Dental practice vital signsI like the idea of tracking data in any business because it gives you real results to work with. But the common objection I hear to implementing a tracking system in a dental practice is that it makes things more complicated – that there are is already a lot of record keeping going on. Who needs more things to monitor?

But the fact is, for leadership purposes, and as a way of maintaining focus and guiding growth, you only need to concern yourself with a few key patient behaviors:

Are they accepting treatment?

Are they appointing ahead?

Are they paying promptly?

Are they inviting others?

These are the behaviors that drive practice success at all levels, and if you and your team use these basic indicators to guide your actions, it actually makes things less complicated.

Think about how medical doctors use tracking information to give themselves useful guidance. Consider how complicated the human body is, how intricately the various organs have to work together – and yet doctors evaluate a patient’s condition and monitor progress by tracking a few key vital signs such as heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and temperature.

What we’re talking about here is tracking the vital signs of your practice in a similar way and for a similar reason: so you can reduce what can be a bewildering array of data to a few essential indicators and use that information to guide deeper explorations where necessary. It’s not about making things more complicated, it’s about taking something that is complicated, being comprehensive in your approach to it, and emerging with a pure understanding that clarifies – and actually simplifies – your life.

It’s amazing how focused and effective you and the team will become when you have this kind of clarity. Suddenly, you find yourselves less burdened by the noise and distraction that comes from keeping up with the countless daily tasks and responsibilities, as your actions become driven by the things that really matter.

For instance, the front desk person may have to deal with any number of issues on any given day, but she knows that ultimately her success is measured by how many patients arrived as appointed, how many were complete with their payment and how many left with an appointment booked. It’s the same for every other team member, each of whom monitors a dashboard of top indicators in their specific areas of influence. (For more on getting to the heart of team roles in the practice, see this online course.)

Believe me, people respond well to that kind of clear-cut accountability. It defines their role in measurable terms, and gives them a sense of greater purpose that puts all those tasks in context. What’s more, the right tracking system gives them the tools to challenge themselves and inspires them to pursue continual growth. And isn’t that what effective leadership is all about?