Using data to guide the direction of a dental practice

A computer software report can tell dentists what is happening in their practices pretty easily and can help them find missed opportunities.

Dentists can check the pulse of their practices by running a monthly report of key performance indicators (KPIs) through their dental software program that will help them manage the performance of the practice and assist the team to make the necessary adjustments proactively to hit their annual goals.

With these reports, the dentists and/or office manager can look for trends and plan accordingly.

The types of KPIs can include:

  • Collections report — Pull three months to look for trends and compare them to adjusted production over the same period of time the previous year. (The percentage of production that was collected should be 97 to 99 percent, ideally.)
  • New patient referrals — Know where your new patients are coming from. This report will help dentists track the return on investment in their marketing dollars spent throughout the year and help manage their thank-you letters going out to existing patients who have referred patients into the practice.
  • Insurance aging report — This report shows how much is owed to the practice by insurance companies. Dentists will often find claims that need to be resubmitted for payment. These reports should be produced every week.

Jonathan Ford, DDS, practices in Huntington Beach and uses his dental software to analyze his collections, production and new patients.

“Your decision making is only as good as the data that you have. That’s why I think having data-harvesting software is a must in today’s practice,” Ford said. “Our number of new patients might be great, but if the number of active patients isn’t increasing that means we are not doing a good job retaining our core patient base. A red flag goes up and alerts us that we need to make changes.”

Ford also looks at his hygiene numbers like production and total number of perio maintenance or scaling and root planning procedures. Additionally, he looks at production per hour for all providers. A new statistic that he recently began tracking is the number of new patients that are considered in-network.

John Reed, DDS, is an associate at a Stockton practice. He uses his dental software program to generate “day sheets” on a daily bases. This shows him several things: every procedure done on a patient that day, the production for each procedure (this is the office’s fee) and which provider the production was assigned to. It also shows all the payments that came in for that day, including the “write-offs” when an insurance check is received and the practice has to reduce its rate to the contracted insurance rate. 

“I look at the day sheet every day to make sure everything I did was assigned to me, was the procedure that I actually did that day and that if a write-off seems out of place or too much, I can discuss it with the office manager while it is still current,” Reed said. “Sometimes, the schedule changes or treatment changes and what gets put in to the computer will differ from what was scheduled.”

At the end of every month, Reed requests a copy of the lab receipts as well. This is so he can see where his costs are coming from every month and to ensure that he is not being charged for another doctor’s case. 

Other KPIs that can be run include:

  • Production by procedure code — Dentists will learn which procedures they are using and which ones they are not.
  • 4000 code report — Learn what percentage of hygiene production are 4000 codes. Hygiene should be 30 percent of production in an established practice.
  • Incomplete treatment — This report shows treatment diagnosed and not yet completed. It is important to track this information and keep it current. Dentists can print this report mid-month and contact the patients on the list to help fill their schedules.

For more information and practice support tips, visit cda.org/practicesupport.