Computer reports mean money!

May 1, 2004
The good thing about reports is they give you a real-time measurement of what really goes on in the world you call the dental hygiene operatory.

by Victoria DaCosta

The good thing about reports is they give you a real-time measurement of what really goes on in the world you call the dental hygiene operatory. Computer reports mean money in your pocket. How so? If you can demonstrate your worth with numbers, then you are ahead in the business game called the "production of dentistry."

Do you know how much you are producing each day? Do you know the number of missed hygiene appointments in a month? How much money is the doctor making off your labors, and how much revenue is lost due to missed hygiene appointments? What about treatment plans made and fulfilled inside your operatory? And how about all the bleaching kits and advanced toothbrushes you recommend?

All of this tracking can be very tedious on paper. But with a click of your mouse and the drop down menu tool bar, getting the information you need can empower you to do business the hygiene way!

There are many different types of reports for the hygiene department. I will list the reports applicable to today's hygiene. Most software programs such as Dentrix, EagleSoft and PracticeWorks offer these reports for our use. I suggest you particpate in a few hours of training from your practice's software company to learn how to navigate the software applications for these reports.

Report features

• Recall lists — This helps you send recall cards/letters/emails to both scheduled and unscheduled patients in a few short steps. In conjunction with this feature, two reports target non-compliant patients. One displays patients without a recall, and the other displays patients without a visit.

• Provider productivity — Each provider can track his or her own production (and collection) for a specified amount of time. There is also a service code productivity report that will outline how often each service is performed and how much revenue is generated from this service. You can compare services to see which ones are the most productive. You can also track productivity by service type (for example, group all hygiene services together under hygiene). These reports are very beneficial to hygienists who want to show how they contribute to the practice.

• Referral productivity — This tracks referral sources. You can calculate how many referrals a particular source has made and how profitable that referral has been.

• Locating potential income — This feature gives practitioners the opportunity to provide additional services to patients. For example, you can search for all patients between the ages of six and 12 who lack sealants. From the report, you can electronically generate patient letters on sealant benefits. This is just one example of how the report can tap new revenue sources for the hygiene department.

• Track lost revenues — Track unscheduled recalls and how much lost revenue this means for the hygiene department. You can then use this feature or other similar reports to target those patients.

• Hygiene scheduling — This feature tracks your activities. Each chair can be assigned a production goal, and you can view the scheduled vs. goal summary for each chair (you can also print a report of this information). This lets you see how much production is scheduled on any given day. Then you can use a tracking report to find more patients to fill the chair. This is especially helpful if you work on commission.

• Quick fill list — Formerly known as the Tickler file, this allows you to find more patients to fill empty time units. When a patient fails to show or cancels an appointment, you can place his or her name on the list. You can then access the list to see which patients need to make up their missed or cancelled appointments. You can denote patients who have a scheduled appointment but would like to be seen earlier. You can also mark patients on a short notice list. All of these features give several ways to fill empty time slots quickly. In addition, you can use block scheduling to build high production for your chair. For example, certain blocks of the day are reserved for continuing care, new patients, perio maintenance, etc.

• Provider goals and history — This report details the production goals for each provider and shows all of the services performed by that provider in a specific time frame. You can tie these two reports together to demonstrate that you are reaching your goals.

• Real time "analysis" — You get the most current financial and production reports with this feature. The reports give you a "snap shot" of where you are financially in your department.

• Tracking trends in the hygiene department — This group of reports is more analytical, and they can be run on demand, or scheduled to run automatically. This is helpful to track trends with your hygiene production.

• Patient letter communication — Send a "quick letter" to any patient while you are in that patient's file. By selecting the quick letter icon, you can send your letter of choice to that person. This is a great way to communicate with your patients outside of the office setting and it helps retention. I like sending out letters after root planing to remind my patients of the last post-op appointment with me. All of my patients have commented on how much they enjoy my note to them, especially my personal comments directed just to them.

Report benefits

• Follows revenue increase and tracking
• Continuing care reports keep your schedule full if you are on commission
• Practice demographics let you know what kind of patients you are attracting
• Billing codes helps you know what kind of production you are generating from your appointments
• Pending treatment plans helps you determine what was treatment planned out of your operatory

Report advantages

• Obtain instant information
• Set up your own reports
• Increase communication of business
• Negotiate your salary with the doctor based on numbers
• Save time gathering information
• View your monthly work in an organized manner
• View your worth displayed in numbers!

Report disadvantages

• Software tools not yet separated for hygiene business
• Cannot customize your own department needs
• Requires more training depending on the software system purchased

Hy-Tech user tips ...
for report generation

• Sign up for software training to learn where to navigate on the software and how to print out reports

• Start a filing method in a separate dental hygiene notebook in which to put your printed reports

• Organize a plan of action for your department reports

• Display a bar graph report and print your achievements in color (This is a nice visual aid to put on the wall for motivation)

• Set a monthly appointment to meet with your doctor to review the "hygiene reports"

Victoria DaCosta, RDH, BS, is founder and president of Hy-Tech Solutions. A practicing dental hygienist for 17 years, DaCosta is a speaker, author, consultant, and an expert in the design of medical/dental software. She is also on the new technologies committee for the California Dental Hygienists' Association. DaCosta can be contacted at [email protected].