Cliff's Notes

The Business of Dentistry

Dental Business Analytics, The Story Unfolds!

In 2018 every business is talking about analytics and reading the numbers. If you’re a sports fan, especially baseball, you know that Billy Bean, the GM of the Los Angeles Angels, started using it years ago, they called it “Billy Ball”. The program got the team into the playoffs for several consecutive years because the numbers worked. Hollywood told the story in the movie Money Ball.

Money Ball … By analyzing statistics the Angles were able to position their players for the best average match-up against their opponents. Averages played out more than 50% of the time so the team succeeded. In the real world Billy Bean was not a genus, he was just very smart and trusted business like statistics as a tool to achieve his goal. The business of dentistry is not different, statistics tell the story.

The Story … By knowing what you have, what you spend, and what statistical averages are you can maximize your production and minimize liabilities. Most dental practices have no control of consumables, even if they think they do, and spend too much production time trying to save money on line items. That’s a consumer mentality and if it describes a practice you know I guarantee there is a lot left on the table. The ADA estimates that the average dental practice in the United States spends a certain percentage of their gross production on the different categories of business operations. There are some regional adjustments due to local economies but the average percentages have been consistent for years. Your numbers are found on your profit & loss statement and should be vetted for accuracy before you start studying analytical data to tighten up the ship.

Vetting for accuracy … To properly analyze consumables within an organization, payable invoices need to be categorized correctly. For example, if you use an in-office milling system all of the supplies, including blocks, should be considered lab supplies, not clinical supplies. Once all consumables are properly categorized you will begin creating accurate data that would lead to practical quarterly category budgets.

Consumable budgets … every business has someone that orders consumable items that are needed to function. In some cases there are several. Each buyer needs a budget to stay within but that number needs to coordinate with practice growth. Question, how do you know how much you need? Answer, Analytics and a targeted percentage of the practices gross production. That may sound easy but it isn’t, you need to change your mind-set and focus on production. You need to trust that the percentages will play out and all you will have to do is adjust for growth. You will need software and data entry or you can outsource the analysis.

The Analysis … How much junk do you have on your shelves? How many different brands of product do you have that do the same thing? How much lost inventory do you have? Operating lean and strong is a process. Get started now because in 5 years it may be too late.. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

June 24, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dental Scanners Everywhere! How do you know what to buy?

The very last thing you should do is buy an Impression Scanner at a trade show. Dental conventions are a great place to look at everything but you want to see that expensive investment in your office. Every scanner has pro’s and con’s and those differences will effect the production of the office. Top KOL clinicians may have 2 or 3 different brand scanners because some are better than others for certain procedures. For most of us, one scanner is quite sufficient but which one is best for you?

The Best Fit … What are you planning on using a scanner for? Are you thinking Invisalign? If so then you are limiting your options. Align Technologies only accepts images for several scanners such as CEREC, True Definition & iTero (Generic). If you’re thinking restorative & cosmetic then there is a lot to look at. My experience with technology taught me not take the first off the assembly line and to factor in integration into your network and support services as a higher priority than the price. Today, these 4 scanners top my list and are worth looking into.

True Definition … 3M brought this perfect introductory level scanner to the market a number of years ago so it is proven in the field. It is small, self contained, very portable, high definition and works on an open platform so it will communicate with a wide variety of digital equipment currently in the office including mills. The camera is only black & white and utilizes industry standard optical components. At a cost of $15k to $17k it is best entry level system for the practice that may not be sure about scanning. Warning, after getting into scanning, there is a good chance you may need and want more.

Emerald Scanner … Several years ago Planmeca Corp. took control of D4D Technologies. The E4D scanner was up-graded and renamed Emerald. This full color laser image scanner works on an open platform and will integrate seamlessly with a CBT, Mill and your software. E4D’s technology has been evolving for over two decades and is proven in the market. For the practice that is anticipating more digital solutions in the future, this is the system. Cost is under $30k.

3 Shape … Trios Corp. takes restorative dentistry to a new level. This system is so impressive utilizing laser image capture, an open software platform, and true color. The camera does more than just capture images, it also is an intraoral camera. But the most advanced feature is the built in shade matching camera. A tooth often has several fluctuation in shade, the 3 Shape will recognize them and transmit a perfect color correct image to your lab. When connected to a mill, this is a front line in-office Cad Cam system. If restorative and cosmetic dentistry is your thing, 3 Shape fits the practice. Cost (depending on options) $35k to $45k.

CEREC … The Grand Daddy of Dental Impression Scanner has been around for over 30 years. It is tested, proven, and does everything you can imagine. CEREC is fast and delivers true color. The software is not an open platform and the system does require a cart that takes some floor space but the quality and reputation of Dentslply Sirona’s Cerec system speaks for it’s self. Long before many current dentists were born, the Cerec System was being developed. The images can be transmitted to any Cerec authorized lab or converted to an STS files and sent anywhere, including Invisalign. The scanner only system (depending on options) is under $30k.

The Bottom Line … Dental impression scanning is here to stay, it is the future. If you are going to be practicing dentistry for another 5 years or more, you will need to engage this digital technology. The next generation of adult patients will require it. Although you will be eliminating 90% of your impression material costs, you will need annual support contracts so scanning will not save money but it will increase production and help increase revenue. Don’t fall too far behind the curve, catch-up is more expensive. Please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns.



