare products for sale in the lobby.

“Klēn is one of the first high-end products that dentists can sell in their practice,” Dr Harris says. “People are much more aware of the fact that there are healthy options for oral care, so everybody should have access to them.”

If cost control is a neglected aspect of a growing practice, software can help. McCarty says CureMint turns supplying the practice into a competitive advantage through efficient and repeatable procurement processes that frees up staff to focus on revenue generating activities like patient care. He describes CureMint as a cost control tool with 2 modules: Procure and Pay. Procure focuses on proactive spend management while Pay automates “the receipt and processing of every invoice your practice accrues,” McCarty explains.

“If we take all of that off of your plate, it enables private practice owners to worry less about mundane tasks such as purchasing and payments and empowers them to focus more on bigger issues like increasing revenue. We’re a cost-control tool, but by implementing us, it frees you up to be more efficient on the revenue side,” McCarty says.

RevenueWell approaches optimization for profitability from end-to-end. For example, RevenueWell Phone integrates with practice management software to deliver patent info on their screen before the team answers, helping them make the most of every patient call. In addition, all of their products and services are designed to help practices rediscover the joy of doing what they love, Longin says.

“You can go home feeling energized. There is nothing better than turning off the lights at the end of the day feeling that you made a profitable and productive day happen, you did so with people that were excited to be around, and you did the kind of dentistry you were proud of,” Longin says.

Teele recommends finding your joy by handing off marketing to a strategic partner because it is impossible to have a mastery of all of the areas involved, particularly given how complicated digital marketing has become. Outside firms have specialists whose only job is to handle these areas of the marketing mix. Teele, who has an MBA from Harvard, jokes that most dentists have not been trained in marketing just like he never took a class in filling cavities.

“We hired somebody who worked for Google for 4 years working with small business clients. We hired somebody that knows Facebook advertising like the back of his hand. We have people that understand SEO,” Teele says of Kaleidoscope’s one-stop-shop approach to dental practice marketing.

Dr Quirt thinks software solutions can help practices grow by automating practice management tasks. Also, he likes allowing patients to schedule when they want, and automating the appointment confirmation and follow-up patient reminders are also critical parts of growth. Dr Quirt also likes software that helps read practice management data and use it towards your practice goals. For example, some programs overlay your data and show you a dashboard, he says.

“It makes it easier for you to digest and read your data at a higher level, which is important for growth as well,” Dr Quirt explains.

Means also believes software can help practices take advantage of existing but forgotten opportunities in the patient base to increase production. In particular, Denticon’s Morning Huddle Dashboard tool can help practices prioritize these opportunities with a daily review of the incoming patients’ history. From booking their next appointment to reminding them about recommended procedures, the tool focuses on critical conversations and follow-up items.

“If you don’t plan the day, then the day just happens. So, you have to have a strategic approach to how you want to handle each of your patients through the day,” Means says. “You can also create customized reports based on whatever criteria you’re using to find those opportunities. But then, another part of our solution is the patient communications platform that allows you to make outbound marketing efforts to try to get patients to come back into the office.”

Stanford favors software solutions that facilitate a frictionless workflow that improve patient interactions.

“Services like Simplifeye free up staff time to focus on meaningful work inside the practice,” Stanford says.

Dr Ahani thinks software can also fix the “referral crack” resulting from paper referrals. Refera, an online referral platform, allows the team to issue a referral to a patient and the specialist's office digitally, including sending the x-ray and insurance information in a HIPAA-compliant way. The platform also tracks the referral’s progress through a dashboard, so everyone knows where it is in the process. Dr Ahani says that using the Refera platform gets your patients back in your practice cycle again.

“You can create a referral to anyone in 30 seconds to 60 seconds—all the patient’s information uploads with 1 click. Then, the patient gets various texts and emails reminding them to go, getting feedback from them, etc. So, you get all your referrals in 1 place,” Dr Ahani explains. “Remember that these patients are coming back to you.”

With increasingly savvy patients that compare rates and value provided, dentists should market themselves as a service provider, Dr Gangoli says. In addition, the demand for treatments like whitening, restorative, and clear aligners is increasing as patients return to the office post pandemic. Partnering with outside firms can make the most of these opportunities.

SmileDirectClub’s Partner Network program allows practices to present treatment plans to 3 main patient groups, Dr Gangoli says:

1. It addresses existing patients who might need clear aligners but don’t know about their options.

2. It expands opportunities with patients that were interested in clear aligners but needed a more economical option.

3. It also provides possibilities to present restorative and hygiene care to new patients from SmileDirect Club’s Partner Network.

