Financial Literacy Is Dental Literacy

Bruce Baird, DDS, and Michael D. Brown


Practice owners are tasked with playing dual roles—dentist and business owner. While traditional schooling and continuing education resources train dentists on new procedures and best practices for improving their clinical skills, the art of running a business is not as commonly discussed.

In fact, many dentists must learn on their own how to run their practices successfully. From determining how to effectively schedule patients to finding the best ways to communicate with staff, dentists need to take initiative to discover management styles that best equip them for future prosperity.

The Role of Financial Literacy

Financial literacy is key to the future profitability of any business. While practices across the country slowly recover from restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to assess the financial health of the business and identify new ways to generate revenue is paramount.

There are simple steps dentists can take to help streamline their profitability. By offering payment options, such as plans offered by Compassionate Finance, practices can help patients afford their dental care during times of economic downturn while also providing a new monthly revenue stream for the practice. Recurring monthly revenue is the most important key to financial stability.

Payment plans create a win-win by allowing for reoccurring payments with interest to help set a business up for long-term financial growth, while also ensuring patients receive necessary procedures that may have previously been cost-prohibitive.

Each practice has varying needs and a different overall financial infrastructure. Prior to implementing tools that generate increased profits and cost savings in the long term, practice owners should first evaluate their business using predictive analytics, such as QuickBooks. The point here is to be disciplined and use tools to maximize your effectiveness.

Many dentists rely on their accounting departments to provide a profit and loss report between 30 and 45 days after submission, but this habit can leave them at risk and unable to view the full scope of the team’s productivity.

Predictive analytical tools allow dentists to review and understand production reports, discover profitability and trends, and identify deficiencies within the business that can be improved. These insights can help refine procedures and operations to create a more efficient business environment and eliminate wasted resource costs.

Having a full view of the health of a practice allows dentists to set achievable and reliable goals. From better scheduling tactics to making procedure recommendations, there are many small ways to capitalize on working hours during the week that will increase overall revenue.

Billing practices also play a large part in understanding overall business operations. Many dentists waste money on traditional paper billing methods, which typically delay potential revenue and can ultimately lead to unpaid bills.

There are simple ways to overhaul billing practices to improve return on investment and payment patterns. Automated billing options such as Abella can send electronic reminders to patients to collect on otherwise “uncollectible” patient pays, helping a practice receive payments in a timely manner.

Your Turn

When it comes to operations and overall profitability, dental practice owners have the power to align their financial goals, improve operational procedures, and ultimately provide better care for patients in need. By learning from past procedures and trends, dentists can predict potential revenue and identify ways to enhance it.

A dentist’s promise to provide the best patient care begins and ends with affordability and accessibility. Financial literacy is critical to becoming an effective and successful provider. Once you learn about your options and establish new protocols, you can fully offer the care your patients deserve.

Dr. Baird is a well-respected cosmetic and family dentist based in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. He also is the founder of the Productive Dentist Academy, a consulting and marketing company that equips dentists with strategies to improve treatment planning. He additionally is the founder and chairman of the board for Comprehensive Finance Inc, a financial services company that offers payment solutions for dentists and other healthcare providers. With nearly 35 years of experience leading a successful dental practice, Granbury Dental Center, Dr. Baird is an expert voice in dentistry and private practice ownership.

Mr. Brown is CEO and president of CFI, a fast-growing fintech company offering flexible financial solutions for healthcare providers. He is a commercially minded healthcare innovator with more than 25 years of experience best known as the CEO of a company that has pioneered a human-centered, technology-driven approach to solving one of the most difficult aspects of healthcare services by helping organizations tackle the cost and complexity of billing and collections issues in a way that empowers both patients and practitioners. Brown’s leadership is forged on a common belief that simplifying the payment process helps all patients get access to the high-quality care they deserve.

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