Welcome to the future! Are you still practicing in the past?

I would like to explore POSITIVE, USEFUL, and PRACTICAL best practice sharing ideas to help your office.Here we go…

Think about what your practice focus was 5, 10, 15, or even 20 years ago. Are you still focused on the same things? How has your practice changed with the times?

I first started with Dr. Fryer in 1997. He had been in practice for about 5 years with a partner when I joined. At that time, his biggest challenges were to decrease billing, increase new patients, and add technology to the practice. Because he was in a partnership, he was unable to fully implement the practice management systems he wanted. So, a few years later, our side of the office decided to branch out so that Dr. Fryer could establish a solo practice. Finally, on our own, we were able to create successful systems and run things the way he always wanted to.

Fast forward.

Yes, we have eliminated billing.

Yes, we are still always looking to increase our new patient numbers.

Yes, we have added some technology to our practice.

However, it is now 2012. 1997 was a long time ago.Our business is not the same as it was in 1997 because the world is not the same. Those who have worked in an office for a long time have seen the business change. Heck – it’s not even the same as it was just 5 years ago.Here are some of the challenges we faced in the past 3 years.

1. Our practice is just outside of downtown Cleveland. The economy of this area is getting worse everyday. Businesses are leaving or downsizing all around us. What that meant for our office was that patients were losing jobs and/or dental coverage at a rapid rate.  New patients were calling less often and current patients had to put us on the back burner. Yes, our office creates value for our patients, but many people had to make the choice between paying for dental visits or groceries. The solution to this for us, was to sign up to be a part of the Quality Dental Plan. I FINALLY had a response for the people who felt like they couldn’t come in for visits anymore. Back in 1997, we NEVER would have dreamed that we needed a product like QDP, but in 2012, it became ESSENTIAL for our practice. This year, we are on track for our highest collections ever. I attribute a lot of this to retaining and gaining a lot of patients through QDP.

2. Just over 3 years ago, we incorporated CEREC technology into our practice. Gosh, we love it. Patients love it! It helps that I have a doctor who studies the heck out of it, staff who love assisting for it, and patients who appreciate the convenience of same day dentistry. Utilizing this technology fits in with our model of efficiency for our practice.

3. Back in 1997, people used to use these things called “phone books” to look up information for a business. In 2012, our marketing dollars go into things like google, facebook, websites, and mobile sites. We made sure our dental office is easy to find online, we have an informative and fun facebook presence, and you better believe we have a mobile site. (Check out MakingMobi.com if your office doesn’t have one.) Technology is woven into our lives these days. In order to remain competitive, it is necessary to market differently than in the past.

So, I would like to know your experiences.  What have you seen change over the years? Are you still struggling with the same issues from when you started? What proactive measures have you taken to save your business? What are the issues that a practice in 2012 faces that may not have been an issue in the past?  What do you do differently now than when you first started?

Thoughts?

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