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The Group Dentistry Now Show: The Voice Of The DSO Industry – Episode 23

Ron Barsotti, Pres & CEO, and Josh Muir, Dir., DSO & Special Markets, RecallMax, discuss the importance of recovery of missed COVID-19 appointments, along with the quick restoration of recall procedures – critical factors in the overall recovery of dental offices. DSOs need to engage their patient base using a solid action plan in order to recovery swiftly. If you want to learn how to recall patients using tools that will assist your dental group both during and after the crisis – this podcast is for you!

Our podcast series brings you dental support and emerging dental group practice analysis, conversation, trends, news and events. Listen to leaders in the DSO and emerging dental group space talk about their challenges, successes, and the future of group dentistry.

The Group Dentistry Now Show: The Voice of the DSO Industry has listeners across the North & South America, Australia, Europe, and Asia. If you like our show, tell a friend or a colleague.

Read the latest RecallMax article here: Recovery in Times of Difficulty

Email Josh Muir to learn how to engage your patient
base and recover swiftly from the crisis 

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

Bill Neumann:

I’d like to welcome everyone to the Group Dentistry Now show. I am Bill Neumann, and we have two representatives from RecallMax here today and they are both social distancing. So they’re doing their part in Canada. Thanks Josh and Ron for being here. I really appreciate it.

Josh Muir: Thank you.

Ron Barsotti: Thanks for having us, Bill.

Bill Neumann:

So to give our audience a little bit of an introduction to the two gentlemen we have on today, we have Ron Barsotti, and Ron is the CEO, founder and president of RecallMax. And first off, RecallMax is the dental industry’s leading solution for recall optimization. And Ron has quite a bit of experience in the dental industry. He spent 20 years as a dental practice management consultant, and he was supporting a wide range of dental offices and maximizing practice productivity and growth systemization. And in particular, recall systemization was a primary focus of Ron’s consulting approach. He is a frequent speaker at dental meetings and a leading authority on the impact of recall optimization, on productivity enhancement, and organic practice growth. So, Ron, thanks for being here.

Ron Barsotti: Thank you, Bill.

Bill Neumann:

And then we have Josh Muir, and Josh is the director of DSO and special markets for RecallMax. So a lot of you have probably seen Josh at many of the pre-COVID DSO meetings. We haven’t had any in a while, but they’ll be back soon. So good to see you, Josh. And a little bit of background on Josh for those of you who don’t know who Josh is, first off, his role and responsibility for RecallMax is consulting with DSOs on how RecallMax can be used to grow their practices organically and through hygiene optimization and systems implementation. Josh has over a decade of senior leadership in the medical service industry, with experience in growing organizations on an acquisitional and operational basis. He’s well-experienced in identifying the key levers in growing practices and can provide keen advice on how to create buy-in through the processes of change.

Bill Neumann:

So that’s a lot there. You obviously both have quite a bit of experience. So we’re going to talk a lot about that today. Give us a little bit of background, Ron, on RecallMax, how you started out as an organization and where RecallMax is today.

Ron Barsotti:

Sure. So Bill, RecallMax is recall management and optimization software that adds on to existing practice management platforms, and essentially, it centralizes and automates recall within dental practices and across groups and networks of practices.

Ron Barsotti:

So we’re a Canadian company. We’re in our 10th year of operation. And prior to developing RecallMax as you had just shared, I spent 20 years providing management services to dental practices as a practice management consultant. And one of the biggest problems that we saw dental practices struggling with, was getting their patients to return for regular hygiene and recall appointments. These problems were costing dental practices significant amounts of revenues and the loss of patients to attrition. So we decided to make recall a primary focus of our consulting practice, which eventually led to the development of RecallMax. And today, we have over 2000 dental practices across Canada and the U.S. that are using RecallMax for their recall optimization.

Bill Neumann:

So that leads into the next question, really. So you talked about 2000 practices, but I know Josh has been working hard with the DSOs and the emerging groups as well. So let’s talk a little bit about specifically with groups and DSOs, Josh, how many are you currently working with?

