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Secrets to one DSO's Rapid Recovery

This summer has brought incredible results for many dentists as COVID forced them to re-examine their practice philosophy and redesign their patient experience.

Lori Noga, DMD, was up 40% this June compared to June 2019. Dr. Noga is the founder of Tranquility Dental Wellness, a DSO with three dental practices in Washington. That state was the first in the nation to shut down and after the initial shock, Dr. Noga engineered a comeback, reimagining patient care and reopening on May 18.

In this video with Patient Prism CEO Amol Nirgudkar, Dr. Noga explains what her team is doing differently now – with incredible results.

Increase Production-per-Provider 

Like most dentists right now, Dr. Noga has had patients cancel their appointments last minute, many of them citing their own potential exposure to COVID and just wanting to keep everyone safe. She's been able to plug the holes in her schedule by scheduling same-day callers. During the conversation, her receptionists will ask the callers if they want to take care of their dental issue during the visit, or just have it diagnosed. Most times, they say they might as well have it taken care of while they're already in the chair.

By highlighting the benefits of same-day treatment,  she's increased production-per-provider. That's been a key metric to measure, and helped propel her team's success during June and July. It's also helped preserve PPE. Patients have appreciated the same-day treatment because it saves them from having to come back as frequently.

Impressive Stats One Month After Reopening

Dr. Noga was an actuary for several years before she graduated from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and served as a dentist in the Marine Corps for three years.

She is smart, motivated, and disciplined.

“This is the time to reinvent ourselves,” Dr. Noga said. “Seattle was the first area to shut down, so I didn’t have anybody else to look to for answers. I immediately realized there’s two choices: You can either become depressed and immobilized, or you can look at this as an opportunity, as a once-in-a-lifetime shot. And I thought, I’m not going to waste this. It’s the perfect reset.”

Tranquility Dental Wellness is up 40%  in production when you look at June 2020 versus June 2019.

And as of June 24, they were already scheduled at 75% of their production goal for July.

“It’s not just a backlog,” Dr. Noga said. “We’re getting a lot of new patients. There’s definitely been a shift in the patients’ mindset and their oral health has more urgency now.”

Redefining Patient Communication During COVID

Excellent patient care starts with excellent patient communication.

“When we closed down, one of my big focuses was on how we were going to communicate this and build trust,” said Dr. Noga.

Dr. Noga has an ideal patient avatar (customer DSO persona) for her practices that helps her team understand who it is that they serve.

“We went back and said what is our patient avatar going to be asking and what are their concerns going to be?” she said. “Then we pivoted to making sure we’re answering those questions and building that trust back up with them.”

Dr. Noga started communicating before they reopened, sending out emails, posting on Facebook, and updating her practice websites. She also changed the scripting the team uses on the phone and chairside.

Expanding Capacity to Meet Patients Needs

Dr. Noga quickly recognized that her ideal patient would need flexibility because they may have a job or childcare issues that prevented them from coming in during typical business hours.

Tranquility Dental Wellness added early mornings and evening appointments during weekdays and opened on Saturdays to meet their patients’ needs. That led to a new challenge: staffing the expanded schedule. A lot of her team has returned to work, but some had childcare issues that prevented them from returning. She’s also hiring associate doctors who can do hygiene until she hires more hygienists.

Growing as a Leader

Dr. Noga has always started with a plan and then tracked the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to ensure she met her goals.

“By tracking data, it’s helped us significantly,” said Dr. Noga. “I could look at a string of data and analyze it and determine these are the changes we need to make based on what I’m seeing.”

Each of the Tranquility Dental Wellness practices was a de novo, which means it was a brand new practice. She chose the location, identified the patient avatar she wanted to attract, and then created a business plan to achieve the goal.

“With my first practice, it just took off like wildfire. I had over 100 new patients in my first de novo in just two months,” Dr. Noga said.

Dr. Noga’s created standard operating procedures (SOPs) and playbooks to ensure every team member knew what was expected to create an ideal patient experience.

She’s also worked with a business coach who has taught her to look at problems as opportunities.

“I think it comes down to my whole purpose or passion in life is to live to my highest potential. Back when I was an actuary, I would leave my job at the end of the day and just didn’t feel like I was accomplishing anything. So, I ended up leaving that job. Ever since, I’ve been on this constant quest to do better than I did yesterday. I’m always searching for information or ways that I can develop myself and then have an impact on the rest of the people who are around me,” explained Dr. Noga.

Dental Practice Resources

Dr. Noga's practices use Patient Prism to increase call conversion. For our guide to Converting More Calls, click here

For Patient Prism’s guide called Comeback Strategies for Dentists, click here.

For Patient Prism’s guide for Marketing Strategies During COVID-19, click here.

For Patient Prism's guide on Teledentistry Options, click here.

For Patient Prism's guide on Staying Safe in the Dental Practice, click here.

About this Industry Leader:

Rachel Wall, RDH, BS - Profile Pic

Lori Noga, DMD

Founder, Tranquility Dental Wellness

Dr. Noga began her career as an actuary before she graduated from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 2007. She spent three years as a dentist in the U.S. Navy, serving the Marine Corps. 

She founded Tranquility Dental Wellness in 2010, opening three de novo dental practices in the Seattle area. She created a culture of empowerment, continual personal and professional growth, and self-development. The core values of accountability, dedication, abundance, positivity, teamwork, and servant leadership are the bedrock of the organization and guide the team's interactions with their patients and each other.

Dr. Noga has received multiple awards including Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Companies (2019), Group Dentistry Now's Emerging Groups to Watch (2019) and she was featured in Dental Economics (2018).

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