Whether it’s at the grocery store or on vacation, we’re all looking for the smartest way to spend our money. We want to make sure that when we decide to purchase something, it’s really going to be the best thing on which we can possibly spend our hard-earned cash.
The same holds true for your dental practice which is, don’t forget, a small business. You need to know that every penny you spend in your practice is a worthwhile use of your funds. If not, your business could be in trouble. With that thought in mind, we reached out to several of the nation’s leading dental consultants and dealer representatives and asked them one simple question … “If a dentist had $10,000 to spend, what should he or she spend it on?” Of course, from that one question came a myriad of answers.
So many, in fact, that we’ve saved half of them to share with you in our September edition of Dental Products report.
From equipment to training and everything in between, read on to see what advice we were given on how you should spend your money.
Trending article: 4 ways that dental marketing software can help grow any practice
Jana Berghoff, RDH, FAADOM, technology marketing manager, Patterson Dental
With any business, it’s important to start off with a good base. In dentistry, that base is your practice’s technology suite. Everything is built off of this – the way your office operates, the amount of revenue generated, how you communicate with team members and patients and patient care all stem from the technology housed in your office.
With $10,000, it is important to first implement a proper practice management system. By choosing an integrated system with great customer support, like Eaglesoft from Patterson Dental, you are able to leave the paperwork, insurance forms and payment tasks to the software and focus on your patient care.
Next, you’ll want to select a patient education software. Implementing patient education into your office is one of the easiest ways to increase case acceptance. With CAESY Cloud, hygienists are able to talk about treatment plans with patients by showing easy-to-understand videos, which enables discussion in simpler, more approachable terms. This helps alleviate any fear a patient may have and ultimately creates a strong bond between the patient and dental staff.
Finally, purchase practice marketing software. Without attracting new patients to your practice, you can’t generate new sources of revenue. Select a program like RevenueWell, which helps you market yourself online simply and effectively through better web design, simple SEO tactics and a presence on social media. Similarly, make sure your practice marketing software helps you retain your current patient base. Send out appointment reminders and patient communications, such as birthday cards, to remind patients of your commitment to them.
You can’t build your practice unless you have a solid foundation to start with. With $10,000, purchase these systems to help elevate your practice to the next level.
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A question was asked of me recently… “If a dentist had $10,000 to spend on his or her practice, what would I recommend that money go toward?” I have a few suggestions for that $10,000:
1) Training for the entire team.
• Training to learn the bells and whistles and key functions of their practice management system.
• Communications training to address every issue in the dental practice, answer important patient questions, discuss effective financial arrangements and handle objections.
• Training to reduce cancelations, improve collections, reduce accounts receivables and increase treatment acceptance.
2) Intraoral cameras and dual monitors for the operatories. Intraoral cameras create the visual opportunity for the patient to see the dental concerns in their mouths. These cameras create an environment for those patients who listen with their eyes and help them make decision for quality dentistry. Additionally, I always recommend two monitors in each operatory. One monitor should be behind the patient at the 12 o'clock position to document the dental visit and one should be mounted in front of the patient to offer patient education, discuss diagnosis recommendations and offer patients the opportunity to make informed decisions about their quality care.
3) Team retreats. Taking the team out of the clinical and administrative dental office environment opens up the possibility of clarity while learning. Team retreats allow a dental team to think about creative solutions to every day challenges. These retreats can be in town, out of town, at destination locations and much more. The cost of these retreats can vary greatly. I have organized custom retreats in a hotel meeting room, at a local destination, in Ashville and traveling to the Puget Sound and on a cruise to the Caribbean. I challenge dentists and their teams to think “outside the box” to create the practice of your dreams!
Great ROI for a $10,000 investment is the goal, and focusing on only one area of your practice can limit that ROI. Why not consider investing in three areas-with each one linked to your success, improving those links can propel your practice toward your goals.
Invest one third on continuing education for the doctor, and focus on CE that will add additional procedures to your service mix. Expanding your services adds to your existing base and can attract new patients. Or take CE courses that will enable you to master a procedure that may challenge you. Will this CE improve your quality, speed or patient comfort? If the answer is “yes,” this is the investment for you.
Secondly, plan to purchase a piece of equipment that will improve service, increase efficiency and be very effective in lifting your quality care. This equipment might be matched to the CE investment, a great one-two punch that can increase the ROI!
The final and equally important third of the investment would be in training and educating your team. Your team members are foundational to everything you do. When you invest in your team, you lift members’ self-confidence and ability to provide the patient care to your standards and expectations.
A laser-focused approach to a $10,000 investment to increase the success of your practice would be: Tie the doctor’s CE to a matched investment in equipment to accomplish those services and link the training for the team to that same CE and improve their skill set. It’s a three-way win.
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As a certified Dentrix trainer, I work with different dental practices every day-from the office that has been using the same software for 10 or more years to the office that just installed it. What I find, however, is that without an organized system for team training, the learning will plateau and the doctor will start to second-guess his or her purchase.
