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Grow your DSO with Metrics and Qualitative Data

The way I see it, every dental office is akin to a high-performance sports team. It should consist of high financial performers but also others with specialty skill sets that keep each day moving. The goal for a dental office should be to have each DDS and RDH provider be the best versions of themselves year-over-year and to keep putting wins on the board. To keep in line with our analogy, this shows them they’re part of a consistently growing championship team.

As more institutional investors begin pouring capital into healthcare services, specifically dental services and DSOs, it’s crucial that we as clinicians harness the power to impact our team’s performance and attain better and more predictable patient outcomes. 

How? By identifying and understanding crucial key performance indicator (KPI) metrics and qualitative data. 

Scale with Metrics

Patient care and outcomes have always been paramount. When I first started working in the private equity-backed DSO space in 2015, I, like many clinical leaders, was used to managing clinicians by line of sight. 

I would spend hours with each of my doctors every single week analyzing what their chairside manner was like, witnessing their treatment planning and looking at how comprehensive it was. I’d track how many patients scheduled treatment while also looking at their crown and bridge impressions to ensure consistent, quality dentistry was being completed.   As my DSO grew through acquisition, it became clear that people are not scalable and I alone was not going to be able to continue managing by line of sight. 

We needed a better mousetrap to make sure patient care wasn’t slipping through the cracks. We invested in clinical dashboards, created treatment planning funnels, and set KPIs. We tracked things like hourly production rate, co-production rate, reappointment percentage, and treatment plan and case acceptance percentages — all of which helped ensure consistency within our practice. But what mattered most were the trends found over time in the KPI metrics.

Measure and Manage Data

A mentor of mine told me, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” There are more dental companies popping up, armed with useful data that show patterns and trends. The issue is that most DDS’ and MDs don’t know how to interpret these patterns. 

Once a clinician understands how to interpret these KPIs and trends, they can easily identify correlations and trends. So, how do DDSs and MDs learn how to interpret these and make clinical decisions based off of just numbers? 

The short answer is trial and error. It’s possible to learn but because it’s as much of an art as it is a science, most DDSs and MDs aren’t able to make the correlation as quickly as their investment partners would like them to.

There are plenty of great clinical dashboards that can provide an API into dental practice management software like Dentrix, Eaglesoft, or OpenDental. Do some research, demo a few, and find one that best fits your current needs. 

Take a Look at Your Providers

Start looking at trends in the office and then individual providers. Learn more about the individual providers within your DSO or multisite healthcare services group. As your provider network grows, you’ll be able to see where clinicians should fit in a hierarchical dashboard. Depending on skill set, years of private practice experience, and patient load, you’ll find not everyone will be an all-star provider— nor should they be.  

Layer in your knowledge of the provider and office and start to look for aberrations.  Believe it or not, you’ll see them faster than you think—especially as your team grows. Most importantly, get out into the field. That’s where the dentistry is done and the dollars are created.

The key takeaway here is to remember that when transitioning from line of sight management to management by metrics it’s important to understand that metrics are only part of the equation. Yes, it’s crucial to understand how to interpret key metrics but there is a significant qualitative aspect that applies because we are treating patients.

PS: Check out the original article published on Group Dentistry Now!


Thanks for your interest in DSOs and private-equity backed healthcare providers like Dr. Ro. For more information, feel free to get in touch, I would love to hear from you!

©2020 by roshanparikh.com