Planning for per-patient production growth

business leaders know that, before venturing into new territory, you first make the most of what you already have. For you as a practice leader, that means maximizing perpatient



Wise business leaders know that, before venturing into new territory, you first make the most of what you already have. For you as a practice leader, that means maximizing per-patient production.

Some dentists balk when they first hear that, thinking that it means pressuring patients toaccept treatment they may not want or need. Actually, all it requires is that you conduct comprehensive exams for all patients periodically, create an equally comprehensive treatment plan and review that plan and its benefits with patients… without applying any pressure at all, and most certainly not for unwanted or unnecessary treatment.

This simple process has made a dramatic difference in per-patient production-and therefore total practice production-for many dentists because they had previously fallen short in at least one of the prescribed steps.

Related reading: 4 steps to greater case acceptance in your dental practice

Comprehensive exams for all patients

Through my efforts and those of my company’s consultants, many doctors have learned the value of performing an annual five-phase oral health examination for their patients. The phases are:

  • Periodontal

  • Tooth-by-tooth

  • Cosmetic

  • Implant

  • Occlusal

Such a thorough exam will give you a clear picture of what treatment is urgent, what should or may need to be done in the future, and what conditions patients might want to address by accepting cosmetic or other elective treatment.

Note that this exam should be performed not only for new patients but also for existing patients-and should be repeated over the years as patients’ oral health status and lifestyle change.

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From exams to treatment plans

Once you’ve laid the groundwork with a comprehensive examination, you’re ready to draw up an ideal treatment plan. When doing so, you’ll want to consider their personal situations and, of course, whether treatment options are need-based or want-based. If a particular  procedure is needed, but not immediately, you can construct a tentative timetable for review with the patient.

The treatment plan will include cosmetic services that you think may be desirable. The plan would acquaint patients with a full range of appropriate choices, including those that would incur greater out-of-pocket costs. For example, you could mention implants as a replacement for traditional dentures, giving patients the information they need to decide whether they want to make the investment.

Related reading: 5 ways to boost your dental practice's patient referrals

Initial and follow-up case presentations

Share the treatment plan with patients, being careful to explain that it represents the complete array of services that might be appropriate for them, sooner or later. Of course, any oral health conditions that require immediate attention would be the focus of the initial presentation.

Subsequently, when patients come in for routine visits, both you and the hygienist can gently but deliberately bring up the treatment plan, asking if they’ve had time to think more about their choices and if they have any questions. The point is to refresh their memory as time goes by, empowering them to decide what they’d like you to do for them, and when.

Instead of feeling pressure, they will feel that you care about their oral health.


Make comprehensive exams and treatment plans a part of the service you provide for all patients, and your average per-patient production will increase significantly.

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