Whether you’ve owned your own dental practice for a while or you’re just getting started, it’s always a good idea take a careful look at how you’re running your office. This means looking at how you could reduce your bottom line, while keeping current patients happy and attracting new ones on a regular basis.
Take a look at these five tips to see what changes you can make in your practice to accommodate the needs of today’s dental patients.
Tip #1: Share your space
Does your office routinely sit empty a few mornings or afternoons per week? What about Saturday and Sunday? Many dental professionals today are trimming their costs by sharing their workspaces with other dentists when they’re not in the office. Space sharing will improve your bottom line by substantially cutting your overhead. To avoid potential HIPAA violations when sharing space, be mindful to protect all confidential patient information (including electronic files) from disclosure to unauthorized individuals.
Tip #2: Extend your hours
Today’s patients expect their health care professionals to be open for business when it’s most convenient for them, such as before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. or on the weekend. If you’re only offering Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., then you’re catering to the unemployed, who are less likely to see a dentist.
Tip #3: Maximize your hygiene department
Make sure your hygiene team expands as your patient list grows. It’s important to accommodate your patients for their cleaning appointments, not only with plenty of time slots to choose from, but with convenient hours, such as evenings and weekends. When more patients receive regular hygiene care, it may increase your restorative work, too.
Tip #4: Expand your services
Can you offer more services from your location? If you perform more services yourself or share your office with a colleague who complements your expertise, such as an endodontist or orthodontist, you’ll be offering your patients convenience, while also reducing your costs with a partner. This lets you expand your practice to the next level even without adding new patients. Also consider adding the latest technology, such as digital radiography and electronic health records.
Tip #5: Use digital communications
Your presence on the web is essential. At the very least, you need a basic website that lists information about your practice, such as your contact information and hours. Providing an online form for patient information or appointments and following up with email communication is also helpful. Another great way to handle appointment reminders is via text message. Providing these conveniences will go a long way in retaining patients and acquiring new ones. Ask your patient for their approval of any manner of communication, and limit the message information provided in order to avoid violations of HIPAA. Notice of an upcoming appointment or reminders of a need to call the office are generally not considered to be in violation of the rule.
The above content is based on a paper by JoAnne Tanner, an expert in dental practice management.
The ADA has provided this website and these materials as an additional resource for you and your practice. Information supplied here is not to be deemed a solicitation for JoAnne Tanner or for any goods or services. The ADA neither makes nor intends any endorsement of the content of the materials nor of the provider of the materials. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and may not reflect the opinions of the ADA or its subsidiaries.
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