Dental Practice Management: Scheduling a Comprehensive Exam

Dental Practice Management: Scheduling a Comprehensive Exam
What is the best dental practice management policy on length of a new patient exam?

51% schedule a minimum of 40 minutes for comprehensive dental exams, this survey found.

Only 27% of dentists said they perform comprehensive exams in less than 30 minutes.

“Actually, I schedule an hour and sometimes it takes longer The compete exam is THE single greatest internal dental marketing technique,” offered one dentist, a subtle comment for comprehensive exams being a part of an overall dental marketing plan.

Here’s how dentists responded to this survey asking what length of time they schedule for an initial comprehensive exam:

  • 4% 10 minutes.
  • 10% 15 minutes.
  • 10% 20 minutes.
  • 3% 25 minutes.
  • 22% 30 minutes
  • 51% 40+ minutes.

Here are some further comments on scheduling comprehensive exams from dentists:

It should be one hour …

“One hour. It’s COMPREHENSIVE. That cannot be done in less than 45 minutes. It means you are looking at radiographs, perio probing, restorative, occlusion, TMJ, health history, and oral cancer exam. I defy anyone who says that a “comprehensive” exam can be done any faster.” (Georgia dentist)

“For new patients, an hour max, but if I only give them 20 minutes of my time, I don’t get the case as often.” (Illinois dentist)

“Really should schedule 50 or 60 minutes on adults.” (General dentist)

“We schedule one hour initial exam for perio charting, radiographs, photos, models, charting restoration, and for getting to know the patient.” (Michigan dentist)

“We schedule an hour, but sometimes it takes even longer.” (California dentist)

It should be more than an hour …

“We schedule 1 1/2 hours for initial medical history gathering, interview, complimentary Velscope cancer screening, necessary x-rays and comprehensive exam. NO cleaning at this appointment.” (Minnesota dentist)

“I actually spend and hour and a half for each new patient examination. Not one gets into hygiene without a NP exam.” (Washington dentist)

“My first appointment is 1.5 hours in length with a pre-paid reservation fee.” (California dentist)

“My patient is scheduled for 2 hours. In that time we take photos, x-rays, models and intra-oral images as well as the full exam, interview and charting with the doctor.” (New Jersey dentist)

“We schedule 90 minutes. 45 minutes for the exam and 45 minutes for records.” (Florida dentist)

Note: Survey sample included 100 respondents.

Dental Practice Management: Is a Financial Arrangement Coordinator Necessary?

Dental Practice Management: Is a Financial Arrangement Coordinator NecessaryThe dental office financial arrangement coordinator is an important part of dental practice management.

The financial coordinator assists dental patients with making payment arrangements and coordinating dental insurance benefits so that dental treatments are compatible with the patient’s budget, thus you, the dentist, get paid in a timely manner.

When asked about having a financial arrangement coordinator for his dental office, one California dentist complained, “I wish everyone would just pay at the time of service!”

In our most recent survey, The Wealthy Dentist asked dentists if they employ a team member as a financial arrangements coordinator, and dentists were pretty split on their responses. 55% responded that they do not employ a team member as a financial arrangement coordinator, and 45% responded that they do employ a team member to carry out this important dental practice function.

Dentists’ feelings on the subject are mixed; some feel this type of position is better suited for larger dental practices, while others insist it’s absolutely necessary to have someone handle financial arrangements.

Here are just a few of the comments from the responding dentists:

“I have 1 designated team member to make financial arrangements, but occasionally another member has to step in due to the primary being out of the office for various reasons.” (Nevada dentist)

“We estimate dental insurance benefits, and receive the patient’s portion on the date services are provided. Other than that, the only other financial arrangement offered is through Care Credit. Our receptionist comfortably handles this as part of her duties.” (Illinois dentist)

“This is probably a great idea for larger multi-dentist offices, but I find it is not likely to be cost effective in a smaller practice.” (General dentist)

“We have only one person and no one else discusses money. That way it stays simple and patients can’t say someone told them something different. For the most part we have a set of rules to follow, but there is always that special situation where we break the norm.” (General dentist)

“Complete necessity to have someone ultimately responsible and the ‘go to’ person for all financial arrangements, especially patient interaction.” (Michigan dentist)

“An absolute necessity to have one person handling this!” (California dentist)

“This position is vital to keeping cash-flow running smoothly.” (General dentist)

“I make all the necessary financial arrangements directly with my patients, but I am an old-fashioned dentist in a small town, and I want to know what is going on (financially) with my patients.” (Kansas dentist)

How do you handle this dental practice management position in your dental practice? Is one person designated as your financial arrangements coordinator?

Infection Control: Dentists Make Changes To Avoid Deadly Viruses (video)

infectious disease controlThis week an article by Science Daily outlined a study published in IOP Publishing’s Journal of Breath Research, where researchers invented a non-invasive breath test to measure the H1N1 strain (swine flu).

The researchers claim that over half of the people in Glasgow vaccinated during the 2009 swine flu pandemic were already infected with the flu virus, meaning they were vaccinated unnecessarily.

