Category Archives: APM Surveys


Make The Most of Your Patient Communication System:

With the ever increasing use of smart phones, we are experiencing a cultural shift in what is now considered “personalized customer service”. Rather than every patient wanting a phone call, patients today expect to be able to choose HOW they are communicated with. Since
your practice base is likely a mix of Baby Boomers to Millennials, we encourage you to provide a choice of email and text in addition to calls and direct mail. Fortunately, this has been made easier through patient communication systems such as RevenueWell, Lighthouse, Demandforce, Solution Reach, etc. According to our most recent survey, about half of you are now using one of these programs.

But, did you know that beyond the ability to systematize appointment reminders and contact patients when they are due for their next hygiene visit that there are a number of other benefits for both keeping in touch with patients between visits as well as attracting new patients and building your online presence?

Here is a checklist to make sure you are taking advantage of those additional perks:

Collect patient reviews on Google, Yelp, etc. (use post-appointment messages to collect feedback and direct patients to your social sites for reviews).

Feature patient reviews on your website (stream a feed of your reviews chronologically on your website for prospective patients).

Make sure your business information is the same as on your Google listing and website footer/ contact page (name, address, phone number – some services subscribe to a list aggregating service to help build your online presence so you want it to be consistent).

Make sure your important directory links are connected (Google, Yelp, Healthgrades, etc. – again for building your online presence).

Add link for your Patient Portal on your website to bring patients back to your website repeatedly to pay their balance online, request an appointment, etc. (Google likes to see repeat

Develop your one-page website for additional online presence (most services offer you microsite which is optimized for search with all of your important office and contact information, as well as another place to see your reviews).

Subscribe to their social media content for ideas to keep your Facebook page fresh and up to date (not available through all services).

Keep in touch with patients after their appointment with post-op information and treatment plan follow up (not available through all services).

Personalize your birthday message with a team photo – or better yet – a video of you wishing them a happy birthday!

Use campaigns to customize messages to promote pertinent services/technology to subgroups of your patient base.


Over the years, as a front desk person, office administrator, Dentrix Trainer, and Consultant, I’ve been involved with over 20 offices with these types of plans.

I think most of you are familiar with these kinds of plans by now. Typically, the patient will pay a fee from $199 to $300 per year, which will include two regular checkups (and x-rays, fluorides, whatever is needed) and 15%-20% off additional treatment.

It’s been my experience that these plans really help encourage patients to return regularly for recall and to go ahead with treatment. We are gathering the data on this now, but it’s not unusual to see practice production per patient increase by 50% or even double for patients on these plans.

It’s sort of a “Costco Effect.” If you have a membership, when you go there, you want to get lots of stuff because it is such a deal. I also think it is a good idea because it is equitable. We give insurance patients a break (in effect) and there is paperwork and lots of hassles involved with that, waiting periods, limitations, exclusions, etc. Why not give patients without the benefit of insurance a benefit?

Moreover, some patients through the MNSure site are coming up with plans that pay very low for us and have many limitations and so are not a good deal. At least you can give the patients in these situations an alternative to buying a plan online that has a very lowfee schedule for you.

These plans are easier to administer than insurance. If you have a plan or are setting up a plan, I can help you line things up so you can track them closely.



We all know that insurance participation (namely PPO participation) affects new patient flow.
Practices with little or no insurance participation generally, not always, get less new patients than practices with more participation. However, is there a point where there are diminishing returns on increased PPO participation? That’s the question we looked into.

Anecdotally, it’s been my experience that practices that participate in almost every PPO available don’t necessarily get that proportionally a greater number of new patients. So, we asked our statistics guy, Anantha Santhanam, to look into our considerable database and sort this out.

As a marker for PPO participation, we use the collection percentage. With increased PPO participation, the collections percentage (gross collections/gross production) is going to be less than for offices with no PPO write offs.


The graph shows that with zero or very little insurance participation new patient numbers are
quite low. However, when you get past mid-range participation (so that the collection percentage is under 80%- 84% in our area), the marginal increase in new patients for the increased write offs fades quickly.


As with all things, balance matters. Balancing PPO participation is just as important as it used to be to have your fees balanced and set wisely. In fact, PPO participation decisions are beginning to trump fee setting as far as importance to your actual reimbursement levels.


Presented by: Shelly Ryan

Friday, November 4th, 8:30 am to 12:30 pm Embassy Suites—Bloomington, MN


2016 and 2017 CDT Codes: Learn which codes get the best reimbursement and when to use them.

Everyone on your team has to deal with patients, money and insurance. Make sure they know how!

A Must for Your Team – Collections Made Comfortable is coming soon – Friday, November 4th: This seminar is almost always a sellout. Clients get first dibs! So, CALL TODAY to reserve your space. $198 first person and $178 each additional. $20 discount per attendee if registered by September 15th.


Doctor, What Is Your Practice’s Regeneration Rate?

(Statistical Snapshot from APM’s Database):

Is your dental practice growingPresumably, the bigger a practice’s Active Patient base is, the more referrals it will generate per year.

More people saying good stuff about you. Also, the bigger your practice is, the more new patients it needs to replenish itself. Through normal attrition, a practice with 2,000 patients will lose more per year than one with 1,000.

We measure a practice’s regeneration rate by dividing the total number of new patients per year by the active patient count.

Regeneration rate


For the average practice in our database, the regeneration ratio is about 11% per year. Strong patient flow growth is usually indicated by a ratio of 20% or more.

If your practice has a low regeneration rate, it’s very likely that your practice will shrink over time. Our analysis of the “average lifetime” of a patient in a practice is about 9 years, which, coincidentally or not, matches up pretty closely with the average replenishment rate.

Replenishment rates in our data base range from about 4% to over 30%. As with most statistics, we use them to just help frame an issue. When we are managing a practice, we are looking for the movement of the numbers—the statistical trends are more important than just the reading.

Want To Know Your Regeneration Rate? Your consultant can assist you in getting an updated Active Patient Count (2-year criteria), calculating your ratio and interpreting the results.

If you want to refine things further and you’ve been tracking new patient sources closely, you can look at your pure “referral ratio”, which would be a reading on the number of referrals you get per 100 active patients per year.

Speaking of Referrals: If you go with the general assumption that about 1 out of 10 patients refer you to another in a given year, then ask yourself, “What would happen with practice growth if I could just get 2 or 3 out of 10 patients to send another patient in per year?”

The Dental Dow – 1st Quarter 2014

Comparing the first quarter this year to last  year, we find practice production up 2.7%
and collections up just .3% compared to the first quarter of 2013.

Notable First Quarter 2014 Stats:

  • New patients are up 6%
  • Recall patients are up 1.3%
  • Total patient flow increase of 1.7%
  • Perio is up 7%
  • Unfortunately, downtime in both the Doctors’ and hygienists’ schedules is higher than the same period last year

At 83%, the collection percentage was 3 points lower than the first quarter of last year. Whether this is hung up insurance payments, slow paying patients, or increased PPO write offs, it’s too early to tell.

Summary of 2013

At APM, we stay on top of what is happening so that we can keep you informed to make the best decisions for YOUR practice. Each year we survey practices throughout the Upper Midwest and we tally the results. Last year the top issues for dentists were (in descending order):

1. Insurance PPO/Third Party Write-Offs
2. Staff Issues, Motivation, Teamwork, Costs
3. Technology: Costs, Keeping Up, Going Chartless
4. Production Growth, Filling Schedules, “Busyness”
5. Getting New Patients, Marketing

For a complete summary of 2013 results is available for you here.

APM Bulletin May 2014