What is “Plan B?” The New Normal in a Post-Irma World

By a Fellow FDA Member

Call it intuition, but I had the feeling we —and the entire east coast of Florida — dodged a bullet last year with Hurricane Matthew. It just seemed like a matter of time before our 13-year dry spell was going to end.

I desperately wanted to be wrong, as I watched CNN every evening for the latest update on Hurricane Irma, and the National Hurricane Center for the more elaborate interpretation.

The memories of spending another post-Labor Day weekend away from home (Hurricane Frances, 2004) sadly is still too vivid in our memories. I worked as a dentist a total of four days that month, and two of those were without air conditioning — which is a testament to the determination of my staff and my patients to create a sense of “normalcy” in the aftermath, despite the obvious disruption to our personal lives.

Doctors, it is time for “Plan B.”

Depending on where you are in your practice career, it may not make economic sense to “build over” before or after your insurance adjuster has given you the final assessment. For dentists with more than 25 years of practice, the return on investment may not be in your favor at such a late period, as the current tax laws for business owners after 50 provide decent “catch-up” provisions in a defined benefit (like a government pension) and defined contribution (401K-type) plans that would be more beneficial.

For a mid-career solo practitioner, you have been faced with rising overhead costs since 2007, and along with diminished income (ADA Health Policy Institute has the data), the time is ripe for a multi-doctor practice formation, which should always be created with expert legal and financial advice.

Look “around the neighborhood” and reach out to other dentists who may share the same dilemma you do. If you have damage to your office, and someone nearby does not, now would be the time to construct a well-defined contract that outlines the term and time limit for this new arrangement. And if the relationship works on a limited basis, you may find the new arrangement something you want to solidify.

Likewise, if your office came out unscathed, reach out to your colleagues in this period and strategize. This is not a DIY project, so retain the professional advice you need to make this happen. Involve your bankers and financial advisors for expert advice.

In closing, I want you to know that I understand what you have gone through, and I look at 2004 as a defining year in my professional career. The decisions I made after these disasters guided me to where I am today, and my family is better for it.

Make the right choice for your loved ones and your staff members, and don’t be afraid to execute “Plan B!”

 

 

How to Calculate Your Marketing ROI

By Sarah Woods, Core Dental Solution

In my last blog post, I outlined the important key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine how well your practice’s marketing tactics are working. I discussed eight of the most important KPIs for every dental practice and the ones I often use as the directors of the overall marketing strategies I create for my clients. These KPIs are sales revenue, cost-per-lead, traffic-per-lead ratio, lead-to-customer ratio, number of calls (leads), patient retention percentage, number of patients reactivated and new patient source.

Before we start, what’s a lead? A lead is a prospective patient who has reached out to your practice in some way. This could be a phone call, a walk in or a website inquiry. A lead is different than traffic. Traffic is the people who go to the website, social media page or see your advertisement.

Now, let’s breakdown these KPIs and understand how each is calculated.

  • Sales revenue: It is important to look at both the production and collection numbers every month. Production is the raw amount before collections, adjustments and overhead is subtracted. When determining whether marketing efforts are working, production is more reliable than collections because many factors can affect collections. For example, marketing is not related to whether the correct copays are collected, how much insurance is adjusted or the amount of overhead.
  • Cost-per-lead: This measurement is important when determining how much a practice is spending for each lead. Simply divide the cost of marketing campaign by the total number of leads, like this:

cost of marketing campaign
      total number of leads

  • Traffic-to-lead ratio: This measurement is what I use to determine whether a marketing campaign is effective. It is calculated by converting the traffic to leads into a ratio, (traffic : leads). Remember, the traffic is everyone who sees a campaign, website, etc., and leads are the amount of people who reached out to the practice in some way. For example, to see how a website is doing, its analytics are used to determine the traffic. Leads can be measured manually (a staff person collecting information and documenting how many calls are coming into the practice) or with call-tracking.
  • Lead-to-customer ratio: This KPI is similar to the conversion rate in that it determines the amount of leads that convert to customers. The ratio is leads : customers, and can also be reduced.
  • Number of calls (leads): It is crucial to track every lead. The most effective and reliable way to do this is by using a call-tracking service. I don’t recommend staff members tracking leads because these numbers are significantly less reliable. This KPI is the foundation for the rest and it is crucial that it’s accurate.
  • Patient retention percentage: This KPI is calculated to determine the percentage of patients retained in the practice. It is calculated by taking the difference of the number of deactivated patients from the total patients, and then dividing by the total patients and multiplying by 100, like this:

