It does not matter if you are starting from scratch or if you established your clinic a while back, there will always be challenges of running a practice that you will have to face. While you can not prevent some challenges from occurring, you can prepare for them. And the first step in prepping for the challenges in running a dental practice is to know what they are.
Here are some challenges of running a practice you should consider:
1. Unexpected challenges of running a practice
This is one of the biggest challenges in running a practice in the past few years. The Covid-19 pandemic. When the pandemic first started, businesses were running around trying to adapt to the sudden changes in their life and work. In just a few days, the entire world went into lockdown and everyone had to work from home. While some business thrives, some barely managed, and many did not make it. One sector that was hit the hardest was the healthcare industry, especially dental practices. While some independent clinics could manage their practices by switching to telemedicine, dental clinics were having a tough time. Clinics were struggling with finances, customer acquisition, customer retention, and upkeep of equipment and inventory.
2. Business Administration
While most dentists would be happy with their work, they, however, have to deal with the fact that practice is a business. And a business needs staff, which includes administration. Now administrative staff is very important to the running of a practice. They handle files, customer information, treatment booking, schedules, inventory, etc. if your clinic just started, you do not need to invest in administrative staff. However, dealing with everything on your own will become increasingly difficult as you gain customers and expand. You need someone to take mundane and administrative work off your plate because it will take up a big chunk of your schedule.
3. Feedback and patient complaints
Feedback is important for dental clinics, even the bad ones. It tells you where you are going wrong and helps you ideate a solution to it. You can use positive feedback as social proof or testimonials. And negative feedback tells you what your patients dislike about your clinic or aspect they are uncomfortable with. Positive or negative, feedback is good for your business.
On the other hand, complaints can be difficult to deal with. A patient complaint occurs when the patient feels like the dentist has messed up. This may be before, during, or after treatment. Including but not limited to:
- Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis
- Failure to complete the treatment completely
- Cause of stress and pain for patients due to bad treatments
- Improper fitting of implants
- Failure to provide all relevant information.
Complaints don’t always but can lead to lawsuits. Therefore, if you feel like you won’t be able to do justice to the patient, you should pass on the case to another dentist.
4. Supply and inventory
The pandemic disrupted the supply chain when it occurred and is still causing problems for dental practices. Due to disruptions in the supply chain, products and equipment are harder to come by. This has led dental practices to hike their prices. Such a phenomenon is called the “bullwhip effect“, it describes how small distortions in demand affect the global supply chain. A disrupted supply chain means dentists are not getting what they want when they want it.
Inventory management is an important part of servicing a patient. However, with the disruptions in the supply chain, many dentists cannot buy products. This has driven up prices since everyone is overbuying in fear. Such problems are keeping prices high and so dentists all over are struggling to treat their patients.
5. Getting new patients
While retaining patients is a good long-term strategy, gaining new ones is important for expansion and increased revenue. Most dental clinics work on word-of-mouth advertising. While relying on patients referral is good for your business, they won’t get you sufficient patients especially if you are expanding. You can focus on social media marketing to gain new followers. A majority of internet users prefer to connect with their brand through social media. Additionally, most social media platforms are free and easy to use.
6. Time management and scheduling
Scheduling can be a big problem if you do not have a staff that can handle your administrative tasks. Time management is crucial for the success of your business since your practice hinges on you completing your treatment before the next client. This means that you need to know how long treatment or service is going to take. And how much time do you need to prepare for the next appointment? Additionally, scheduling is difficult when patients cancel at the last minute or reschedule. So how do you know when to schedule a patient for one-off treatments or regular visits? Plus, you need to factor in confirmation and reminder calls. You either hire staff experienced to handle your schedule or you put your patient down for a date and hope for the best.
7. Social media and engagement
Every business struggles with social media, initially. Social media can indeed help your brand awareness and bring in new leads. However, it is a time-consuming task when you do know where to start. There are many questions that you will have to answer before you get a social media account of your practice. Can you take the time out to create and post? How much should you engage with others on the platform? Should you do it on your own or get a team or outsource it? All these are valid questions and the answer is simple. You should get a social media business account. You do not need to target all platforms. Start with one or two platform accounts. Plan your content and try to bulk create posts. Start with engagement for half an hour after you post. Whether you outsource it or get a team will depend on your budget. Initially, you can start it on your own and bring in a team when your finances allow for it.
Read More: 10 Social Media Marketing Ideas for Dentists
Your clinic’s job is not done when you finish a service. You now need to work on patient insurance, collection, and other financial processes in addition to billing. Dental billing in itself is an enormous task. Adding taxes, budgets, and insurance claims makes the job near impossible. You will need an accountant to handle all the monetary aspects of the business because you can not do it alone. Plus, you do not want to fall on your taxes or rent. An accountant will also help you set up your financial record, create a budget and handle translation so you can stay on top of your game.
9. Team building and communications
Running a dental clinic is not a one-man job. You will need a team to help run your clinic. Such as employees, partners, front desk staff, etc. With all these people in the clinic day in and day out, there are bound to be rifts and difficulties. You and your management should be ready and equipped to handle conflicts and clashes in the clinic. Conflicts do not necessarily have to be a bad thing. If you handle it correctly, they can help your employees understand each other. Therefore, you should invest in conflict management, HR management, and team-building exercises. Try to establish an open channel in your practices so employees know they can approach management anytime.
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