Fuse: Your guide to key performance indicators

October 20, 2021 -- If you graduated with your doctorate in dentistry ready for practice but not for business, you're not alone. According to Kathy Brodal, a Patterson Dental analyst and business consultant with 34 years of experience, approximately 30% of dentists in practice today are unfamiliar with the "numbers" side of their dental practice, making business training an on-the-job learning experience. Fuse, backed by Patterson Dental's expertise, is built to help.

What's your practice's patient retention rate? Case acceptance rate? Average production per patient? More importantly, are these numbers rising or falling in your practice?

If the answer to these questions is, "I don't know," there's no better time than now to start finding out. Such measures of practice health -- key performance indicators, or KPIs -- are essential insights into not only how your business is doing right now but also how to make it even more successful in the future. By constantly tracking these and other important metrics, practice owners and managers can see where opportunities for growth exist, as well as potential needs for extra training or communication.

See your practice at a glance

Even though many KPIs are daily measures, their real application is not as individual numbers, but as pieces of a larger puzzle.

"A lot of doctors are learning as they go and going by their gut," said Erin Smith, software product marketing manager for Patterson Dental. "They tend to judge based on a short-term view: I'm busy today, I'm busy tomorrow, business is good. But more important is the long-term view, taking a whole list of different metrics and tying everything together."

Brodal concurs: "You can think you're busy today and busy tomorrow, but then if something like COVID happens, suddenly you don't know what your numbers are. If you haven't been planning ahead and now your schedule is empty, how do you know what you can do next?"

That's where Fuse comes in.

"Fuse has a Practice at a Glance dashboard," Smith explained. "It has the key data points to track your business metrics. That's a standard setup where everyone can start. Then, as they learn more about what they really need to keep an eye on, they can hide certain data points or arrange the widgets in a different order to customize the appearance of that dashboard."

Practice at a Glance dashboard in Fuse

Onboard with ease

Such intuitive visibility, combined with Fuse's WalkMe step-by-step, interactive training, helps keep all team members on the same page and up to date, whether within a single office or across multiple locations, and prevents the loss of valuable knowledge through turnover.

"Often, if the person in charge of keeping an eye on the numbers leaves, the person who takes over only learns what they knew. That's why software training is so important, so all team members know how to understand reports and what they should be tracking," Brodal said.

Find your opportunities

With so much data at your fingertips, where should you start to build your business strategy?

"Start by finding out your biggest opportunity for growth," Brodal recommended. "Most of the time, I would say that's retention. And Fuse does a great job of tracking that."

Screenshot of Fuse showing different categories

One way to monitor retention in Fuse is on the Hygiene Retention widget on the dashboard. If you see that 20% of your patients are consistently leaving without their next appointment, you can review your walkout process to increase the number of patients who leave with a future appointment. It could also be an early indicator of patient satisfaction and could prompt you to reevaluate the patient experience.

Fuse can also quickly take you beyond the surface to the details -- and the resources needed to understand them.

"The way Fuse is designed, you can click through a lot of the widgets and data points on the dashboard to get a SmartScreen with the details of why your numbers are the way they are. Then you can put steps in place to correct them," Smith said.

"For example, there's an Accounts Receivable widget that will tell you the age of all your open accounts receivables -- what's 30 days, 60 days, 90 days old or older, all color coded. So you can look at that quick view and say, 'Yeah, these accounts are definitely in the red, and I need to try to get those old balances paid quickly.' "

When you click on the widget, you open the Receivables SmartScreen, where you can view the details of the outstanding balances and quickly create statements and more.

"It's all in Fuse," Smith added.

“Almost all dental offices that don't have something like Fuse have an office manager who's pulling all the reports on their software and putting it in a spreadsheet.”
— Kathy Brodal, Patterson Dental

Use your time efficiently

If all that sounds efficient, it's because it is.

"As a dentist, practice owner, and business owner, you have a lot of responsibilities," Smith said. "You should be spending your time acting on the data, not gathering it. That's where Fuse is a great help. Everything is right there to act on, real-time data, so you don't have to run a ton of different reports. It's all just really integrated."

"Almost all dental offices that don't have something like Fuse have an office manager who's pulling all the reports on their software and putting it in a spreadsheet, and taking hours and hours and hours a month to gather data, when they could be managing the team or implementing strategies," Brodal said. "Fuse can do that for them and save all of that time and effort."

Learn more about how Fuse can help your practice grow.

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