Why You Should Keep Track of Your Practice’s Performance

Business decisions are a part of daily life for dental professionals. Whether you are a provider and owner, or you have a different role in a practice, you have an impact on and are impacted by the practice’s business decisions.   

COVID-19 brought economic stress to most industries, including dentistry.  While most practices in Canada are open to some extent, whether to see emergency patients or to offer a wider variety of services, it will be some time before things are “back to normal”.    

As your practice gets back on its feet, it’s as important as ever remember the words of management thinker Peter Drucker, who said “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”.  While the business environment will improve as the negative impacts of COVID-19 subside, some practices will recover more quickly, in part by measuring their practice performance and finding opportunities to improve at all stages of the recovery.   

Key Performance Indicators (abbreviated as KPIs) are measure the most important indicators of practice success.  During this unusual time, it might be beneficial to look at the KPIs you measure to ensure that they are well suited to your needs in the coming months.  For example, tracking the potential for non-essential treatment may help you to determine how quickly to add hygiene hours to your schedule.    

In late 2019, we discussed three options for measuring KPIs for your dental practice by generating reports. The three methods included using Microsoft tools such as Word, Excel, and Power BI, and also doing it manually by extracting key information from standard reports. If you use our practice management software, we have a solution that doesn’t require third-party software. 

ABELDent Insights is an upcoming integrated data measurement tool from ABELDent that generates viewable statistics based on ABELDent data. Viewing the KPIs and data trends in ABELDent Insights can help ABELDent users to determine their practice’s strengths, weaknesses and progress toward goals. Measuring these critical success factors helps practices to know what is working, and to plan adjustments where there is an opportunity for improvement.    

ABELDent Insights provides simple displays simple infographics on such measures as production, including often-used KPIs such as the ratio of production generated by dentists compared to hygiene providers. ABELDent Insights also shows scheduler downtime, including statistics regarding no-shows, cancellations, and inactive patients. This can help to identify which days or times are hard to fill in order to adjust provider hours or try to fill those gaps.

Once you have identified your practice’s KPIs, you can work towards finding solutions that are feasible for your practice, and ideal for your team and your patients. Maybe a provider needs to focus on taking on a few more patients, or perhaps some inactive patients need to be contacted for their hygiene appointments. Regardless of what your practice’s needs are, there is a huge benefit to knowing your areas for improvement, as well as knowing what your office does well. 

The quickest and easiest way to update multiple patient records with ABELDent

It is critical to keep your patient’s contact information up-to-date, especially since we are heavily reliant on virtual forms of communication that allow coordination from a distance. It can certainly be difficult to keep certain patients or families’ contacts updated, but it is important for your team to always make an effort to make sure contact records are accurate.

We recognize that in this industry, contact information can easily become outdated. Family dynamics change, families move, and dental providers can often end up with a wrong number or email address on file. If a patient indicates that their contact information should be used for specified few family members, it can be a hassle going in between files making sure that each patient’s contact outlets are updated. In our newest video tutorial, we go over a feature that ABELDent has that allows you to quickly update contact information for multiple family members without having to go back and forth between files. This feature helps to eliminate drudge work and gives your team more time to focus on more important tasks that drive your practice forward.  

Be sure to watch our newest tutorial to find out how you can update contact information for multiple contact members in one simple click, which is just one of the improved features in ABELDent’s updated version. If you liked the video and want to see more, let us know! We look forward to providing more tutorials to demonstrate how ABELDent can be used to make practice management easier and gives you more time to focus on patient care. 

3 Ways to Increase Positivity in Your Practice

In past blog posts, we pointed out the power in maintaining a positive work environment in your dental practice. This week, we want to revisit this conversation from a different angle to discuss the impact that fostering a positive attitude in your practice has on your team and your patients. 

Various dental blogs have written about the importance of a positive work environment for everyone involved with your practice. Your team’s work satisfaction is as important as your patients’ experience at your clinic. Team members who are enthusiastic about their work are reported to be more productive than those with low morale at work. Maintaining a positive environment may seem difficult, especially in these challenging times, but here are a few tips to help you foster a positive attitude at your dental office.

Make any new hires in the team’s best interest

Janette Whisenhunt, RDH, writes in an article that attitude is often more valuable than hard skills when it comes to building a dental team. To elaborate, she writes that soft skills such as punctuality, friendliness, and professionalism are harder to teach than the hard skills that the job requires. Whisenhunt explains that a positive vibe in your office nurtures a productive team. It only takes a few negative mindsets to bring your team’s energy down. To counteract this, instil core values in your employees that cultivate a team attitude of working towards a common goal. For instance, prioritize patient experience so that your team is focused on their soft social skills alongside their hard skills.

