You have many factors to examine when you aim to increase the profitability of your dental office, from the affordability of your supplies to the way your staff manages patient accounts. Keep reading to learn how to increase profitability and reduce dental office costs associated with providing patients with the best possible care.
25 Solutions to Increase Dental Practice Profitability
When you’re investigating how to make a dental practice profitable, the best approach you can take will be unique to your situation. What works for one practice might be less effective for managing your own dental practice profitability.
Manage the following factors in dental practice profits to obtain the best results:
1. Production Reports
Make sure your team keeps production reports and that you review the reports on a regular basis. You want to check that procedures are charged and coded correctly so all payments are successfully collected.
Additionally, review any adjustments your office needed to make to collections. For example, some patients might have recently lost their insurance coverage, and you want to make sure they are billed accordingly.
2. Payments and Discounts
Offering a small discount to patients paying with cash can help promote your office’s reputation, but be careful with discounts for credit card payments. The bank fees required to process these payments make this method of collection more expensive. Offering senior discounts is another way to reward patients for their loyalty, but avoid setting up significant discounts of 10% or greater.
Administering discounts can be difficult to maintain as your office grows. If you want to transition from your discount patient program to collecting full fees, it helps to market accordingly so you can draw in new patients willing to abide by the office’s current expectations. You can usually replace the volume of your old customers after one year of consistent, effective marketing, which will increase your dental office’s profitability.
3. Financing Options
One way to increase your dental office’s profits is to raise your treatment acceptance rates. Some patients have trouble affording treatments. You can help these patients by offering more flexible options for financing, including payment plans for expensive treatments.
You can also allow patients to use third-party financing options or credit cards. Payment programs increase dental practice profits because they allow patients to get the treatments they need.
4. Scheduling Optimization
You can increase your dental practice’s success if you optimize your scheduling for patients and employees. During your patient scheduling process, aim to reach the maximum amount of patients for each day. Reduce the overall number of visits by scheduling for the maximum amount of time needed for patients’ specific treatments.
It’s important to make good use of all your available operatories each business day. Make sure your employee scheduling is also effective by staggering schedules.
5. Staffing and Recruitment
Every busy dental office needs an airtight recruiting process to find the right employees for the job. While you might have to pay higher wages to hire quality employees, this will help your office secure high productivity and avoid issues with turnover.
Determine which roles are necessary for completing your business’s operations. You might be able to adjust your labor requirements for slow times, giving clinical staff fewer hours when there’s less demand for their services. For example, the doctors might only see patients for certain procedures on specific days of the week.
6. Turnover Rates
If your office has been experiencing an unusually high amount of turnover, it’s time to investigate and find out why. Consider eliminating positions if the office is able to run smoothly without them. In some cases, you may find that certain roles will be better off as part-time positions.
You can also cross-train certain staff members so they are able to fill in for each other. As a result, the office can function during extended absences without hiring temporary workers. Try to avoid paying overtime even as you limit the available positions in your office.
7. Payments and Wages
Provide hourly pay instead of salaries when possible. Hourly pay helps keep the costs of labor low because employees are only compensated for the specific hours they work. Rely on more part-time employees with high flexibility in their schedules to maintain your office’s productivity and lower the cost of benefits and wages.
8. Up-to-Date Technology
A simple way to reduce dental office expenses is to lower the overall cost of staffing. You can do this by relying on the most advanced office technology to handle your scheduling, billing, insurance claims and patient information.
Using technology to schedule patients helps you avoid potentially costly mistakes — everything from double-booking an appointment to miscoding a claim. A voice-activated feature means your staff can schedule appointments without using a transcriptionist. Giving your staff hands-free headsets can make their productivity higher, so they can easily work on the computer during their phone conversations with patients or insurance companies.
9. After-Hours Communication
Using a third-party answering service has many benefits. Your office’s customer service can be improved with remote workers who have the ability to directly engage with customers. Your on-site employees will spend less time reviewing voicemail messages and redialing after missed calls.
The services of call centers can be expensive when you hire one without going through a group purchasing organization (GPO). With the right partner, you will gain an invaluable call center resource. If you stop using an old-fashioned answering machine, you might find that you retain more patients and make more money.
10. Proper Training Practices
Make sure your staff is trained on-site for all responsibilities. Hygienists who will be working directly with the doctors need to know how to perform a standard bleaching procedure and other tasks. Instead of relying on background experience, make sure your staff has the appropriate training regardless of their education or former employment.
Hygienists should ideally handle at least 10 patients each workday, with one soft-tissue management case on average, but if you operate a small practice, you might have few hygienists on your staff or a low amount of patients coming in for care.
11. Cancellations and Broken Appointments
Your office should strive to keep the number of cancellations low. Each missed appointment costs money and time, so if you notice several cancellations, you should try to figure out why patients are missing their appointments.
In some cases, a member of your staff might be mismanaging the scheduling system or lowering patients’ trust in your practice with unprofessional behavior. See if you can get insight or feedback of patients who missed their appointments.
12. Job Assignments
Avoid having your clinical staff do clerical work. When your hygienists also have to make appointments and answer the phone, the office environment becomes chaotic and stressful. Keep the roles at your practice separate but functional.
