Ubi Est Mea
The illustrious Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago columnist Mike Royko suggested replacing the bucolic City of Chicago motto, “Urbs in Horto” (City in a Garden), with “Ubi Est Mea?” (Where’s Mine?).
And so you can rightfully ask, “What’s in it for my patients and what’s in it for me?” – in other words, "Ubi Est Mea?"
Well here’s what my client practices tell me:
Continuity of Treatment
When you diagnose an RCT, it’s far more productive to schedule a patient on a day I usually come in than to hand the patient a few business cards or referral slips and say “Have at it.” In my experience, we can accommodate 90% of the patients, so very few need to wander off into the sunset.
After I complete the root canal, the patient is immediately scheduled for a definitive restoration. The final radiograph is already on your computer as are the clinical notes.
In a few offices, we moved the patient directly from endo to the practice owner’s operatory for the build up, prep, and impression. Talk about efficient!
Sometimes a patient who leaves your office with a stack of referral slips will make an immediate appointment and sometimes not. You do such a good job of alleviating the discomfort by prescribing antibiotics with pain meds and/or a pulpotomy that, “It doesn’t bother me anymore, Doc."
Well, we all know what happens then, and it always happens during one of the kids' ball games on a Sunday.
When your staff can control all those variables at the front desk, the odds of that patient showing up for endo at the appointed time and not falling through the cracks is greatly enhanced.
We can understand the patient’s tendency to put things off. After all, we’re dealing with the dreaded root canal with an unfamiliar doctor and staff. We tend to underestimate the patient’s anxiety level.
Some research studies show high anxiety levels in over 50% of the population. A 2008 French study based on Corah’s Dental Anxiety Scale demonstrated that anticipating root canals was perceived as the most difficult to face. So I automatically assume that whoever is sitting in my root canal operatory is anxious and requires a little TLC. Sometimes a lot of TLC.
When you keep a treatment in-house, the patient returns to a familiar location, sees familiar faces, and sits in a familiar operatory with a familiar dental assistant, all of which tends to reduce anxiety. The new guy doesn’t seem quite so scary because, after all, the whole staff seems to trust him.
And it doesn’t hurt that the scary endo guy has a graduate degree in counseling psychology. In my opinion, a quick dab of cognitive therapy goes a long way. Or emotive therapy. Or multimodal therapy. Or something as sophisticated as letting them tell you “the story” and verbalize their concerns. Sometimes a well placed “suck it up” can work wonders too. Depends.
I get the same response after almost every endo:
“Those shots didn’t hurt a bit, and the root canal was way easier than I thought it would be.” Which begs the question about what was going on in their mind's eye. The Spanish Inquisition?
Not to worry. I’ll take good care of your patients no matter how badly they’re awfulizing at first.
And then there are the fees. The fees are higher at the specialist office, so the patient is going to save some money.
There are so many PPO plans that it’s almost impossible to determine how much they will save, but every little bit helps, right?
Efficient Facility Use
If you have an extra chair available during your usual workday, I can hunker down in a corner someplace and chase after MB2s. Or you can pick a day that you usually don’t see patients, and I can hunker down and chase MB2s. In either case, you have another chair producing revenue. Personally, I really don’t have a preference.
Oh Yes, Then There’s the $$$
Question: How much revenue do you generate when you refer a patient out your office?
Not to be too pecuniary about it, but a few of my client offices have generated an extra yearly revenue in the $50,000 range. That would be doing about 10 to 12 cases a month. Think a year’s tuition and fees at the University Notre Dame. Or perhaps a Benz E-300 sport. Smell the leather?
You get to generate an extra profit for very little extra overhead. As they say in the diet commercials and the financial ads, results may vary.
“If it’s already been done, it’s probably possible.” Who said that? Answer under FAQs.