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  • Amie Spurlock

Monitoring the Pulse of the Practice

What happens when your doctor wants to start creating goals and reviewing numbers within the practice?

One of the biggest frustrations in a dental practice is often around reviewing numbers and goals. As a team, when we hear about goals and monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) we often hear a resounding similar comment …. It is all about the money or numbers or my doctor just wants to make more money.

In all reality the practice owner is trying to maintain a level of financial stability for the practice. Therefore, they have a focus on hitting certain numbers and goals but usually there is one key point that is missing. Why! Why does the practice need to produce and collect a certain amount or why do we even look at these numbers and what does it mean to me?

For each of us, you could say monitoring the health of a dental practice is similar to monitoring the overall health of our bodies! As soon as we are born into this world, we are measured and monitored from infancy all the way through adulthood. Our doctors are evaluating our height, weight, blood work, etc….We are measured and compared to other people that are the same age and gender. Why is this important? If we know how our overall health is performing, we can easily find areas that might be underperforming and be able to add in additional steps to ensure our bodies grow and develop for optimal health.

Our practices are the same way! Just as our bodies are measured for optimal health, our dental practices are also measured to make sure it is performing as it should be or if a certain area is underperforming. We can easily get back on track to ensure the success of the dental practice to be able to care for our patients and provide jobs for our community.

When we start looking at KPIs, the list can be a mile long of what we can monitor for the dental practice. If you are new to implementing goals and reviewing KPIs, I recommend you start small and focus on what is most important to you. Each team member can make a huge impact on the care of patients and the success of the practice by creating goals and monitoring numbers that directly relate to their performance or position.

As a treatment coordinator, your primary role is to present treatment to patients. You can monitor your performance by tracking case acceptance. If your case acceptance is low, then that gives you an opportunity to work on presentation skills. You can also track the reasons why a patient isn’t accepting their treatment. This will help you to be able to reduce common hurdles you may face. Maybe your office doesn’t offer payment plans or financing options but your patients are not accepting treatment due to the fact that they can’t pay for all their treatment upfront.

As a financial coordinator, one of your responsibilities is to collect money. If you typically collect 98% of your production each month but one month your collection rate dropped, you can ask yourself…why?

Why are the collections low?

  • Are you collecting at time of service?

  • Are electronic claims sent everyday?

  • Did statements get submitted?

By constantly monitoring this KPI, you can uncover if something isn’t working and get back on track as quickly as possible. Maybe the electronic claims or statements processor failed or stopped working which caused a des=crease in collections. When you know what you typically do, you will know when something is off and be able to evaluate it to get it back on track.

As a hygienist, one thing you can measure is if your standard of care is consistent and if you are treatment planning based on what you value. You value oral health for your patients, you can monitor periodontal percentage to see if your patients are within normal limits for your patient base.

What else can you measure?

  • Open chair time

  • Production per hour

  • Daily average

  • Perio Percentage

  • Percentage of patients not reappointed

As a doctor, one thing you can measure is diagnosed treatment per new patient. I believe this can go hand in hand with marketing. Dentistry is the lifeblood of the practice and if a doctor is seeing all new patients who generally have healthy mouths that don’t need treatment then you will also want to review your marketing demographics. This will help you get the greatest return on your investment and ensures you are targeting the right type of patient.

Doctor KPIs:

  • Diagnosed Treatment

  • Case Acceptance

  • New Patients

  • Hourly, Daily, and Monthly Production

  • Open chair time

  • Unscheduled Treatment

  • Scheduled Production

For the practice, some of the KPIs you will want to monitor are collections and expenses. Running any business is expensive but a dental practice has many different types of expenses that are required to help with our jobs, support our teams, and care for our patients. It is important to know what the total cost of average monthly expenses are and average collections. If a practice averages $100,000 of average expenses but the office collects barely above that dollar amount, then there is no profit for the practice. It is vital to maintain a certain amount of profit each month to be able to cover your expenses. In addition to expenses, this profit helps prepare for any unforeseen expenses like new equipment or damage to part of the office. Profit is also needed to be able to plan for raises and bonuses for the team. With no profit, any added expense can put the business at high risk for going under.

Practice KPIs:

  • Production vs Collection

  • Accounts Receivable (AR) and Over 90 AR

  • Schedule Projections

  • Continuing Care Patients Overdue and Not Scheduled

  • Missed or Broken Appointments and the revenue lost

  • Percentage of collections from patients vs insurance or over the counter payments paid vs paid after the date of service

  • Rejected claims

Each practice is also going to have different benchmarks but knowing your numbers will give you an opportunity to improve on areas that might not meet your standard or help get back on course with other areas if our focus changes.

Each provider is going to value different aspects of dentistry and many have different opinions. Therefore your KPIs might be different from the next provider. That is why you want to keep your standard of care in mind when creating and monitoring goals.

As a team member monitoring KPIs and creating goals brings value to you, the practice, your doctor, and your patients. You won’t just have a gut feeling you are doing well. You will know and have proof! So next time you want to talk to your doctor about a raise, ensure that you are contributing to the success of the practice consistently.

As a team, if everyone is moving forward together, then success will take care of itself.

I want to challenge you today, when you hear your doctor or practice owner talk about goals and tracking numbers (KPIs) to think about them from a different perspective. This new perspective is to gain an understanding of the overall health of the practice and to be able to access early if something is off track. It is also a way to measure the care of our patients and the performance of our team. I encourage you to start today by measuring the pulse of your dental practice and what you can contribute to the practice. Pick 1-3 KPIs to monitor and watch how you can make a bigger impact!

If you need a professional eye to review your KPIs, successes, and opportunities contact us today! We can help!


Amie Spurlock, Consultant

Amie Spurlock began her career in the field of dentistry in 2002 and has successfully held every position in the office, excluding the dentist and hygienist. She has also worked with many offices as a Certified Dentrix Trainer to help each office improve their workflows to better care for their patients and the overall practice. Amie is passionate about training and coaching teams to become key players in helping run a successful dental practice. With her experience she is able to identify and diagnose areas of opportunity and give workable and practical solutions.

Amie can be reached at:

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