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With a new decade just around the corner, now is the time to review, plan, and fine-tune your dental practice operations. The key is to proactively determine and adopt measures that will help your practice run smoothly and be profitable well into the future. 

Here are eight tips for sustaining a healthy dental practice:

  Understand the “big picture” of your production. Production provides an overall view of how well the practice is performing. The practice will decline without revenue growth, and merely reducing costs is not a sustainable long-term business strategy.

What to do? Set clear production targets. Review practice data by specific time periods and categories, such as by provider, carrier, or visits to identify trends. Assess your data against your targets.

  Achieve an acceptable collection rate. The loss of not collecting is far greater than the loss of a fee not charged. Costs involved with collections significantly increase the overall expenditures of a dental practice.

What to do? Accurately estimate and collect patient portions at the time of service.  Set a goal collection rate of 98% of net production.

  Keep up with the receivables. As receivables age, they become more difficult and more expensive to collect.

What to do? Make sure your total receivables are no more than 1.5 times your average monthly net production and no more than 5% of receivables exceed 90-days.

  Do not let your dental chair sit empty. One hour per day of unfilled dentist time can lead to more than $100,000 per year in lost production.

What to do? Keep cancellation and no-show rates under 1% 

  Make an effort to add new patients. A steady flow of new patients is an effective remedy for natural patient attrition. 

What to do? Use creative marketing to add 20 new patients per month per dentist. 

  Schedule a recare visit before the patient leaves the office. Recare appointments generate production, but also provide an opportunity to diagnose issues and keep patients healthy. Hygiene visits also produce provider revenue and help prevent more serious problems.

What to do? Ensure that 95% of patients have their next recare visit scheduled. 

  Make sure patients receive the treatment they need. Do patients accept your treatment plan and schedule appointments?

What to do?  Target a treatment plan acceptance rate of 85%. (Smaller cases may have a higher acceptance rate.) Ensure patients understand the recommended treatment, and all their financial concerns are addressed. Schedule their next visit before they leave the office.

  Keep your patients coming back.

What to do? Limit your attrition rate to under 15% of active patients.  Provide a high level of care and create a culture that is personal, inviting, and authentic.

 You’ll help ensure future success for your practice when you set, monitor, and evaluate goals to achieve sustainable growth for your dental organization. 


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Ira Cholodenko

Director, Dental Client Experience