The Articulate Dentist - A Blog by the Metro Denver Dental Society

Chaos to Productivity in 90 Days

Practice Management

By: Scott Frederick, DDS

For years I was stuck having the same repetitive day —seeing patients, being stressed out trying to get to the hygiene checks completed on time, and being stuck at an average production. I knew I needed to change something. I embarked on a yearlong journey with a lot of help from different experts. I looked at change from all aspects of the office and in each role. I am a believer of what is possible. I now believe I can produce more and do it with less stress.

A Case for Change

Dental supply costs are increasing ~3% per year, (compounding from 2009-2016). That results in a 22% price increase in dental supply costs alone. The average wage of employees is rising 2-3% per year based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, a provider’s average fees are changing at a rate of -0.4%- 0.8%. This is what we call profit erosion, meaning the average dentist has to produce 2.5-5.5% more dentistry to maintain the same level of profitability in a year.

Unfortunately, average dentist productivity has not kept pace, resulting in declining net income (ADA Health Policy Institute Annual Survey). Banding together has helped dentists combat the economic, regulatory, and quality pressures of a changing market. Before the year 2000, less than 10% of dentists were in groups. In 2016 and beyond, we are seeing a huge shift in more dentists joining group practices. It is now in the range of 22% and rising quickly (Henry Schein Client Base).

Start with “Why?”

Understanding why we do what we do is very important. Letting your staff know why you do what you do is also important. You want to try and have your staff believe in what you are doing. A why is not “to make a profit.” That is a result. People that believe in your brand and your product will work harder and continue to help make things better and more successful.

One way to start is to set goals. Psychologists have found that goal setting can be very powerful. In fact, it is important that we set multiple goals with different timelines. Set specifics and make it measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Write these goals down and display them where you can see them on a regular basis. Encourage your staff to do the same thing and display their goals where they can see them. Also, create team or office goals and display them where everyone can see them so they can hold each other accountable.

How Can You Bring a Distinctive Patient Experience While Producing More?

The simple answer is your team. Any successful dentist or office knows the team makes them successful, not just the doctor.

It is so important to instill proper training and invest in your team, from the front office to hygiene to the assistants. Many of the staff that we hire are straight out of school; therefore, we can train them and create great staff members. We teach them the importance of a lean healthcare system. This creates improved morale, increased efficiency, and boosted patient satisfaction. Anywhere work is being done, waste is being generated.  It should be minimized or removed to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

Understanding the Team

Understanding the different roles in your office will better help in understanding productivity. You want the roles of assistant, hygienist, and dentist to be working together efficiently to achieve the goals that you are setting for your staff. When you create this positive and productive environment, you’ll also be able to better learn how to keep the patients you have, which is crucial in the everyday success of a practice.

To get started—complete your goals and let your staff know when you do. Attempt to implement a few changes a week and refine the changes to work for the practice. Focus on the team approach and remember: “There is no ‘I’ in team.”

Dr. Scott Frederick graduated from USC School of Dentistry. After graduation, he served as an active duty officer with the U.S. Army. Dr. Frederick has been a part owner of Colorado Dental Group since 2011. He currently serves as Clinical Director of Peak Dental Services.


The Articulate Dentist is a blog by the Metro Denver Dental Society, providing members with insight into the dental industry, practice management tips, tech trends and best practices as well as Society news and updates.


The Metro Denver Dental Society is a not-for-profit component society of the American Dental Association and the Colorado Dental Association.

The MDDS is an ADA CERP Recognized Provider. ADA CERP is a service of the American Dental Association to assist dental professionals in identifying quality providers of continuing dental education. ADA CERP does not approve or endorse individual courses or instructors, nor does it imply acceptance of credit hours by boards of dentistry. MDDS designates courses for the number of CE hours listed with each course. MDDS credits are approved by the AGD for Fellowship and Mastership credits.

Course Disclaimer: MDDS makes every effort to present high caliber speakers in their respective areas of expertise. MDDS courses are offered as information only and not as financial, accounting, legal or other professional advice. Attendees must consult with their own professional advisers. In addition, each participant must decide the merit and practicality of the material presented. The ideas and comments expressed during the courses are not necessarily endorsed by or are those of MDDS. MDDS warns attendees about the potential risks of using limited knowledge when integrating new techniques into your practices.