Setting new goals for your dental practice can be extremely beneficial for the entire office, serving as a fresh start to tackle projects or processes that need to be optimized. Setting year-long goals enables your practice to be more productive and efficient in the new year.
Last year presented unprecedented circumstances to the dental industry, resulting in profound challenges like triaging patients without a face-to-face option, generating revenue with fewer patients, and maintaining staffing levels. Now more than ever, it’s important to thoughtfully compile a list of how your practice can be better in 2021.
Vyne Dental commissioned the State of the Dental Industry study, a survey of 400 of our clients from across the United States in November and December 2020 to understand the real impact of 2020 on practices and how they’re feeling going into 2021. With the results of the study in mind, here are seven goals for your practice to consider.
Understand Your Patients
Active patients are a critical component to practice success. In our study, we asked about patients’ views on resuming dental services:
- 30% of practice leaders said their patients are actively seeking treatment or services.
- 21% said patients are ready to resume treatment or services.
- 56% are willing to resume if safety protocols are in place.
- 8% of patients will not resume treatment or services until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.
These findings mean that most patients are okay with resuming dental services if safety protocols are in place. Consider sending a communication that outlines your current safety protocols. You might also want to let your patients know when your staff has received the COVID-19 vaccine. Understanding your patients’ views and being transparent and diligent in your office’s handling of this pandemic will go a long way with patient trust.
Adopt Automated Technology
Automated technology has enabled the industry to be more resilient in uncertain times. The pandemic increased the demand for technology options that allowed practices to keep functioning amidst complete shutdown and gradual reopening.
The top three motivators for seeking new software in 2021 were to reduce paperwork (16%), modernize the office (14%), and reduce the costs of current software solutions (13%).
When it comes to software investment in 2021, 24% are planning to spend less than $299 a month, 11% plan to spend less than $500 a month, and almost 40% were not sure what their practice planned to invest in technology.
Consider what your motivation and budget are for technology solutions that can make your practice run more efficiently and provide value to patients.
Expand Services Offered
As a result of the pandemic, a small percentage of practice leaders may consider selling in 2021 (8%). Four percent may consider a DSO affiliation, and 3% may consider merging with another practice. Just under 1% said they are considering a local hospital or health system affiliation.
Most practices (84%) are considering “other” changes in 2021. When asked to specify, responses included dropping in-network status with all insurance providers, expanding their services portfolio, and offering in-house patient payment plans.
Expanding the services you offer can be a competitive advantage for your practice, show your commitment to your patients’ oral health, and bring in additional revenue streams.
In addition to expanding services, also consider that there are millions of uninsured patients because of COVID-19 and subsequent job loss.
Implementing a dental membership program allows patients to receive important dental care while providing your practice with the opportunities to differentiate your service offerings, help more patients, and increase revenue.
Take Advantage of Continuing Education Opportunities
According to the eLearning Company, companies that provide or encourage learning opportunities can generate more than 25% more revenue per employee.
A challenge many practices face is keeping up with changes and regulations of payers. In fact, industry updates and regulations (17%) were among the top three challenges practices anticipate this year.
Encourage your staff to attend educational sessions virtually to address this area and let them select other training courses to attend. This will help them do their jobs better, gain industry and specialized insights, and be happier in the workplace.
Invest in the Staff You Have
Based on current economic conditions and patient demand, 46% of practices said they are not planning to hire additional staff in 2021. Practices also are not planning to adjust current staffers’ schedules. In fact, 87% said that based on current conditions, they are not planning to turn part-time staff into full-time staff, or vice versa.
When it comes to perspectives on whether recruitment may be challenging for practices in 2021, the responses were split. Forty-eight percent said they felt it would be challenging, and 51% said they did not think it would be challenging.
Regardless of whether you are planning to recruit staff this year, keeping morale high should be a top priority. Investing in the staff you have today can go a long way in boosting job satisfaction. Investing in things like continued education is important, but investments don’t always have to come with a price tag.
Engaging with staff on personal and professional levels, showing interest in each staff member’s personal well-being, makes them feel like they matter beyond their daily role in the practice. Professionally, take the time to offer encouragement when things go well and even when they do not. Think about ways that you can safely get together as a team and have some fun. For now, that may mean virtually.
Develop Your Marketing Strategy
When asked what actions could make their practice more productive or profitable in 2021, 38% said marketing. Marketing can often be a low priority when things are busy, but it’s an important topic.
When planning for 2021, you need to think about how your practice is going to remain competitive and how you will work to build patient loyalty while attracting new business. Tactics like social media, online reviews, and the company website take time and critical thinking to implement or enhance.
Think about how you can better serve your market and what communications channels are the most complementary to your message. Then, create a marketing plan that helps position you as a credible dental resource.
Submit Accurate Claims
It is important to submit complete and correct claims in an effort to get paid as quickly as possible. In addition to keeping up with coding updates and being more diligent in accuracy of claims information, you may also consider an electronic claims submission solution that can validate claims before they are transmitted.
The ideal claims processing solution will proactively analyze and prevent claims rejections while also bringing attention to payer attachment requirements that often slow the reimbursement process.
Mr. Roberts is the president of Vyne Dental. He has 20 years of experience in the dental industry, including leadership roles at Weave HQ, Henry Schein One, and Henry Schein Practice Solutions. He manages the day-to-day operations and leads strategic planning for the Vyne Dental product portfolio. Also, he is the founder of the Stepfamily Network online educational platform.
Vyne Dental’s objective for conducting the 2021 Dental Practice Outlook Survey was to identify opportunities to better support its current and future Vyne Dental customers. The informational data aforementioned are the results from active Vyne Dental customers who agreed to participate in the survey, which was conducted between November 19 and December 9, 2020. The data provided is for convenience and informational purposes only.