Sudden impact strategies


February 22, 2010 | Dental Products Report Think LIke a CEO Sudden impact strategies Systems to help get your practice immediately on track and delivering results.

February 22, 2010 | Dental Products Report
Think LIke a CEO

Sudden impact strategies

Systems to help get your practice immediately on track and delivering results.

by Dr. Leslie Silverman, Pride Institute Consultant













Photo: Heath Korvoia/Getty Images 

In many cases, dentists do not see the benefits of their practice development efforts for months after initiating changes. An unfortunate result of this pattern is that, sometimes, short term concerns are not properly addressed. This begs the question: Are there things that can be done to effectively fix problems and improve results immediately, without compromising longer term practice objectives?

“Sudden impact” plans are actions that are taken by dental teams which will yield immediate results. Below, we address four main systems: scheduling, collections, marketing and treatment presentation and their corresponding sudden impact plans. Applying these important strategies can create immediate results for your practice and support the momentum for longer term cultural change. Choose the system that requires priority improvements, implement the appropriate steps and watch your practice grow!

Scheduling system

“Make sure the practice is utilizing a sudden impact plan of action rather than or in conjuction with long term system enhancements. That way, you don't have to wait forever for results.”

Looking at the total month’s goal can be daunting, especially when you and the team can’t see any progress. In order to feel that your production cup is half full, start by adding up what has already been produced this month as well as what is currently on the books to be produced in the remaining days. Subtract this from the monthly goal. With the team, brainstorm only around this amount (the difference) using these sudden impact steps.

  • Reconnect with patients of record who have delayed treatment (treatment previously diagnosed but not completed). Review all hygiene appointments for the previous month, this month and next month. Set up a plan to call a designated number of patients per day to schedule their delayed treatment. At the daily huddle, determine which hygiene patients are coming in that day that still have outstanding restorative or periodontal needs.

  • Mind the small stuff. Brainstorm with your team regarding patients who may need radiographs, sealants, bite-splints and/or other minor procedures which, in aggregate, can significantly impact your month-end results.

  • Focus not only on disease control issues but also elective work. One way to determine patients’ interests in esthetics is by having the hygienist record the shade of each patient with the shade guide during the diagnosis phase of the hygiene visit. Patients will then see the shade of their dentition. This brings up discussion about esthetic options and potential for a whitening treatment that day as well as further esthetic options.

  • Initiate a reactivation campaign. Call patients who share the same practice philosophy but are overdue for their continuing care visits. Many of them may have periodontal and/or restorative issues that need to be addressed immediately.

Financial arrangements and collections systems

If you are experiencing a cash flow crunch or inconsistent collections, you may need to focus in on your financial arrangements/collections systems. To create sudden impact results, review accounts receivable reports and organize them into four categories.

1. Insurance payment owed to the practice - under 20 days.

2. Insurance payment owed to the practice - over 20 days.

3. Patient portion – patient making payments in compliance with office agreement.

4. Patient portion - not making payments in compliance with office agreement.

Focus on receivables categories 2 and 4, starting with patients and insurance companies with the highest balances owed. For old patient balances, you can offer a one-time incentive to pay off the balance, in full, by an agreed upon date. Record all contact and set aside 30-60 minutes daily to accomplish this.

Marketing system

When you see a drop in new patient inquiries and appointments, it’s vital to address the issue immediately to maintain productivity and profitability. We recommend that the dentist and team create a letter/e-mail to thank patients for their continued commitment and to update the patient on any changes/new services in the office. You can offer a special thank-you gift to the patients for their ongoing loyalty, such as a whitening treatment or courtesy adjustment for those who refer a new patient that schedules a visit within the next month, or for patients who agree to schedule treatment above a certain value within a shorter timeframe (i.e. the next two weeks).

Should you offer such an arrangement, be mindful of state laws that prohibit actions by dentists that might be misconstrued as “kick-backs”.

Treatment presentation

And last, but certainly not least, if your patients of record or new patients are not agreeing and committing to ideal care, it is wise to present in different ways to achieve better results.

Review the records of your last 10 patients who did not schedule recommended treatment. What were their objections, fears, motivations? How might patients be approached and communicated with in a manner that properly addresses the underlying issue(s)?

For example, let’s say finances are the primary concern. Rather than telling a patient, “You need a root canal because you have an infection and you will end up losing this tooth,” alter the approach and say, “So that we can save you money in the long run, I recommend we do this root canal now and potentially save you the greater cost of replacing this tooth."

Remember, diagnosis always stays the same but how you present the treatment needs to be customized to the individual patient. Work these 10 charts and when those 10 are done, move to next 10 charts.

When you need to impact a system immediately, make sure the practice is utilizing a sudden impact plan of action rather than or in conjunction with long term system enhancements. That way, you don’t have to wait forever for results. Make sure that you and your team do not fall into the trap of utilizing longer term “fixes” only. This can result in frustration, burn out and most important, no change!

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