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    Why benchmarks can make or break 2017 for your dental practice

    Strategic planning at the beginning of the year could set your practice off to a good start.

    At the end of the year—or the beginning of the new year—strategic planning is beneficial. Evaluate the past year and set new goals. Focus on progress, development and success. Establish benchmarks.

    Benchmarking is a business term defined as, “a measurement of the quality of an organization’s policies, products, programs, strategies, etc., and their comparison with standard measurements, or similar measurements of its peers. The objectives of benchmarking are (1) to determine what and where improvements are called for, (2) to analyze how other organizations achieve their high performance levels, and (3) to use this information to improve performance.”  (Business Dictionary, February 2016)

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    The purpose of benchmarking is to understand and evaluate your current situation and to identify areas and means of performance improvement. There are four steps to the benchmarking process:

    Analyze the present situation.

    What systems are working well?  What could be improved?

    Study the systems of successful businesses.

    What have they done to accomplish their success? 

    Compare your own data to other similar businesses.

    What do you like about the other organizations?  What would you like to achieve?

    Determine the key areas you want to develop.

    Determine your benchmarks (your goals). Design your plan of action. Define who will do what. Determine the time frames—timelines and deadlines. Do what you say you will do. Implement your plan. Evaluate progress continuously.

    Benchmarking and the process of continuous improvement is just that—continuous. Be dedicated to continuous improvement and forward growth. Let your team see your enthusiasm and belief in the process, the value, and the possibilities. Set the bar high. Do so by your own example. Here are a few areas to include in your own benchmarking:

    • Production (daily, monthly, yearly)
    • Collection and collection percentage
    • Adjustments
    • Individual provider production
    • Accounts receivable (and the duration of tardiness)
    • New patients
    • Amount presented/amount accepted
    • Marketing projects—amount invested/amount increased
    • Performance goals of individual team members
    • Profit and loss/overhead

    By identifying areas that are appropriate for benchmarking, you can establish goals that will support your vision of the ideal practice. You will be able to quickly see areas where underperformance is evident and then, as a leader, develop a plan for improvement for that person, division, or for the organization.

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    In summary, remember to do the following:

    • Gather data to determine “Where are you now?”  Analyze your statistical information to examine relevant findings.
    • Study ways to improve your systems. Reach out to resources, coaches or consultants, go to courses, or study relevant material.
    • Determine your benchmarks: “Where do you want to go?”
    • Design a plan of action. “How will you get there?”
    • Implement the plan of action.
    • Evaluate your progress.

    One of your greatest assets is clarity. Solidify strengths and alter areas that need to be improved. Establish benchmarks that support the vision of your ideal practice. 

    Cathy Jameson
    Cathy Jameson, PhD, is founder and chief visionary officer of Jameson Management, a team of management, clinical and practice building ...


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