Last month, we looked at 3 ways to increase production quickly. Let’s look now at 3 ways to increase efficiency. Dental practices are businesses and businesses that are more efficient are more successful. As practices move through the natural evolution, they typically end up being less efficient over time. This is often compensated for by the hiring of additional team members, and while it may be necessary to have those jobs in place, each job is losing some percentage of benefit due to inefficiency in the practice.
Here are three ways to improve efficiency as the practice grows or changes over time.
- Document all operational systems.
This one is simple to say but takes time and focus to achieve. Every practice should periodically review each of its systems for efficiency. Otherwise, each system will gradually break down to some level of inefficiency which results in wasted time, lost revenue, and higher overhead. Every practice that wants to increase revenue every year will need to focus on updating and upgrading systems. The best way to accomplish that is to formally document, in a step-by-step manner, EVERY system in the practice.
- Don’t be fooled by technology.
Always evaluate the addition of technology based on four principles. Will the technology increase speed? Will the technology increase quality of care by 5% or more? Will the technology increase efficiency? Will the technology provide a return on investment? Typically, our recommendation is that any new technology should have an affirmative answer to at least two of these questions.
We often find practices being convinced that they must have the newest and the latest technology, at great expense, only to find that the improvements are marginal. For example, is it worthwhile to make a large investment for a 1% improvement in clinical quality? Some practitioners would say yes, but the general wisdom is that the answer is no.
Don’t be coerced, influenced, or even fooled into jumping on the newest technology bandwagon thinking that it will improve efficiency in the practice.
- Focus on a small number of key metrics.
We call these the “mighty few.” Practices need to know metrics such as revenue, collections, number of active patients, number of new patients, overhead, and a few more. After that, most numbers are secondary in importance. Most practices do not know their numbers and do not regularly track them, even though they are available.
Efficiency can be understood through measurement. Practices that are not aware of certain key numbers and exactly what they mean, AND that know the right actions to take when those numbers are out of an acceptable range, will be the ones that are most likely to become inefficient. Keep in mind that it is easy to confuse busyness with efficiency.
If you want to increase practice revenue every year, then a continual focus on efficiency is essential. It begins by implementing and documenting the major practice systems and updating them on a periodic basis. It also means that not every technology will actually increase efficiency, and some might decrease it.
Finally, knowing the key numbers or the “mighty few” will reveal areas of inefficiency that can be successfully addressed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Roger P. Levin, DDS is the CEO and Founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 clients to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written more than 60 books and over 4,000 articles. He also regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world.
To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit www.levingroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.