Fixing Your 4th Quarter Hygiene Headache

In a year unlike any other, unexpected shortages of many previously easy-to-find items have become a notable theme of 2020. Toilet paper, of course. Bicycles. Bottled water. Pocket change. Beef, pork, and poultry. And bread flour. Apparently all that time at home translated into lots of people baking, which makes perfect sense when you think about it.

All this baking has no doubt included some kitchen catastrophes, as wanna-be-bakers attempted to make lots of sourdough bread, cookies of all kinds, and that comfort food favorite, banana bread. A common problem for all bakers, regardless of experience, is occasionally forgetting to include a critical ingredient such as yeast, salt, or sugar. Even though those cookies may look perfect coming out of the oven, without sugar they’re not going to be on anyone’s most-favorite-cookies-ever list.

So, how exactly does this relate to your dental practice’s 2020 recovery plan? Let’s talk about October 2020. Tuesday, October 20th to be exact. There’s a problem with that date.

Why? Because very few practices in the country actually thinking about anything but navigating the next week (i.e. fewer patients coming in, longer appointments, PPE for team members and patients, infection control, contactless payments). Unless you are one of them, October 20th (and, for that matter, much of the 4th quarter) is not looking promising for your practice.

Here’s why – virtually all of those patients who were scheduled to come in during March, April, and May got bumped, right? Perhaps you’ve been able to see a portion of them in the past few weeks, but many more have yet to reschedule. With most patients on a six-month appointment schedule, this likely means that you have very few patients scheduled to come in during 4th Quarter 2020. Just as it might be easy to forget to add a crucial ingredient like sugar to your cookie recipe until it’s too late to do anything about it, unless you start to focus now on your fourth quarter schedule, it may soon be too late to fix the problem.

Dental Intelligence has recently completed a comprehensive data analysis of over 8,000 U.S.-based dental practices’ 4th quarter 2020 hygiene schedules and has discovered this hygiene shortfall. In many instances, zero appointments were currently on the schedules of the practices analyzed.

With so much focus on the heavy volume coming through practice doors right now, it’s not at all surprising that no one is thinking about what’s (not) scheduled 2-3 months from now. But that needs to change, and soon.

The Right Way to Schedule

As Dental Intelligence has looked at all of the options for solving this problem, the goal was to help practices increase the number of appointments scheduled while decreasing the cost and amount of time required to do so. We asked, “Is this something adding a call center could solve?” The price tag for this was around $12,000, or around $30 per scheduled appointment. So, maybe not. We then wondered whether trying to add this many new patients through a paid marketing campaign could do the trick? The price tag on that came out to over $40,000, or $100 per new patient appointment!

So, instead of your staff making lots of phone calls, or an expensive call center making lots of phone calls or spending $40k to try and attract new patients, the team at Dental Intelligence came up with a much more effective and much less expensive solution – bulk online scheduling.

Bulk online scheduling is the fastest, most effective, and by far least expensive way to schedule the exact type of dentistry you want to schedule with the type of patients you want to treat. Here’s how it works:

Inside of the Dental Intelligence growth platform is a powerful tool called the Patient Finder. The Patient Finder does exactly that – it uses sophisticated software and proprietary algorithms to search your entire patient database to find the patients you tell it to find – in just seconds.

No more spending hours going through patient lists or spreadsheets to identify unscheduled treatment – the Patient Filter does all that work. And now, with recent new enhancements, Patient Finder now includes access to a LocalMed Online Scheduling platform, so that you can build and send customized texts and emails with a scheduling link that allows your patient to schedule their own appointment in real-time!

That’s right, Online Scheduling eliminates the frustrating process of calling (and calling) patients, checking schedules, confirming, and so on and so on.

Best of all, you have total control over the options the patient sees when scheduling their appointment, so there’s no risk of them bumping another patient or scheduling in a time reserved for other types of treatment.

Here’s what the Patient Finder looks like:

At the top of the screen above, you can see all of the pre-built filters that were used to identify these 155 unscheduled hygiene patients. You have the option of selecting one, several, or all 155 of these patients and sending them a brief communication via text and email to schedule an appointment. You can even set the exact dates or blocks of time (i.e. October 2020) you want the patient to schedule within. This can all be done instantly within the Dental Intelligence growth platform if a customer is a LocalMed Online Scheduling subscriber, or you can easily export this list into another third-party customer communication tool.

