Fillings – How to charge correctly

This month we are concentrating on all things money! 

In this blog I want to talk about fillings and how to charge correctly. What I am seeing in practices is that filling fees are not always based on an hourly rate. There are always a number of reasons why practices do not charge for fillings correctly and that is a concern as practices do hundreds of fillings in a year and therefore there can be major problems with their profitability. Here are my tips to support you with profitable fillings. 

  1. Charge for fillings on an hourly rate. Calculate your hourly rates based on a range of factors including hours invested in the business and your expenses. 
  2. After calculating your hourly rates the next step is to plan each filing based on the following three factors: (a) the time it takes you to do the treatment – make sure you think about all aspects including the placement of the rubber dam. (b) Include patient experience time – think about the meet and greet, post operative instructions and of course walking the patient back to the desk to do a verbal handover. (c) Factor in time to complete clinical notes and decontamination ensuring you have allocated enough time for setting up. For most private practices the shortest time to be allocated for a filling is 30 mins as a minimum in order to deliver a filling on an hourly rate but also on time!
  3. When charting fillings you need to plan them as individual items, this is really important. Each filling has to be done in this way; do not cave in and start amalgamating fillings, this is where it all starts to go wrong. 
  4. Never offer two fillings for the price of one, three fillings for the price of two or the equivalent which is… “I can complete three fillings in one hour so the price is X”. You are effectively decreasing your hourly rate. If you complete two filings in a shorter amount of time the patient pays for each filling. This is the correct way and for this appointment your profit level will increase. The benefit to the patient is time saving – they only have to attend the practice once so it is more convenient. 
  5. When prescribing fillings make sure they are your clear recommendations. If another treatment is recommended and the filling is a patch up, short term solution, then do not guarantee this treatment and make it clear that re-investment will be needed moving forward, the risks associated and that it is a matter of when not if. Fully record this in the notes. 
  6. Bonding for me is a cosmetic treatment so you need to charge accordingly. Bonding as an hourly rate should be higher than your normal filling fee as there will be additional stages you will need to undertake to ensure the bonding results are fantastic for patients, so charge accordingly. Bonding is being charged at normal filling prices, it is taking longer than anticipated and diaries are running late. This cannot happen so charge correctly based on the time you need and follow tip two. 
  7. Emergency appointments. There is always a knee jerk reaction to sort out a patient’s problem with a permanent treatment on an emergency visit. Normally the time allocated for an emergency is not enough to do a permanent treatment but there is a culture that we squeeze time, delay patients and this is not good. My recommendation is that you perform a temporary treatment to ensure your patients are out of pain and then you prescribe the permanent treatment required. This means that filings can be done in the required time and the long term solution is on an hourly rate. 

You may find after reading this blog that you have knowledge gaps regarding calculating an hourly rate. Both Laura and I can help you with this by becoming one of our coaching clients, booking a day’s training in finance or we have a full finance day on our practice management course so there are solutions for you. 

Michael 

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