“Once you build that relationship by offering a service the patient wants and needs, that patient will trust you and come back for future oral care needs,” Dr Gangoli says.

Garvin thinks that implementing CBCT 3D technology is essential for practice productivity growth. Planmeca’s Ultra Low-Dose™ provides a safer way for clinicians to get a 3D image and a better clinical diagnostic solution, he explains.

“We’ve successfully driven down radiation levels so that they’re the same or less than an intraoral x-ray. Now, clinicians can get a 3D image of that anatomy of a patient’s tooth, and they can completely change how they diagnose right from the start,” Garvin says. “We also see case acceptance rates going up because now that patient can connect with something that looks more like them than a flat, 2-dimensional x-ray.”

Klein agrees that practices should invest in 3D imaging. However, he also thinks dental professionals should assert their expertise and in-office solutions for patient care, from investing in technology that facilitates in-office solutions that respond to patient demands to incorporating digital workflows.

“They should invest in technologies that allow them to offer things like same-day dentistry or even just faster, more convenient dentistry,” Klein says. “It goes back to creating that positive patient experience that also comes with better clinical outcomes.”

Positive patient experiences that address their needs are critical to growth starting even before they get in the office, agrees Dr Harris. With Smile Virtual, the patient can fill out the information, upload a photo, and tell the dentist what they want. Then, a participating Smile Virtual doctor will send back a presentation video that presents options to the patient. If they’re going to move forward, patients click the link below the video to schedule an in-person appointment.

Pellegrom thinks improving patient onboarding can enhance the patient experience, too. SmileSnap software provides a convenient, user-friendly way for patients to engage with the practice giving access even after hours when many patients search online. It also makes it possible to communicate a range of costs before an in-person meeting.

“If you use a virtual platform like Smile Snap, you’re able to prequalify that patient, give them meaningful information so when they do come into the office for full records they are a highly convertible patient or already accepting that case when they walk through the door,” Pellegrom says.

Of course, once patients arrive, they need a team to work with them. According to Fogg, many practices are struggling to staff hygiene operations, necessary for both hygiene and dental production. onDiem’s solution is to provide practices of all sizes with contingent labor that onDiem vets and employs. In addition, onDiem’s new Digital ID feature offers practices new tools to authenticate compliance for both contingent labor and their own staff, including COVID-19 vaccinations.

“onDiem’s Digital ID uses primary source verification technology to monitor professionals’ state licenses, NPI, OIG, and SAM credentials in real time,” said Fogg. “In response to new vaccine mandates, onDiem has expanded Digital ID to give professionals a secure way to upload and share COVID-19 vaccine cards. Those who opt for a medical or religious exemption will be able to upload their exemption form and use the platform to manage weekly testing status.”

“Right now, the practice leader’s greatest pain point is the lack of candidates. We have plenty of products and services for vetting and figuring out candidate suitability. I felt this was the perfect time to introduce a product that would address changing our hiring mindset to help increase the candidate pool,” Lanthier says.

DentalPost introduced SmartView, a blind screening feature designed to help dental hiring managers in the initial screening stage. Lanthier says it helps focus on what matters in a new hire while broadening their candidate pool.

“With SmartView on, a candidate’s name and photo are temporarily hidden while the hiring manager evaluates the applicant’s professional background and training. This process helps the hiring manager set aside their personal preferences and unconscious biases while reviewing the most important qualities in a potential hire. Then, once the employer is ready, they can rate the profile to reveal the candidate’s full profile details, including names and photos,” Lanthier says.

How Dentists Can Move Forward
Achieving a growth goal might require doing things differently. From outsourcing to getting more training to changing how you staff your practice, there are a few ways dentists can move forward.

Weber says if dentists find that the business team is overwhelmed and lacking in time and ability to take the practice to a new level of performance and growth, they should explore behind-the-scenes outsourcing efforts. Doing so, she says, may allow dentists to focus on training up their team to present treatment, educate patients, make financial arrangements, overcome objections, and level up your overall patient experience to where it needs to be for exponential growth to occur.

“Work on developing your skills and your team’s skills to raise the standard of the patient experience in your practice, and explore the options available to you to outsource more of the rest,” Weber says. “When you can focus more on what is most important, the patient, everything improves.”

When transitioning your practice to an oral medicine specialty, Dr Wilkerson says the Dawson Academy teaches courses. Also, Dr Wilkerson’s IDM Scholar Society addresses incorporating the 3 pillars of IDM into the practice through forms, screening, and testing, and then treatment planning for any conditions identified.

“When we identify problems, I consult with patients about what we see and recommend,” Dr Wilkerson says. “Then I turn it over to my team to follow up with most of these things with me monitoring as we go along. Meanwhile, I’m in the operatory producing.”

