Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

How Much is Enough?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Guest post by Sally McKenzie, CEO McKenzie Management

Naturally, one of the first questions many dentists ask is, “How much should be budgeted for marketing?”  For startup practices or offices that seek to market and grow aggressively, 4-6% of projected production should be allocated for marketing. The typical dentist should budget about $30k to $50k for the first year. For established practices, 3-4% of projected production should be allocated. The typical established dentist should budget $20k to $40k per year.

New dentists commonly assume that because they have a large family or are active in their church these individuals will be the new patients that sustain their practices. What is not considered is this may amount to only 20 to 50 people. They don’t fully realize how many new patients they need each month to make payments on the practice, pay the staff and themselves.

Marketing is an investment in the success of your practice. If you cut the marketing budget or have an insufficient budget, you are cutting the flow of patients to your practice. Without patients there is no practice, plain and simple. Invest in your practice. Create a budget and spend it intelligently – which brings me to my next point.

Marketing is far more than a single ‘Campaign’ or ‘Event’

I have watched dentist after dentist throw thousands of dollars into so called “marketing campaigns”, convinced that this one will bring in all the patients they need. It’s the “silver bullet,” the answer to all of their struggles. The campaign kicks off. The mailers are sent, the ads are placed, the special offers are promoted, the radio jingles are playing, and, yes, the phone is ringing. The schedule is full. Ninety days later, it’s over and so is the rush of new patients.

What happened? Was the campaign really a waste of money? Why are there holes in the schedule again? Who’s responsible for this disaster? Who, what, why – many questions and concerns arise when lots of money is spent and limited return is achieved. I have a word of advice for you – STOP.

Stop looking at marketing as a one-time external event. Marketing is taking place in every interaction with every patient. It is what happens when your business staff answers the phone. It is what takes place when you explain a procedure to a patient. It is the layer of grime on your front door that no one on staff notices because they’re always going in and out the back. Marketing is the small stuff and the big stuff. It is the “whole package.”

SallySally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, www.mckenziemgmt.com, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company.

Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com

What New Dentists Can Gain from Losing

Friday, April 6th, 2018

Guest post by Nelson Kanning, DDS

Why would anyone boast about being a loser, especially if losing involved money? Who in their right mind would consider losing money a gift? Most dental practice owners and even associates would throw a fit at the idea of setting a goal to lose money. But, I’m proposing being a loser can make sense, particularly if you’re a new dentist.

Until recently it was hard to admit that being a loser is one of my greatest gifts. The majority of my experience with teams has been as a loser. High school football; we lost. I played for a Division I football team that was bowl champ the year prior to me joining. Then, we lost. Losing used to be tough. However, now I’m finding being a loser is a joy.

I’d say this revelation happened about six years ago. I was sitting in the audience at the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s (AACD) annual scientific session in Seattle. During one of the opening sessions, I became curious about the awards being given to offices who participated in their Whitening Challenge. Offices who participate in the AACD Charitable Foundation’s Whitening Challenge agree to donate a portion of profits from their whitening to the Give Back a Smile program, which restores the smiles of survivors of domestic violence. And one office received the award for donating the most profit from whitening to the AACD. That office’s benevolence inspired me. Their team was excited about the program. The doctors felt good about the service to their patients and to a much greater cause. That day, I realized that program had to be part of my practice.

It seems fit, here, to reveal that dentistry is my second career. Through my twenties, I made a living as a professional fundraiser asking people to donate money to leadership programs, support scholarships, and buildings for a private liberal arts college. During that time, I was always fascinated by the joy the donor received knowing their money was making an impact for someone deserving. The Whitening Challenge has given me that same feeling of joy. It is a whole lot more fun to give money away freely than it ever was to ask for money.

Does donating increase my bottom line? Who knows. But ultimately, who cares. You’re not a dentist solely for the profit. Remember, you said it yourself in your interview: “I really want to help people and make a difference.” Boom, here is your chance. Finding a cause for your practice, like the Whitening Challenge, can make instant connections with skeptical patients as well as entice new patients into our chairs. It has given my team a cause they are proud to stand behind and excited to share with our community. However, it mostly reminds me that when you do the right thing, despite your overhead, your monster loans, and your financial ambition, being a loser just feels good.

