7-year trends for U.S. dental production: Part 2

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Your dental practice was created as a business to help improve the oral health of your patients. But you can't serve your patients and thrive as a practice unless you have an idea how your practice is doing.

Sikka Software has just compiled data from more than 13,000 dental practices throughout the U.S. in more than 70 different categories within the practice. In this two-part series, I've looked at 10 key metrics and boiled down the nationwide averages for the last seven years. Part 1 examined aspects of hygiene, preventive, and doctor production along with the number of active patients.

Part 2 looks at the seven-year trends in assistant production, patient referrals, diagnostic services, and more. These numbers are for comparison only and are not meant to convey a recommendation of any particular procedure.

Production by your assistant

So often, we think of production in terms of the dentist and the hygienist, but assistants make a huge impact on the bottom line as well. Check with your state's laws to see what assistants can legally do, then make sure you are equipping your assistants to do everything within their scope of practice. Depending on the state, this might include fabricating night guards and bite guards, CAD/CAM dentistry, and more.

Gross production per assistant per hour
2010 $174.58
2011 $139.78
2012 $106.23
2013 $113.57
2014 $117.63
2015 $119.34
2016 $133.86
2017 $123.46

Referral patients

It's important to know where patients are finding you or which members of your referral network are sending patients to your practice. This also leads to an examination of how your marketing dollars are working.

Use your practice management software to track this, and make sure you're sending appreciation gifts to those businesses who are sending customers to your business.

Referral patients per practice per month
2010 40.75
2011 44.33
2012 46.58
2013 49.50
2014 50.92
2015 53.50
2016 54.17
2017 56.41

Periodic exams and diagnostic services

How many checkups does your practice schedule and complete each month? If you're like the U.S. average, you're seeing more than ever, which is a good thing, as the hygiene department is often the lifeblood of a practice. If you're not seeing an influx of six-month recall appointments right now, it's a good time to figure out why not.

No. of periodic exams per month
2010 51.67
2011 50.75
2012 50.42
2013 50.5
2014 50.92
2015 53.17
2016 54.83
2017 56.42

We looked a comprehensive list of diagnostic codes ranging from bitewings to 3D cone-beam CT scans to determine diagnostic services performed per month. We saw a bit of a dip in 2017.

This was a bit of a surprise to see with all of the technology available to dental practices today. Some patients are still resistant to any kind of radiology, so how do you explain the benefits of imaging to them? Do you have a script ready when any resistance is thrown your way?

Diagnostic services per month
2010 371.83
2011 376.92
2012 380.83
2013 394.92
2014 411.50
2015 435.25
2016 438.25
2017 427.83

Accounts receivable

Thankfully, the numbers in this category went down last year. In fact, they're at their lowest mark since 2011, which is excellent news.

Your practice was not created to be a business where patients owe you money for extended periods of time. If you're finding yourself drowning in accounts receivable, make a change. That might include billing more frequently, offering different forms of financing, or asking for full payment when your patients checks out. (Note: The following table covers 2011 through 2017, while the rest of the tables cover 2010 through 2017.)

Accounts receivable longer than 90 days
2011 $41,111.14
2012 $48,579.92
2013 $51,584.39
2014 $52,571.54
2015 $49,598.06
2016 $47,736.21
2017 $47,003.15

Alitta Boechler is the director of digital marketing at Sikka Software. You can email her [email protected]. Get a head start on 2018 with a free 10-procedure fee survey for your ZIP code from the app Practice Mobilizer at www.practicemobilizer.com. The full fee survey with more than 600 procedures for three ZIP codes can be purchased at store.sikkasoft.com.

Please note that the data should be used for comparison only.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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