Reports – the Window into your Dental Practice

dovetail-reports

Your EHR or PM software is capable of generating multiple types of reports but do you really understand the data in them? Quite a few dentists are intimidated by the rows and rows of figures in such reports. Sometimes these reports may not even be accurate! No wonder clinic don’t use them to the fullest potential.

Characteristics of a Good Report

Any EHR or PM software will spit out reports but can you trust the numbers? Are you able to use the data to improve your practice? Before purchasing an EHR, test out the reporting functionality. Make sure that the numbers are correct with sample data first. The figures on various reports and tools should reflect what’s actually going on in the clinic.

Another aspect to watch out for is the presentation. Some applications just give you endless tables without any meaningful context or appropriate labels. It won’t take you long to get bored looking at those reports! Neither does it give you meaningful insights into your practice.

A good EHR will generate readable reports with graphs and charts where appropriate. Everything should be clearly labeled so you know what each figure represents. Such reports will function as a window into your clinic and let you assess the results correctly. After all, you’ll be reviewing them on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. So a good report is invaluable to practice management.

How to Use the Data in a Report

Your EHR probably generates a few different types of reports. Each will tell you something about the current state of your practice. For instance, not many dentists review the accounts receivable report frequently. But this report shows how much the clinic is owed from patients. You can see if some people are behind on their payments or how long some accounts have gone before the patient settles the bill. Once you know the actual numbers, you can devise ways of reducing them. Without this report, you may not even know how high your outstanding bills are!

Another helpful report is the one on patients. Different EHRs call it by various names but its function is the same. It provides lists of patients – sorted and filtered by history, payment status or other variables. What can you learn from this? Find out who needs follow up visits and schedule them in your empty slots. See if some clients haven’t come in for their annual check up and send them reminders to schedule one soon. A proactive approach means you won’t have empty slots during the week and build long lasting relationships with your patients.

Financial reports like the balance sheet or income statements can also reveal certain trends. If you know when your demand is going to increase, you can reschedule patients to relieve some of the stress on your staff. Suppose you are busiest on the weekends. You can offer special discounts if patients come in during the week. You can do the same for high traffic months like say November/December etc.

Use Reports to Proactively Manage your Clinic

All too often we take a reactive approach to problems. You see a decline in monthly revenue and immediately start to panic about losing patients. But if you periodically review your practice reports, you know that it is only a seasonal dip because of the holidays or other reasons. Rather than frantically put out fires every so often, isn’t it better to prevent them in the first place? Since this functionality is built into most EHRs, don’t hesitate to use them to your advantage. Spend some time with your reports and see the benefits in terms of a more optimized practice!

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