Perhaps you’re wondering, “How effective is bulk online scheduling vs. someone from our practice calling the patient? Isn’t that a more personal, more effective way to schedule patients?” Although that might seem to be the case, the opposite is actually true.

Customers using Online Scheduling have experienced significant increases in confirmed appointments when offering online scheduling to their patients. Of those who click on the scheduling link via text or email, 46% schedule an appointment. 46%!

Right now, you are likely on the verge of exhaustion. Having few if any appointments on your schedule might even sound like exactly what you need at the moment, and certainly some downtime is never a bad idea. But the ramifications of this on your patients and practice could have a far-reaching impact. Making a mistake when baking a loaf of bread is simple and easy enough. You just start over. The same can’t be said of trying to instantly add appointments to an empty schedule. Better to take action now so your 4th quarter doesn’t end up tasting like those sugar-free cookies.

To see how many holes are open in your schedule (and also how to fill them using Online Scheduling) visit Dental Intelligence today. We want to help you have a fabulous 4th quarter – it IS still possible!

About the blogger

Scott Livingston is the Director of Communications for Dental Intelligence. His focus is on helping the company to tell the story of how actionable data can measurably improve patient care, team collaboration and dental practice profitability. 

Outside of work, Scott enjoys spending time with his family, hiking the many trails in Utah, and serving others in his church and local community.

Dental practices: Fix the summertime schedule blues

Summer can be a challenging time for dental practices. With children out of school, families traveling, doctors and team members taking time off, data analysis shows that summer months can sometimes have a negative impact on a practice’s overall growth and profitability. But, by focusing on the right key performance indicators, it is possible to turn summertime dental practice blues into a sunny, successful season. (Hint: It’s about scheduling to goal vs. scheduling to fill the schedule.)

Clinical hours are critical

One of the first areas of focus: Production Per Visit, or PPV.
If during non-summer months, your practice produces around $100,000 in revenue. In June, that amount drops to $50,000 in revenue, even though you only took one week off for a family vacation. What happened here? If you only had one week with no production, shouldn’t your June revenue have been $75,000? This is a common occurrence, and the cause is often related to how you manage clinical hours.

There are three types of “hours” a practice can track: Clock-in, clinical, and chairside hours.
* Clock-in hours refers to the total number of hours you or an employee is clocked in; let’s use 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as a typical example.
* Clinical hours are those you are available to provide dentistry. You might be in the practice from 8 a.m to 5 p.m., but during that time you take an hour off for lunch. A block of time might be set aside for you to manage the business. In this example, your clinical hours would be seven, not nine.
* Chairside hours are those you are actually providing dental care – examining patients, “drilling and filling,” performing cosmetic dentistry. In other words, the hours you are actually getting paid.

Which of these three types of hours are most impactful on your practice’s PPV? Clinical hours, of course. They’re the best way for your practice to establish and schedule to goal.

Perhaps you’re thinking “I want to track all three types of hours,” and if so, have at it. Doing so will be a challenge and frankly, probably won’t offer a meaningful return on the effort you put in.

Tracking your clinical hours and trying to increase your PPV during those hours is a much better use of your valuable time.


Scheduling to Goal

Ready to set your goal? Take your current PPV and multiply that by your available clinical hours.

As an example:
If your current PPV is $650 and your total current clinical hours for the month are 100 (25 hours per week x 4 weeks = 100 hours), that equals an average of $65,000 you can personally produce per month.
For your total PPV, add production hours from your hygienist, as well as any other clinicians.

With this powerful data in hand, you’ve removed the guesswork and generated hard facts to use in making wise decisions.

Put another way, if you are working ten hours this week and want to be producing $1,000 per hour, those managing the schedule should be looking for ways to ensure you’ve got at least $10,000 in scheduled production for the week.

Not quite there? You only have two ways to increase production – increase the number of visits or increase the amount of production per visit. The scheduler should be looking for the best opportunities to schedule to goal, such as higher-value cases, cosmetic dentistry, and crowns.

Scheduling to goal vs. scheduling to fill the schedule is your best solution to the summertime blues.

To learn how to get the most out of your schedule, set up a no-cost practice analysis with Dental Intelligence today. We’d love to show you what’s working well in your practice and what needs some help. Visit to learn more.

About the blogger

Scott Livingston is the Director of Communications for Dental Intelligence. His focus is on helping the company to tell the story of how actionable data can measurably improve patient care, team collaboration and dental practice profitability. 

Outside of work, Scott enjoys spending time with his family, hiking the many trails in Utah, and serving others in his church and local community.