KPI's and Conclusions - Your Wisdom is Being Tested

You know, there's this saying that's been around for ages – "you can only manage what you can measure." In dentistry, we often measure things like new patients, production, collection, overhead, profit, and expenses. It's pretty straightforward with the help of dental office management software and accounting programs. Most dentists are aiming for increased profit or more time off, and they dig into these numbers to figure out how to achieve those results.

Now, let's apply the clinical diagnosis and treatment planning process to running a thriving dental office. Just like a patient might show up with a physical pain, a dentist might have a chief complaint about their business – perhaps a lack of profit. Gathering metrics for an office is like collecting test results and measurements from a patient. Part of this data collection involves getting the patient's history, and yes, a dental office has a history too. A series of events may have led to the current situation.

So, what's the problem? How did it get here? What needs to be done to fix it? Answers to these questions may vary because, well, opinions differ. For instance, if profitability is an issue, one dentist might blame the economy, another might point fingers at increased competition, and yet another could identify low insurance reimbursements as the culprit. The fixes vary too – wait for the economy to bounce back, increase hours to be more competitive, or become an out-of-network provider and charge higher fees.

Who's right? Honestly, it's hard to definitively know. But you've got to be brutally honest about the situation. Just like a patient's response to treatment, a business responds to management decisions and execution. If something doesn't work, a change of course is needed. And here's a nugget of wisdom: There is no failure, just feedback. Unfortunately, many dentists hold onto their ideas and practice philosophies because there's so much emotionally at stake.

Maybe they attended an institute that insisted their way was the only right way. Or perhaps they've been in dentistry so long that they're just used to the way things used to be, thinking if they keep doing the same thing, everything will be fine. The reality is, the environment in which they practice has changed, sometimes drastically. I once heard a dentist at a practice management meeting worrying about how accepting insurance assignments would affect his image with celebrity clients.

If dentists could take a more objective, even emotionally detached view of their situation, they might make better choices. That's where analysis comes into play. Look at the numbers, and if they're not what you want, something has to change. The key is to identify the correct items to change and be open to adapting. After all, it's not failure, it's just feedback.