B. Niemiec1; K. Stewart2
Why is marketing the dental department important?
1. Oral disease is by far the most common problem in veterinary medicine and there are generally only subtle to no clinical signs. However, patients afflicted with dental disease are quite often painful despite the lack of clinical signs. In addition, these disease processes cause significant localized and systemic medical problems. Ignorance abounds regarding dentistry both in the general public as well as in the veterinary field. This results in most patients being under treated. Therefore proper dental therapy is financially rewarding and good medicine.
2. Over the last decade or so, there has occurred a significant loss of traditional revenue streams due to many factors. Vaccine revenue has been markedly reduced by new studies. In addition, flea and heartworm prevention as well as other prescription revenue has been lost due to online prescriptions. Finally, increased reliance on the Internet or other information decreases the client trips to the clinic.
How to Increase Dental Revenue
Dental revenue can be improved in four distinct ways. However, they do not stand alone; all of them should be included in the marketing plan. In fact they are synergistic, by increasing more than one, they positively affect each other, further improving gains.
1. The first and most cost-effective way to attain this goal is to increase the number of dental prophylaxis procedures performed.
a. Client education: This is best performed by enlightening the population about dental disease. This should come not only from the veterinarian, but the entire staff. This includes technicians and possibly most importantly, receptionists. By educating the veterinary staff, you educate the clients and provide more dentistry. This ideally is in person, but if time is an issue, handouts or qualified websites can be effective as well. There are can be in person, or via handouts and/or websites. Client educational videos are available at https://www.dogbeachvet.com/.
b. Superior, new equipment: Once the marketing plan is underway and the days are full, superior equipment will speed procedures.
A new drill, ultrasonic scaler, elevator, or curette can markedly cut down on surgical time and increase the number of procedures performed a day. If a practice can do one more procedure a day 5 days a week at an average of say $400 it will pay off $4,000 worth of equipment in a month. Moreover, this will result in shorted anesthetics, which is better for the patient.
c. Continuing education/training: By learning better techniques veterinarians and technicians can speed the dental procedures benefiting the practice and the staff. The staff can be more efficient, which will also allow for the possibility of additional procedures. Furthermore, this efficiency will decrease operator stain and stress. Finally, proper performance of dental procedures should result in less surgical trauma and superior patient care. Ask your AHI rep if a lab is scheduled in your area, or visit https://www.dogbeachvet.com/for-veterinary-professionals/veterinary-dental-training-center for a San Diego class schedule.
2. The next way to increase income is by increasing the per dental procedure charge. Increase the number of treatment options for the clients. This does not mean doing things like root canals, jaw fracture repair and major oral surgery since what most DVM’s charge for these it is not efficient time usage. By spending that time doing office calls the practitioner will increase income with less stress. A more efficient way to do this is by offering superior “basic” care. This should include: dental radiology, root planing/Doxirobe/Clindoral, OraVet, nerve blocks, proper pain management, bonded sealants, and fluoride therapy. All of these will greatly increase income without a significant investment of time or money. Practitioners, who have mastered the basics, can consider proceeding to composite restorations and periodontal flap surgeries, which are taught at the level 2 course in San Diego (see hyperlink above).
3. Clinics can markedly improve their dental and income by improving their pre-operative testing protocol. Furthermore, perform the preoperative testing the day the cleaning is recommended, this will help lock clients into the procedure.
a. Complete blood panel (renal [SDMA], hepatic, CBC, T4)
c. Chest radiographs
i. HCM is often not ausculted.
ii. Over 50% of patients over 6 have significant findings on chest films.
4. Provide superior (and necessary!) post-operative treatment:
a. Pain management: Opiates, NSAIDs, local anesthetics (nerve blocks)
b. Home care