Why You Need Certain Information for Your Due Diligence – Part II

I decided to write this blog series mainly because of the pushback we get from sellers’ advisors on some of the information we request when representing the buyer. The second items I’ll discuss are the practice management reports for production by provider by ADA code and production by payor.

What’s interesting about the pushback we get on these reports is that we want these reports when we’re representing the seller and assisting them in coming up with an asking price or a value for their practice. We believe we can do a more thorough job for the buyer if we have this information.

Of course, we’ll get the standard response of “it’s in the information we already sent to you. Unfortunately, that’s not correct. Many times what they’ve provided is a summary of the production by category like diagnostic, preventive, restorative, etc. and it’s usually for the entire practice, not by provider. While this might be good information for practice management consultants to get an overview of the practice for their consulting engagements, it’s never enough information for a buyer who needs to understand how the collections are being generated and who’s generating them. We may also get a fee schedule and/or a practice production by ADA code. Again, good information, we just need more.

You see, the buyer is in a different position than the seller. The seller knows what they do; they know what their hygienists do, but guess what, the buyer has no idea. The seller could be performing procedures that the buyer doesn’t perform which could mean the buyer can’t replicate the seller’s collections. Or, maybe the buyer does procedures that the seller doesn’t so there may be some upside potential for the buyer. You can’t determine that without seeing the procedures, ADA code no matter what the practice questionnaire might state.

The other problem we often see is that many practices put the doctors’ exams under hygiene production. So we’re told the hygiene production makes up 40% of the total revenue of the practice when it’s more like 25%, which is closer to normal. Without seeing the detail and taking the seller’s word, the buyer might draw an incorrect conclusion that there’s a lot more dentistry to be done.

The two other aspects of knowing the true production by provider is A) we can evaluate the hygiene production to their wages to see if it falls within industry norms and B) we can better assess “reasonable” compensation for a dentist when performing our price assessment. We see valuation reports that have used incorrect assumptions based on bad PM reporting where practice prices have been overstated because “reasonable” doctor’s compensation has been understated based on dentistry of only 60% of total practice revenue instead of 75%.

The other PM report we ask for, production by payor, shows the total number of PPOs in the patient base. This also becomes important when trying to assess the collections generated by PPOs in which the seller is IN network with and the percentage of patients in PPOs where the seller is OUT of network.

Many of you already know about the Delta Premier issue, where buyers may not be able to retain the Delta Premier fee schedule w/o also participating with the regular PPO and therefore, a buyer won’t be able to replicate the seller’s collections in many cases. However, what many buyers of FFS practices fail to understand is the percentage of patients in a FFS practice that belong to PPOs. The buyer runs the risk of having those patients leave the practice to look for an IN network provider when the seller leaves the practice. The attrition rate is generally known to be higher in a FFS practice for a buyer anyway; if the buyer also knows that 40% of the patients have a PPO, then they need to appreciate that the risk of attrition could be worse.

This report will also be helpful to a buyer who is buying a FFS practice with the intent of potentially joining PPOs in the future, or a buyer of a PPO/FFS mix practice who has the intent of potentially dropping out of some PPOs in the future. It’s very useful information for the buyer and, unfortunately, we get pushback from sellers and their advisors when asking for these reports.

So here are some real life examples of why these reports can be very enlightening for a buyer:

  1. I’m in the middle of an assessment right now on an FFS practice where the top ten PPO payors represent about 35% of the practices total production. For the buyer, if they remain FFS, they run the risk of higher than normal attrition as patients may take the opportunity to go to an IN network provider. The buyer is also contemplating joining some PPOs as the practice revenue isn’t very high so they now know what the potential impact could be to the existing patient base and revenue by getting into certain PPOs.
  2. As mentioned above, we’ve seen valuation reports calculating reasonable doctor’s compensation for dentistry using a lower doctor collection figure because the doctor’s exams were under the hygiene production column. This has the effect of creating a higher value than would otherwise have created with proper information.
  3. We’ve seen other dentistry codes thrown under the hygiene column like crowns, extractions, etc., almost always by mistake. However, with production by provider by ADA code reports we can make the proper adjustments and provide a more accurate picture of practice price and performance for the buyer.
  4. We’ve seen situations where practices were labeled FFS when in fact they were a mix FFS/PPO practice and the PPO portion was significant enough that the buyer chose to walk away. We determined this when comparing collections to gross productions were less than 85% of gross production. In FFS practices, collections are generally greater than 90% of gross production.
  5. Lastly, we’ve seen production by provider reports that show other doctor providers in the past, like specialists where their revenue wasn’t removed from prior year collections even though their compensation was removed. Needless to say, prior year collections were overstated so that the asking price was way overstated. We would have NEVER known this if we only relied on a tax return and/or P&L collections.

The fact is most practices have the PM software that can generate these reports easily, even if the office has to contact the software company to find out how to generate these reports. There isn’t any reason why sellers and their advisors can’t provide these reports and in our opinion, there isn’t any reason every buyer shouldn’t be asking for these reports.

Written by Tim Lott, CPA, CVA. For more information on our services, please feel free to contact one of the members of the Dental CPA team by calling 844-DENT CPA or emailing info@dentalcpas.com.