AACD.Blog.4.7.18.Kanning (002)Nelson earned a BS at William Jewell College, with an emphasis in Leadership and Biology. After graduating, he served two years as a leadership trainer and capital campaign consultant for Sigma Nu fraternity. Although he enjoyed his mission-driven work in the non-profit sector, Nelson decided to pursue his original desire for a career as a dentist.

Dr. Kanning served on the AACD Charitable Foundation Board of Trustees from 2015 to 2017 and served as the chair from 2016-2017. His office has participated in the Whitening Challenge since 2013 and won the Bright White award in 2014 for donating the most whitening proceeds of all participating practices in that year. Since his office has started participating in the Whitening Challenge, they have donated nearly $25,000 in whitening proceeds.

 

Collections and Your Practice: Success with Patients and Insurance Companies

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

Guest post by Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

Practice collections have started the trend towards a steady drop in what dentists are collecting for their work. Without a thorough understanding of insurance benefits and collection policies, paired with a good communication strategy, the ripple-effect on staff morale and productivity can exacerbate this decline.

Insurance Collections

Submitted claims is a first step to insurance collections. If weeks pass before anyone confirms that claims were received and being processed, that time has been lost. Insurance carriers do not make a habit of contacting dental practices to let them know if additional critical information or documentation is needed. Electronic claim services embedded in a practice management software are your first line of defense. For example, in XLDent, with one-click, claim status tracks claims instantly; easily avoiding costly delays.

Fee Schedules XLDent.TND.Blog.Electronic.Claims.Status.3.21.18.jgep (002)are a critical part of making sure your office is making accurate contractual adjustments. EOBs are not always the easiest to decipher, especially for staff with little or no experience with insurance billing. Ensure your team is prepared with payer contract details and fee schedule information so they can post accurate adjustments. Patients will appreciate attention to this detail too, so that your treatment plan estimates are as close to accurate as they can be.

Patient Collections

Every practice should have a written financial policy that lays out the terms involved with insurance processing – what is filed, by whom, and where the responsibilities lie. Payer structures and guidelines can change, so review this policy annually, and adjust it as needed. Any changes should require an updated review and signature from your patients.

It’s no surprise that Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) guide your practice through critical business processes, and collections are no exception. Establish a collection’s timeline, which includes number and frequency of communications, and consequences for non-payment. Practice administrators should adhere to them, but not without exception. Administrator’s should bring any individual patient concerns or circumstances that need review to the practice owner for further discussion.

Think about how patients want to interact with your practice nowadays, including making payments. XLPortal is a comprehensive solution allowing patients to not only make payments online, but also verify and update medical forms before an appointment, view upcoming treatment plans, and more. Convenience can often be a compelling factor in getting that payment sooner rather than later.

The best way to tackle collections head on is to start with the basics. There is always an opportunity to turn declining collections around, and practices just starting out should strive to establish successful procedures from the start.

To connect with XLDent, call 800-328-2925 or email xldentinfo@xldent.comDawn

Dawn Christodoulou is the President/Owner of XLDent. She has more than 25 years of experience computerizing dental offices and helping both new and established practices streamline electronic workflows for increased efficiency, improve patient engagement, and achieve maximum profitability. Dawn is also a member of ADA SCDI Working Groups 11.1 Standard Clinical Architecture and 11.9 Core Reference Data Set.

4 Ways Dentists Will Grow Their Practice in 2018

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Guest post by Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

I have to imagine that most every practice has a 2018 goal of growth. Now it’s time to start implementing your plans so changes can take hold and start producing results. Goals are a means to keep everyone motivated and pushing for excellence. Investing in new technology can certainly provide advantages that make you stand out from the crowd, and get new patients coming in your door. Current patients will take notice too, and feel confident that they made the right choice entrusting you with their family’s dental care.