Scientists hope that a breath test will allow doctors to identify those who already sick, therefore allowing them to save the vaccine for people who are not yet infected.

This latest scientific invention reminded us of a Wealthy Dentist survey where we asked dentists if the threat of deadly viruses caused them to make any changes at their dental practice.

Click on Play to hear what dentists had to say about precautions against pandemics such as the Swine Flu –

The changes the some of the dentists surveyed made were –

  1. More frequent hand washing and use of a hand sanitizer.
  2. Not treating patients who feel ill.
  3. Encouraging sick employees to stay home.
  4. Use of R95 face masks.
  5. Use of eye shields.

This fall students entering 7th – 12th grade must get a whooping cough vaccine within the first month of the school year in order to stay in school.

Have you made any changes at your dental practice to avoid infectious diseases like the swine flu or whooping cough?

For more on the swine flu breath test see ‘Swine Flu’ Breath Test Could Reduce Future Vaccination Shortages, Research Suggests.

Dental Practice Technology: 66% of Dentists Use Digital X-rays

digital xraysDigital technology has reached the dentist’s office. According to Yale School of Medicine, 10 to 30% of dentists have abandoned film for digital X-rays.

When we asked dentists if they use use digital x-rays, 66% said yes. Only 34% reported that they still use film.

“Digital x-rays have improved dentistry so much. I can’t imagine going back to the old way of developing x-rays. It has allowed doctors to diagnose a patient when they are away from the office,” said one periodontist.

“Couldn’t live without digital,” offered another.

A great investment –

“Possibly the best investment I have made in my practice.” (Kentucky dentist)

“One of my best purchases. I’ve been digital over 4 years.” (Florida dentist)

“We implemented digital about a decade ago and would never go back.” (South Carolina dentist)

“One of the most cost-effective things I’ve done. I have been digital since 2000.” (California dentist)

“Yes, who in this day and age doesn’t? It is SO inexpensive compared to what I paid over 10 years ago to do it, that it is a “no-brainer” to do. PLUS the savings in chemicals, processor maintenance, employee time to do these non-essential weekly maintenance jobs, making duplicates for Insurance etc. just makes going digital a “slam dunk” decision! This is why, once I purchased it, I realized these benefits and then lectured on going digital.” (Illinois dentist)

“It’s wonderful! Less radiation the patient and staff is exposed to and the ability to manipulate the images.” (Florida hygienist)

“Higher diagnosable image versus film, no fixer, developer, film, mounts cost, lower patient and ambient radiation levels — truly a no-brainer!” (North Dakota dentist)

Too expensive for some –

“Very expensive to fully implement.” (Missouri dentist)

“Digital has improved greatly, but I am not interested in the investment at this late stage of practice.” (Indiana dentist)

“I would love to have a digital pan/ceph, but at $44K, I’ll have to pass for now.” (Oklahoma dentist)

“Too expensive!” (Nevada dentist)

“I am 67 years old in a month or so and it is hard to spend that much money.” (California dentist)

“Way too costly!” (Massachusetts dentist)

Sensors can be an issue –

“Sensors are too @#*&! expensive!” (Mississippi dentist)

“The technology finally meets or exceeds the quality of film radiology — but with some drawbacks. The cost for the sensors and viewing equipment is very high, compared to the same film-based radiology. The bitewing views are not fully closed-mouth as bitewings done with films, because of the sensor cords. And the sensors have some limitations of placement freedom due to their rigidity and thickness compared to the relative patient comfort with films.” (California dentist)

“Since no sensor has been declared superior, I believe buyers need to evaluate the software. How many ‘clicks’ needed to go through the fmx, to modify contrast/brightness for diagnosing and making notes? You should be able to do this quickly ‘on the fly’ as the patient hears you review their x-rays. The right-click menu and simple keyboard shortcuts should be available so you don’t have to mouse all over the place for everything. I also believe software using the “template” paradigm of x-ray sets is a throwback to the past and is not good use of computer power.” (Illinois dentist)

“They have to make the sensors either less expensive or more durable.” (California dentist)

Dentists: Would a Former Associate Steal Your Dental Patients? (video)

Dentists: Would a Former Associate Steal Your Dental Patients? (video)Dentists, do you think an ex-employee or associate would steal your dental patient lists?

In a survey conducted by the research firm Ponemon Institute, 59% of ex-employees admitted to stealing company data when leaving their prior employment.

Dental patients are a dentist’s most valuable resource, but competition can be so tough that some dentists have seen exiting dental employees steal their patient lists.

One dentist complained, “Every GP associate I’ve had has tried to steal patients. It’s like inviting someone into your home, then finding your silverware is missing after they leave.”

Another dentist said, “I’ve had employees try; the patients usually complain to me personally about the situation. Loyalty is rewarded.”

The Wealthy Dentist conducted a survey asking dentists if they have ever had problems with ‘patient stealing‘ by associate dentists or employees leaving their dental practice.

To hear how dentists responded, Click on Play —

What has been your experience with dental pateint stealing at your dental practice?
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