One of the biggest professional commitments you will make is with the purchase of a dental practice; therefore reserving time for due diligence is critical. One important aspect of due diligence is the chart audit, which will provide valuable information about the health of the practice.
Consider focusing the first part of the chart audit on determining what percentage of dental patients return as suggested for preventive care and schedule for at least something on their treatment plans. You hope to see as many of these established patients as possible. Contrast this with patients who have not been seen for over one year or who only come in for dental emergencies.
While it’s not practical to review every electronic or paper chart, you can do a sample of 100 – 200 patients and get a good representation of the practice.
In addition to determining how many established patients are in the patient base, you can use the chart audit to review how much dental treatment remains for new owner. Also, consider if you agree with the diagnosis. If most established patients have completed their treatment plans and if the practice is not averaging at least 20 – 30 new patients who have treatment needs, then you will most likely struggle to fill your schedule.
The chart audit is also an opportunity to look closely at the schedule. Can you maintain the seller’s pace? When you review the hygiene schedule past and present, how many appointments are unfilled? The schedule is a good indicator of trends within the practice.
Even though dental practice value is based on historical performance, your decision about purchasing the practice needs to focus on the performance and cash flow you can expect after the sale. That is why the chart audit is an indispensable part of your due diligence.