Like every other business, dental practices are constantly striving to improve and grow. Profits are not the only yardstick for measuring growth. Gross revenue, patient volume and other metrics are equally valuable. Some clinics like to focus on one particular area each year while others prefer a more comprehensive approach.
However identifying the areas that need improvement and making changes is not always an easy task. In fact, the better your clinic’s performance the harder it is to find weaknesses. When something goes wrong, people are motivated to find the underlying cause. Unfortunately the reverse is not true. Very few practices strive for improvement when they are already successful by most industry standards. So what can you do to make your dental practice better?
Review the Numbers
Dental clinics are often hamstrung by the lack of access to detailed information. Sure you have your practice management software that can spit out multiple reports each month. But can you really dig deep into the numbers that define the success or failure of your practice? The reality is that most practice management software products are not designed to analyze your business data.
For instance, the application may tell you that gross revenue has plateaued this year. Does it make it easy to investigate the underlying reasons? The answer is usually no. Another drawback of practice management software is that you cannot track your progress in real-time. At most these apps can give you a snapshot of what has already happened at the end of the week or the month. That doesn’t really help you make changes in time.
Use Business Intelligence Applications
You need software that is specifically designed to provide business intelligence and actionable insights. This is where business intelligence software comes in. These applications are much more advanced than the standard practice management software. In most cases they provide a live dashboard that shows how the clinic is performing in real-time. Not at the end of the week or the month but right now. This lets you track progress throughout the day, identify problems and implement solutions before it gets out of hand.
BI (business intelligence) tools have the ability to analyze different types of data pertaining to your clinic. Suppose you want to know why gross revenue has plateaued even though patient volume is up compared to the previous year. The usual answer in such a scenario is a change in fee schedule or maybe the type of insurance you accept. But what if that’s not the actual cause? The BI app can help you find out. Is it because the treatment acceptance rate for patients is down? Or maybe delays in insurance processing accounts for the difference. The answers are all in the data, if only you know where to look. Business intelligence software can show you the way!
Implement the Necessary Changes
It’s not enough to identify and diagnose the problem. You need to come up with a solution and implement it as well. You need more than just data for problem solving. You need actionable insights that will help you make changes. Continuing the earlier scenario, suppose you find that treatment acceptance rates have dropped among your patients. You’ve now identified that the reason is ineffective presentation skills.
Now you need to implement a solution. Maybe that requires providing more training for your employees or using modern education software instead of old-fashioned paper handouts. It is important to track the progress and measure the outcomes. This way, you know what’s working and what isn’t. If something is not working, then you start the process again. It may seem daunting but it is certainly better than flying blind!