analytics for dental practices

Business analytics for dental practices

We have re-imagined business over the past two decades. What used to be human-centric has now become data-driven. You will notice this difference when you walk into any bank. But, why has this change happened in every industry across the world? Data-driven decisions and analytics have produced results in increasing the efficiency of almost every industry it touched. Thus business analytics for dental practices comes into the picture.

Are Dental Practices an exception?

Dental practices are no exception, but the industry has been facing problems so far due to the lack of standardized systems and technology that are integrated enough to capture data from every point in the operating cycle. Most legacy systems are software installations at each workstation that work independently of each other.

Parameters like check-in to check-out times, claims-to-payment time, collection efficiency, and revenue from marketing campaigns help you improve gaps in practice efficiency, but analyzing this data becomes difficult with independent systems at each department. This is why practices who want these details need to make use of 3rd party analytics and data consolidation platforms.

There is vast room for improvement in the way data is handled in dental practices.

How can new generation practice management systems help?

New practice management systems are cloud-based and work with every device, whether it is a pc, tablet, or mobile device with the same functionality and convenience. This increases the number of points in your practice where the practice management system is implemented, exponentially increasing the amount of data collected and the inferences that can be drawn from them.

Always choose a cloud-based practice management system that caters to all functions of your practice and has integrated customizable analytics, with features such as:

Data mining and extraction

Data is available at every point of your practice. It has always been there. However, it has never been utilized because of a lack of a system to collect, organize, and report this information. Newer cloud-based practice management systems running at every terminal in your office make this process simple. Regular tracking of data points and necessary feedback naturally brings efficiency.

Custom reporting

Not all information is relevant to everyone. Displaying the right information to the right person at the right time goes a long way in achieving meaningful results. Custom reporting allows users to decide the parameters for generating custom reports that cover all the different and complex aspects of the practice. Such statements can also be automatically generated on a weekly or daily basis.

Personalized dashboards

It is not only crucial that the right information is available to you and your team, but also equally important to ensure the information is presented simply that every member of your team can understand and track. With modern practice management systems, you can create personalized data-rich visual dashboards to keep users focused on their goals and metrics.

KPIs and drill-downs

So, what do you do when some metric you are following is not performing as expected? The first step, just like with a dental patient, is to understand the problem and its etiology. Drilling down into the components of these metrics allows you to understand the root cause of the problem and know where to look to find a solution. Practice management systems with advanced analytics capabilities allow users to drill down to multiple levels of granularity to enable them to understand their KPIs better.

Trends

If you follow the number of patients visiting your practice daily, it shows you how you are performing now. But, how will you know what to expect going ahead? To predict the potential gains and losses in the future, it is necessary to track how these metrics are changing over time. You should identify trends and patterns influencing patient behavior at multiple locations over a period and fine-tune practice workflows accordingly.

Goal setting and tracking

Finally, every operation in your practice is run by people and not numbers. Human beings need motivation and aim to work tirelessly. Create goals and accurately measure employee and provider performance against the set goals to improve actual performance and convert your number based predictions into real results.

Key insights

For strategic decisions on where to invest extra cash you have in hand, you may want to look at how improving one function will affect the bottom line or patient satisfaction. These high-level decisions require insight into how each metric is co-related and how they work together. Use advanced analytics integrated practice management systems to gain insight by understanding the correlation between the data related to financials, patient demographics, scheduling, and treatments.

Conclusion

Business Intelligence and data analytics are known to provide a boost to any business. The dental industry is no different. Research has indicated that business analytics for dental practices can increase their revenue significantly.

role of dental data for dentists

The role of data in a dental practice

The past decade has seen a surge in the amount of data collected in our practices from day-to-day operations. There is so much data collected on different software and sheets that practices themselves have lost track of it. Data collection is useless if it is not used to arrive at inferences to direct the progress of the practice.

Data is even dangerous if used without proper understanding. For eg: If you do not understand how two factors are interlinked, you may end up trying the wrong solution and may even worsen the problem. However, between busy practice schedules, this becomes a difficult task.

