A recent survey by the ADA suggests that almost 60% of dentists are currently looking for ways to lower their operating costs.
What are operating costs?
Every cost that is not associated with the dentist’s income is considered an operating cost and can include: employee compensation, rent or mortgage, supplies, equipment, and utilities. One article states that “general and specialty practices-no matter their level of production-were paying between 74 and 78 cents out of every dollar they made in overhead to fund their business operations.”
What can dentists do to lower their operating costs or increase revenue?
Reduce costs through:
- Renegotiating lease terms
- Working with your insurance agent to review coverages and premiums for potential savings
- Re-examining utility costs, especially for Internet and television
- Implementing a staff bonus system based on increased production and collections in place of annual cost-of-living raises
Increase revenue through:
- Improving case acceptance through the use of intraoral cameras and visual treatment plans
- Reducing no-shows and cancellations to less than 1%
- Expanding the number of referral sources
- Adjusting fees based on comparisons to national average
The infrastructure required for teledentistry are things that most practices are currently using: practice management software, a computer, wifi connection, a HIPAA compliant teledentistry solution (or at the very least a video conferencing software) and (possibly) an intraoral camera and x-ray equipment.
Synchronous teledentistry consultations can be scheduled and billed by administrative staff and completed by the dentist between appointments, while a clinical staff member is working with a patient or during a missed in-person appointment. This will increase the number of daily reimbursable encounters and only requires two dental team members.
Asynchronous teledentistry consultations, in the form of patient messaging, can be conveniently completed by the dentist between appointments, while a clinical staff member is working with a patient or during a missed in-person appointment. Dental hygienists can also use patient messaging to check-in with patients who have had recent dental treatment or need oral hygiene reminders. This can be completed between appointments or during a missed in-person appointment. These check-ins can increase compliance and scheduling of in-person or teledentistry appointments. Additionally, asynchronous teledentistry consultations in the form of store-and-forward can increase the number of reimbursable encounters through patients seen in the community and not in-person at the office.