Posted 10-16-15

Measuring Case Acceptance
by Peter Drucker

“What gets measured gets results”

Of all the KPIs (key performance indicators) that get measured in a dental practice, case acceptance is one of the most important, yet is measured very infrequently. The reasons for this may vary, but the lack of measurement means most dentists estimate their rate of case acceptance significantly higher than it actually is. Most dentists believe case acceptance is 90 plus percent, the patient may nod yes in the operatory but something happens between the operatory and actually scheduling. Based on data from thousands of dental offices, average case acceptance is 50 – 60% for patients of record and 25-35% for new patients. The practice goal should be >80% for patients of record and 50-75% for new patients.

What gets measured?

A dentist can be booked out for weeks and while he / she will feel busy, and it can be comforting to see your schedule booked that far in advance, it doesn’t help production or profitability if those are all small restorative procedures. To measure, you need to define case acceptance for your practice. I suggest cases of $1,000 or more that are scheduled with financial arrangements made. Next the practice needs a baseline to measure improvement against. This may be the tough part, seeing the reality of where you are at in terms of what cases are presented and what percentage actually gets scheduled. For one month at the end of each day just keep a log of cases that were presented and accepted using the above criteria. In Dentrix this is easily tracked in the Practice Advisor.

Why is this important?

Dentist’s number one concern today is not enough new patients. The cost of patient acquisition can be very high and time consuming. Yet the sense of urgency in maximizing the production opportunities that walk in the practice each day is not always present. We have all heard the statistics of the millions of dollars of untreated dentistry in the patient charts of the average dentist. Some estimates are 1 million in production for every 5 years in practice. If the patient does not schedule the work when presented, there is no guarantee the patient will return to the practice for a second opportunity. People move, benefits change, personal relationships and healthcare providers change, employment and discretionary income priorities change. The average practice needs to have a much greater focus on tracking and increasing case acceptance. With the increasing financial pressures of PPOs, every incremental case accepted significantly contributes to the practice’s bottom line. What would a 20% increase in case acceptance mean to your profitability? Once the fixed costs are covered .80 -.85 of every dollar produced and collected drops to the bottom line. The reason is all you need purchase are the variable costs to support the new production.

Once you establish a baseline it is much easier to set goals and create a plan for increasing case closing percentages. Establish 1 month, 6 months, and 1 year goals for your practice to move your case acceptance to the 80%+ gold standard. In professional sales you would say my close rate is X. In sports it would be our batting average is X, free throw percentage is X. Yet in most dental offices the doctor and team have no idea of what their “close rate” is. For help evaluating your close rate and creating a plan to improve it, visit or contact your Henry Schein representative.