Let’s first talk about recall. Maybe it’s not your strong suit, but it needs to be! Seventy-five percent of your revenue comes in through your hygienists, and getting people scheduled is the first major hurdle to making that happen. There are many ways to improve what you are already doing to reach patients, but perhaps you would rather this particular problem would solve itself? Automated patient communications are the answer to the time-consuming and challenging task of reactivating dormant patients and reminding scheduled ones to come in. Using a customizable combination of phone calls, emails, and texts, front desk staff can better utilize their time interacting with patients and focus on patient experience.

Many offices gain or lose staff after the holidays. Either way, the start of a fresh year is a chance to review standard operating procedures, especially if they haven’t been updated in a while. SOPs provide guidance to each member of your team, so they always know what part of the workflow is whose responsibility. Better to lay out practice expectations at the beginning, so that your new, or re-assigned, team member fits into your practice like a puzzle piece from the start.

Faster and mXLDent.Blog.1.21.18 (002)ore accurate payment processing, clearer insurance benefit coverage, and electronic insurance payments (EFT) are a few focus areas for those looking to streamline payer and insurance services. To maximize these options, integration of the service is a must. XLDent’s integrated ERA solution not only auto-populates the payment amount during the posting process, but also the contractual adjustments from Electronic Remittance Advice.

One of the best things to do when there is a slow-down and the winter doldrums set in is to retrain or “tune up” your team. Webinars are a great way to kick this off, but on-site and live web training are important options to consider as well. They give you a more hands-on training that isn’t quite the same as watching a video. Whether it’s appointment reminder automation or staff education, this year, set out with your best foot forward for growth!

To connect with XLDent, call 800-328-2925 or email xldentinfo@xldent.comDawn

Dawn Christodoulou is the President/Owner of XLDent. She has more than 25 years of experience computerizing dental offices and helping both new and established practices streamline electronic workflows for increased efficiency, improve patient engagement, and achieve maximum profitability. Dawn is also a member of ADA SCDI Working Groups 11.1 Standard Clinical Architecture and 11.9 Core Reference Data Set.

Strength in Numbers

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Guest post by Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

The modern dental office is becoming fully integrated into the digital age, with the ability to capture and analyze much of the data it generates on a weekly basis. Close monitoring can guide the Practice Owner to reflect on which marketing methods are generating the most leads, how successful collection efforts are, and production trends.

In a matter of seconds, a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) should tell you whether your practice is growing, maintaining, or starting to decline. XLDent offers a brand new KPI Dashboard feature to help you gather this data quickly, and formXLDent.TND.Blog.Dec.2017.Dashboard2 (002)at it into easy-to-read graphs, giving you a window to the health of your dental practice. This Dashboard is mobile-friendly and accessible from anywhere, anytime.

An analysis of your Clinical team can tell you several things:

-Production is the most basic building block of your business, so these daily, weekly, and monthly totals are a great place to start looking for trends, peaks and valleys. They can be useful to determine whether you should think about adding more staff to manage your patient care without delays or protracted schedules.

-Is the hygiene team making sure to schedule the next recall appointment with the patients before they leave the treatment room? Recall metrics need to be clearly visible, concise, and up to date.

-Are your recommended treatment plans being accepted, scheduled, and followed through or are patients not feeling confident in your team? Perhaps you will need to add education for patients who are unsure if planned treatment is truly needed.

-Are overhead costs crippling your ability to run a successful business? The materials and equipment you choose (and the method they are deployed) should be reviewed periodically, so that modifications can be made, where appropriate.

An analysis of your Administrative Team will point out the following areas:

-The number of new patients coming into the practice each month. Are they referred from satisfied patients, calling you because of a successful marketing campaign, and is your office creating the best experience once they come in?

-Are your Collections being handled in a timely manner? Not everyone is comfortable asking patients to pay their balances, so it’s a good idea to seek out the right staff person to tackle this roll.

With all this information at your fingertips, performance goals can be set and achieved. Practice growth decisions should include clear expectations of what your team is capable of, and what systems and positions may need to be modified going forward. Keeping track of your practice’s growth, and potential, doesn’t need to be a major time commitment. The new XLDent KPI Dashboard can provide a window into where you’re headed in just minutes.

