Bulletin, June 2003

Exclusively to Clients and Friends
of Advanced Practice Management

The Rossi Dental Dow Jones for June:

I hear from you that you’re hearing from your patients that they are worried about the economy. Our sampling of data from 35 mature client offices shows that through April of this year, production is up 7.5% and collections are up 5.1% compared to last year’s averages. New patients are down slightly (1.5%) and recall exams are up 3%. The average collection percentage is 94% and the average accounts receivable ratio is 1.4 with 30% collected at the time of service.

So, statistically speaking there is no downturn. The most notable negative statistic is that downtime has increased in both the Doctor’s and Hygienist’s schedule. It boils down to a couple of hours more per Doctor and hygienist per month.

As mentioned in the last bulletin, I recommend that you line of up 2 or 3 evening hours of phone time each week for helping to nail down your schedule. You still won’t reach everyone but you’ll reach more people than if you call just during the day. If just 2 to 4 more appointments are made or kept per week it will be very worthwhile.

Money and Patients:

Everyone wants to get paid for their services but no one wants to lose a good patient over discussion of money. It can be the most uncomfortable encounter in a dental office. Yet the number one thing on Minnesota’s Dental Patients Bill of Rights is the right “To know in advance the type of treatment that will be provided and the expected cost of treatment”. In most practices this is not happening as consistently as it should.

Just as you are always refining your clinical technique, your front desk staff needs to continue to refine their collections techniques. Treat your front desk staff to Shelly’s upcoming “Collections Seminar” on July 25th. As a client, you get first dibs and a break on the tuition ($30 off each person*). Please register before July 1st. We’ll be mailing all Minnesota dentists soon and want to make sure there is room for your staff.

*So $120 for the 1st person and $69 for each additional. Please reserve space before July 1st.

A Seasonal Reminder—
The Number One Check-Up Month of the Year:


The number one check-up and new patient month of the year is coming (August). Start making plans now to temporarily expand your hygiene capacity and if you are advertising, get the word out in August.

You can temporarily expand your hygiene capacity by: adding hygienists, assisted hygiene, adding CRDA time for kiddie prophies and temporarily expanding your current hygienist’s work hours. Another good option is “Family Check-up Days” which is a great way to temporarily increase your hygiene capacity and is a convenient way for your patients to get their kids’ checkups (and get one for themselves too). Questions? Just call.

Stop Predetermining Away Treatment:

Some practices hardly ever do predeterminations and others will do them on almost every crown. Predeterminations can unnecessarily delay or derail treatment. We have covered this before in most of our client offices but we are sometimes surprised to find that the predeterminations start climbing back up.
Avoid what I call the “Insurance Close…”

”Well Mrs. Jones, let’s send it into insurance and go from there…” This is a very ineffective way of finalizing your treatment recommendations. It creates unnecessary paperwork for the staff and increases the likelihood that the patient will not go through treatment.

And I know what you are thinking; “What if the patient asks for predetermination?” The point is that they rarely ask for a predetermination… what they will ask is “Will my insurance cover this?” You and your staff’s response does not have to be “Let’s run a predetermination and find out.” That makes the object of the game trying to find out to the nickel what the insurance will cover instead of the real object of the game (which is getting the patient scheduled for the treatment that you recommend). So answer, “Insurance will certainly help…the front desk will talk to you about your estimated copayments. I just want to make sure that you understand why I am recommending that we do this now?” If you must send a predetermination, be sure you are still giving an estimate and schedule the patient 6 weeks ahead. Get them committed to the treatment.

I could write pages on this. Suffice it to say that if you are doing predeterminations on more than 1/3 of your routine crowns, call us. Talk to Shelly. She’ll walk your staff through things.

If you are doing lots of predeterminations, it can seem outrageous or unworkable to go without them. But I assure you that it can and does work very well. Your patient’s dental health and thousands of dollars are at stake. Improving in this area alone could easily increase your production by $3,000-$5,000 per month. So move on this!

It’s A Local Problem:

Our Hygiene Specialist, Matt Lahn, is having great success in working with practices on a more flexible and efficient approach to perio pricing and delivery. It’s based on the premise that periodontal infections don’t necessarily involve the entire quadrant and instead might be in a few localized areas in the mouth. So how do you treatment plan for these? If you haven’t addressed this issue yet, contact Matt.

Yours truly,