Biggest Challenges with Managing a Dental Practice
Visiting the dentist is incredibly stressful for patients. However, managing the practice every day is even tougher.
Here are some of the biggest challenges dentists in their staff face every day and steps they need to take to address them.
Fostering communication with patients
According to research by the University of Florida, patient satisfaction varies significantly among dentists. One of the biggest reasons for the discrepancy in patient satisfaction between dental practices is there focus on communication.
Maintaining an open dialogue with your patients is extremely important. You need to discuss the following with them:
- Potential complications from dental surgeries for new treatments
- Changes to your fee schedule
- Your availability to perform exams and treatments
- New treatment options available
If you believe something is relevant to your patients, you should bring it to their attention. According to Solution Reach, improving relationships with your patients is one of the most important ways you can grow your practice.
Dealing with tax issues
Data from Payscale shows the average dentist earns about $125,000 a year, which places them in the 28% tax bracket. That is after they pay nearly $20,000 in FICA taxes.
As you can imagine, taxes can be significant burden for any dental practice. They may become even worse, since so many lawmakers are angling to raise taxes on anyone making a six-figure income. It's much more difficult if you fall behind on them.
The first third of the year tends to be busier. If the practice doesn't pay enough taxes well it is busy, it can have a lot of trouble making up for it in the following months.
Determining whether you need to pay sales tax on certain items is also a big challenge for many practices. Bob Creamer, a public accountant for Aldrich Advisors in Portland Oregon, advises dentists to understand the tax code carefully, especially if they plan on selling items directly to their patients.
“Does your practice sell tangible personal property, such as toothbrushes, paste, and whitener? Does your practice purchase tangible personal property items such as dental equipment, bibs, masks, and gloves? If so, then you might be subject to sales and use taxes.”
Balancing appointments carefully
The average no-show rate for dental clinics is between 16% and 20%. Dentists must often book extra appointments to make sure their patients are seen. Fortunately, if they overbook too much, they may not be able to see all of their patients and patients may leave for other dentists.
This is one of the biggest challenges every dental practice faces. Practice managers need to make data-based decisions on no-show rates to book appointments carefully. They must also make sure receptionists follow these templates carefully.
Managing Your Accounts Receivable
Patients often pay late. You can be understanding about that to a point, especially if they received a major surgery while facing other financial problems.
However, late payments can create serious problems for your practice. You can’t afford to give patients too much leeway, so it’s important to have a strict, but reasonable policy on overdue bills.