Josh Muir:

Yeah, great question. So of the practices Ron mentioned, we’ve got about a thousand practices in our network that are part of groups or DSOs, and anywhere from your emerging four to nine practices, all the way up to the mid market category, right to some of the larger DSOs across North America. We’ve got a couple in excess of a couple hundred practices on with us, and our plans are to continue to target, from a DSO perspective, that mid-market group. They seem to get a lot out of the system in terms of operational growth across their networks. So that’s kind of the size that we’re targeting right now, is anywhere from 50 practices and upwards. They really get to see the benefit of how we systematize and increase protocols from a hygiene optimization perspective across our networks.

Bill Neumann:

That’s great. So a good chunk of your dental practices are part of the DSOs or emerging dental groups, the practices that you support?

Josh Muir: Yeah, absolutely.

Bill Neumann:

Yeah. So let’s talk about maybe practices or DSOs right now, or emerging groups, that are using a recall solution currently that isn’t RecallMax. So let’s talk a little bit about why they would want to work with RecallMax. Tell us a little bit about the differences in what you’re offering, specifically with like emerging groups and DSOs.

Ron Barsotti: Bill, to answer that question. I need to give you just a little bit of background.

Bill Neumann: Sure.

Ron Barsotti:

Over the years, we spent a lot of time working in dental offices, seeing firsthand where teams struggle with recall, and practices are all struggling with the same problems. Patients are constantly falling out of schedules, staff are swamped with everything that needs to get done in the administrative area, and fundamentally, the tools that staff have to deal with recall are very time-consuming and simply not up to the task of dealing with the sheer volume of patients that need attention.

Ron Barsotti:

So what most offices don’t realize is the sheer volume of patients that are consistently falling out of schedules and getting behind in their recall. And to give you a sense of the scope of things based on our data, the average solo or multi-dentist practice will have thousands of patients that are behind in recall and are in need of some sort of attention. In smaller to midsize multi-location group practices, this represents tens of thousands of patients. And in DSOs involving a hundred practices or more, there are literally hundreds of thousands of patients behind in the recall and these patients are not waiting for practices to catch up to them.

Ron Barsotti:

So in response to that, most automated approaches to recall rely a hundred percent on appointment reminders to reschedule these patients, which is certainly helpful, but it’s really not sufficient to schedule the vast majority of patients that fall behind. So what we’ve come to understand through our messaging system, where we’ve messaged tens of millions of patients, is that less than 10% of patients that do not have appointments will respond to an automated message to reappoint. So that’s leaves 90% of your patients without any kind of coverage.

Ron Barsotti:

And then with our solution, what we provide is basically a completely automated management system to recall. So this not only includes reminders, but also provides offices with a complete set of tools that they can schedule all patients, including those that don’t respond to automated messages. So the system is very efficient. And then for groups and DSOs, the software makes it possible to centralized recall across their networks and acquire analytics that really provide complete visibility in terms of what’s going on in recall across their networks.

Bill Neumann:

That’s great information. Yeah, it’s amazing when you think about all those patients that are out there that have come to the practices in the past, and certainly a lot easier to recall them, right, a patient that’s familiar, versus trying to go out and find new patients. It’s always so much of the marketing seems to be geared to finding new patients when you have them there, and just trying to get them back into the practice seems to make a lot more sense.

Ron Barsotti:

Yeah. And I think part of the problem is, and particularly with our analytics, what we’ve come to understand is just the scope of the number of patients that fall out of schedules and just get behind in their recall. It’s a very significant portion of a practice’s patient base.

Bill Neumann:

So as we look at the state of the world today, right, and then we look at the state of the dental industry, COVID-19, practices are shut down, maybe slowly coming back online in different states and different provinces. So first off, let’s talk a little bit about the impact it’s had on RecallMax as a company, and then we can talk a little bit about how you’ve responded.

Ron Barsotti:

Sure. Well, I can tell you that the interruption and closure of dental practices across North America is an industry crisis of monumental proportions. The thought of the industry shutting down two months ago would’ve seen absurd. And here we are today in the midst of a crisis with some pretty harsh realities.

Ron Barsotti:

We’ve all been concerned about the wellbeing and safety of our families and our friends and our coworkers and the community. And for our company, within about 24 hours of the shutdown, we were all relocated and working from home. And then we immediately began to turn our attention to what it was that we could be doing to support dental practices and our customers in recovering from the crisis.