To connect with XLDent, call 800-328-2925 or email xldentinfo@xldent.comDawn

Dawn Christodoulou is the President/Owner of XLDent. She has more than 25 years of experience computerizing dental offices and helping both new and established practices streamline electronic workflows for increased efficiency, improve patient engagement, and achieve maximum profitability. Dawn is also a member of ADA SCDI Working Groups 11.1 Standard Clinical Architecture and 11.9 Core Reference Data Set.

A Smart Start to Practice Growth

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Guest post by Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

As the owner of a practice starting out or a stagnant one trying to grow, you are faced with figuring out what impacts practice growth the most. When properly planned, three areas can help to maximize growth from day one.

  1. Systems

You’re likely not thinking about efficiency or productivity during your first days or weeks in business. With a handful of patients each day, you’re not faced with bottlenecks, communication gaps, or duplication of processes. Alas, you soon will be. Systems minimize gaps or overlaps in your daily processes. They are needed for productive workflows and profitability.

Create standard operating procedures (SOPs) early on. Doing so sets the stage for staff expectations, accountability measures, and helps you measure areas of success or needs for improvement. Early on, you are likely running your practice without a full team. You have an assistant also taking on the front desk role, because you’re simply not busy enough yet to hire a full-time admin team member. As you bring on new staff, a written set of SOPs will ensure each team member is prepared and knows their responsibilities. Systems should be created knowing they will evolve as your practice grows and staff roles change. XLDent provides each practice, whether just starting out or transitioning from another PMS, a core set of SOPs to start with. They are a fantastic starting point for those new to establishing systems, and are customized by each practice as needed.

  1. XLDent blog photo Mockup-12-19-16Reviews and Referrals

I doubt there’s a practice starting out today that doesn’t have an online presence from day one. From the day you open your doors, focus on creating a process for reviews and referrals. Nothing attracts new patients more than a healthy online rating and patients who aren’t afraid to tell others about their great experience. After a visit, ask your patient if they were happy with their experience and funnel them right over to do that 5-star review. Lighthouse 360 helps you automate this. Emails. are automatically sent post-visit, and good reviews are posted right to your website and social media pages.

  1.  Patient Experience

It’s no surprise that convenience and consumer experience are priorities when a new patient chooses a dentist. They are especially significant in gaining one who is loyal. Don’t discount the importance of electronic reminders, online access, and paperless forms, to a patient. A busy mom doesn’t want to be faced with a stack of forms to complete that you’re going to scan and shred anyway. Consider a system that embraces all aspects of a streamlined paperless system, so you’re not left with the task of finding disconnected solutions that leave you with clumsy systems.

To connect with someone from XLDent, call 800-328-2925 or email xldentinfo@xldent.com

DawnDawn Christodoulou is the President/Owner of XLDent. She has more than 25 years of experience computerizing dental offices and helping both new and established practices streamline electronic workflows for increased efficiency, improve patient engagement, and achieve maximum profitability. Dawn is also a member of ADA SCDI Working Groups 11.1 Standard Clinical Architecture and 11.9 Core Reference Data Set.

 

Sex, Drugs & Oral Cancer

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Sex, Drugs & Oral Cancer…what does this mean? Let’s take a closer look at oral cancer to see how sex and drugs play a role in the development. The risk factors for oral cancer are not only the traditional risk factors of tobacco, alcohol, and age, but now there is an increasing prevalence being caused from a sexually transmitted virus, HPV 16. With the new risk factor of HPV, oral cancer is not only affecting older patients, but now younger patients without the traditional risk factors. This means that everyone who walks into your office potentially has a significant risk factor. Just as with other cancers, early diagnosis of oral cancer provides a markedly improved prognosis for the patient. Knowing that early discovery for cancer saves lives, our goal should be to screen every patient. With the changing trends, it is important to have a tool in your arsenal for early discovery. OralID™ is the perfect solution and is being used in some of the top clinics and cancer centers across the nation.

