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The Impact of Regulatory Compliance on Dental Clinic Profitability, by Dan Wells

The Rules

Dental practices are governed by numerous regulations relating to health and safety of workers and patients. The various rules are enforced by federal and state agencies and, in some cases, municipalities. Each rule is designed to address specific risks or hazards and rules often describe what a clinic must accomplish, with no guidance on how to achieve compliance. Collectively, the rules can be so overwhelming that regulatory compliance is frequently overlooked.

The Penalties

We have all heard stories of dental clinics that have been fined tens of thousands of dollars or closed down as the result of an investigation by a regulator. For the most part, those are urban myths and extreme cases such as that are very rare. Investigations resulting in relatively small fines are more common and are an indication of a fundamental compliance deficiency which, long-term, has a greater negative impact on the clinic than a small fine has.

The Challenge

You operate your clinic to serve your patients with the best dental care possible. You operate your business to make money. Dentistry is a high-overhead enterprise. Like any business, you spend carefully and avoid unwarranted expense. Unfortunately, regulatory compliance often becomes a low priority.

The Investment

If you invest resources in regulatory compliance to avoid citations and fines, you are doing it for the wrong reason.

The Benefits of Compliance

•  Reduce staff turnover. The staff is the greatest asset of any dental clinic so attracting and keeping good people is vital to your success. Everyone wants to work in a safe and protected environment and the best candidates are attracted to clinics that invest in health and safety. Making regulatory compliance a priority shows employees how important they are to you.
•  Increased production. When your team feels comfortable and safe at work, it creates a secure environment. Employees show more initiative, teamwork is improved, and your team becomes more productive.
•  Increased patient retention. Regulatory compliance affects your patients and your reputation. The COVID 19 pandemic has improved patient understanding of infection control principles and resulted in increased complaints to Departments of Health. Beyond the direct impact of the pandemic, if a practice looks cluttered or unclean, patients are more likely to seek treatment elsewhere. If the clinic shines and PPE worn by the clinical staff is well maintained, and employees are careful of their appearance, patients are more comfortable and more likely to make your clinic their dental home. Safe, happy employees are a key to patient loyalty.
•  Reduce downtime. Downtime is a productivity killer. Employees who look forward to going to work in a safe, comfortable workplace are more reliable. Conversely, employees who dread going to work have much higher absenteeism rates. Following the regulations and creating a safe, secure work environment encourages more effective teamwork, as well as reducing sick leave and workplace accidents. This principle extends to your administrative staff as well: if your billing person is doing just enough work to get by and cannot wait for the workday to end, that person is less likely to deal effectively with patients and insurance companies which results in lost income.
•  Increased profits. As previously mentioned, less downtime, improved productivity and patient retention all contribute to increased profits. Another compliance factor to consider is the cost of workplace injuries: the lower your clinic’s injury rate, the higher your profit margin. By law, you are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance to cover the cost of workplace injuries. Consider the impact of an injury on your insurance premiums. An increase of just a few cents reduces your profit margin for every hour worked by every employee and that is substantial. Conversely, compliant clinics with effective Safety and Health programs reduce injury rates thereby increasing profit for every hour worked.
•  Improve morale. Unsafe working conditions are bad for employee morale. Complying with regulatory requirements involves everyone, creates a culture of safety, and makes employees feel included. A safe workplace reduces stress and allows employees to focus on their duties. It improves morale and employee loyalty.

The Compliance Solution

Each clinic should have a Compliance Coordinator who is responsible for ensuring that all regulatory requirements have been implemented and are followed by all staff members. Usually, the Compliance Coordinator is a clinical employee such as a Dental Hygienist or Dental Assistant who has little time for these additional duties. Learning the regulations, developing the Safety and Health programs, and implementing rules in the clinic is nearly impossible without some specialized support. Harris Biomedical is here to provide that support. We train your Compliance Coordinator, prepare all necessary written programs, and provide 24/7 support. In addition, we conduct new employee training and monthly checkups via webinar.

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HARRIS BIOMEDICAL, 18300 Cascade Avenue South, Suite 130, Seattle, Washington 98188 | (866) 548-2468 | | 5/8/2024 | Related Terms: HIPAA training for Dentists |