Ron Barsotti:

And I guess the bottom line was, although we didn’t know when bans would be lifted, we did know that they would be lifted, and we felt it was important to take whatever action that we could. And after several meetings, we came up with an action plan that involved three initiatives, basically to support practices through the crisis and maximize their recovery once bans were lifted.

Ron Barsotti:

And so first what we did is we identified several enhancements that we could make to RecallMax to provide for the recovery of missed COVID appointments and maximize the scheduling once bans were lifted. Second, we developed a three step action plan that essentially provided scheduling strategies and other resources practices could use to accelerate their recovery and scheduling of patients. And then finally, we mobilized our sales and service teams to assist practices, to implement these strategies, including providing instructional videos and guidelines.

Bill Neumann: So you really pivoted quite a bit. I guess as everybody is right now. Tell me a little bit about, so what are you hearing from the dental practices that you work with right now? I mean, most, if not all, are still shut down, maybe some are thinking about opening back up, maybe some, if they are shut down, maybe they’re still open a little bit for emergency care. What are you hearing from your clients, your customers?

Ron Barsotti:

Well, obviously a great deal of concern related to the circumstances involved, right? Even practices that do well don’t carry cash reserves to cover several months of operations. And obviously practices that were struggling before the crisis are not doing well, are very, very concerned in terms of what can potentially transpire. But a great deal of uncertainty, and that, along combined with not a lot of clarity related to what kind of health guidelines are going to be imposed on practices once the bans are lifted, make it very, very difficult for them to determine when it is that they’re going to get back to normal, per se, or at least be able to regain some financial liability from the situation.

Bill Neumann:

And what about you, Josh? Have you seen anything specifically with emerging groups or DSOs that may be a little bit different or is it a pretty much similar message that Ron gave us?

Josh Muir:

Yeah, I think there’s a lot of uncertainty, to echo Ron’s statements. I’m hearing that from the group side as well. There’s this level of uncertainty, and certainly it’s impacted them on a corporate level and an individual level. I was talking with a group two weeks ago that furloughed 95% of their staff, and this is a group that started from one practice and has grown to 50 practices. And it was tough for them to have to make that decision.

Josh Muir:

On the flip side, we’ve got groups that are taking the opportunity to look at the operations of their groups right now because they have the opportunity. It’s not every day you have some breathing space to be able to look at what can we be doing better, different, when we open up again? So this really is a time for people, while you’ve got this breathing space, to have a look and say, “What can we be doing to increase the efficiency of our operation?” and maybe that has to do with new systems implementation.

Josh Muir:

So it’s been kind of nice. I’ve had a lot of really great conversations with some new groups over the last few weeks, and I’m looking forward to hopefully having some more conversations. I think we got to make hay when the sun shines and take the opportunity where we can throughout this period. And we have to stay positive. To Ron’s point, it’s very uncertain. We have no idea what’s going to happen. So all we can do as consultants to the industry is show people that, hey, maybe let’s take this time to assess what’s going on, see if we can help improve things when you get back.

Bill Neumann:

Yeah. Great. Great points, great advice. And I see it a lot. I see a lot of DSOs taking this time to really understand the operation side of things, evaluate, and, “Do we have the right systems in place now? What can we do better once we come out of this crisis? And maybe, what can help us come out of this crisis more quickly and more efficiently?”

Josh Muir: Right.

Bill Neumann:

So that’s actually positive news to hear, that people are taking this time to really reevaluate how they run their businesses. And I would think of would go for solo practitioners as well.

Ron Barsotti: Yeah.

Josh Muir: Absolutely.

Ron Barsotti:

Our goal and commitment in all of this, Bill, is really to support practices to recover from the COVID crisis as quickly as possible and regain their financial viability. And we believe obviously that the quick restoration of recall procedures is critical to their overall recovery. So our entire team is simply focused on how can we help practices specifically in that particular area to accelerate their scheduling once the ban is lifted. And that’s basically the functionality changes that we’ve made to the software, and also the basis of the action plans that we’ve developed for practices.

Bill Neumann:

Ron, you mentioned earlier the recovery features, right? And then you also talked about the action plans. Do you want to dive a little bit deeper into both of those? Because this is really what’s changed to help the practices as they start to come out of the COVID crisis as they reopen.

