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Alan Johnson has spent the last 15 years in the dental industry blending technology with real life application. With a background in business and technology, the former VP of Consulting for Mercer Advisors is currently a part of the marketing and software development team for Patterson Dental. Alan led the development team that created OnTrack and brings real life expertise to the utilization and daily application of OnTrack for growth, alignment, and business development.
When I first introduce the topic of tracking software to dental practices, there are two responses I frequently encounter. Dental team members often think, “Oh no, it’s Big Brother,” while dentists wonder what a product like OnTrack can do that their existing practice management software cannot.
Fortunately, when they learn more, both contingents usually agree that tracking software is a great tool to help their team develop and their practice grow. OnTrack provides insights that can’t be seen with ordinary practice management software, and actually helps offices discover hidden successes and reward the team members who are driving them. With a series of simple clicks that can be completed in 10-15 seconds after each patient visit, practices can track unique metrics for the individual goals they have identified.
While there are literally hundreds of actions that OnTrack is capable of monitoring, I have a list of five questions that I always suggest practices keep in mind when first getting started. By focusing on active statistics rather than passive ones and by asking, “What behaviors are driving your results?” practices can track the actual behaviors that contribute to more concrete statistics like collections and production.
1) Are patients coming in?
It’s simple to track the number of new patients coming into the practice, but dentists shouldn’t just pick an arbitrary number to aim for. A practice in a transient community that is highly insurance-driven might like to see 40 to 50 new patients per month, while a practice that does more comprehensive full-mouth treatment plans might be very healthy with 6 to 8 new patients per month. Tracking software can help practices identify an appropriate individualized goal and work toward steady growth. The other side of this coin is tracking if people are keeping their appointments and if not, why? (OnTrack indicator: New Patients / Schedule Effectiveness %)
2) Are patients saying yes?
This question goes beyond just case acceptance and should focus on smaller steps, like confirming whether patients are coming back for consultations and hygiene appointments. The key is determining whether patients trust your practice enough to say yes to your team’s recommendations. (OnTrack indicator: Treatment Retention %)
3) Are patients coming back?
Practices today spend so much time, money and energy going after new patients that they often neglect the steps that will help them keep their existing patients. The truth is that the hygiene team holds the key to this, as the number one thing that drives overall patient retention is hygiene retention. This statistic is typically the biggest indicator of long-term growth for a practice. (OnTrack indicator: Hygiene Retention %)
4) Are patients paying?
This question does not mean that you need to track whether patients are paying their entire bill. Instead, OnTrack can help you track whether patients are paying their portion at the time of service. By aiming for this, the practice can keep accounts receivable under control and reduce stress over cash flow. Many dentists will focus simply on accounts receivable, but it is actually more productive to break this down into the smaller step of asking, “Are we collecting at the time of service for each patient interaction?” (OnTrack indicator: Payment $)
5) Are patients inviting others?
Your team members can probably look at the day’s schedule and predict ahead of time who will cancel at the last minute, who will tie up the dentist with lengthy questions, and who the model patients are that show up on time and have a positive demeanor. These patients probably associate with other like-minded people and families. By letting these patients know that they are valued and asking them to refer or “invite” anyone they know who is looking for a dental home, your practice can grow with the types of people that your team loves to treat. In OnTrack, the practice can easily keep tabs on these invitations and your team can work together to build a base of great patients. (OnTrack indicator: Invitation %)
Check out this video to learn more about OnTrack from Patterson Dental:
As these examples show, the simple statistics that many dentists focus on can be broken down into more concrete steps and easily tracked. By doing this, and shifting the emphasis from the big picture to small actions, you can empower your team with achievable steps. Ultimately, dentistry is still a one-on-one, relationship-based profession, and focusing on individual interactions is where you will find action and opportunity that add up to measurable change.