Practice Management |5 min read

The Dental Practice Edit

Real World Insights from AADOM Authors - Lisa Maurer

Managing a new dental office can be an exciting and fulfilling experience. As an office manager, you have the opportunity to create new systems and procedures that will not only improve the office’s performance but also make it a more enjoyable and rewarding workplace for employees.

One way to approach the task of creating new systems and procedures is by adopting the same philosophy as the popular TV show, “The Home Edit.” Just as the show’s hosts take a systematic and organized approach to decluttering and organizing people’s homes, you can
take a similar approach to improving the operations of your dental practice.

Begin by conducting a thorough assessment of the office’s current operations. Pretend you’re opening the pantry and looking for areas of improvement. I can give three examples of where you could start: Collections, Production, and Patient Retention. Take note of any pain points or bottlenecks that are hindering the smooth function in these areas. Do each of these areas work efficiently? Is your business team on the same page for how things work in each category? Is the practice losing money, or are patients walking out without paying? The fun begins here, and you can dig into “editing” your practice.

Once you’ve identified areas of concern, it’s time to create a plan of action for each one. Replace systems that aren’t working with clearly outlined new protocols. Let’s start with the collections process.


This might involve developing new ways of presenting treatment plans so the patient is aware of what they will pay before they come in for treatment. You can present the treatment plans at the time of diagnosis. Treatment planning is closely coordinated with insurance verification. Verifying insurance eligibility before the patient is in the chair is a must. At my office, we use a company that verifies all our hygiene patients. They tell us the patient’s remaining maximum and if the scheduled services meet the insurance frequencies. All this information is listed on the appointment so the provider knows what’s covered, and they don’t have to leave the operatory to ask the business team. Offer financial options such as CareCredit or in-office autopay, as this will increase case acceptance. None of the patients should be walking out without stopping at the front desk. This will ensure the patient portion is collected and outstanding balances are discussed. Be sure to train your staff members so everyone understands the “whats” and “whys” of your new system. Let’s move on to production.


To edit your production department, you should start by running a production report for the month you want to evaluate. Hopefully, you already have an idea of what your dentist needs to produce in order to keep the lights on. If that number isn’t being reached, start digging! Look at the way appointments are currently being scheduled. Try to schedule to a fiscal goal or use block scheduling. Block scheduling works by creating a template or event (depending on your PMS) for the desired procedure and deliberately placing it on the schedule for the future. The desired procedures should generate the amount of production you need. When someone goes to make an appointment, they will only schedule a procedure if it matches your appointment block. My office uses block scheduling for scaling and root planing so our hygienists can reach their production goals. Our business team knows to only schedule scaling and root planing during those times rather than prophies. You may find that just because you have a busy schedule doesn’t mean you’re producing a lot. Having a full-mouth set of X-rays for every patient, taking vertical bitewings on periodontal patients, and offering fluoride are simple ways to increase your production. Changing how you schedule appointments will produce more and help the team work smarter instead of harder!

Another area that often needs improvement in a dental practice is patient retention.

Patient Retention

We all know the importance of ensuring patients stay on track with their cleanings and treatment, but the process can become overwhelming. How can you manage all that? You can make sure everyone leaves with their next appointment scheduled and use a digital communication program for email, text, and calls. I know some offices don’t want to go digital, but different age groups communicate in different ways. You might be surprised by the increase in patient response when switching to text communications. Effective team communication within the office plays a big role, as well. Maybe incorporating route slips would make the handoff better and create a solid basis for a smooth checkout process. You should listen to patient feedback on Yelp or Google and follow up with any concerning reviews. We can’t forget about the importance of patient satisfaction. Look for ways to enhance the in-office experience! By making them feel valued and appreciated, you can build a loyal patient base that will help drive the success of the office.

Working on the three examples above will certainly produce positive results. Higher collection, more efficient production, and better patient retention will confirm that your edit was worthwhile! Encourage staff members to share their ideas and feedback on the new protocols and procedures you’re implementing. By creating a culture of open communication and collaboration, you can build a team that is invested in the success of the practice and motivated to see it thrive. Your team can offer valuable feedback that you may not have thought of or experienced in your role as a manager.

Remember to celebrate your successes along the way. Recognize and reward staff members who go above and beyond, and take the time to reflect on the progress you’ve made toward achieving your goals. This is going to be an ongoing project that you keep working on. It’s not a “Fix it and forget it” thing. What works now may not work in a year, so continuously pay attention to your office and edit yearly!

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About the Author

Headshot of Lisa Maurer

Lisa Maurer is a practice administrator at Walnut Creek Dentists, with 24 years in the industry. She’s passionate about dentistry and transforming practices into profitable businesses with a healthy culture. Lisa earned her FAADOM in 2020. She and her son live in the Bay Area, where she takes pride in contributing to the local dental community.

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