DEBRA MILLER | DIRECTOR OF COACHING
It’s your time that matters and what you should want (as a business owner, doctor and person) is to improve the value of your time spent in the practice, resulting in higher productivity and profitability. That, in turn, improves the value of your personal time – giving you a great life with the rewards that come from business success.
Endodontics is different than most other dental disciplines. In those disciplines, they have low and high value cases. For example, a GP practice can have cases that range from composite fillings for a couple of hundred dollars to full arch esthetic cases with fees of $15,000 or more. Once doctors reach a certain level of busyness, the only way they improve their value of time is by increasing the number of high value cases.
In contrast, endodontists deal with a stream of cases that all have relatively similar values. Therefore, the easiest way to measure the overall value of your time is the number of cases you complete. Whether you compare averages daily, weekly, monthly or annually, it’s a good assessment of how well you are using your time in the office.
Since endodontists can’t leverage their time through higher value cases, efficiently utilizing the doctor’s time is the primary driver of endodontic growth.
Two Types of Efficiency
Efficiency is the result of many factors in a team environment. In the endodontic practice, it’s useful to think about efficiency in two broad categories.
The first category is “clinical efficiency”, which is the time when the doctor is working in the patient’s mouth and providing treatment. This is the domain of the doctor, and it is their primary responsibility to develop the clinical skills to complete treatment effectively and efficiently.
Clinical efficiency is also affected by the assistant. A great assistant ensures the treatment room, instrumentation and supplies are prepared, so the doctor’s efficient workflow during treatment is never interrupted or delayed.
Today, most cases from bur-to-tooth to obturation can be completed by an experienced endodontist in less than an hour during a single patient visit. Given that endodontists are generally in the practice for 9 hours a day, that allows effortless completion of at least 6 to 8 cases per day.
Since most doctors complete only 3 to 4 cases per day, that turns attention to the other category of efficiency: “team efficiency”. At a very pure level of understanding, the primary role of the team is to improve the doctor’s efficiency.
The benchmark for assessing team efficiency is to start with the baseline of what the doctor is legally required to do. Aside from a few personal preferences the doctor may have, everything else should be delegated to a highly trained team.
In many practices, the doctor holds on to too many steps in the patient appointment that could be delegated to a well-organized and trained team. That leads to the doctor taking far more time than necessary and bouncing around between treatment rooms.
The schedule and flow become difficult to optimize in these situations. So, a doctor and team with low efficiency might only complete 2 cases in a morning, while a very efficient practice can double that. The impact on productivity and profitability (the value of the doctor’s time) is huge.
How Efficiency Drives Growth
What is common is that inefficient doctors and teams have difficulty believing they could complete twice as many cases during the same time. Their inefficiency is literally obscuring their opportunities for growth. Getting past the disbelief mindset is often the biggest challenge at the beginning.
The truth is that 90% of growth in an endodontic practice is driven by the team. When the team becomes focused on optimizing the doctor’s time, improving daily flow, and scheduling patients smartly so the doctor is never rushed nor ever idle, the value of the doctor’s time inside the practice can soar.
Value outside the practice soars too. If you have 50% overhead expenses to begin with, and you increase the number of cases you complete by 50%, then profits almost doubles! Wow!