The start of the year is the perfect time to reflect on the previous 12 months – see what worked and more importantly, what didn’t and assess how to improve your dental practice. To help you start the new year off on the right foot and set your practice up for success in 2019, we’ve rounded up five key ideas to improve your dental practice.
1. Set SMART goals
It’s important to set goals so you have a clear direction and milestones to work towards for the upcoming year. First, you have to look back on the previous year and review the progress you’ve made. Did you achieve your production goal? Did you improve patient satisfaction? Did you increase new patient acquisition?
From there you can identify areas of improvement or growth. If you were off of your previous year’s goals by a significant amount, aim for a number that is more realistic and attainable. If you achieved them all, consider increasing your goals for the new year.
Some common goals to consider:
- Increasing the number of high production treatments
- Increasing practice revenue
- Decreasing patient churn
- Decreasing no-show appointments
An important thing to remember when you’re setting goals for 2019 is to make SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals. This means instead of a generic “increase practice revenue”, a SMART goal would be “increase production amount by 15% from the previous month”.
2. Go paperless
More and more practices have been making the switch and operating completely paperlessly. If your dental practice hasn’t gone paperless yet, it’s something to consider for your 2019 planning.
Not only is a paperless dental practice good for the environment, but dentists have also come to realize that with new technology, they can run a more efficient practice at a lower cost.
Going paperless will help you:
- Future proof your practice: As paper-based management methods are phased out, digitizing your data will help you integrate with the latest technology and keep up with the industry.
- Protect your data: Keeping electronic records allows you to use cloud backup and ensures your data is not completely lost in the event of a natural disaster or cybercrime.
- Increase your productivity: A paperless dental clinic helps you increase your productivity and streamline day-to-day tasks such as writing file notes, communicating with patients, and tracking outstanding payments.
- Increase the value of your practice: Going paperless will help you increase your practice value in the long run as a software upgrade is an investment that won’t depreciate over time.
If you’re starting a new dental practice, going paperless from the very beginning will set your practice up for success. For existing dental practices, the benefits such as time and money saved in the long will offset the slight effort needed up front to convert your patient files from paper to an electronic form. A good dental software provider can help make the transition as smooth and headache-free as possible.
3. Invest in dental marketing
If you haven’t invested in dental marketing efforts, 2019 is the time to start. Dental marketing is crucial to practice growth because even if your retention rates are good, you won’t grow unless you can bring in new patients.
The good news is there are a few fairly simple and easy dental marketing tactics that you can do to get started. To start, consider:
- Advertising: Try Google AdWords or Facebook ads.
- SEO: Set up a Google My Business profile.
- A social media strategy: Consistently post on social media platforms like Twitter.
- Email marketing: Start a newsletter that shares practice updates, promotions, and dental tips.
If you already have some dental marketing in place, your goal may be to optimize your efforts. Think about implementing a dental marketing calendar for 2019. There will always be certain times of the year when you can push promotional campaigns to draw in more business such as an end-of-year reminder to patients to use their health benefits.
4. Protect patient information
Running a modern, paperless dental practice can be convenient and simple, but you also have to be aware of the security risks.
Data breaches are on the rise for healthcare providers. If you are not considering cybersecurity for your dental practice, the time to start is now.
Electronically stored patient information is subject to cyber theft, and patients are more vigilant than ever about how their information is handled. In addition to giving your patients peace of mind, there are requirements for your dental practice to be compliant with both provincial and national privacy laws.
All of this means that you have to take the proper precautions to safeguard your practice, such as using appropriate hardware to enable data encryption and train staff to avoid sending sensitive information via unencrypted email. If not, the damage to your practice could result in lost customers, revenue, and brand reputation.
5. Improve customer satisfaction
Are your patients happy? As you work on bringing new patients in, don’t forget about your existing ones. In 2019, implement a plan to improve customer satisfaction. Happy patients are loyal patients, and loyal patients are invaluable to your business as they are essentially free advertising through reviews and word of mouth. Patients who are satisfied and loyal to your practice will refer their family and friends and write reviews.
Referrals are important because patients are more likely to give their business to a dental clinic if the recommendation came from somebody they know. Reviews are crucial because potential patients these days conduct research first and are swayed heavily by online reviews. Plus, loyal patients will continue to visit you, bringing you consistent business.
These 5 tips will help steer you in the right direction when planning for the year ahead. For more information, ClearDent’s dental software can help set you up for success in the new year.