(Total patients- deactivated patients)   x 100 =  Patient retention %
Total patients

  • Patient reactivation percentage: This KPI determines how many overdue patients (hasn’t been seen in at least nine months) are being reactivated. The patient reactivation percentage is calculated by taking the difference of the number of reactivated patients from the total number of overdue patients, and then dividing by the total number of overdue patients and multiplying by 100, like this:

(Total overdue patients – reactivated patients)  x 100 = Patient reactivation %
Total overdue patients

  • New patient source: This KPI is crucial and just like the number of leads KPI, the foundation for all the KPIs. It is crucial that the source of every new patient is entered correctly. This sometimes takes training staff on the importance of marketing and asking the right questions when a prospect calls.

There is one last KPI that I forgot to add to my last blog. It’s the annual new patient growth. This number is calculated by taking the difference of the number of patients in a given year and the number of patients in a previous year, and dividing by the number of patients in a previous year, then multiplying by 100, like this:

(Number of patients in given year – number of patients in previous year) x 100
Number of patients in previous year

Accurately calculating these KPIs is extremely important when determining whether your marketing is effective — and if done correctly, can prevent wasteful marketing spending.

 

Sarah Woods is a marketing consultant and president of Core Dental Solutions, a full-service dental marketing agency that provides digital, traditional and inbound marketing to dental practice owners meeting them where they are in their life cycle. They approach dental practice marketing with a “holistic” mindset. Rather than incorporating “set-and-forget” marketing tactics to generate revenue and address shortfalls, they turn a dental practice into a well-oiled machine. Sarah can be reached at Sarah@CoreDentalSolutions.com.

 

 

 

Latex Precautions in the Dental Setting

By Rosanne Cain, BSN, LHRM, Patient Safety/Risk Manager II, The Doctors Company


Recognizing latex allergies is an important patient safety precaution.

A 43-year-old registered nurse presented to his dentist for a regular teeth cleaning procedure. After several years of daily use of latex gloves and medical supplies, he developed a severe sensitivity to latex that ultimately resulted in anaphylactic reactions to most latex exposures.

Prior to his scheduled appointment, he contacted the dental office and informed the staff about his severe latex allergy. The dental staff made a note in his dental record and prepared the exam room with nitrile gloves. When he arrived, the dental hygienist recommended protective eyewear. The patient asked the hygienist if the foam cushioning around the eyepieces was latex-free. The hygienist could not confirm. The hygienist also failed to note that she placed small rubber bands, which also contain latex, around the handles of her dental instruments.

The hygienist began the procedure. The patient began to itch, which was quickly followed by wheezing. The procedure was stopped, and the patient immediately administered his medication. The patient’s action avoided a severe anaphylactic reaction.

Discussion
During the past 30 years, latex allergies have been recognized as a significant problem for both specific patient and provider populations. The incidence of latex allergy in the general population has been estimated to be between 1 and 6 percent. Some adolescents experience incidences as high as 73 percent (notably those individuals with spina bifida and related pathologies). Women account for approximately 70 percent of latex-related anaphylactic reactions (most commonly during ob/gyn procedures).1 Adults with spinal cord trauma, neurogenic bladder or documented history of unexplained intraoperative anaphylaxis also can be affected by frequent exposure to latex supplies. Health care workers maintain an incidence of allergic response that ranges from 8 to 17 percent.2 Other at-risk populations with repeated exposure to latex gloves include lifeguards, emergency responders, law enforcement professionals and cosmetologists.

In addition, glove powder has been shown to aerosolize latex proteins and increases the risks of a reaction in latex-sensitized patients or staff. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced a ban of the use of powdered gloves in surgery, powdered patient examination gloves and absorbable powder used on surgical gloves. The ban was issued after an investigation determined that the powdered products present an “unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury, and that the risk cannot be corrected or eliminated by labeling or a change in labeling.”3

Although most dentists are familiar with latex allergies, the infrequency of a severe reaction during a dental procedure can cause inadequate precautionary measures in a dental practice. Implement the following risk management strategies to reduce latex-related risks.

