By Gary Kadi for CareCredit

Most dentists measure and track key metrics in their practice, including production and collections. But there are three critical numbers that are often “invisible” to the doctor. These invisible numbers create blind spots that can impact the practice, dentist, team and patients.

Ignoring these numbers will leave the practice status quo; patients will not get any healthier, the team will not grow and the dentist’s quality of life and finances will remain the same. Conversely, knowing, measuring and managing these three numbers can increase efficiency, effectiveness, team motivation and the dentist’s financial peace of mind. In my experience, dentists who implement the processes behind these invisible numbers produce, on average, $360,000 more in the first year.

Invisible Number 1: Recare

The goal of recare is not just to fill the schedule; it’s to help patients get healthy.

This invisible number starts with changing the mindset of the practice. The dentist and team no longer react to what patients or insurance dictate. Instead, they proactively establish a practice standard of care called a Healthy Mouth Baseline—the minimum level for the patient’s soft tissue, hard tissue and overall body health the practice is committed to delivering.

Having a Healthy Mouth Baseline means patients are asked about their overall health, instead of merely identifying “what hurts.” Then, when dentistry is diagnosed, it’s tied to the patient’s dental and overall health.

The goal should be 80% of patients scheduling and showing up for their recare appointment. To achieve this goal, the recare call needs to communicate concern, authenticity and passion for the patient’s dental and overall health. This is easy to do when the team understands that soft tissue disease is directly connected to heart attack, stroke, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis—these are all sourced from the mouth.

Invisible Number 2: True Treatment Acceptance

True treatment acceptance is the percent of treatment accepted versus treatment presented.

If every patient accepts only a portion of the care recommended, that’s not 100% treatment acceptance. We’ve found that a reasonable goal for true treatment acceptance is 67%, because one-third of patients will accept the dentist’s recommendations no matter what; one-third won’t, no matter what; and the remaining one-third may or may not, depending on the value the team communicates, and if they can help patients overcome barriers to treatment.

To do this effectively, we’ve identified 5 steps:

  1. Identify the patient’s personal motivators—his or her family, occupation, recreation—whatever it is that made the patient come in for treatment. Then communicate how care aligns with his or her motivator.
  2. Use the Healthy Mouth Baseline, and educate patients on why the dentist established a standard level of care.
  3. Present care with the problem, consequences of inaction and then the solution. The patient must “own” the problem first before he or she will consider treatment as a solution.
  4. Share information among the team so there is consistency.
  5. Fit treatment into a patient’s lifestyle. This means scheduling to fit the patient’s needs, and overcoming financial barriers by offering patient payment solutions like third-party patient financing.

Invisible Number 3: Daily Primary Outcomes

Daily primary outcomes give the dentist the amount of dentistry—by team member—that needs to be on the schedule every day to meet the practice’s production goals.

For example, if the practice goal is to produce a million dollars a year with one dentist working 16 days a month with one hygienist; when you do the math, it means the doctor needs to do $4,500 a day and the hygienist $1,000 a day to meet the goal. This gives the appointment coordinator a definitive goal. It’s her job that, by the end of the day, taking into account all the changes that can happen, the doctor has $4,500 and the hygienist has $1,000 on the schedule.

These three invisible numbers should be measured and monitored by the team and doctor. The daily primary outcomes is the urgent blinking light that affects all other things, and should be reviewed by the doctor on a weekly basis. The other two numbers should be reviewed by the doctor on a monthly basis. The team, managed by a team leader, should be looking at the numbers every morning, especially the daily primary outcomes because that number is their guiding metric of success for the day.

When all three of these “invisible” numbers are proactively managed, measured and monitored, the doctor and team can get off the production rollercoaster, confidently take vacations and consistently know they are on track to make their practice goals. They’ll also find the doctor has more enthusiasm and energy, knowing they’re creating health instead of fixing teeth, which will make their days happier and their patients healthier.

Speaker, author and researcher Gary Kadi collaborates with TDA Perks Program-partner CareCredit to develop educational materials for the dental industry. Mr Kadi is not endorsed by TDA Perks Program. Mr. Kadi re-energizes practices and helps dentists implement systems and raise their profit margins. He authored several books, including “Million Dollar Dentistry,” which has been distributed in 37 countries with over 80,000 copies in print. He recently wrote a book for periodontists, “Stop! The Bleeding: The Seven Steps to Scaling Your Perio Practice.” He was named a Leader in Dental Consulting by Dentistry Today, is a member of The Academy of Dental Management Consultants, and a board member of Alliance for Oral Health Across Borders. Mr. Kadi is Chairman of Partners in Complete Health and an Advisory Board Member for the Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Education Fund and American Academy of Oral Systemic Health.

This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other advisors with respect to any information presented. Synchrony Financial and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit, (collectively, “Synchrony”) makes no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions in The Invisible Numbers that Impact Practice Success are the sole opinions of the author.