Ron Barsotti:

Sure. So basically, we’ve made a feature enhancements to three areas of RecallMax. The first is we made enhancements to capture missed COVID-19 hygiene and restorative appointments. So this’ll make it easier for practices to identify and reschedule these patients. We think it’s very important to get these patients rescheduled. And so RecallMax will be providing automated lists of these appointments and personalized email and text messaging options that practices can use to get these patients back in.

Ron Barsotti:

Next, we’ve made several modifications to enhance COVID-19 messaging to patients once bans are lifted. We think it’s important obviously in terms of the recovery of practices, the communications to patients is critical and essential to make sure that patients are reassured, properly informed, and that practices are able to answer COVID-related questions and concerns. So we’ve made modifications to our messaging system to make sure patients are getting the right information when they’re confirming and/or scheduling appointments.

Ron Barsotti:

We’re also providing practices with access to automated call scripts and other COVID-19 communication guidelines, really, that’s built into the software to assist staff to communicate consistently and effectively to patients within practices and across networks of practices.

Ron Barsotti:

And then, on top of that, our announcement feature can simply be used to keep patients informed and engaged during shutdowns, and also, in terms of making announcements related to when a practice is reopened.

Ron Barsotti:

And then the final area that we made enhancements to had to do with an area that we thought could become a problem. So essentially, once bans are lifted, practices may find themselves in a position where they have trouble rescheduling patients that have missed appointments due to upcoming pre-appointed patients filling their schedules, or as a result of cutbacks and schedules that could occur due to the implementation of health guidelines.

Ron Barsotti:

So this could result in backlogs of patients needing appointments, which would be challenging to stay on top of. So what we’ve done is we’ve enhanced our short notice list feature, basically to capture and automatically notify missed COVID-19 patients of openings. So this will essentially help practices to quickly fill schedules and find appointments for patients that may have difficulty getting in.

Ron Barsotti:

So those are the feature enhancements, and then we’ve supplemented those with other resources, essentially to support practices.

Bill Neumann:

So it sounds like quite a few changes to really accommodate this, where the business, the patient flow has been completely shut off-

Ron Barsotti: Exactly.

Bill Neumann:

And as it gets turned back on, are the patients going to come back? Because there might be fear, they may be out of work. So, I mean, it’s probably more important than ever to use something like RecallMax in order to reengage your patient base.

Ron Barsotti:

Yeah. We’ve felt that there’s certain scheduling strategies that you can follow that just really will accelerate things. And so the software provides the technology to do it, and then the resources that we’ve put together really just gives the instruction and support for practices to lever their recovery.

Bill Neumann:

Yeah. That’s great news. I’m sure this is probably one of the most important tools that practices could use right now because there’s already been at least two months worth of patients that they haven’t been able to see. And then the longer this goes on, the more devastating it could be. So to ramp things back up quickly and effectively, and then also, on the backend, to be able to look at the analytics, right, and measure and make sure you’re capturing everybody that you can.

Ron Barsotti:

Yeah. And I’ll let Josh speak to this for obviously our DSO practices, but our analytics and our dashboards are key to understand. It’s one thing assuming how many patients may need appointments, and another thing knowing, so that when you’re working through these processes, you can be monitoring the actual level of patients so that, like in the COVID-19, you don’t stop too early. You continue seeing the process through until you’ve maximized the recovery of those patients.

Ron Barsotti:

And we think that’s really important to minimizing patients falling victim to attrition. And through no one’s fault or lack of effort, if you don’t have the information, it’s difficult to track and understand who you need to be contacting and who you need to get back into your office.

Josh Muir:

Yeah. I would just add that there are a lot of programs out there that help gauge the analytics of the practice, but on a very broad range. And I believe we are the only recall management program in our space that provides both the tools, the actions, and then the analytics that support what’s happening around those actions.

Josh Muir:

So it’s very important for groups to understand that this is something that doesn’t have to be a difficult data set. It can be as simple as, “We want to see how many contact points we actually have with our patients that need to be engaged.” It really is as simple as that. And we provide that for them at a practice level, at a regional level, at an enterprise level, to give them good visibility to the trends of how their patients are being engaged with on a personal level across their organization.

Josh Muir:

So never underestimate the value of putting, especially at this time, it’s filling those chairs as quickly as we can, and depending fully automation might not be the right strategy. Groups, no matter the size, small or large, need to seriously consider the impact of that personal engagement throughout this COVID period. More now than ever, patients want to feel communicated with. They want to feel informed. They’re going to need to be communicated with personally now more than ever.