OralID™ is an FDA Cleared medical device for oral cancer (and pre-cancer) screening. Without the need for any rinses, dyes or other consumables, OralID™ uses fluorescence technology that when shined in the mouth causes healthy tissue to fluoresce an apple-green color and suspicious tissue appears dark. If a dark lesion is found, the recommended protocol for screening is to have the patient back in two weeks to reassess the lesion. Normally these lesions will have healed in the follow-up period. If the lesion is still present, then performing an advanced cytology swab (CytID™) or a biopsy (PathID™) is recommended at that point.

In addition to the OralID™, Forward Science provides complimentary diagnostic tests designed for early discovery. The company offers an all-inclusive program, called the ID For Life Program™, that provides not only the OralID™ device for each office, but diagnostic tests, unlimited support, marketing materials, a lifetime warranty, and more. The ID For Life Program™ helps to ensure success in implementing an oral cancer screening protocol in each office.

As oral cancer has continued to rise over the past eight years along with the risk factors now affecting all demographics, we encourage you to join Forward Science and commit to screening each of your patients. By working together, we may play a crucial part in reversing oral cancer trends through early detection. Learn more by visiting www.forwardscience.com.

FSForward Science is a privately held biotechnology company based in Houston, Texas. OralID, Forward Science’s flagship product, is an award winning oral cancer screening device that allows clinicians to Shine Light. Save Lives.™ by identifying abnormalities that may not be seen under traditional white light examinations. Forward Science quickly expanded its product portfolio in efforts to provide clinicians with a complete program to battle the rising trends of oral cancer. With the launch of the ID For Life™ Program, Forward Science has evolved into the industry leader for oral oncology. The ID For Life™ Program includes the following in an effort to change the trends for oral cancer: screening device (OralID), diagnostic tests (CytID, PathID, hpvID, phID), and treatment options (SalivaMAX). SalivaMAX is Forward Science’s latest product offering, which is an FDA Cleared prescription strength rinse for all ranges of xerostomia.

A Few Thoughts on Customer Service

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Online reviews are one of the most significant factors influencing private practice dentistry today.

I don’t even remember if online reviews existed when I was in dental school (2004-2008).  If they did, they weren’t that popular.  Our training focused on diagnostic competency, the technical aspects of performing clinical dentistry, and treating human beings with dignity and compassion.  These were the standards we were held to in our training, and like many I assumed that these would be the standards I would be held to as a professional in my career.

Of course I am held to high professional and ethical standards by myself, by my peers, by board, by my associations, and by my patients. In the online review era, I am held to another standard as well.  Anyone with an Internet connection can go online, find a picture of me, say whatever they want about me, and rate my service and ability as a professional on the “star scale”.  I used to associate the “star scale” with Ed McMahon and Star Search or reading an album review in Rolling Stone magazine.  Now, when I think of the “star scale”, I think of what I do.

There’s a certain amount of indignity that comes along with a publicly available star rating system with your face next to it. It is frustrating to realize that all of my education and hard work and time and love and care in dentistry can be reduced by anyone to a star rating.  It is humiliating and can make one feel powerless.

Humiliation. Indignity. Eight years of higher education sure made me arrogant, right?  I know I’m not alone.  How do we get over ourselves and take this seriously?  By realizing that we are not powerless. By keeping customer service at the forefront of all decisions in the practice, we can take control of the online review reality and actually use it to our advantage.

In my practice, we talk about online reviews on a daily basis.  We ask patients to write them every day. We read them aloud at our monthly meetings and use them to educate our team.  The things people say in reviews help us to understand what matters most to our patients.  Being conscious of the experience we provide patients is no longer optional.  If we don’t provide excellent customer service experiences, none of our clinical training as dentists matters.

 

Larry Dougherty

Larry DoughertyLarry Doughtery, DDS, is a 2008 graduate of Nova Southeastern University. He has chaired a number of committees on new dentists, has taught at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Dentistry, and now owns Rolling Oaks Dental, a start-up practice in San Antonio, where he practices with his wife who is also a dentist.