Another problem practices face is that the data they have is highly fragmented. It is spread over various systems that consolidating and processing it requires us to make use of expensive 3rd party vendors, giving an additional layer of risk in data security.

Are modern practice management systems the turnkey solution to all your data problems?

Modern practice management systems utilize a single database on a cloud based platform and have modules to help you in every function at every point in your practice, from organizing workflows to communicating with 3rd party service providers. Every bit of the process is mapped to patient records and so, everything is aligned, consolidated and easily accessible.

Some of the best practice management systems come with built-in analytics module. Being built-in, it not only saves valuable time, money and effort, it also makes it an extremely powerful tool as every bit of data comes in the context of an even bigger data set. The analytics modules usually have built-in logic based on common workflows of practices in your country. This enables easy change to a data driven growth oriented practice, as data is not only available, it is also easily accessible and utilized in decision making.

What are the features to look for while choosing a practice management system that can help you grow?

Mandatory:
Cloud based solution

Data Safety must be your number one concern and ease of accessibility should the second. A cloud based solution offers both to its best extent without sacrificing either. The data is stored centrally in the cloud and can be accessed via the internet on any device.

Fully integrated with all operations of your practice, from front-desk to collection

Having an all in one solution means eliminating the hassle of extra communication between departments. Changes and additions by a department are reflected automatically and can be viewed by everyone with access.

Scalable infrastructure

You practice will definitely expand and with growth, your infrastructure should have the capacity to scale up as required. Making sure your infrastructure us future-proof will go a long way.

Necessary:
Built-in analytics

It goes without saying, most of us rather see a graph or chart than a 3-page report. Analytics yields all your practice results in a beautiful manner and can drive you to make game-changing decisions.

Customizable dashboards

Having the power to customize your dashboard is an added perk, as your management team needs not see graphs related to treatments.

Reporting

Having a reporting function makes the process of reporting as easy as two clicks. You can make reports of just about anything of your practice at the click of a button.

Optional:
Automation features

No one likes doing the same thing repeatedly for long periods of time. Automating things that are repetitive in nature with software frees up time for you and your team to address things of importance while ensuring minimal errors.

Intelligent design

Having a great system is definitely different from having an OK one. Investing a bit more into a well designed, future-proof and safe system means, you can put more faith into it.

Patient engagement

Providing the best service at your dental practice is one thing, but maintaining that relationship outside it can increase the chances of that patient returning many folds over. With proper and regular patient engagement, you can see your patient base increase rapidly.

kpi

Key metrics to track in a dental practice

As we discussed in the previous post, data has a big role to play in the coming years for the success of your practice. Integrated analytics functionality, on your practice management system, is necessary for best management practices. But, what are the right metrics to track to assess health and progress of your practice?

This is an area that requires considerable thought since a lot of metrics can be derived from the vast amounts of data available. While some are useful indicators, others have no real meaning for your practice or may even show the opposite trend.

We can generally look at metrics in 3 key areas: Quality metrics, Operating metrics and Financial metrics. These 3 areas together cover the overall health, sustainability and potential for growth of a practice.

Quality metrics:
Revisits:

Revisits are a very important real metric to measure patient satisfaction. Correcting this metric is also a great way to boost assured revenue in hygiene.

Restorative : Hygiene ratio:

The ratio of number of cases between restorative and hygiene cases is an important metric. Restorative cases are profit earners, but hygiene ensures sustainability of the practice and regular patients who will choose you for restorative care as well.

Productivity:

This is an important metric and can be measured individually at a provider level. Productivity of a provider ensures he is able to discuss and agree on treatment plans with your patients. Tracking this metric allows you to zero-in on the non productive providers and train them in better patient management.

Operating metrics:
Scheduling efficiency:

This metric is the total number of scheduled slots divided by total available slots in your calendar for all providers. This will give you a rough idea where to look at to increase revenue. If the efficiency is 100%, it means you have scope to expand your practice. If this efficiency level is low, it means, you should focus on increasing outreach to get new patients and increase patient engagement to enable better revisits.

