Fall is coming and you know what that means…football season, pumpkin spice EVERYTHING, and every dentist’s favorite — Sucktember (dun dun dunnn…). For the ACT Dental coaching team, this means calls from doctors that are constantly asking, “what can I do to increase the efficiency and productivity of my practice?” This year, as practices around the country brace for the potential of slower than usual fall schedules, this question becomes particularly pertinent.
A quick internet search on the topics of increasing production and efficiency in the dental office will produce hundreds of articles and a multitude of checklists offering tips on how to improve these items. Most will talk about transitioning to a paperless environment, having systems in place, hiring and training the right team members, and learning how automation can benefit your team.
These are all great. These all take a lot of time.
So what can you do today, and tomorrow, that will have an immediate impact on the productivity and profitability of the practice?
Moreover, what is a way that you, as the dentist, can keep your schedule full when there are fewer patients being seen in the practice as a whole, and thus fewer opportunities for diagnosing? What can you do today that will counteract the lull that is coming in the fall?
Increase Production Per Visit
One of the most effective and efficient things that a dentist can do to lessen the impact of lulls in the hygiene schedule is to increase production per visit in the restorative schedule. This can be achieved by presenting more quadrant dentistry, and where appropriate, combining treatment into as few visits as possible.
Many dentists and their teams have historically been nervous about presenting quadrant dentistry to patients based solely on the belief that patients will not accept more comprehensive treatment due to increased cost or the feeling that they are being “sold” something that is not needed. Let go of this limiting belief. Let go of the assumption that patients will not value, and will not pay for dentistry that is needed. Let’s take just a minute to break down the benefits of quadrant dentistry, and see how these benefits truly apply to both the patients and the practice.
The Benefits of Quadrant Dentistry
- Quadrant dentistry reduces stress. Those patients with dental anxiety will be especially appreciative of fewer visits, which means fewer injections. The dental team will appreciate fewer patients coming and going from the practice, which allows more time to work on other critical tasks.
- Quadrant dentistry is cost-effective. Understanding the cost-effectiveness to the practice is simple; the use of disposable goods and materials goes down, the cost of room set up and break down is reduced, and the profit to the practice goes up. For the patient, while the cost of care might not change much, fewer visits equate to less time off of work, or one less babysitter that is being paid.
- Quadrant dentistry optimizes results. Completing multiple restorations in one visit requires all work going to the laboratory at the same time; this means the same batch of materials, the same color, the same lab tech, and better overall aesthetics. When returning from the lab, these restorations can be more predictably delivered in quadrants rather than one tooth at a time, again optimizing results and aesthetics.
- Quadrant dentistry saves time. In a world where time truly is the new rich, this benefit can not be understated. What will the patient do with all that time they regain when spending less time in your chair? What will you choose to do with that time?
Bring Your Team into the Process
Let me back up just a bit here. Yes, you can present quadrant dentistry tomorrow, and patients will say yes to it. But a great dentist and leader know that the doctor and the patient are not the only individuals that need to be in on the plan. As a leader, help your team to understand the value of quadrant dentistry so they can confidently convey the value of the treatment to your patients, thus increasing case acceptance.
In a team meeting, spend time discussing all the benefits that quadrant or single visit dentistry offers the patients and the team. Ask the team to come up with their own list before presenting the above-mentioned benefits; they might even surprise you with a few that we haven’t listed here! Give the team a chance to weigh in, so they will truly buy in to this process.
Once the team begins to focus on presenting this type of treatment, track, and report on production per visit numbers in your team meetings. This is a great way to gauge progress and celebrate successes! If you are struggling, discuss specific treatment plans with the team and how to best present them to the patient. Get the whole team on board with the process, and watch those numbers climb.
Once you take the time to think through the benefits of quadrant dentistry not only for the practice but for the patient as well and discuss these benefits with the team, you will have another tool in your arsenal to not only increase profitability in the practice but also to ensure that Sucktember doesn’t suck the life out of your profits.