Bulletin, December 2011
The Latest in Area Economic and Technical Trends
Exclusively to Clients and Friendsof Advanced Practice Management
Dental Economy Showing Some Daylight
Highlights from our recently completed Fall Survey:
For the last two years, only about 33% of Metro Area practices said their production was up from the previous year. This year 56% of respondents said production was up. More Outstate practitioners said that their production was up too (51%).
About 40% of area practitioners said that their new patient numbers increased. For the first time in two years, more practitioners said that their new patient numbers were up than down.
For the last two years “The Economy” has been the #1 issue for dentists. This year, that dropped to #4. Insurance/PPO/M.A. hassles and write-offs have again, surfaced to the top as your major concern closely followed by Staff issues (staff costs, compensation, morale and teamwork).
An unweighted comparison of Metro and Outstate Area fees showed they were up 3%. Last year Metro Area fees were just up about 1%.
As dentists are increasing their fees, the insurance companies are not following those increases dollar for dollar so it makes sense that write-offs are becoming a greater and greater concern. Our database shows that the typical area practice collects just 87% of its Gross Production. That means you typically work over one month per year for free due to write-offs.
Although some of these indicators are positive, Doctors have not yet picked up their rate of giving raises to staff. As in previous years, just 30% of Metro Area dentists and 50% of Outstate dentists gave or plan to give raises this year.
70% of area dentists now have websites (up from about 60% last year). 72% have digital x-rays and terminals in the treatment room. The fastest rising technology this year was “auto appointment confirmation services” (e.g., Demand Force, Televox, Lighthouse, etc.). So, if you haven’t already done so, start aggressively gathering e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers from your patients. It’s very likely you’ll be using this type of technology in the not-too-distant future.
My team and I make over 600 on-site consulting visits per year all throughout the Upper Midwest. The economy is certainly no help, and PPO write-offs are certainly an expensive aggravation, but we find practices that take active management measures continue to grow and flourish.
Make Hay While The Snow Flies!
Since I grew up as a farm kid, I’m big on being aware of the seasonable variations.*
For example, most of you already know that August is the single, biggest new patient month of the year (big on kiddie prophies with the back to school rush). May and September are typically lighter months in our area. Doctors, that’s a good time to plan your Continuing Ed or vacations. Beats sweating about the schedule.
We’re now coming up on the biggest crown and bridge months of the year: December, January and February. It’s the “Insurance Effect.” Anyone that’s putting off treatment now should be committed to an appointment next year. Don’t let it dangle with, “We’ll get back in touch with you later…” Some people use the Year End Insurance/Flex Letter. If you don’t mail these, these can at least be used as a handout. Some practices have good success with this and others not so much. If you haven’t tried it before, it’s worth a shot. Call our office for a copy, 952 921 3360.