Check-in to Check-out time:

If a provider sees 10 patients and his time to see each patient is reduced with better processes by 10%, that means your practice immediately gains a slot for one more patient and all the revenue that slot brings adds directly to your profits, as your overheads are still the same. Check-in to check-out time should be drilled down to further stages and tracked to improve efficiency.

Staff productivity:

Various metrics allow you to measure the amount of time each member of your team spends on a task. You may be overstaffed or understaffed for the task at hand. Over staffing leads to low practice efficiency and under-staffing leads to bad customer experience. If you are overstaffed, you may even consider expanding the services you offer and add new verticals to your revenue stream.

Financial metrics:
Profit:

Though this sounds simple enough, most practice owners are not tracking true profits. They miss out the overheads, they miss out inefficiencies. It makes a lot of difference to have a tangible accurate measurement tracked over time. This is the single most important metric for your practice and should be followed closely and drilled down to constituent elements.

Free Cash:

Another very important metric that affects the stability of your operations and growth plans is free cash. Maintaining enough free cash by rigorously negotiating credit periods and collecting payments and getting claims processed fast is crucial to ensure your practice is growing at its optimal pace. Always remember that money today is more valuable than money tomorrow.

Gross Revenue:

This is another important metric that helps you directly assess your marketing and patient engagement efforts. This will also take your attention to the fee schedules and whether they are optimal. Gross revenue does not include revenue that gets passed on to 3rd party vendors, like labs.

How can a practice management system help you keep track of key metrics?

Some modern practice management systems have built in analytics modules that consolidate all the data and present the key metrics in an easily traceable, well presented dash board. This makes the job of following key metrics extremely simple. Newer intelligent systems can even alert you when something is off, thus maintaining a constant eye on the metrics that truly affect the efficiency of your practice.

track dental patient data for improved practice productivity

Utilizing the power of patient data tracking in dentistry

We live in an age where everything revolves around data and applications that utilize data. From online shopping to listening to music, your user data helps tune recommendations to suggest new things. The health industry isn’t an exception either. Cutting edge technologies help diagnose ailments before they even manifest externally. Add to that, the convenience of having complete and detailed records of your patients available at your fingertips; technology has never been this great. Today we look at what the latest strides that data technology offers to make your dental practice efficient and easy to manage.

What is data and why is it important?

Data is anything that you collect from your patients or clients. In technical terms, it is processed information. Collecting information from clients and organizing it into a well-defined structure is the best example of useful data.

Now let’s investigate why patient data tracking is essential;

  • Patient History and Treatment Planning: Having an extensive history of the patient’s dental and medical history is never a bad thing and pays off when deciding upon a proper treatment plan. Medical history data, periodontal charts, dental charts, and prescription history, when organized and visualized correctly, makes the overall workflow so much easier and hiccup-free.
  • Referring and transferring practices: Having patient data that is accessible from anywhere is a boon for when your patient is referred out to another dentist or surgeon. Also, notes and prescriptions from the referral dentist can easily be transferred in and sorted with existing data.
  • Claim and Insurance Processing: Having medical data as evidence makes it easy for those tricky claims to be approved faster and eliminate the need for reapplying repeatedly.
    Analytics and visualization for ease of understanding: Pictures communicate more efficiently than words and tables of numbers. So having copious amounts of data visualized, makes treatment assessment way easier. (Read more here: Analytics for dental practices)

Now, let’s look at the things to be aware of when choosing a solution;

  • Consistent data collection: The system you use must collect data consistently, meaning every appointment and change in conditions must be collected regularly and without errors.
  • Collect only necessary data: Too much data is also a problem. It is wise to collect data that matters and is of use. Spending time collecting data that won’t contribute to anything is time and money wasted.
  • Data safety and storage: Safety and privacy are the most important things to keep in mind when handling patient data. The system must be HIPAA compliant, which ensures maximum safety. (Read more here: Best ways to prevent data theft) How the data is stored is also crucial as that decides the ease of accessibility. We suggest a cloud-based solution for this.
  • Scalable: The system must be able to cope up with the inevitable growth in business and an increasing number of patients.

So, in short, tracking your patient data periodically and consistently using a safe and secure system will boost your practice efficiency profoundly.