June 18, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dental Medicine, Beyond the Mouth

Did you ever ask yourself what type of dental practice you have? Is it strongest in hygiene, C&B, Implant, or endo? What marketing protocol supports those procedures? It’s the patient experience that we discussed last week, and it starts at the front desk and is handed off to hygiene.

What happens in Hygiene … I have been in a lot of dental practices and I have met all types of hygienists. Most don’t fully understand systemic health screening as an internal marketing tool that can generate revenue while providing the patient with a different dental experience. Along with checking BP and blood levels for diabetic patients dental practices can now screen for a host of general health conditions and just maybe save someone’s life.

Saving someone’s life … It’s not easy. Dental patients do not often want to be screened for anything by a “dentist” because it may cost money and “it’s the dentist”. That’s why hygiene is the format for all screening and when it doesn’t cost you anything, you give it away for free. Patient’s trust the hygienist and assistant with their health, they trust the dentist will cost money. So hygiene should start the conversation and focus on 3 simple checks, blood pressure & diabetic levels and Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea … So many practices looked at this as a revenue generating procedure only to find that there was little patient acceptance so they stopped. In every case the office did not understand the power of OSA screening. It’s not about selling appliances, it’s about the patient experience and getting new patients.

Getting new patients … Obstructive sleep apnea is in the news every day. It is at epidemic levels and there is public awareness. A coordinated program can piggy-back off the media attention by simply asking a few questions. Questions usually lead to discovery. Here is an example:

Hygienist: Good morning Mrs. Smith, I see that nothing has changed in your medical history. Any headaches? Indigestion? Problems sleeping?

Mrs. Smith: No, I feel great!

Hygienist: Wonderful, no one complaining about snoring issues?

Mrs. Smith: No, but my husband sounds like a buzz saw.

Hygienist: Really, you should have him stop by for the doctor to take a look, it will take about 5 minutes and I am sure the doctor would extend the curtesy of a quick exam. We may be able to help or diagnose possible OSA.

You just created a “WOW” factor and asked for a patient at the same time. These conversations should be pre-loaded at the morning huddle. What makes you different than every other dental office? Doing the extras! The new world is technology.

Technology … Do your patients know that your CBT will search for all abnormalities within its field of view? Do they know that you can detect systemic probabilities long before any symptoms? Dentists save lives every day. My favorite story was the dentist that installed a new digital pan and spotted a 75% blockage in both choreatic arteries. He contacted the patient’s primary care physician and probably saved the patient’s life. Maybe it’s time to be different. Be a physician.

A Physician … A Dentist is a specialist just like a Cardiologist. As a matter of fact, they should work together closely as part of the patient’s health care team. Remember, medicine is reactive, Dentistry is proactive. Be different! Please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns.


June 10, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Quality Dental Office & Patient Retention

The patient experience may be the most important marketing tool for practice growth. Unfortunately, most dental practices do not understand how marketing relates to the patient in the chair. Let’s start by agreeing that nobody wants to give up a couple of hours of their lives to sit in a dentist’s chair. Now think about why they choose to sit in your chair and not the one down the street. In today’s market a patient will choose a dentist for a few simple reasons, Insurance, fee schedule, location or recommendation. After they decide on you and the appointment goes smooth, why don’t they continue with re-care? Maybe because you just provided all the services as they expected.

As expected … My wife is a gourmet cook, that may explain why I don’t get on a scale, friends and family love coming to our house because they are Wowed by whatever is put on the table. It’s always different and not what is expected. Your patients expect a certain environment when coming to the office and you provide it. It is nothing special just standard office protocol, friendly and efficient. What were the extras, a goody bag? Why does that patient “want” to come back and refer others? What was the WOW factor?

The “WOW” factor … There was a great seen in the recently cancelled Netflix production of House of Cards. Frank Underwood stopped in at his favorite “Rib Joint”. The best barbeque ribs in the city was at a little broken down shop in a bad part of town. If the ribs were so good why was the shop so broken down? The consumers required to grow the shop chose to be in a different and more comfortable environment. Dr. Omar Reed was a top line dentist lecturing about the patient experience over 30 years ago. His philosophy was that your reception room (not a waiting room because your patients don’t wait) should be nicer then the patient’s living room. It is all about the packaging, delivery and providing the unexpected “environmental” extras.

Unexpected extras … Your patient demographics will determine the level of success your practice achieves. A dental practice’s patient base is usually 10 years plus or minus the dentist’s age. This could be a time bomb for a healthy practice. Practices that are 20 years old tend to be set in their ways and everyday is business as usual. But, that 55 year old dentist is still relating to their own generation and not the one their kids are in. What are the extras that the millennials are not expecting? They are your patient base for the next 20 years. After a dental procedure the dentist should call the patient to make sure they are comfortable for the evening, but maybe they should text and younger patient, you will get an answer not a voice mail. What is the last thing the patient remembers? Check out!

Check out … I never try to reinvent the wheel, I let other people do that and tailor concepts to my situation. This one was great! The office orders a dozen roses every morning. When a female patient is checking out they are given a rose at the same time you are scheduling their next visit. If it is a male patient, offer a rose for them to take home to their spouse, mom, significant other or anyone. That $2.00 flower buys more good will than you can imagine. Make a difference in your patient’s day, do the unexpected and they will remember. Please contact me with any questions or concerns.


June 3, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment