Once a patient is in the dental chair, the next step to running a successful practice is to increase case acceptance rates. Once informed of the treatment needed, finding a way to convert even a small portion of patients from “Let me think it over” to “Let’s get started,” offers a significant boost to a practice’s bottom line.
The best way to increase the number of patients who say “yes” is by investing in their comprehensive exams. The practices with the highest productivity utilize the full potential of every staff member by educating patients and gathering information, while the doctors spend time examining and diagnosing the state of a patient’s oral health.
It’s not just telling patients about their oral health problems that can help improve case acceptance rates, either. Our data shows a five percentage point improvement in case acceptance rates when dentists use intraoral images to help illustrate the oral health concern they’re discussing with a patient. That small improvement in case acceptance can yield a quick $5,000-6,000 improvement in production.
As the old adage goes, “A picture is worth a 1,000 words” really rings true for many dental patients. Providing patients with a visual tour of their mouths helps to promote awareness. Intraoral pictures, along with exams, provides staff members the opportunity to discuss treatment options with patients and answer any questions they may have.
Perio is an Underserved Goldmine
Becoming aware of the current state of their oral health remains a key part to getting patients to say yes to case acceptance. Patients can’t agree to a solution for an oral health problem they don’t even know they have. In many instances, a practice can hurt its case acceptance rates by failing to inform patients of necessary treatment.
According to studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all Americans suffer from some degree of periodontal disease, and that 60 percent of patients who visit the dentist once a year suffer from some form of gum disease. These numbers remain consistent with studies conducted by the Levin Group that show over 70 percent of all dental practices fail to regularly conduct full mouth probing and recording.
By failing to catch and inform patients about their gum disease, practices miss easy opportunities to improve on case acceptance rates. Based on available benchmarks, approximately 10 to 15 percent of hygiene patients go underdiagnosed. (Practice Analytics identifies underdiagnosed patients by using the perio chart and ADA guidelines.) Assuming a practice sees 250 to 300 patients a month, this number translates to 25 to 30 patients in need to treatment a month going undiagnosed. With perio fees of approximately $300, a practice could increase its revenue by $7,500 to $9,000 a month.
The Right Information is Key
Today’s practice management systems contain tremendous amounts of undiscovered data that could be better utilized and leveraged to drive production. Tracking what patients do (or not do) will help offices identify several production opportunities within the hygiene and restorative programs. Adding up those opportunities can yield an incremental production opportunity as high as 20-25% of today’s production.
Having the right information is key to maximizing production opportunities across the practice. Leveraging that information will improve overall performance for hygienists and doctors by helping them understand and be accountable for what drives the overall success of the practice.