Keeping an eye on performance

shutterstock_128340983Ben Flewett, managing director at Software of Excellence, discusses the value of measuring performance data in dental practices.

The acknowledgement of dental practices as businesses has been largely driven by the increasingly competitive nature of the market and the growing influence being enjoyed by dental corporates. Alongside these factors the business philosophy of practices is also changing, with the monitoring of performance now recognised as providing valuable data for business managers.

However, despite increasing awareness amongst practice owners and managers of the importance of KPIs (key performance indicators), a significant number are still failing to measure practice performance. There can be many and varied reasons for this, but it seems a lack of understanding about how and where to access relevant data plays a major part in this ambivalence.

Measuring your KPIs

In order to become more efficient and productive a business needs to identify and routinely measure its most important KPIs to help build a clear picture of its performance and identify its biggest opportunities for growth. This method is not solely about making wholesale changes to the way a practice operates, it has been proven that even relatively minor alterations to existing processes can translate into substantial bottom line impact.

There are overwhelmingly large numbers of practice principals who admit to not knowing enough about their business performance and almost half of dentists claim they are not concerned about how their practice is performing. But in reality there are no real excuses for avoiding the routine measurement of practice performance. Generating reports is easy to achieve from a suitable practice management system, providing a reliable overview of KPIs such as chair time utilisation, revenue, recall success and the like.

Patient satisfaction

Aside from the monitoring of internal performance it is easy to overlook the importance of patient satisfaction. Our research showed that less than 40% of respondents carry out patient surveys on an annual basis and for a variety of reasons this figure needs to rise.

Logically, taking the time to listen to and understand what patients expect from your practice gives important feedback, which will help improve levels of care and service by putting patients’ priorities ahead of what dentists often perceive them to be. Combining an understanding of what your practice data is telling you, your patients’ feedback and focusing on those areas where performance can be increased or improved, allows targets to be set and staff to be motivated around common objectives.

The next step

It is clear that performance monitoring is a vital component of practice success, but it remains a relatively new concept for many practice owners and managers. For those unsure about taking the next step I would advise third party assistance to help implement monitoring and reporting procedures.

Acknowledging the importance of practice data and its role in improving practice performance is an important first step in embedding these processes within routine practice management, giving principals and managers a deeper insight into their business than they have ever had before.

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