Monday, October 20, 2014


When I ask dental consulting clients that question, I typically get a puzzled look, a shoulder shrug, or a rough “guess-timate”. However, monitoring the number of active patients is to the health of your practice as important as monitoring blood pressure is to the health of a person. The effectiveness of your Recare System, key to practice growth, production, and profitability, is predicated on the number of active patients.
An active patient in General Dental Practice may be defined as one who has received treatment or hygiene care within the past 24 months, NOT including single visit emergencies. In Pediatric Dental Practice, an active patient may be defined as one seen for treatment or recare within the past 12 to 18 months, NOT including emergencies seen for a single appointment. Your computer system should have the capability of generating an active patient count upon demand, and that number should be on the monthly report you, the dentist, receive from your business staff.
If a practice has 2000 active patients, each of whom should be seen for hygiene care every six months, one can calculate:
  • 2000 active patients, each seen every 6 months = 333 recare patients/month       
  • Actual average = 160 recares/month = 48% effective system            
  • Goal = 70-80% effective Recare System            
  • 70% effective system with 2000 active patients = 233 recare appointments/month
AN EYE OPENER: Multiply the additional 73 recare patients per month given in this example by your average recare fee (with or without X-rays or other additional procedures) to calculate the additional production in a month. WOW!!!

Monday, October 13, 2014


Whether developed from among current experienced staff members or newly hired to manage the practice, a Practice Administrator can be an invaluable asset in the process of strategizing, growing, and managing a busy dental office.  Besides helping with business operations of the office and the “thousand and one” details that must be handled on a daily basis, the addition of a Practice Administrator can be a tremendous stress reliever for the Dentist.  Imagine doing what you, the Dentist, trained for and enjoy while leaving the nitty-gritty details of every day practice management to your Administrator.

A Practice Administrator may be compared to the Chief Operating Officer (COO) in a corporation.  He/she helps the Dentist who is actually the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) strategize and set goals for the practice, including establishing production and collection goals; deciding marketing/branding efforts; and overseeing compliance issues for HIPAA, OSHA, and other government-imposed standards.  In addition, the Administrator can serve as the Dentist’s right hand in matters of overall operation of the office, its physical facility, its business protocols, and its personnel issues.  The Administrator can also act as liaison with the practice CPA, Attorney, and IT experts who service the computer and other electronic devices.  He or she can oversee financial activities such as writing an annual budget including realistic goals for income (collections) and expenses (overhead).  She or he can serve as the HR (Human Resource) director to coordinate interviewing, hiring, and performance appraisals for the team.  An astute Administrator will refine the practice ambiance by building teamwork, improving communication between team members, and encouraging/empowering staff to become the best they can be.

Dentists who employ a Practice Administrator attest to more enjoyment along with significantly reduced stress in their practice.  If you decide to develop such a role in your practice, remember you, as owner, retain the right of refusal/veto power over every aspect of the practice.  While a carefully chosen and well trained Practice Administrator can be a valuable addition, the Dentist must be the ultimate authority in the operation of the office.  Those offices in which I have seen a Practice Administrator function effectively are those in which the Dentist welcomes and seriously considers suggestions and initiatives from the Administrator.  The two confer frequently, thoroughly analyzing and considering ideas to improve the practice in any way.  They usually come to consensus, but if not, both understand that the dentist is the final word.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Sweden---1965.  An anatomy professor/orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark, placed the first titanium dental implant in a patient who volunteered for the procedure.  The implant far exceeded expectations, leading Dr. Branemark to coin the term “osseointegration” to describe the physiological processes that allowed the adherence of bone to titanium.

Dr. Branemark had researched bone healing and regeneration since 1952 in order to understand the effects of orthopedic surgeries on his patients.  By 1965, his research led him to become the pioneer in implantology and earned him the title, “father of modern dental implantology”.  Now at age 85, this hero of modern dentistry has seen his research and techniques impact untold numbers of patients worldwide.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Theft of mobile devices continues to increase, and a number of health care facilities have had or will have to pay significant fines to the federal government for violation of HIPAA’s Security Rule.  Encryption of all computers and mobile devices is imperative to avoid risks to the security of patients’ stored health and payment information.

HIPAA Privacy and Security rules include multiple requirements to meet standards of security meant to reduce risk and vulnerability of protected health information.  You and your staff must be knowledgeable about these requirements and the ways to meet compliance.  The Office for Civil Rights (OCR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), has six educational programs on HIPAA compliance, one of which focuses on mobile device security.  Available to health care professionals, the programs include free CE credits.  For additional information about the programs and ordering specifics, visit: Helping Entities Implement Privacy and Security Protections - Medscape Programs.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Most dental practices now keep patient information on desktop computers and various mobile devices such as laptops, tablets or smart phones.  Protecting electronically stored patient data is mandatory in order to be in compliance with the Security Rule of HIPAA.

Consider the following precautions.  Enable encryption that came with your mobile device or purchase and install an encryption program.  Keep the device locked, accessible only by password.  A program to allow remote wiping or disabling should be installed to be used in case of loss or theft of the device.  Use no file-sharing applications.  Make certain Wi-Fi transmissions are used only with an encrypted network connection.  Use extreme care to delete stored patient health or payment information before discarding or reusing any mobile device, preferably seeking advice concerning deletion from an expert.

For additional information on security of mobile devices go to:

Monday, September 29, 2014


The new edition of the ADA’s Practical Guide to Effective Infection Control is an excellent tool for training and refresher sessions for dentists and staff members alike.  The 40-minute DVD showing actual clinical procedures improves infection control procedures, safety, and efficiency.  Accompanied by a workbook, the Guide includes comprehensive information on cleaning, disinfection, sterilization, protective personal equipment use, handwash and handrub instructions, sharps handling and disposal, infection control guidelines for x-ray procedures, etc.  Continuing Education credits are available for team members participating in the course.

To order, go to or call 1-800-947-4746.   

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


 The annual meeting of the American Dental Association, “ADA 2014—America’s Dental Meeting”, is scheduled for the second week in October in San Antonio, Texas.  At this meeting, the CDT 2015 codes, including 15 additions, 5 deletions, and 52 revisions, will be available.  The CDT Code, used to document treatment provided on claim submissions to third party payers, must be kept current and accurate by every dental care provider who uses the codes, and it is the provider’s responsibility to do so.  Watch Practicon’s print or online catalog for the new edition of Coding with Confidence, The” Go-To” Dental Insurance Guide, CDT-2015 Edition by Dr. Charles Blair.  This guide assures dramatic cuts to coding errors and boosts legitimate reimbursement.  Go to for online ordering or call 1-800-959-9505 to order from one of Practicon’s friendly, capable sales representatives.

 Identity theft is on the rise, and a primary way stolen identities are now used is to obtain tax refunds fraudulently.  The IRS has reported more than 1800 new investigations involving such refunds.  Dentists in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin have reported that their stolen identity has been used to file a fraudulent tax return.  For more information about fraudulent returns and for reporting suspected tax fraud to the IRS, go online to or notify the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.

In 2012, the last year for which figures are available, the average number of patient visits per private practice solo practitioner (excluding appointments with hygienists) was 44.8 per week.  In practices with more than one dentist, the weekly average for patient visits was 49.3. (Source:  ADA Health Policy Resources Center survey)