Oftentimes, if your team has a certain dynamic in place, it is best to evaluate new hires based on how well they will work alongside the team. This changes in relevancy, however, if your clinic needs an experienced professional to lead the team or add quality to your office.

Provide positive feedback and incentives

Everyone likes being told that they do a good job. Nearly every worker in the world experiences some level of stress while doing their job. Positively reinforcing your employees has proven to be far more effective than negatively addressing undesirable behaviours. Letting your employees know when they do a good job alleviates some of the stress that comes with their personal and professional lives. Incentivizing the workplace is also another great way to increase positivity, whether it is done by implementing a benefits package for your workers or providing other incentives.

Be mindful of patient perceptions and prioritize patient care

If your office has a negative atmosphere, your patients will notice. Patients pay attention to long wait times, disorganized or flustered employees, and tension between others. In the operatory, your patients want to feel secure and safe. Ensuring the patient has a positive experience with the best possible outcome is an essential piece in building trust with patients. Training your team to treat this as a primary goal of your practice serves as a motivator when team members are having a hard time maintaining a positive environment. Additionally, a reassuring and comfortable environment, accompanied by confident and happy team members, leaves a lasting impression on your patients and encourages patient retention. Overall, it is important to strive to maintain a positive atmosphere in your dental clinic. We recognize that challenges come up with team members, and even large-scale issues affect our morale at work. Upholding your practice’s core values, mindfully hiring your team members, providing regular positive feedback and incentives, and prioritizing patient care all contribute to your office’s positive environment, and benefit everyone involved with your practice.

How your dental practice management software helps your practice reopen

Things are rapidly changing in the world of dentistry. There have been multiple changes over the last few months in terms of how care can be provided to patients. With various provinces across Canada in different states of ‘reopening’, we think it is important to discuss dental providers’ options. This week, we want to delve into the various ways you can utilize your practice management software for a smooth and gradual office reopening. 

While offices are permitted to provide non-essential dental services to patients, some dental offices are still currently refraining from booking routine patients. RCDSO is also becoming more lenient on the use of aerosols in dental treatment, as long as the patient has not been tested positive for COVID-19.  

Patients that need dental treatment must be prescreened for COVID-19 either over the phone or online. ABELDent’s Patient Portal allows you to set up an online screening form for patients to fill out prior to coming to appointments. By setting up this functionality in your Patient Portal, you save your team time that would otherwise be spent on the phone. Once patients have completed filling out the online form, their patient record in your system is automatically updated. Having an efficient and streamlined pre-screening process like this helps your team adjust to how things will likely be for a while. 

Having ABELDent’s Patient Portal, in contrast with a third-party communication tool, boasts secure and seamless integration. You can also use the Patient Portal to minimize in-person contact, paper use, and time spent by encouraging patients to use these features online.  

Many dental practices have executed the first steps needed for reopening. Some practices in other areas have fully reopened their doors, accepting both hygiene and emergency appointments.  

In addition to solutions that your dental software system provides, there are many more ideas that you can integrate into your practice to encourage both your team and your patients while you work towards reopening. 

Things Dental Offices are Doing for their Team: 

  • Investing in negative pressure air systems to reduce their personal risk of contagion 
  • Normalizing new guidelines and extended approaches as standard practices for the team to make the transition back to work feel more comfortable. For example, Dr. Beaulne in Fort McMurray found that when his team started a routine again at work, their anxieties about returning started to go away. 
  • Restricting office hours for minimal exposure to patients 
  • Restricting usable operatories to minimize patient contact 

Things Dental Offices are Doing for their Patients: 

  • Spacing appointments apart adequately 
  • Asking patients to wait in their car rather than the waiting room; if the patient has to come in for whatever reason, the waiting room chairs are an appropriate distance apart 
  • Continually educating patients on the current situation and proper sanitization techniques inside and outside of the dental office. 

We will continue to provide resources on reopening processes throughout this time period. If you are interested in purchasing ABELDent’s Patient Portal, please feel free to contact our team, or let us know you are interested here. 

How to use Microsoft Teams in Your Dental Practice

Dental professionals have remained flexible, adaptable, and innovative in recent months in the wake of a global health crisis. Many offices have opted for virtual conferencing to maintain communications with their patients, while others have utilized social media and their website to facilitate conversations via the web.

