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News / March 9, 2021

The key to running a dental business

by Eve O'Hea

MPCEve O’Hea explains how using technology helps her to run three dental practices in Ireland.

Running a business successfully relies heavily on knowing your figures inside out. That’s why at Boyne Dental we use a computerised practice management system. This dental software manages every aspect of the day-to-day running of our practice.

This includes appointment booking, patient communication, treatment planning and marketing. This means we collect reams of useful data every day about how our practices are performing.

Based on the data collected, Exact software is able to run reports on all our vital statistics. Aspects such as income, FTAs and recall effectiveness give us immediate clarity on all our key performance indicators.

Niall walking through reception at Boyne Dental

Show me the evidence

As I have learnt in my 20 years of experience in the dental industry, the reality is often very different to our perception of how things are.

Lots of small business owners tend to rely on ‘gut feeling’, but this can lead to poor decision-making. For instance, a practice may feel busy and it may seem like it’s time to add another session or even open another surgery. However if the statistics show that the appointment book is actually only at 80% capacity, that’s a very different story. When you have data that shows the real picture, the decisions you make are often very different.

Similarly, when we are looking at the productivity of each clinician across our three locations, we know a simple comparison of revenue isn’t enough. We need instead to look at hourly rates. Revenue doesn’t account for any differences in number of hours worked, session lengths or the blend of different treatments being performed.

Mypractice Cloud (MPC) which is part of Exact. It extracts this information instantly at the touch of a button. This means we can adjust our clinicians’ individual revenue forecasts proactively and in a timely way, to maximise revenue and give relevant feedback to each of them.

A smooth operation

Exact also automates many tasks which previously would have taken up valuable staff time, such as appointment reminders and recalls. You can manage key day-to-day tasks of your admin team within MPC. This has a clear, colour-coded dashboard showing tasks for the day.

For instance, our diary manager can look at her ‘Actions Today’ Dashboard, see all 18 clinician diaries at a glance and spot any red areas where there are gaps. She can then act promptly to fill those gaps before they become lost chair time (and lost revenue).

Crisis management

It was these tools that helped us shut down efficiently for the coronavirus lockdown and reopen so quickly afterwards. We stayed open for emergencies throughout, but as soon as we heard we could reopen, we were able to run reports for each clinician. It showed those appointments that we cancelled due to the lockdown and which patients needed rebooking.

We called those whose treatment was most time-sensitive first and quickly filled the diary.

We were also able to swiftly put together a COVID-19 consent form. This was sent to patients electronically to read and sign at home before their appointment – or on our Clinipad tablet in reception. The form asked them to agree to adhering to our COVID-safe guidelines. It made sure they were fully informed about what was expected of them.

We kept in touch regularly with all our patients during the lockdown. We let them know what we were doing and how we were still open for emergencies. Using Exact, we created personalised emails from each clinician to their patients. We kept in contact and gave that personal touch to reassure them that they were still our valued patients.

An eye on the pipeline

We’re busy now catching up on the backlog of treatments that have built up during the enforced closure. Our diaries are full, which is how we want it to be. But we’ve also needed to think about what happens next, and MPC is proving invaluable in plotting our recovery.

Many practices do not have the technology for following up treatment plans easily. Exact’s Care Manager shows all the outstanding treatment plans for each clinician. This helps them and the admin team work on converting them to booked treatments.

Follow-up calls from the admin team or clinician to answer any questions or alleviate any fears the patient might have can prove invaluable.

In the next three months, as well as catching up, we are booking routine check-ups and starting to plan future treatments, which we hope will minimise the possibility of having a fallow period later down the line. We are using lists on MPC to book examinations and assessments and to market to existing and potential new patients in order to keep our pipeline full.

We are also keeping an eye on our clinicians’ hourly rates on a weekly basis. This is to identify any dips that would show either that their treatment plans have come to an end, or that they are doing more examinations than normal.

Neither of these are necessarily bad signs, but they will trigger us to check that more treatments are in the pipeline. Also, that the dip in hourly rate will only be temporary.

Without the data that Exact collects and the insight that MPC reports give us, we would not be able to keep our diaries so healthy and manage our patient requirements. To be honest, we would be working in the dark without it.

To find out more about Exact V13 dental software and Mypractice Cloud, call 01 4 944 001 or visit

This article first appeared in Irish Dentistry magazine. You can read the latest issue here.