Encrypting Your Patient Identity and Health Information

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Guest post by Mark Hollis, CEO of MacPractice

In 2015 alone, the identity and health information of 35% of Americans was exposed – more than 111 Million patient records. More and more, dentists and patients are becoming aware that reported breaches like this effect them directly and can have grave consequences. If you think about it, most of us know someone who has had their personal information compromised and had to spend years recovering from a loss of their identity. Your patient’s identity theft can results in:

Fraudulent charges

Empty bank account

Lost home

Stolen Social Security benefits

Bad credit

Emotional stress, divorce, loss of business, etc.

Health care providers are required by HIPAA to protect EPHI with AES encryption ‘at rest’ on the server and backups, and on a network in the office (and between offices and over the Internet if that applies). The theft and sale of EPHI (Electronic Protected Health Information) is lucrative for thousands of hackers in places like Iran, Russia and China. No one can stop the attempts, but dentists can, at a minimum, use dental software with built-in encryption that makes EPHI indecipherable to a hacker or burglar.

A startling reality is that vendors are NOT required to provide encryption in their software. Other than MacPractice, NONE of the other leading dental vendors provide encryption in their software.

Patients are starting to ask dentists how their data is protected before providing it. In a recent survey, 50% of patients said they would leave their doctor if they were notified their data was exposed, as is required by HIPAA of all doctors who do not encrypt EPHI as well as their database password. In addition, HIPAA and States can assess millions of dollars in fines for non-compliance. This is truly a national emergency.

Encrypted software helps you avoid millions in fines for non-compliance, and qualifies you for HIPAA’s Safe Harbor. In the event of a breach, Safe Harbor can exempt you from having to send first class mail to all who are affected, notify HHS and prominent media, post a notice on your home page, and more. Practices that do not encrypt their patients’ data and report a breach rarely recover.

MacPractice encourages you to learn more about this important topic and how built-in encryption can protect you and your practice. You can download our free whitepaper, register for our encryption webinar and subscribe to our HIPAA web resource page.

MarkHollis_headshot_2014

 

For more than 30 years, Mark has been helping doctors to run their practices more efficiently, first as a practice management consultant and now as CEO of MacPractice – the leading software for doctors who prefer Apple technology. Mark has spoken at seminars, trade shows, dental schools and more than 500 small business events at Apple locations. He is an established and well-respected leader on Cloud computing, dental and medical technology and Electronic Health Records.

He can be reached at markhollis@macpractice.com

Insurance “Coupons” Put Patients in the Chair

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Coupon use is growing. According to an analysis by The Neilsen Company, “more affluent households dominate coupon usage: 38% of ‘super heavy’ users and 41% of ‘enthusiasts’ come from households with incomes greater than $70,000. Households with incomes of $100,000 and up were the primary drivers of coupon growth…”

So, what does this have to do with dentistry? It is a reminder that attitudes toward money – specifically spending and saving – have changed significantly in recent years. Moreover, those most tuned into the value of the dollar – the better educated, higher income households – are also those most likely to understand the importance and value of your dental care.

However, as consumer savvy as this population may be, the majority of them don’t realize that they are likely losing $500, $250, $700 in your office. How? Many, many patients have dental insurance plans with unused benefits that are poised to go to waste come year’s end.

Dental insurance companies make millions of dollars off of patients who never use their insurance benefits because unbeknownst to the consumer, many of these plans provide coverage up to a certain dollar amount annually. Insurance companies aren’t going to encourage customers to use benefits, and it is rare that patients actually know what they have left in benefits. Most are too busy to sift through their policies to determine what might remain on them, which makes informing them about the benefit an excellent win-win opportunity for patients and dental practices.

Take these steps:

1.  Generate an “unscheduled treatment plan report.”
2.  Identify those patients who still have unused insurance benefits.
3.  Prepare and send a special letter to each patient.  ( I have templates for this if you or your office needs assistance)
4. Add a P.S. that says, “Take your insurance dollars further with interest-free patient financing. Ask ‘Jessica’ in my office for all the details.”

I can virtually guarantee that every patient you notify will thank you for calling this to their attention. Whether they take advantage of the opportunity or not, they will appreciate the fact that you took the time to educate them on this important insurance detail.