Dental practices have demonstrated the power of remaining adaptable in the healthcare industry. Although routine appointments have been interrupted, important business functions have had a chance to take the forefront. Some of these functions include updating the team’s training, switching practice management systems, treatment planning with patients, and organizing the practice’s finances.

 While dental offices are reopening, it is important to remember that the tools that you have learned to use during this time can still benefit your practice daily. Virtual conferencing is a useful tool when patients are unwell, presenting certain symptoms, or live far away from your office. Having your team post on social media every now and then helps maintain your office’s presence on the web and helps you by bringing more prospective patients in.  

If your office has not utilized any virtual conferencing applications, we have created a walkthrough for you detailing how to download and use Microsoft Teams. Applications such as Teams help you continually provide care to your patients via Teledentistry. Microsoft offers a free version of their application which you can use in your practice to virtually connect with your patients as your office adopts a new level of normalcy.   

We hope you enjoy the video. If you have any questions, concerns, or feedback, please email us, message us, or give us a call.

Communicate With Your Patient Base Effectively as Ontario Reopens

Last week, we spoke about the challenges associated with reopening your practice, including limited PPE, spacing apart appointments which result in delays, and new changes that are necessary, such as removing toys or magazines from your waiting room.

There is a lot to do when it comes to reopening, and communicating your details with your patients is a large part of the process. Being open with your patients also creates a transparent line of communication, helping to alleviate anxieties patients may have about coming to your office while COVID-19 still remains an issue. This week we are outlining some measures and best practices you can do to keep the line of communication with your patients open, and how to send bulk messages efficiently.

There are various tools and methods that can be used to efficiently communicate with your patient base, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Some popular methods you may consider using (or may have already used in the past) are manually sending letters to patient addresses, putting in extra hours to phone patients, or conducting mass email communication by sending automated messages to hundreds or thousands of patients at a time. While putting together letters to send to patients’ home addresses provides a personalized and old-school presence that many patients may appreciate, it takes excessive hours of labour, and also may be costly depending on the number of patients your office has. 

Phoning each individual patient, much like sending letters, provides a personal connection which can strengthen your patient-to-office relationship. Doing this may be ineffective, however, for the following reasons:

  • Many mobile users have not set up their voicemail inbox
  • Overall decrease in mobile users checking their voicemail inbox. CBS, in 2013, cites 33% of people listen to voicemails from businesses, and only 18% listen to voicemails from unknown callers
  • Patients who have not come for a long time may have outdated phone numbers

While sending automated emails may lack the personal touch of a letter or phone call, messages can be customized to appear personable and friendly in tone. The important part is that emails send vital information to large numbers of people efficiently. It is very likely that most dental offices will opt for emailing their patients their reopening policies, as it is a trusted form of communication for many patients. Just like the case for mobile calls, however, it is important to routinely verify that your patient contact information is updated to minimize errors in sending.

While there are drawbacks associated with any form of mass communication, there are times that it is necessary for your office. Ensuring that your office records have updated contact information for patients minimizes the margin of error when sending out messages to your patient base. This can be done by routinely verifying contact information with the patient when they have appointments with your office. 

Another point to address is the use of virtual communications to consult with patients prior to your opening. Patients will naturally have questions regarding your office’s plans and processes regarding reopening and performing treatments. Microsoft offers a free version of Teams businesses and families. You can utilize tools like this to facilitate meetings, and also keep recordings of the meeting for your files. We are working on making a video outlining the basics of Microsoft Teams for patient virtual care, so keep an eye out.

Reopening Your Practice’s Doors: Obstacles and Solutions

Resuming regular dental appointments is a big step for everyone involved in your dental practice. All of Canada is in the process of reopening important services. While the processes and timelines differ between provinces and territories, the whole country is moving in the same direction. There are various challenges dental offices have to confront in order to get back up and running. In this blog post, we are discussing some concerns dental professionals share regarding reopening their office for routine appointments, and also providing links to some solutions. 

Resupplying for your reopening 

Dental professionals are facing various challenges ranging from vague and nondescript guidance on reopening to limited PPE. Toronto dentist Natalie Archer addressed the shortage of PPE in a recent article. Many dentists donated a lot of their supplies to hospitals at the height of the health emergency, and are now having difficulties resupplying their own practices. The shortage of personal protective equipment causes delays that are not only detrimental for dental offices, but also patients, many of whom are overdue for their recare appointments. To help healthcare providers with their reopening, a group of organizations set up the Rapid Response Platform to help Canadian providers obtain their necessary PPE for the workplace. 