The motivated team member will attempt to self-teach the team with online webinars or tutorials but often with limited retention and implementation. Sometimes doctors will attend a conference and take diligent notes so they can return to the office and teach their team the 30 percent of material they retained from the course while trying to figure out how to implement the new systems within the parameters of their practice.
So the question is, “What would I spend $10,000 on if it was my dental practice?” Well, an organized, interactive, well-planned and fun in-office team learning day. Don’t get me wrong, I love to attend conferences because you can get a lot of different courses in one place, but if you are looking for something that can make a profound difference in your team’s efficiency, productivity and health, in-office learning is worth the money spent. When you have the opportunity to get hands-on learning and implement it immediately, the retention rate goes through the roof.
If you are going to take my advice and invest in your team’s knowledge base, here are some tips:
• Look for a coach that will ask questions, assess the situation and build an agenda that is created by you with your team’s goals in mind.
• Ask your prospective coach if he or she has experience in creating a learning environment for adults.
• Find out if your prospective teacher will leave your team with resource material they can use when he or she is finished.
As a former team member in a dental practice for more than 20 years, I know the impact in-office coaching had on our practice. Now, as a certified Dentrix trainer, paperless transition coach and speaker, I see firsthand the impact I can make on the lives of the dental team.
If a dentist had $10,000 to spend, I would recommend team training in technology or other aspects of the 2015 dental practice. Dentists don’t often “value” team technology or other types of training and see it as an expense rather than an investment. This is much the same as the patient who doesn’t “value” dentistry and treatment recommendations.
Team training improves productivity and consistency while advancing the individual and the practice’s knowledge. In the long run, the ROI spent on team training is greater than a monetary figure. As patients who put off treatment because “insurance doesn’t cover” end up spending more long term, so does the practice/dentist who doesn’t invest in team training spend more in lost productivity and revenue. Time spent in team training is well worth the investment.
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If a dentist had $10,000 to spend, I would definitely recommend it be spent on HIPAA compliance-both upfront and ongoing with training and updates. Many dentists have, unfortunately, buried their head in the sand when it comes to HIPAA. The old adage of “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” doesn’t apply to HIPAA. While $10,000 may seem like a significant investment, it pales in comparison to the fines and penalties, which are often multiple hundreds of thousands and can go as high as $1,500,000 for each type of violation.
Here are the areas in which I believe practices should invest:
• Encryption. Encryption is your only “get-out-of-jail-free card” when it comes to a data breach, and considering that the software is free and you just pay for the IT company’s time, this one is the best ROI of any HIPAA regulation.
• Encrypted email. HIPAA is very clear on this: You must encrypt any information you send to other offices. Patients will love that you put their privacy and security above all else. Most plans don’t run more than $30-50/month.
•Backup and disaster recovery. They say time is money-no truer words for dental practices. A good local and online disaster recovery plan that reduces downtime to mere minutes is a great investment for dentists.
• Policies and procedures manual. If your practice is ever audited for a HIPAA violation, this is the first thing they will ask to see.
• HIPAA and PCI breach insurance. No dental practice can get 100 percent compliant so having insurance in place makes a lot of sense.
•Firewalls and anti-malware. The best offense is often a good defense. Keeping the bad guys off your network is one way to make this happen.
While the office may not see the immediate ROI, HIPAA protection is a lot like auto insurance: You may never need it, but the one time you do, you’ll be awfully glad you have it!
To make a recommendation on how a dentist should spend $10,000 if that was all the practice had, I would first require a full understanding of what technology, equipment and solutions the practice already has. Because we don’t know any of that information, I’d suggest the practice spend its dollars on marketing and a patient engagement solution. My recommendation includes four specific additions:
• The practice should spend approximately $3,400 on a new responsive-design website (built by a company that knows dentistry). Responsive websites are now Google’s recommended configuration. They show up better on search engines and are friendlier for mobile-browsing and prospective patients. Because mobile browsing has now exceeded desktop browsing, a responsive website is critical to the practice.
Next, I’d recommend an Enhanced Healthgrades profile, as Healthgrades is the No. 1 place patients go to find a dentist. Research from Sesame Communications shows an Enhanced Healthgrades profile drives an average of 11 new patient calls per month. This will cost the practice about $1,800.
To truly engage with patients, the practice should utilize a patient engagement solution like Sesame or Solutionreach to remind patients of their appointments, automate recalls and ensure patients show up for their appointments. Plus, these solutions can be used for driving reviews from patients, e-newsletters and other marketing efforts. The average patient engagement solution will cost the practice about $3,000 for the year.
With the remaining dollars, I’d suggest the practice hire a dental-specific company to optimize its search engine results. It’s important to be found on the Internet when someone is searching for a dentist in the area. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one way to help your practice show up on search engines like Google and Yahoo. The practice likely wouldn’t have enough left over from the $10,000 to spend on SEO services, but, with the increase in patient volume and practice efficiency, there would be savings in other places that could be put toward additional SEO.