Your Might be Too Busy to Notice You’re Practice May be Heading to Disaster

January 29, 2020

We’re lucky that we get to speak with some of the most respected and effective professionals in the orthodontics industry who are helping to ensure that independent private practices are going to thrive in the future. Every month during my podcast, “The Survival Guide to Orthodontics,” we speak to a different expert in the field or we bring in the big guns from “Big Ortho” like Invisalign to talk about how orthodontists can work with their products and services to increase market share.

In episode 8 of our podcast, we spoke with Charlene White, owner of Progressive Concepts, an orthodontic practice management consultant with over 35 years of experience helping to improve practice performance. For anyone who listened to the podcast, she gave some very useful advice on how she evaluates a practice and optimizes systems to improve efficiency and profitability.

One of the first things White looks at when evaluating a practice is the net production compared to net collections. Doctors might feel busy, she told us during the interview but when net production is lagging behind net collections that is a big red flag to her.

“I know you feel busy and you saw 100 patients today but if we don’t fix this production issue in the next year or two, the practice will generate less income,” White said.

The second set of KPIs she looks at is clinical efficiency. She will dig deep into the clinical efficiency of a practice including metrics around patient flow, what affects office stress, and reducing overhead.

“A lot of people do not realize the impact of clinical systems that are inefficient,” she said.

Overall, White says she looks at 60 different KPIs, which brings to the forefront the data behind the operations of your practice. You might feel like you're busy but if the metrics aren’t right, you are going to go from feast to famine in the near future.

“Feeling busy is not enough,” she said.

She said that many orthodontists are very focused on the clinical sides of things in a practice that we tend to not pay as much attention to the business end of things.

One thing that’s important to creating a more efficient practice is to focus on building a peak performance team. You have to be as good at Human Resources as you are at clinical treatment. White suggested a doctor take educational courses about human relations. White said that it’s important as orthodontists become busier that they have skilled clinical managers and office managers.

“Hone your hiring skills,” she said. Or you can with a practice management consultant.

Staff members need to be accountable for their roles and responsibilities and there needs to be a good system for follow up so nothing falls between the cracks.

All this is vital to a thriving practice.

When my company, People & Practice, performs a marketing evaluation we want to make sure the practice is operating efficiently and has a handle on patient conversion. Orthodontists know they have to go direct-to-market and not depend so much on referrals. But, their internal processes need to be tight by the time they do go to market so that they're not filling a bucket that has holes in it.

Charlene gave plenty of other great advice including some great information on how to build a healthy recall system. You can’t wait years and expect patients to just come back to you. It’s important to reach out once a year to past patients and invite them back for some kind of fun event. She said it’s important to create a practice where patients have a very positive experience and are part of the family.

The idea is to make them feel like patients even though they might not be in treatment yet.

“Make sure the office environment is a place where they are having a good time,” White said. “They see this is the place for them. I want to hear, ‘I love this place.’”

You can find our interview with Charlene White and other great episodes at

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