Stanford thinks adding esthetic dentistry to your services is another key to growth. She says while the Zoom Boom may not last forever, esthetic dentistry has provided for practice growth for decades.

“Whether you become a clear aligner provider, whitening powerhouse, or veneer specialist, there is a benefit to adding an esthetic component to your practice, unless, of course, you are a specialist,” Stanford says. “The specialist category of clinicians has shown the most positive sentiment with regards to the post-COVID-19 era of dentistry, according to the ADA Health Policy Institute figures.”

Another area of growth for practices can come from providing more implant services.

“Twenty-two years into my career, I didn’t realize how big of a game changer implant placement would be for my practice. Now that we can tell patients that we can handle it here in the practice, most patients are eager to move forward with treatment,” says John R. Nosti, DMD. “It’s, ‘Oh, you can do this now? That’s great!’

“So being able to offer that service to my patients, who trust me and know that I’m capable of providing them the care or I wouldn’t offer it to them, has been great for them as well as my practice. It’s convinced a lot of patients who’ve been on the fence, even though they wanted the implant, into accepting treatment. And then there’s new patients I’m meeting who have been to my website or seen the marketing pieces we’ve put out. They’ve seen the smiles we create and the testimonials, and they come to the practice because it’s all done in my office.”

There are a few products, and courses, in particular that Dr Nosti counts on to help with his growth.

“I strongly recommend that anyone who’s interested in placing implants take the Misch-Resnik Implant Institute continuum. Just in the first session alone, you learn enough about extracting and grafting to bring that back to your practice and add it to the services you offer,” he says. “Being able to perform predictable bone grafting procedures for your patients can add enough revenue to your practice to pay for the entire continuum. And that’s before implant placement even enters the picture.”

He adds, “Doctors really owe it to themselves to look into implants and have that be a part of their practice. Their patients will be able to chew food easier, smile with more confidence, and enjoy all of the life improvements that implants bring. And that’s amazing because, don’t we all want to better our patients’ lives?”

Figures 1-4.For his first implant surgery, which was completed at the time he was attending courses at the Misch-Resnik Implant Institute continuum, John Nosti , DMD, placed 5 Hahn™ Tapered Implants in the posterior mandible for a patient who was especially eager to have him complete the entire process, from implant placement to the final screw-retained restorations. Glidewell offers a complete solution for implant and restorative cases. This solution is designed to provide the best care for patients and the greatest efficiency in terms of clinical workflows. The company’s new lifetime warranty stands as a commitment to the quality of the company’s implants and restorations and reflects the solid research and development and clinical validation dedicated to earning the trust of the dentists that Glidewell serves.

Figures 1-4.For his first implant surgery, which was completed at the time he was attending courses at the Misch-Resnik Implant Institute continuum, John Nosti , DMD, placed 5 Hahn™ Tapered Implants in the posterior mandible for a patient who was especially eager to have him complete the entire process, from implant placement to the final screw-retained restorations. Glidewell offers a complete solution for implant and restorative cases. This solution is designed to provide the best care for patients and the greatest efficiency in terms of clinical workflows. The company’s new lifetime warranty stands as a commitment to the quality of the company’s implants and restorations and reflects the solid research and development and clinical validation dedicated to earning the trust of the dentists that Glidewell serves.

McCarty thinks practices should also be open to better ways to run the business side of the practice. He says there are areas of opportunity for private practices to improve if they take certain lessons from the larger dental organizations.

“At your solo office or private practice, take a look at some of the processes big dental support organizations have implemented to increase profitability and figure out ways to implement them. We’re offering access to these types of enterprise solutions and efficiencies focused on your supply chain that can have a dramatic effect for your organization,” McCarty says.

As part of the process of increasing profitability, Teele says practices should know how to differentiate themselves from the other “dentists near me” that potential patients are Googling. Part of that differentiation in the modern market comes from Google and other reviews, which are now used by 90% of consumers before selecting a doctor. However, differentiating yourself is also critical with your other marketing communication channels, including your social media, website, digital ads, landing pages, email newsletter, and even school advertisements.

Teele also says dentists should not sacrifice production time or a staff member’s time to manage marketing efforts since they typically don’t have the time or experience needed to develop and implement an effective strategy. Instead, it is better to work with a strategic partner who will effectively implement a customized strategy.

“It’s not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to growth. We can help articulate a strategy, and then we can implement it,” Teele says of his team.

“Also, take excellent care of your people. They’re your most valuable assets, your hygiene staff, your assistants, front office staff, and office manager,” Longin says. “Provide an environment that has the tools to make them successful and they will enable the kind of growth you want.”

