Increasing Your Hand Speed—An Accountant’s Advice

Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m a numbers guy. I’m a spreadsheets guy. I’m not a dentist. Give me a handpiece whirring away at 100,000 rpm and I’ll drop it faster than a live rattlesnake.

But I can still help you be a better dentist.

Let’s back up. If you want to own a dental practice, you’ll need some skill with that drill. That’s not according to me, that’s according to the banks that will be loaning you the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the practice purchase. Ask for a loan, and they’ll ask you for a production report.

A production report simply spells out how much dentistry you’ve done and how much it was worth, dollar-wise. If a practice brings in a million dollars a year and you take hygiene out, a production report will show that that dentist is probably doing $800,000 worth of dentistry every year, give or take.

Want to buy that practice? The banks will want to see that you can produce at least 80% of what the previous owner did. They know you’re not as experienced and quick as the retiring doctor, but you should come reasonably close. If you’re buying a practice from the doctor doing $800K worth of production, you’d need to prove you can produce at least $680K annually. Maybe you’re not quite there yet.

So (asks the accountant) how can you increase your production speed? Measure it.

The observation effect, common in physics, states that by observing something, you necessarily change its behavior. Want to change how much dentistry you’re able to do? Measure it.

If you’re an employee or associate with dreams of ownership, ask your employer for a production report. Note how many of each procedure you do and how many you’re able to do over a week, a month, a year. Then set a goal for increasing that number. Can you do 10% more crowns next month? Ask your employer or mentor for some tips on how you might achieve your goal. They’ve got some, I promise.

Not all employers will hand you an official production report. If that’s the case, no problem. Make your own. Build a simple spreadsheet, or even just open up the notes app on your phone, and keep track through the day of the procedures you did, their code, and how long they took. Et voila, your very own production report. Here’s more detail on how to do this. (Fun fact: the banks will often accept this as proof! They know not all employers are going to play ball when asked for the official report.)

What’s true in physics is true in dentistry: If you measure your work, you’ll change it. And if you’ve got your sights set on ownership, then you’re the type of person whose production will almost certainly increase.