Reformatting your day 

While keeping your schedule full maximizes your office’s potential, health and safety must be the priority. Some offices are eliminating overlapping appointments, while others are implementing measures that allow for social distancing while still attending to multiple patients in the same time frame.  

ABELDent's Patient Manager

While it is inconvenient, and may result in appointments that are delayed for weeks based on patient availability, these measures are a necessary challenge that practices have to address in reopening. Some ideas for making waiting areas a safer space include asking patients to wait in their car, or taking away complimentary items such as books/magazines to minimize the spread of germs. Different dental offices will have different approaches to social distancing, but implementing the options that work best for your own practice is a great way to make sure protocols are regularly followed. 

There is no doubt that when you reopen your doors, business is not going to be the way that it used to be. While there are many challenges to overcome in terms of reopening, there are also opportunities to find innovative solutions that work for both your team and your patients. Some things that your practice offered in the past may need to be suspended, such as complimentary waiting area items, or walk-in appointments. Making some changes now to protect your team and your patients will help your practice grow and prosper in the future. 

Video Tutorials Part II: Quick Scheduling Tool

A month ago, our team posted our first video to our new video tutorial series. If you missed the video, you can see it here. The first tutorial covered ABELDent’s clinical sidebar, which is a feature included in the new updated version of the software. Our video tutorials show you how you can use these new features everyday in your office to make managing your dental practice easier than before. 

Our new video focuses on our quick scheduling tool, which hygienists and receptionists can use to quickly find openings for patients. This feature allows you to quickly find an opening based on the patient’s next due date, as shown in the video. 

This feature is particularly useful for scheduling routine appointments ahead of time, and only takes a minute to find the next time/day for the patient. Using these new features allows dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, and receptionists to have extra time to focus on providing the best possible care to patients and improving patient relationships.  

If you are interested in what is demonstrated in the video and want to learn more, feel free to contact us for additional questions or a demo. Our team is working from home, but we are still available 24/7 for any inquiries you may have. 

3 Reasons an Oral Health Blog Boosts Your Practice

Health professionals are preparing to reopen to the public, presenting an excellent opportunity for creating informational materials. As you reopen your practice, educating patients on the measures you and your team are taking to ensure everyone’s safety will encourage your patients to come in, as well as dismiss any misinformation that they may have regarding their safety. Making information readily available via social media, your website, a company blog, or even flyers and handouts benefits both your practice and your community. This blog post focuses on the reasons for having a dental blog for your office.

Valuable patient treatment is not limited to work done inside of the operatory. Providing regular and digestible resources for your patients to improve their health literacy improves their wellbeing. Having an understanding of their own oral health generally makes patients more enthusiastic about their oral hygiene and necessary dental treatments. This naturally leads to increased patient influx due to word-of-mouth, as well in more recent times, good practice reviews. 

While it is important to continue accumulating positive patient reviews by providing exceptional service, posting expert blogs builds practice credibility while contributing to your practice’s online presence. Great blog posts in turn also foster more positive reviews that together drive more patients to your practice. Maintaining positive reviews is one of the many reasons for having an office blog. For this post, we will present three specific ways that maintaining a blog can boost your business. 

1. It influences how prospective patients perceive your practice 

Instead of first visiting physical locations, people these days tend to screen businesses online beforehand. Potential patients may be curious about your office’s values, the treatment that is offered, and your quality of service. Prospective patients often refer to public reviews and your homepage first for this information. Unfortunately, several bad reviews can turn potential candidates off if even if they may not appear credible. However, if you provide a blog, you can present your business values on your own terms. Providing regular blog posts adds value to your online presence and works to build trust with your audience. Potential patients can read your own content, which is highly preferred in comparison to reading medium-to-low rated reviews that are beyond your control.

2. It educates your patients and the public 

When people experience dental pain, they are likely to research their symptoms online to determine whether their issue is temporary, or if they need to seek professional help. You can increase your page views to these people by properly geotagging (adding geographical identification to) your posts, implementing SEO strategies and using key words as identifiers in your post. These strategies and tools are usually included with most major blogging platforms such as WordPress or Blogger. Blogs of this type expand your public domain since they will attract both individuals researching the symptoms of their dental discomfort, and folks who are reading your posts as they are seeking out a new dentist.  

Blog posts that educate the public on good oral health habits remind individuals of the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth and potentially prompt them to do something about it. A blog that educates the public not only contributes to a healthier community that values their oral health but can also be an effective source of new patients for your practice.  

