There are a lot of indicators you can measure when assessing the performance of a dental practice but whenever I want to zero in quickly on the pulse of a practice I start with two vital signs: case acceptance and new patient flow.

Case acceptance rates are a function of your clinical skills and your ability to create value. New patient flow is an indication of how well you are moving that success forward in an ongoing sustainable way. It's a measure of how much patients appreciate you and are willing to recommend you to others. Both measurements speak volumes. So if you want to take a quick check of your practice's vital signs, try this:

Look at the most recent 20 patients you have seen. Think of what you saw when you looked in their mouths, in terms of what you know would be ideal for them and compare that with the treatment they accepted. Ask yourself why that gap exists; why are you not doing the dentistry you see there? Is it because the patient doesn't understand or value what you proposed? Is it because you found a reason not to present it? Are you unsure of how to do it if they were to say yes?

Now look at those 20 patients again. How many of them have invited someone they know to the practice within the last year? Again, for those who haven't, ask yourself why not. Is it because they haven't been motivated enough? Or is it that they don't even know that you welcome new referred patients? Do you have systems in place to encourage and capture their testimonials and invitations?

This is a worthwhile self-test to take, for the simple reason that it will get you thinking. Taking a snapshot measurement in these two areas will give you a good sense of where you stand and that is enlightening in and of itself. What's more, the simple act of identifying the gaps should spark your curiosity and drive you toward finding solutions.