Understanding Dental Practice Key Performance Indicators

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Carestream Dental’s Nina Cartwright says “Business insight is key to dental practice success”

Among the reasons for entering the dental profession, the business aspect of managing a practice is unlikely to be the motivating factor, and it is not unusual to hear “I opened a dental practice because of a love of dentistry, but now I feel like an accountant”. Most dentists choose the job because they want to diagnose, treat and prevent dental problems. However, dental practices are businesses and business skills are an important part of their success.

Unfortunately, it seems that some dentists do not feel ready to manage a practice. A survey of 133 dental graduates in the USA found that 85% felt uncomfortable with their practice management education [1] . Likewise, a UK study reported that 21% of new graduates and established practitioners recommended including or increasing business and practice management education in dental school programmes [2] .

This is a concern because dentists need to oversee many features of running a business, such as bookkeeping, financial forecasting and buying insurance plans. More significantly, the level of management experience is associated with personal and practice incomes [3] . A sound business understanding is clearly required for success.

When running a business, one important factor to know is its key performance indicators (KPIs). A KPI is a statistic that shows how well a business is meeting its goals. KPIs include, for example, the total number of patients, take-up of treatment plans and cancellation rates. They are used to create goals and monitor the practice’s progress towards them. Recording and analysing your practice’s KPIs is worthwhile because they indicate how effective, efficient and profitable it is. Ignoring them can be detrimental as they are the cornerstone by which you can maximise profitability and overall success.

Fortunately, there is software that can help with your KPIs. As this software makes information more accessible and easier to understand, your business can run more smoothly. By allowing you to fully understand what your data means, it enables you to make changes and take action.

The CS R4+ Insights software from Carestream Dental is specifically designed to give you a greater understanding of your practice’s KPIs. The main dashboard displays eight KPIs, including patient charges and payments, the number of active patients, NHS contract activity and booked/unbooked time in the diaries. There are also hyperlinks from each KPI that take you to a more detailed report. This software delivers real-time data for accurate practice performance analysis and it will help you to grasp your practice’s data and to act on it.

Dental students and practising dentists give several reasons for choosing the job, such as helping people and the nature of the occupation [4] . However, running a practice involves more than just treating patients, and fully understanding your KPIs will help its success. Software that can analyse and display your KPIs is a valuable tool for running and growing your business.

For more information, call 0800 169 9692 or visit www.carestreamdental.co.uk 
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1] Barber M, Wiesen R, Arnold S, Taichman R, Taichman L. Perceptions of business skill development by graduates of the University of Michigan Dental School. J Dent Educ 2011;75:505-17.
2] Oliver GR, Lynch CD, Chadwick BL, Santini A, Wilson NH. What I wish I’d learned at dental school. Br Dent J 2016;221;187-94.
3] Barber M, Wiesen R, Arnold S, Taichman R, Taichman L. Perceptions of business skill development by graduates of the University of Michigan Dental School. J Dent Educ 2011;75:505-17.
4] Al-Bitar ZB, Sonbol HN, Al-Omari IK. Reasons for choosing dentistry as a career by Arab dental students. Eur J Dent Educ 2008;12:247-51.