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At Dykema DSO 2021, Patient Prism’s CEO Amol Nirgudkar was excited to interview the “legendary” Dr. Bruce Baird, who has had an amazing entrepreneurial career, not the least of which was co-founding the Productive Dentist Academy (PDA). Before talking about Dr. Baird’s latest endeavor, the software technology Abella®, Nirgudkar leads Baird back down the lane that led to Abella’s development.

 

 

The Productive Dentist Academy provides a full range of consulting, marketing, and learning services for dental practices and DSOs, and has been recognized by Inc. 5000 as one of the fasted growing private companies in America. But what Nirgudkar appreciates most is that the academy allows dentists to “elevate their practices and to lead a fulfilling life that's financially secure, but also internally fulfilling.”

“I learned after a while there's so much more to life than just making money, but it sure is more fun if you're making money and enjoying the other things that you want to enjoy, like family and travel and all those things, and it can be done,” says Baird. “You can be a dentist and make phenomenal money and take great care of your patients, take great care of your family.”

 

 

Focus on patient-centered conversations and the dentistry you love to do 

Nirgudkar asks, “How do you get doctors to produce more and at the same time deliver great care?”

“Most dentists think that being productive means being fast when it really has very little to do with speed. It has to do with good communication skills,” says Baird, who works with dentists on developing their conversational skills and asking questions that create a relationship with the patient and predispose the patient to listen to treatment presentation. “When you start scheduling to production and you have good verbal skills, you get control of your production per hour, and it changes everything,” says Baird. “Now you are doing $1,000 an hour.”

Baird says most dentists market for new patients, not to do what they love doing. “We also teach marketing to what you love,” says Baird. “And so now, you're bringing in stuff you love to do, but you're scheduling it properly and when you schedule properly, you find that you're doing $8,000 a day, not $3,200. And doctors will do this in a matter of three to four months, but it is team-driven. And so, we really work with doctors on leadership skills, too.”

Nirgudkar points out that you've got to get the buy-in from the team with the intention that this is good for patients' health. Baird agrees 100%, “Dentistry is not fun when you're running behind. People are complaining. But when you're scheduling to productivity, you find that you have more time to do the things that you need to do and more time to spend with patients, which is really where you want to be.”

 

Compassionate Finance was designed to make unscheduled treatment affordable

Productive Dentist Academy was established in 2004. Around 2008, the economy had a big dip. People were holding on to their money, and many patients were not getting credit approval. Baird studied financing and what-if scenarios for doing in-house financing so patients could have the dental treatments and orthodontics they needed and wanted.  

“What I found was that even our worst credit patients only defaulted at about an 18% rate,” says Baird. “You might think that's horrible—one out of five, but we had the four out of five that were paying full term at 17.9%, and we were getting full fee. We were doing more treatment.” 

Baird’s personal experience led to the development of the Compassionate Finance platform. Today, it is used by dental practices of all sizes across the country to offer patients financing and a Cloud-based approval process. Flexible payment terms and fixed interest rates allow patients to pick the plan that works best for them.

 

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Abella was designed to automate collections, so humans don’t need to 

The Cloud-based Abella platform was the next software technology Baird developed. This time, the problem to be solved was how to significantly increase the productivity of the front office during the pandemic and pandemic-proof accounts receivable. Abella automates past due notices via friendly emails and text messages. The recipient can choose from pay in full and monthly payment options directly from their smart device. Not only has this been demonstrated to accelerate cash flow to a dental practice but Abella easily integrates with all leading practice management software.  

According to Baird, in most dental practices, one person oversees insurance and AR. That team member spends 83% of their time on hold with insurance companies and 17% of their time doing collections. The highest balances are worked on first, and the lowest balances may never get worked on. “I thought, in my office, that we had great accounts receivable management and revenue cycle management,” says Baird. “I found out we didn’t when we automated that process.”

Within the first 28 days of implementing Abella automation, Baird’s large dental practice collected $77,000 that had been in arrears over 90 days. No humans were involved, just the Abella software. Patients were able to pay in full or make monthly payments over the phone. Both patients and team members were delighted with the superior payment experience.

“I'd rather have that monthly payment coming in every single month on work I did four years ago, than no payment,” says Baird. “And it also recession proofed the practice during the pandemic because we had docs bringing in $25,000 to $35,000 a month on work they did before the pandemic.”


Abella boosts productivity

When front office team members are caught up in doing paperwork like collections, there’s not a lot of time for conversation with patients that adds value to the business. “And that is one of the reasons why same-store sales in the DSO world are flat. Their team members are not adding value to the business,” says Nirgudkar. “Abella is revolutionizing this.”

Your AR employee will have more time to give patients personalized attention points out Nirgudkar. You can repurpose that 17% of their time to do something more value-added to the practice.

“And guess what?” asks Baird. “Now that you’ve become more productive, your team overhead drops. That’s the way I look at it.”

 

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