In the last 4 years I have increased my private turnover by a factor of 3 and I believe there are 4 big but simple tools that have been a big part in this increase.
3) Demo model
4) Patient information packs
Photography is in my opinion the most important of these tools. It may cost just over £1000 to buy a reasonable camera setup and add a few minutes to your daily work, but the benefits are huge. In my experience, when you present photos to a pt of their teeth they automatically become so much more engaged with the idea of improving them either in terms of function or reliability or cosmetically. They are more likely to go ahead with that crown you are recommending or to consider adding whitening on to a course of treatment. You are also more likely to find that they will start requesting work you hadn't originally considered. E.g. If you are crowning a heavily restored upper 5 and the adjacent 4 is a little grey because of an occlusal amalgam they may actually request you improve that at the same time even though the filling is currently working. Because these "add-on" treatments take little extra time, the profits from them are high.
Plus reflecting on your work objectively in a photo is such a great way of learning what you could have done better even if both you and the pt are happy with the result. This then helps you to push the standard of your work even higher.
My other tips about making the most of your photography can be found on these 2 posts:
You don't need an iPad to do great dentistry. You can also use other methods of presenting things to pts via the surgery computer or a TV on the wall. But for me, incorporating an iPad into my workflow has made such a big difference to my practice. High quality photos can be taken with my camera and be presented to the pt in under a minute. Consent forms get signed on the iPad saving time on printing, scanning and shredding (and almost every pt comments on how fancy this is). Almost daily I use animations on the iPad to explain complex procedures like RCT or implants.
Here is the various ways I use my iPad:
See here for the apps that I think are invaluable to my work:
My demo model was an early Christmas present to myself (Yes I know how much of a geek that makes me). I had used cheap models before (and still use them to demo brushing), but I couldn't find a demo model that had all the elements I wanted. So I decided to create my own. I got a basic plastic model with removable teeth for about £50 and then prepared the teeth to my liking and sent the model to my technician to restore. The result is something that truly represents the work I am trying to provide for my patients and it has made such a huge improvement to my ability to explain things to patients. It has also often resulted in patients choosing a more cosmetic choice than I expected them to take. These come at higher cost and therefore increase revenue.
My more in depth review about how I created my demo model can be found here:
Patient information packs
I am a big fan of getting things in writing. I guess that's part of why I like blogging. When it comes to dentistry it means that everyone gets written OHI, new pts get introduction packs explaining about how we book appts and how to get hold of us in emergencies etc. And when pts are considering extensive courses of treatment I create a "treatment considerations" pack. This is a written summary of their problems and the broad options available to them. It also goes into detail about how we will need to work together to choose shades etc and what will be covered under guarantees once the work is completed. It took quite a bit of time to create my first pack but now I have a template which means I can create one in a few minutes. It results in me feeling happy that everything has been explained well and the pt is hopefully impressed my attention to detail and therefore feels confident in choosing whichever option is appropriate for them. In 90% of cases a patient then agrees to a high value treatment. I will discuss these I more detail in a future post.
My new pt pack is explained in more detail here:
Work with great technicians. Your lab fee as a percentage of your turnover may be higher than average but it results in fewer remakes, better results, better cases to show other pts considering spending money on their teeth.
Take your time and focus on quality. Just over a year ago I implemented a big change to my diary. I increased my base appt time from 15 minutes to 20 minutes. It might not sound like a huge change but it meant that on busy checkup days I would be seeing 24 patients rather than 32. Most treatment time also increased. I did this because I wanted to be able to push the quality of my work and documentation higher. However I thought long and hard about it because I was concerned it might mean my income could actually decrease short term. However the extra time spent discussing things with pts and documenting my work better and getting fine details right in my treatments meant that my private turnover still increased by almost 20% that year!
Ultimately becoming successful in dentistry long term can only come down to dedication, hard work and consistency. Your job is to find ways of implementing those ideals and displaying them to your patients.
Dr Chris Harper