Dentaltown November 2015 - (Page 14)

professional courtesy column Suffering from Arithmophobia? Have you been diagnosed with arithmophobia? Are you currently in treatment or seeking treatment? Then you should call...sounds like a late-night television commercial, right? Arithmophobia is a fear of numbers, and I would be willing to bet that you or members of your team suffer from this condition. The fear I'm referencing has nothing to do with a filling on tooth #13, or periodontal pocket measurements; instead, it is a reference to the numbers related to the operation of your dental practice. And just like the fear that keeps people from coming to the dentist, giving in to arithmophobia and ignoring the numbers doesn't make things better. Confronting the fear I recently conducted an overnight retreat with my entire dental team. One of the items on my agenda for the retreat had to do with numbers-thus the topic for our monthly exchange. I learned from Dr. Howard Farran early in my career that transparency with numbers can help the operation of an organization because numbers give business managers a context for decision-making. Over the years I have shared many numbers with my team on a regular basis. Every month at our team meeting, I share the following statistics from the previous month: average collections per day, number of new patients, number of inactivated patients, and a metric for cancellations/ no-shows. I think it is fairly obvious why each number is important, but I also decided it was time for a deeper dive at our team retreat. As I prepared for this segment of the retreat, I performed a number of calculations that I thought the team would find significant. The first number was an overhead calculation. I ran a report of all my expenses in QuickBooks and divided by the number of hours we were open during that same period. This result was a dollar-perhour figure representing the cost just to show up for work and turn on the lights. They were shocked. The next set of numbers was an effort to help them see the relative contribution that each department makes in the practice. The first one was easy: hygiene. I took the production for each hygienist and divided by the number of hours he or she is on the clock to get a figure for production per hour. When I shared this number with the group, I told them the range and the average-I did not share a figure for each hygienist. For the front office, I took the production of the entire office and divided it by the number of hours they worked. For the assistants, I took the doctor production and divided it by the number of hours worked. Let me be clear. I know that the numbers for front office and dental assistants are using some of the same production figures twice. The point is, these numbers represent a relative measure of how productive that part of the office was from one time period to the next. How scared are you? For each of the three groups I had calculations for three periods of six months each, representing the last 18 months. In some cases the trends were up, and in other cases, flat or down. This will be a terrific starting point as we move forward to see if our numbers are heading in the right direction. As I mentioned earlier, I provided each number as an aggregate so that nobody was singled out. Following the retreat, a couple of the hygienists asked to see their numbers. While I purposely didn't want to single anyone out in the group, I was happy to hear that they wanted to know how they were doing. The following week I brought in my nice little chart with both the individual as well as the group numbers. As you would expect, they were all interested in their number but the bottom two (I have five hygienists) did not want to see the numbers for very long. We had a conversation to reiterate the fact that numbers are only one measure of performance and they are not the only measure of success. However, an introduction to some real numbers promises to be an eye-opener for everyone. Please share your approach to office numbers in the comments below this article online. I can be reached via email at or on Twitter @ddsTom. ■ by Thomas Giacobbi, DDS, FAGD, Editorial Director, Dentaltown Magazine 14 NOVEMBER 2015 //

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Dentaltown November 2015

HOWARD SPEAKS: Avoid a Perfect Storm: Focus on Infection Control
PROFESSIONAL COURTESY: Suffering from Arithmophobia?
Continuing Education Update
Industry News
Check Out This Broken Implant
Disaster Case— Hail Mary
Internal Marketing Begets Referrals
When to Refer to a Periodontist
Parents in the Operatory: Friend or Foe?
What You Need to Know to Hire the Perfect Hygienist
Space Maintenance: The Right Appliance at the Right Time
Practice Solutions: AMD LASERS
Practice Solutions: Planmeca
Product Profi le:
Adhesives: 60 Years of Clinical and Chemical Improvement
Product Profi le: DEXIS
Misaligned Anterior Teeth Straightened with Direct Composite Bonding
Five Common Web Design Mistakes
You’re a Public-Health Dentist and You Didn’t Even Know It!
Retirement Planning Made Simple
Young Patient Redefi nes the Face of Dentures
New Products
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body: A Patient Info Sheet
Ad Index
You Should Know: Synergy Dental Partners
Practice Growth Fueled by Technology
The Clinical Algorithms of Rehabilitation
Dentally Incorrect

Dentaltown November 2015