Dr Harris says the team requires a mindset shift to a patient focus. Team meetings can help the team with the new direction, which requires new approaches and repetition to flow naturally and efficiently. He says that assisting patients to address concerns with their mouth and teeth necessitates abandoning the old ways of doing things.

“That means you do have to see things differently,” Dr Harris says. “You have to be willing to answer patients’ questions upfront and do things that in the past we’ve been taught not to do, like giving estimates upfront.”

Means agrees that your staff is critical, adding that training staff to recognize and maximize opportunities is a sound strategy for growth. He suggests you fully leverage the investment you have already made to your existing patients.

“Also, get the staff comfortable in asking those questions and making sure they’re having those discussions with patients. Dentists would be shocked to see how much opportunity exists today that they’re not fully taking advantage of,” Means says.

Imaging can help dentists see opportunities, too. Garvin recommends clinicians get a baseline CBCT education and take a course on reading a scan from a radiologist. Regarding equipment, Garvin suggests understanding which field-of-view size will accommodate the kind of dentistry the dentist does now, and what they might like to add in the future. He also recommends dentists do their research by validating manufacturer’s claims and looking for evidence-based features and how they support both patient care and efficient workflows.

“Also, get into a platform that allows the machine to grow with your needs and move at your pace with machines that are upgradeable and updatable,” Garvin says.

Pellegrom thinks the website can also help dentists see their potential with new patients. By presenting the information prospective patients need now, you can convert more of these searchers into appointments. In addition, the virtual consultation can facilitate a live chat to customized intake questions and photograph requests.

“Having that funnel on your website, for both desktop and mobile because you have to have both, is how you meet the consumer where they are when they are, and give them great access to your practice,” Pellegrom says.

Another existing opportunity all dentists can’t see is the value of their referrals. Dr Ahani recommends tracking referrals and the data related to their revenue. Tracking referrals not only improves the patient’s care but also increases the value of your practice when you sell. This data is beneficial if you want to sell to a DSO that often brings specialty care in-house.

“If you can show them that you referred out a $1 million to $1.5 million last year, you can legitimately ask a lot more for your practice,” Dr Ahani says.

In addition, Dr Gangoli recommends beefing up your social media presence to share success stories.

“If the patient knows a doctor who took care of them very well, the easiest way to tell their friends is to have them check out your Instagram instead of sharing your contact,” Dr Gangoli says.

Of course, part of growth is keeping what you have. Fogg says using technology to manage compliant hygiene staffing is essential to counteract the significant drop in production that many practices expect to see this quarter and into 2022.

“I know everybody’s going to want to focus on growth, but the investments you make to increase patient volume, production, and revenue won’t matter if you don’t have team members who can service those patients. What practices need most right now is an affordable technology solution that helps them not just maintain or even grow staffing levels, but also provides peace of mind that they are meeting the evolving and volatile compliance landscape,” Fogg says, referencing onDiem’s new Digital ID feature.

onDiem

onDiem’s new Digital ID feature offers practices new tools to authenticate compliance for both contingent labor and their own staff, including COVID-19 vaccinations. Those who opt for a medical or religious exemption will be able to upload their exemption form and use the platform to manage weekly testing status.

When it comes to employee retention, Lanthier says employers have to shift their mindset and culture from assembly line and production to one of investing in people.

“You grow your business by growing the people who work there,” Lanthier says.

DentalPost uses personal assessments to benchmark where team members are to chart a path to get them where they need to be professionally.

“Dental practices that are systematic and proactive in managing employee retention—both in good times and in bad—will stand a great chance of growing and thriving, now and in the future,” Lanthier says.

In addition to finding staff, leading staff is essential, Dr Quirt says. Especially during this period, where the labor market is tight, and teams can leave and work somewhere else, you have to be a great leader to keep them and motivate them.

“And if you do, your practice will be unstoppable and continue to grow,” Dr Quirt says.

You also need to hold onto your patients. While some products help dental professionals better serve their patients, others are going directly to consumers. Klein thinks that dental professionals should unite to communicate the clinical downfalls of direct-to-consumer products that remove the dentist from the clinical process and protect the profession.

“Dental professionals need to promote the importance of choosing the in-office options that involves their local dentist,” Klein says.

Klein also offers the following tried and true advice. A back-to-basics approach with patient-centered care can drive growth for practices of all sizes. “Dentists need to get back to the basics and make sure that their patients don’t let things like convenience and good marketing overshadow their health care needs. They need to constantly remind the patient through ongoing, regular communication of the simple, long-standing message of seeing their dentist twice a year. Then, be sure to make that the most positive experience possible.”

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