Risk Management Strategies

  1. Know your patient’s latex allergy status, and note it prominently in the patient’s medical records. Allergy status should be updated on each patient visit.
  2. Remove toys that contain latex from your practice’s common areas and play zones.
  3. Practice latex avoidance precautions. Create a patient area that is latex-free and educate staff about all dental-related products that are restricted from the room.
  4. Identify dental products that contain latex, including gingival stimulators, irrigation tips, dental dams, bulb syringes, cushioned eye protection goggles, tourniquets, rubber stoppers on medicine vials, adhesive tapes and bandages, water tubing, prophy cups, and rubber toothbrush heads and grips.
  5. Use latex-free carts, bandages, reservoir bags, airways, endotracheal tubes, laryngeal mask airways and ventilator bellows.
  6. Maintain a list of latex-free dental devices and office products and ensure that it is readily available for staff reference.
  7. Remember that touching any latex object can cause transmission of the allergen by hand to the patient.
  8. Ensure that your supplies include emergency medications with non-latex syringes and medicine stoppers.
  9. Perform practice drills with your staff so they are prepared for latex-related medical emergencies.

For a free brochure on latex allergy, contact the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) by calling toll-free 800.842.7777. Additional information is available on the ACAAI website at http://acaai.org/allergies/types/skin-allergies/latex-allergy.

 

References:
1. Allergic reactions during labour analgesia and caesarean section anaesthesia. Adriaensens, I., Vercauteren, M., Janssen, L., Leysen, J., Ebo, D. International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia 2013 Jul; 22(3): 231-242.

2. American Latex Allergy Association, http://latexallergyresources.org/statistics

3. FDA Rule, Banned Devices; Powdered Surgeon’s Gloves, Powdered Patient Examination Gloves, and Absorbable Powder for Lubricating a Surgeon’s Glove, 81 FR 91722, December 19, 2016, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/19/2016-30382/banned-devices-powdered-surgeons-gloves-powdered-patient-examination-gloves-and-absorbable-powder

 

Reprinted with permission. ©2017 The Doctors Company. For more patient safety articles and practice tips, visit www.thedoctors.com/patientsafety.

The guidelines suggested here are not rules, do not constitute legal advice and do not ensure a successful outcome. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each health care provider in light of all circumstances prevailing in the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.

The Dental Practice Sales Funnel

By Sarah Woods, Dental Marketing Consultant

The sales funnel is alive and well within every dental practice. The success of marketing efforts is directly related to the sales effectiveness of the dental team within the dental practice. Each team member has a role to play in the success of the patient experience and how well it translates into increased treatment acceptance. The problem with this reality is that many dental practices fail to accept and understand the uniquely important role each person plays in the patient experience. The specific sales role of each team member is necessary and cannot be eliminated from the process due to cutting corners by under-staffing.

Based on the size of the practice, there should be at least one person in the following positions:

Marketing Coordinator/New Patient Concierge: handles internal and external marketing, takes photos for social media and digital platforms, acts as brand ambassador within the community, coordinates special events/seminars, implements and manages promotions and specials within the office.

Front Desk/Concierge: answers incoming calls with an upbeat attitude, schedules appointments, greets patients with a cheerful disposition and a warm smile.

Insurance Coordinator: handles all insurance companies, generates all insurance claims, coordinates payments, updates patient accounts.

Dental Assistant: assists dentist in providing treatment to patients, develops trusting relationship with each patient and follows up with the patient after treatment performed.

Hygienist: provides excellent dental cleanings, performs periodontal treatments, develops and nurtures relationships with the patient, and schedules future hygiene appointments for patients.

Treatment Coordinator: presents treatment plans to patients in an educated and confident way, and schedules necessary appointments.

Check Out: checks out patients and schedules all future appointments.

The key responsibility of each of these roles is to interact with the patient in a positive, thoughtful way while maintaining confidence. If just one of these roles isn’t filled, treatment acceptance and patient retention will suffer, affecting the bottom line of the practice.

 

Sarah is a dental marketing consultant with extensive experience working with dental practices to maximize their patient potential. With in-depth experience in various levels of a dental practice, she has a unique perspective that allows her to be effective at implementing strategies throughout the office that can be executed easily.

Please connect with Sarah on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/sarahcwoods or email her at Scwoods79@gmail.com