3. It shows that you care – and helps you gain patient loyalty 

person on phone texting gif

Your dental practice’s blog can subtly and over time, work to reduce no-shows and missed appointments. Regular blog posts, especially if they are sent to patients on a subscription list, create a new conduit of communication for your patients. This open stream fosters patient trust towards you and your staff and helps build credibility for your practice.  The trust formed from these blog posts builds patient loyalty that will likely translate into more booked appointments and fewer cancellations and no-shows. 

While blog posts can present this opportunity, be mindful that your patients likely receive a lot of emails per day and many may end up in their junk mail folder never to be read. As a result, they may not even see your blog posts unless they go to your website on their own..  

A strategy to combat this problem is to inform your patients of your blogs on a regular basis and what valuable information they offer. For example, try embedding a blog link in your automated appointment or outstanding treatment reminders. Additionally, you could post a sign in the reception area encouraging patients to look at your website and blog. Lastly, make sure you provide a blog link directly from your homepage so that visitors to your website can easily find your blogs. 

It may seem overwhelming – but you’re not alone 

There are many resources that are made to help you and your practice have a great online presence starting with this guide. For practical advice for starting or maintaining a dental blog check out this article.  

Even just sharing and briefly adding to posts from other authors is helpful for company blog upkeep.* For instance, Colgate’s blog covers a variety of topics pertaining to oral health with information that may be highly beneficial to your patients. Making information like easily available to your patients encourages healthy oral practices.

If the commitment of posting your own blogs regularly scares you here are some suggestions: 

  • Consider starting by writing a few posts over a few months and then evaluate your engagement 
  • Share posts or articles written by oral health experts as mentioned, but add more value by summarizing the main points so your patients can easily understand the premise 
  • Delegate blog posts to a trusted person in your office with dental expertise and/or find a team member who has strong communication skills.  
  • Do an email promotion of the posts to your patients that have given you permission for email marketing.*  

Whether it is a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly blog post, having an oral health blog can greatly benefit your dental practice by increasing the number of positive reviews you receive, establishing your credibility in the marketplace and improving your overall patient relations. 

* Note: be sure to always give credit to the original author. 
* Note: be sure that you are acting with CASL’s protocols 

Virtual Tools to Keep Up Patient Relations

The last few months have marked a period of adjustment worldwide. Some industries are adapting to the circumstances by finding ways to work remotely and limiting social contact. Many professions, like dentistry, share a very different story, wherein most work cannot be done as it requires physical contact. While attending to dental emergencies are essential, how are dentists extending oral care guidance to their other patients? 

Dentists are employing virtual tools to facilitate conversations with patients. Virtual connections allow dental providers to continually help patients. This is the main defining factor of teledentistry, which we have spoken about in the last few blog posts (found here and here). Teledentistry includes treatment planning, video conferencing, and even telephone calls that entail a dental provider performing any kind of virtual treatment, for example, giving follow-up instructions. Various studies have been done on the validity of teledentistry. These studies are highly prevalent at a time like this, as they offer the industry a perspective on how using virtual treatment tools can objectively help dental practices and patients alike, while also acknowledging precautions. 

Teeth images coming out of computer screen

We have spoken about the various ways virtual communications aid both your practice and your patients a few times. Using resources to keep patients informed and motivated ensures that they are bettering their oral health, even if they have to delay hygiene visits. 

Try sending emails to your patients on file to inform them of oral hygienic practices they can keep doing at home. You can use your dental software’s messaging system for quick and effective communication with your patients. Reaching out to your patients in any capacity contributes to a positive doctor-patient relationship, and will benefit both them and your practice in the long run. 

Something as simple as a reassuring or informative email can leave a positive impact on your regular patients. You can also utilize your social media outlets and your practice’s website to let patients know how your team is doing or provide information on health and safety. For instance, adjusting your homepage content to address whether your office is currently accepting emergencies, or wishing good health to webpage visitors creates a great first impression. Doing this also addresses the situation, thus helping minimize patient anxieties. 

Difficult situations such as outbreaks are bound to happen. All industries face their own set of challenges, and it is important to keep looking forward and remain adaptable in a changing world. While this is a challenging time, doing the best with our available resources make our communities stronger. 


Works Cited: 

Alabdullah, Jafar & Daniel, Susan. (2018). A Systematic Review on the Validity of Teledentistry. Telemedicine and e-Health. 24. 10.1089/tmj.2017.0132.   
Arora PC, Kaur J, Kaur J, Arora A. Teledentistry: An innovative tool for the underserved population. Digit Med [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Apr 28];5:6-12. Available from: http://www.digitmedicine.com/text.asp?2019/5/1/6/249836