Josh Muir:

So we have the right tools to help practices, regional managers, directors see what that level of engagement looks like down at the practice level.

Bill Neumann:

Yeah. It’s super important. I’m just thinking to a couple of dental appointments we have as a family, and they’ll be happening… Well, they most likely won’t be happening soon. We’ve reached out to the practices and have not heard anything back. So that’s not what you want to happen. And my guess is that that is happening at a lot of practices, both at the DSO level and solos as well. So I think that communication is right on, Josh. It’s like, what does that level of engagement look like? Some of it may be automated, but it also has to be that personal connection as well. And if you’re not doing it, you can bet that there are some other practices out there that are.

Josh Muir: Sure, yeah.

Bill Neumann:

Yeah, really good stuff. So anything more you want to touch on as we start to wrap up this podcast? We talked a lot about the resources that you’re providing from a COVID-19 perspective as you ramp practices back up, as they start to open up. And then also action plan, any other things as we kind of wind down?

Ron Barsotti:

In addition to the feature enhancements that we’ve made for COVID-19, the resources that we’ve developed also include a three step action plan, which is a management guide for owners and managers to follow, that details the actions that they can be taking to enhance their recovery from the crisis.

Ron Barsotti:

We’re also providing a getting started package, which includes checklists and instructional materials and other resources for office staff, so that they can get restarted and are focusing on the right things.

Ron Barsotti:

And we’ve also put together patient call scripts and other communication guidelines, just to help practices properly inform and instruct their patients, and scheduled appointments, and answer COVID-related questions. We think the communication of patients is very important in this particular process. And we advocate that dental practices should be defining these communication guidelines and, as part of the preparation process, helping their staff to learn how to communicate to their patients and not really leaving it up to chance and winging it, if you will.

Bill Neumann: Okay. That’s good. Josh, were you going to say something?

Josh Muir:

Yeah. I was just going to layer in that, in this time of understanding that the industry needs us more than ever, one of the big pivots for us was to go to kind of less of a sales model, to more really fully supporting the practices and giving them the tools that they need to succeed.

Josh Muir:

And part of that has been how we now look at practices that maybe want to come on board and lever us in engaging their patients back into the practice. One of the challenges we heard was the ability to train. So many staff have been furloughed, and it’s hard to get a two hour bucket to train in. So we’ve actually gone through the process of re-recording all of our training content to be able to provide online video modules. So practices and groups can set up group training in a manner that is a little more flexible with some staff that are at a home, some staff that are in the office.

Josh Muir:

So that’s just another layer and another glimpse into how we’ve really taken this time to change our entire service strategy to solo and group practices as well to make it more accommodating for them to bring a new system on board, given that they have such a challenging time coordinating different schedules between staff or multiple locations. So that’s just another layer that we’ve gone through to really provide extra support for practices in this time.

Bill Neumann:

That’s great. It sounds like you have a lot of resources now available. You have the action plan. Is this something that can be accessed on the website or do they reach out to you, Josh? How does a DSO get access to the action plan and the resources that you have available?

Josh Muir: Yeah. By all means, please reach out to me. Email Josh at: josh.muir@recallmax.com

Bill Neumann: I’ll put that on.

Josh Muir: Our corporate site. So yes, we’re social distancing, so a lot of our work is done via webinar like this right now, but really, we’ve got the time. So please reach out. I’m happy to put a plan together and provide your groups with the support that they need moving forward.

Bill Neumann:

Well, that’s great. Well, Josh and Ron, I really appreciate you taking some time today, social distancing, and I guess we’ll see you, Josh, and maybe Ron, at a meeting when all of this is behind us and everybody has their patients recalled and they’re back on schedule. So thanks for putting together the resources and the action plan for the solo practitioners and the groups out there. I mean, it’s certainly needed more so I think now than ever to have a really structured approach to bringing the patients back and making sure that they don’t fall through the cracks. So thanks, Josh, thanks, Ron, for being on the Group Dentistry Now show. I’m Bill Neumann, until next time.

Josh Muir: Thank you.

Ron Barsotti: Thank you, Bill.

Email Josh Muir to learn how to engage your patient
base and recover swiftly from the crisis 

 

 

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