The latest trends in treatment plans

An analysis of treatment plans and what dentists can do to maximize the number of patients that move ahead with treatment.

Creating treatment plans is an important step in the dental care delivery process. However, even though dentists create treatment plans, patients may not follow up on them for a number of reasons: they may not have the financial resources, are price shopping or do not understand the long-term benefits to their oral health, to name a few. This article examines trends in treatments planned per comprehensive exams and resulting gross production.

Data used in this treatment plan analysis was collected from January 2010 to June 2016. It is the average monthly value for thousands of opt-in dental practices across the nation. Sikka Software collects data via its HIPAA and HITECH compliant cloud. Information is shared with the goal of providing industry benchmarking and practice goal setting. Dentists can find more industry trends and track their own key data points by downloading the free app, Practice Mobilizer. Dentists can see estimated patient time of arrival, send and receive video, picture and text messages, and create marketing campaigns with Practice Mobilizer. This app also shows key practice and clinical data so dentists can grow and manage their practice’s success from their mobile phone.

Treatments planned

The total monthly amount of outstanding treatment plans has risen consistently since 2010, with the largest upticks starting in 2014 and continuing into the present. In 2010, there was an average of $15,433 in outstanding treatment plans each month. This grew to $18,347 in 2014 and reached a new high of $27,754 in 2016.

This is likely a sign of economic recovery from The Great Recession. With more patients visiting the dentists, there are more opportunities to diagnose problems and create treatment plans. However, creating a treatment plan with the patient is just the first step-they must also book appointments and follow through with the plan.

Watch: The simplest way to increase treatment acceptance

Up next: What this data means for you


Treatment and gross production per comprehensive exam

As with treatments planned, the gross production per comprehensive exam is also rising, with the fastest changes happening in 2014. Gross production per comprehensive exam includes all treatments and procedures performed after the exam. Treatment planned is the value of all open treatment plans that have not been completed.

Treatment planned per comprehensive exam rose from $1,190 in 2010 to $1,918 in 2016. Gross production also rose, from $2,887 to $2,932, during the same time period. The outstanding treatment plans indicate that dentists are leaving, on average, $1,918 per comprehensive exam on the table. This could be due to a variety of factors, such as whether these patients are lost to follow up, delayed treatment due to financial or dental benefit constraints, or simply do not understand the severity of their oral care issues. These numbers rose at approximately the same rate, indicating that the increase in gross production is likely due to the increase in number of total treatment plans and not a result of the reduction in average number of outstanding plans.

Related: 6 ways to ethically persuade a reluctant patient to follow a treatment plan

This gap represents an area of mutual benefit, both for the dentist’s bottom line and the patient’s oral health, that is lost to both parties. Although not all of this revenue will be captured, creating follow up reminders, having the patient book appointments in advance and providing financial options can facilitate the delivery of care. Patients and dentists alike will benefit from these efforts.


Treatment plans are an opportunity for a win for both the dentist and the patient. Although more treatments are being planned, year over year, the rate of open plans is also rising, indicating that there is significant opportunity for revenue growth through patient treatment. Dentists should examine their current policies for counseling patients at the time of the procedure as well as following up post consultation to ensure that patients are aware of financing and treatment options. By calculating treatment plan conversion rate, dentists can begin to understand how much money they are giving up each month and by increasing conversion, predict future revenue.

Read more: 5 ways you're keeping patients from accepting treatment

Sikka Software provides a platform for small and medium-sized business healthcare apps. The company’s products help healthcare providers and other small businesses optimize their business via a series of easy to use cloud-based applications.  The company is now supporting a real time optimization and information network with providers, patients, consultants, manufacturers and financial service provides. 

Data analysis by Nilesh Malpeddi.