Podcast: Creating a special practice

Hello and welcome to Ascent Dental Radio. A program dedicated to the balance between the clinical aspect of health care and the business of health care. And now here is your host, Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin. Welcome to the following podcast which specializes in organization, development and training and education for your dental team or health care unit. The name of my website is www.ascent-dental-solutions.com. I can be reached by email at drkevin@ascent-dental-solutions.com. I hope you enjoy the following podcast.

I’ll start by stating that in almost all of the information that I share for the last 33 years of practicing dentistry and continue to practice dentistry, unfortunately, almost nothing I say is original and this particular podcast is no different.

I have been fortunate to take thousands and thousands of hours of continuing education and listened to many great thought leaders, not only in the dental profession but in the business profession and I have modified or addressed many of their comments to suit the needs of what I feel would be an ideal dental practice.

Do you want to get your dental career started on the right path? Are you looking to put in place the practices and procedures to make your existing dental business more profitable? Send Dr. Coughlin a quick email today!

The following acronym will help you develop a special dental practice. Special spelled S-P-E-C-I-A-L.

I would ask you to remember the word special and start with the letter S, which stands for Scheduling. If your dental practice does not have control of the schedule, your life will be miserable and your results will be just as bad.

The most important concept is the time value of money. And over 33 plus years the single largest mistake I see in practice over practice in the 14 practices that I own are mistakes with the schedule, either scheduled too lightly or too heavily.

I cannot emphasize the amount of training and time that is necessary to inform your front desk managers, receptionist, team members how to schedule appropriately. There is an art to this and that art starts with the ability to profile the patient and their problem. I would strongly recommend that the individuals answering the phone should know whether the patient is a new patient or existing patient.

They should be able to determine whether they have a problem or no problem at all. If they have a problem is it top, bottom, right, left, front or back, the duration of the problem and the intensity of the problem simply by asking the following, “Mr. or Mrs. Smith, on a pain level scale of zero to ten — zero no pain, ten the most severe pain — how would you rate this?” Then you want to know the duration of the problem as you’re gathering this information which usually will take no more than three minutes on the phone.

The next issue is to be able to profile the patient with either a CareCredit check, a Wells Fargo check or some type of preliminary check for dental insurance and finance reasons to determine if it is most likely Mr. or Mrs. Smith are going to stay and want a root canal build up in crown, an implant or they’re simply going to want a prescription and deal with the problem later on or simply go for a lower type of production procedure such as an extraction because they are not interested in the time or investment in saving their teeth.

This profiling and screening of the patient will dramatically improve your schedule and dramatically improve your bottom line, but perhaps most importantly make your life much more enjoyable.

The second letter in developing a special practice is P for Production. Obviously we know production is important but keep in mind what you really want to concentrate is net production. This simply means that in many types of the software what I’ll see is the office production but not net production. This means that the dental insurance has one fee and your office has another fee.

For example, you may charge $1,500 for a PFM or Porcelain-fused high noble crown but your insurance company may only allow you to charge $950. Understanding net production and what you’re writing off with insurance companies, government plans, et cetera, is critical to have a profitable end of the day and end of the month bottom line.

The next letter is E for Education. If I could emphasize one thing, training, education and communication should never end. It starts with a morning meeting, it continues with a pickup in the afternoon and it should end with an ending meeting.

If you feel that you can communicate without really communicating, trust me your practice has problems. This ongoing training and education should be built on proven successful processes and procedures and those processes and procedures should be written, explained and understood.

Next in the word special is C and C stands for Collection. At the end of the day if the dollars are not collected for the procedures done, your practice will be a failure. You will not have enough profit to expand and improve your staff and your business. Collection is the gasoline for the engine and you must understand that the goal is to collect 100 percent of what’s being produced.

Failure to obtain that goal or have the proper processes and procedures to obtain that goal is shame on you and the results will have long term negative effects.

Next in the word special is I, and it stands for Insurance. You, your team, your managed service organization have to clearly understand the type of insurance plans and most importantly your front desk personnel because different insurance plans have different reimbursements.

As a general rule, evening hours and Saturday appointments, Sunday appointments, early morning appointments, lunch time appointments should be saved for the highest producing and production type patients possible. This means that you are dedicating your time and effort, taking away from your family and friends, you should be rewarded with the highest financial gains.

This starts by fully understanding each patient, their type of insurance and what the reimbursement is going to be for that insurance and almost more importantly, your front desk understanding what is covered, what is not covered and what your patient will be expected to provide for finance in fees.

Next in the word special is the letter A, and A stands for Accounts Receivable. Over and over again I find that the staff is completely disconnected on what healthy accounts receivable should be. I use the rule of 45 days. That simply means what your net production is, your accounts receivable should be 45 days of that.

So if your net production is $100,000 a month, then your accounts receivable should be approximately $150,000. If the accounts receivable are in excess of that, your policies and procedures are not working or they’re not being implemented. If they’re far below that, you may want to take a hard look that your financial policies may be so strict that you’re losing opportunities to provide additional care and services.

Lastly, the L stands for Liability. In all businesses, you want to reduce your liability or risk. My personal opinion is there is no better way to reduce your liability than having written treatment plans that are signed and agreed to by your patient in writing. Failure to get these signed, scanned written treatment plans that provide the risks, benefits, options, costs is a mistake that will cost you time, money, stress and aggravation.

There’s no reason in the world you cannot also have a very special practice providing you focus on scheduling, production, education, collection, insurance, accounts receivable and liability.

If you need help with the processes and procedures in these specific areas, don’t hesitate to contact me at drkevin@ascent-dental-solutions.com or at www.ascent-dental-solutions.com. My website focuses on knowledge, development, training and consultation.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the podcast and thanks so much for listening. My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

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Kevin Coughlin

Kevin Coughlin, DMD, MBA, FAGD, MAGD at Ascent Dental Solutions
Dr. Kevin Coughlin is an expert on the business of dentistry. Growing his practices from 1 to 14 during his career, he’s learned what works and what doesn’t.

And he knows that once you “get it right,” it’s not a great leap to replicate that success over and over again.

Today, in addition to his work as an actual dentist, Dr. Coughlin coaches, consults and speaks to dentists across the country on how to build the practice of their dreams – based on proven processes and procedures.
Kevin Coughlin
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