Healthcare Technology Featured Article

September 21, 2015

Business Intelligence Transforms the Dental Industry

In a recent study by the American Dental Association (ADA), the organization presents alarming figures about the bleak financial state of the U.S. dental industry. According to the study conducted by ADA’s Health Policy Resources Center, the average annual net income for general practitioners has dropped over 12 percent since 2006. The considerable decline in net income, which started several years before the financial crisis in 2008, is highly attributed to the declining use of dental care by the adult population. As a consequence, nearly 40 percent of all dentists in a national survey from 2011 reported that they are “not busy enough.” The declining use of dental care, coupled with the austere economic climate, forces dentists to find new ways to improve the financial and clinical performance of their practices.

In an effort to become more cost-efficient, attract new patients and identify new business opportunities, more and more dentists are implementing business intelligence and data analytics software solutions in their practices, which have proven to be highly successful in many cases. As a consequence, the emergence of business intelligence might initiate an irreversible trend in the industry: a greater focus on real-time monitoring of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), business analytics and national benchmarking.

Business Intelligence and Data Analytics in the Dental Industry

Business intelligence and data analytics solutions, implemented in a multitude of industries, analyze the company’s internal data using tools and techniques such as reporting, performance monitoring, data mining and benchmarking in an effort to improve decision-making and identify new business opportunities. In recent years, the U.S. healthcare industry is increasingly turning to business intelligence and data analytics. As a result, medical organizations have been able to improve clinical quality and effectiveness, reduce healthcare costs and make increasingly well informed decisions. This trend is emerging  in the dental industry; dentists have been able to achieve sustainable financial and clinical improvement by implementing software solutions that extract and analyze data from the clinic’s practice management system (PMS).

The business intelligence and data analytics solutions, which use data from the PMS to provide valuable insights and advice about the clinic’s performance, encompass tools and techniques such as business analytics, reporting, dashboards and national benchmarking. For example, these solutions allow the dentist to monitor in real time hundreds of different KPIs such as Accounts Receivable, Gross Production, Number of New Patients by Referral Source and Gross Production per Visit. In addition, the solutions provide valuable financial, clinical and administrative reports like  profit and loss statements, return on investment, trend analysis, recommendations and procedure analysis. Lastly, dentists are able to do real-time clinical and financial benchmarking with practitioners in other specialties or geographical regions, which could help the clinic to identify areas of improvement.

These business intelligence solutions are also able to greatly improve a clinic’s collections by focusing on areas such as fee optimization, reactivate inactive patients, and minimize no shows. For example, vital inputs from the clinic inclduing procedure revenue, frequency, and time units are combined with external census demographics and cost of living data to optimize the fee schedule.

Analytics Improve Business Performance and Customer Satisfaction

In an effort to gain a competitive advantage, dentists are increasingly implementing business intelligence and data analytics solutions. These solutions enhance the clinic’s financial performance and allow the dentists to gain control over profit margins, overhead and performance. For example, research indicates that business intelligence and data analytics solutions can increase a clinic’s revenue by more than $50,000. In addition to improving financial performance, business intelligence solutions can also help the clinical performance by allowing the dentist to spend less time on administrative duties and more time treating patients.


With the emergence of business intelligence and data analytics, dentists no longer need to manage the delicate trade-off between financial performance and patient satisfaction. These solutions will greatly benefit the practice’s financial performance while increasing patient satisfaction through improved clinical quality and effectiveness. Further, the emergence of business intelligence might initiate an irreversible transformation of the dental industry. More specifically, this data revolution will increase the dentist’s focus on real-time monitoring of KPIs, business reporting and financial optimization.

Barriers such as data integrity, lack of business and analytics experience, and fear of change might slow down the technology adoption among dentists. Implementing a business intelligence solution constitutes a significant change in business practice, and it might take time before dentists feel comfortable to take the leap. However, with the declining use of dental care and an austere economic climate, dentists might soon be forced to embrace this data revolution in order to survive in the competitive dental industry. Dentists may download a free business intelligence tool at

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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