Running a dental practice is tough. Competition, the rise of PPOs, changes in marketing, and increased customer expectations are all demanding your attention. These challenges mean it’s vital that dental practice owners have the right information to make fast, informed decisions. Unfortunately, instinct is not enough.
If you want to be successful in modern dentistry, you need to start running your practice more like a business. This means understanding the powerful methods, and technologies that small businesses and large enterprises have been refining over the last few years. Corporate dentistry is using these techniques right now to make a big impact in the dental marketplace, and you need to be able to compete.
The right approach will help you enhance your dental practice, get more patients, and build profitability. It all starts with basing your decisions on the best insights and good analysis. Welcome to dental dashboards.
What Is A Dental Dashboard?
A dental dashboard is a way to quickly understand what’s going on throughout your dental business. The ideal dental dashboard:
- Integrates across marketing, sales, customer service, and operations, providing a good overview of your business.
- Brings together important, actionable information.
- Presents that information in a clear, concise way.
- Lets you know how you’re doing against your targets.
- Informs your business decisions.
Imagine being able to see, at a glance:
- How effective and profitable your treatments planning is, how many patients you’re treating, and the types of treatment.
- Trends in treatments, patient numbers, returning vs. new patients, and more.
- How much it’s costing to get new patients via the various marketing methods your practice uses.
- The reputation and authority of your practice.
- Where you need to focus your attention to increase patient numbers, turnover, and profitability.
A dental dashboard is one of the best ways to run your practice more like a business. It gives you both an overview and the specific measurements you need to improve decision making, and ultimately helps your practice grow and thrive.
What About The Practice Management Reports That I Run?
Without the proper context, ad-hoc data is practically useless. That’s the curse of reporting, and it’s why so many reports just become wallpaper - Something that might be glanced at once or twice, before it gets pinned to a corkboard or thrown in the bin. Normal practice management software generates reports that only provide limited data. They don’t look at your business as a whole, and it’s difficult to base decisions on that information. Additionally, typical practice management reports aren’t that easy to read, and the format isn’t very clear, concise, or immediate.
A good dental dashboard takes data, provides context, and turns it into actionable “business intelligence (BI).” BI is information that’s truly useful, relevant, and timely to your decision making.
What Else Can You Tell Me About Business Intelligence?
BI is a way of framing your data so it’s more than just facts and figures. It combines information with what’s important to your dental business so that you can measure, track, understand, and choose the right outcomes.
There are several areas that turn data into BI:
- Measuring what matters - You don’t need to measure everything in your dental practice. BI helps you focus on the most important “Key Performance Indicators” (KPIs), so that you’re not overwhelmed with data.
- Progress - BI lets you track progress over time. This is a great way to track how your decisions are affecting the business through your various KPIs.
- History and Projections - BI isn't just about what’s happening right now. Good BI will let you look back to see how things have changed, and project future trends so you can see where you’re heading.
- Deep insight - BI is about diagnosing what’s going on “under the surface.” It helps you understand the factors influencing your data, so you can do something about them or dig deeper if necessary.
How Can Measuring Different Areas Help Me Actually Improve Them?
Measurement and analytics might not be the most exciting topics, but that doesn’t make them any less vital. The fact is that it’s very difficult to improve something if you don’t measure it. Comparing and contrasting information from before and after you made a decision will help you learn how good the decision was.
This is supported by something called “The Hawthorne Effect,” which means that people tend to improve their performance when they know they’re being observed. Because a dental dashboard integrates across all the different areas of a dental business, that observation and measurement should lead to more efficient working practices. It can also help to hold staff accountable; when you can see what is (and isn’t) working in your business, you can change working practices and provide training and support to “coach them up.”
Good measurement can alert you to potential problems before they become real issues. If your patient acquisition is slowing down, or production in certain areas is falling, a dental dashboard will tell you. You can get earlier warnings and better track your progress over all the areas of your business.
How Can I Be Better Than My Competitors?
The main areas you need to track are known as “Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).” KPIs are simply a way of measuring performance against your targets. They let you understand how your dental business is performing. That makes it easier to make small tweaks and changes to keep everything moving in the right direction. It also gives you an advantage over your competitors - If you want to beat corporate dentistry at it’s own game, or be the “alpha predator” practice in your area, and you’re measuring things when your competition isn’t, you can adapt faster and make better decisions
You can also get insight about how various business functions are integrating and working together. This means you can take a holistic view over your whole practice and drill down into individual areas when it makes sense.
How Does A Dental Dashboard Work?
Dental dashboards are all about integration and showing information in the best possible way. They tend to work as follows:
- A developer or consultant sets up the dental dashboard and tells it where to gather the data.
- The dental dashboard queries the data and brings it all together.
- It performs internal analysis to turn the data into business intelligence.
- It displays that information in an uncluttered clear, and relevant way.
- You review the dental dashboard on a regular basis to make sure everything is progressing as it should.
- To succeed in modern dentistry, you need to treat your dental practice more like a business
- It’s hard to improve what you can’t measure.
- One of the best ways to measure what matters is to use good business intelligence as the basis of decision making.
- A dental dashboard will collect together, analyze, and present information from across your dental business.
- A dental dashboard can track progress against key targets / KPIs, alert you to issues, and help you manage your business more effectively.
Conclusion - The big picture
You know by now how important a dental dashboard can be, and how it can transform your dental practice. It’s important to understand that a dental dashboard is just a starting point - It gives you the information to make and track decisions, but you still need to carry them out.
If you want to compete against the spectre of corporate dentistry, you need to take advantage in every area of your practice. Think like they do - Build up your patient base, use more efficient processes and marketing, and beat your competition.
When you start running your practice more like a business, you can use the power of dental business strategies, “Alpha Practice” coaching, and expert consultancy to get an advantage. Combine this with managed services, expert marketing / local SEO, and reputation monitoring to build your authority. Finally, collaboration tools, online sales, and management coaching will make your business processes more efficient and increase your profitability.
These techniques will help you build your patient base, focus on profits, and ultimately help your dental business be the place people go when they want top quality dental work.
At OnwardDental, we’re experts at building the perfect dental dashboard, helping you market your dental business, teaching you to beat your competition, monitoring your reputation, and giving you the coaching and support you need. Contact us today to find out more.