You want to make sure the workers who are paid higher for their services are performing well. You can outsource certain office services, such as accounts payable, billing or payroll services. If you have managing staff members, make sure they are keeping up with their responsibilities well.
Using the Yellow Pages is an outdated advertising strategy. Opt for more effective and affordable methods of advertising for your business instead, especially content marketing and patient referrals. It helps to work with a partner who specializes in search engine optimization (SEO) to boost your web traffic. The right partner will ultimately help you reach and engage more patients. You can also offer a discount to employees for finding new patients.
14. Procurement Software
Conducting certain functions off-site can help you save money, but make sure you choose to work with third parties that can maximize your profits. For example, using a reliable third-party’s procurement software can help you save money.
Handing over your payroll or income taxes are two good options. You want to reduce your CPA costs as much as possible while also maintaining confidentiality.
15. Maintenance and Service Agreements
Review any agreements you made on your hardware and software. Dental offices usually save money when they avoid service agreements altogether.
16. Your Patterns of Growth
Make sure your projected growth fits the size and capacity of your facility, especially if you’re expecting to make significant gains. As you meet your growth goals, you might need to have a designer make adjustments to your office to add to its capacity.
17. Existing Debt
You can consolidate your business accounts into one to manage your debt. This includes payroll, checking and savings accounts. If you are in a position to negotiate your interest rate, try to get a rate of 4% or lower on your balances so you can offset service charges.
Consider refinancing your mortgage on your practice if you have enough equity. Taking this step can help you pay off your debt or attain a lower interest rate and limit your risks in terms of variable rate financing.
18. Business Insurance
Try to bid out the insurance for your business at least annually. You might be able to reduce your premiums or even extend your insurance policies for disability and overhead coverage.
You can lower the expenses of your malpractice coverage if your doctors attend continuing education courses that make them eligible for insurance discounts. Many of these courses are available completely online and generally concern managing risks for your patients.
19. Outsource Your Marketing
You can save money by outsourcing your marketing. Third-party marketing can help keep accurate record summaries about the services your practice provides and other relevant information. Producing your marketing campaigns is easier when you allow professionals to guide the process.
Promoting your business can increase the interest in your office and relieve the effort and time that goes into doing your own marketing.
20. GPO Dental Supplies Ordering
Operating your office by ordering supplies when you’re close to running out is less efficient than going through a GPO. You can get the most affordable price options with Synergy. Reduce dental supply costs by coordinating your orders with a GPO and making use of the available discounts.
Other ways to save on supplies include:
- Looking for seasonal promotions and other discounts in addition to what you save with a GPO at any time of the year
- Finding high-quality partners with the most affordable supplies
- Checking your items when you get the order to make sure all are accounted for
Using a GPO can help you avoid doing extra work like making an inventory of all of the items you use daily, including disposable materials. Each time you order new supplies, you will have the reassurance that you requested at least a month’s worth of items. Check your invoices to ensure you received all of the products you paid for.
21. Equipment Formulary
Reduce your dental equipment costs and avoid paying pricey interest rates and hidden fees by following a formulary. You can also purchase certified preowned equipment to help reduce your office’s overall costs.
If you want to use a third-party service for finding the best possible costs on your equipment, you can join a group purchasing organization to pinpoint the best prices. As a result, you can avoid shortages of items your office needs on a daily basis.
22. Lab Costs
Make sure you take your office’s budget into account when it comes to lab costs. Select a trusted member of your team to maintain your budget and closely follow the ordering process.
You can obtain discounts with lab suppliers through GPOs that can help you find the best rates. You might be able to independently ask for a discount from some suppliers, but you will typically have better luck working with a GPO.
Another way to handle your lab costs better is to maintain your monthly inventory without stocking more lab supplies than you need. Keeping supplies limited can help prevent spoilage, waste and other issues with your inventory.
23. Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Fees
Many patients rely on dental insurance to get treatment, but billing through dental insurance often results in write-offs, PPO fees and less income netted.
You can negotiate PPO fees through a third-party company and get the insurance companies to increase their reimbursement in some cases. Using an organization gives you higher negotiating power and allows you to find the best rates possible without conducting your own fee reviews.
24. Patient Retention
Patients are often encouraged to try a dental practice based on word-of-mouth referrals from other patients. Many patients are loyal to practices where they feel appreciated and cared for, and they are more likely to tell their friends and family if your interactions with them created positive experiences.
For the best results, make sure your staff is trained in customer service. They should:
- Greet and direct patients who walk through the door in a friendly way.
- Be able to communicate with patients about treatment plans, insurance and other aspects of receiving care.
- Avoid talking negatively about patients in the reception area.
25. Practice Management Software
Your office can also retain patients by upgrading your practice management software to improve their experiences. You can use a third-party’s practice management software in the following ways:
- Provide online access to patients’ information, including their treatments.
- Send confirmation text messages and emails directly to patients as reminders.
- Email instructions for post-op so the patient and their caretaker have access to a copy of recovery information.
Join Synergy Dental Partners Today
Joining our dental GPO offers many benefits, including affordable pricing on supplies and procurement software. Synergy can help you save on your supplies, equipment and lab costs. Contact us for more information about our services.