In the digital era, getting a comprehensive view of the health of your dental practice requires more than simply reviewing your monthly or quarterly financial reports. Weekly and even daily reports that show stats such as production and collection rates are vital to giving you a clear understanding of how your practice is performing.
Yet these kinds of reports—and the metrics they track—are only meaningful if your practice has SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) goals. Without these kinds of goals, metrics are just data without meaning. By establishing clear objectives tailored to your business vision, you can track the right key performance indicators (KPIs), such as new patients year to date (YTD).
To be sure, solidifying goals and KPIs likely sound as though they take time you don’t have. Your practice is busy! But hear us out: without being thoughtful about what metrics you’re tracking and why you run the risk of making less effective business decisions and even missing the opportunity to identify issues and fix them before they get out of control.
Set SMART Goals
SMART goals are the compass for your dental practice; they provide direction and a shared mission. Let’s say your dental practice wants to improve its production. As it stands, that goal is broad and undefined. Increase production compared with what? The previous month? The previous year? And what is your current production?
A SMART goal would be, “Our practice wants to increase its production by 30% month over month for the next six months.” This goal is specific to what it wants to accomplish, and it provides a measurable target that seems attainable. To assess where something is achievable, you might look at production for the past few months to see historical performance and then establish a new goal based on those numbers. The SMART goal is also timely in that a specific time frame binds it. And is the goal relevant? If the goal supports a larger organizational goal, such as reaching a particular financial target or improving office efficiency, then the answer is likely “yes.”
Having a shared goal can also help shape the roles and responsibilities in your front office. For instance, if improving production is integral to your office’s larger financial goals, your office may need to hire a financial administrator to manage accounts receivable and collections. SMART goals can also provide direction for marketing activities and help focus your marketing dollars.
Keep Up With the KPIs
Once you have your goals in place, it’s time to set your KPIs.
If your practice wants to improve its production rate, you’d just track production month over month, right? Not quite. You’ll likely need to track a few other KPIs that illustrate the effect of certain activities on production.
Examples of KPIs to track include:
- New patients
- Adjusted production
- Production per patient
You can also view the same information by provider over the past 12 months:
- Daily production and collection
- Production versus collection
- Patients treated
- New patients
- Production per patient
- Production versus goal
Track Performance in Real-Time
As we previously mentioned, many practices already have regular weekly or even daily reports that track new patients, production, and collections. While these reports are helpful—and even more so with SMART goals and KPIs guiding their structure—getting a real-time view of these metrics can be invaluable. A dashboard such as Quick KPI reports by YAPI makes it easy to check your KPIs throughout the day to determine whether you are on track to meet practice goals. YAPI’s Quick KPI Report pulls data from your practice management software and compiles it into an easy-to-understand visual report or dashboard (see below).
Your office can get a macro view of practice metrics, augment daily static reports, and update goal setting. In fact, having real-time insights can help the front office identify potential issues before they become real problems. For instance, if you notice that the daily production rate is lower than expected because of cancellations, the front office can quickly send out appointment reminders through email or text to upcoming patients. The Quick KPI report is also a great tool to bring to your daily team huddles to get everyone aligned on the goals for the day.
By working together to create and set SMART goals and set and track KPIs, your dental office can foster a culture of continuous improvement and make better strategic business decisions.