We talk a lot on the blog about the benefits of an in-house dental membership plan (see here, here and here). If you’ve made the decision to go ahead and implement such a program, congratulations! It’s a meaningful first step to take on a path to practice growth and freedom from third party hassles.
While you are determining critical components of the plan such as fees and software integration, don’t forget to also consider how you will spread the word about this new plan to patients. Having an “if you build it, they will come” mentality might work in the movies, but it doesn’t bode well in dental practices!
The good news is that marketing an in-house dental membership plan doesn’t have to be difficult or even expensive. Dental consultant and industry guru Mayer A. Levitt, DMD recently wrote a blog with terrific advice for dentists looking to promote their plan.
A select few membership plans (such as QDP) offer a host of marketing templates to member dentists; however most plans come with little to no comprehensive marketing support. Regardless if the plan you choose to for your practice offers marketing solutions or not, and especially for those developing their own plan, Mayer’s advice is particularly helpful for dentists across the board.
Whether you are building your own dental membership plan from scratch or implementing a proven system, marketing will play a big role in spreading the word about this new patient opportunity. Don’t let it fall to the wayside; make sure the plan is set for success from the very beginning!
Keeping your fees up to date is essential; however determining what to base your fee schedule on is not necessarily a simple task. I rely on a variety of schedules available to dentists when setting my fees. The Dental Economics fee schedule is a great resource. I also rely heavily on the UCR table that’s available through Udell Webb Leadership. I think it’s important to use a variety of sources and to check them often.
I’ve found that there are many dentists out there who really aren’t confident about their fees. They worry that they’re pricing themselves too high or that their UCRs are being stifled by the insurance companies. I think that’s a real problem. You need to be confident in your fees. If you’re not, it’s a sign that you’re not evaluating them often enough.
As dentists we want to reach as many patients in need of dental care as possible. You cannot do this if your practice is not running at the optimum efficiency. Taking the time to evaluate your pricing and having the confidence to make the necessary adjustments will keep everything running smoothly, and ultimately lead to an increased capacity and growth of your practice.
Here on the QDP blog, we talk often about how important it is for dentists to have alternatives to dental insurance. It seems there are many more pitfalls of accepting insurance than actual upsides.
Never has this rang more true than for our dentist colleagues in Arizona. Last month, dentists there received a letter stating that a dentist can only remain “Premier” if they do not have contracts with other PPOs. In other words, if they accept PPOs, they have to be a Delta PPO provider or they’ll get dropped entirely by Delta. Read more about this change here at Unlock the PPO. This could pose serious financial ramifications for the dentists there, and speaks to the need for dentists to create other sources of practice growth, separate from insurance companies. And even though this particular situation is taking place in Arizona, there’s no telling if a change like this could become a reality in other states across the country.
Dentists need to know there are genuine alternatives to going in network. Options such as Quality Dental Plan help to increase new patient flow and make dentistry more affordable to your patients without giving up control of the practice’s fees to third parties. Consider taking a more proactive and long-term approach with QDP – for the good of your patients, and your practice!
With the recent rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health insurance is on the tops of many Americans’ minds, and that includes dental insurance. However, according to the American Dental Association, the ACA is only estimated to cover dental care for about 26 million Americans – mostly children and Medicare recipients – leaving the rest of the uninsured population searching for coverage.
Sure, there are alternatives to insurance such as dental HMO’s and so-called discount plans, but they stop short of actually providing real benefits to Americans. Many don’t provide coverage for comprehensive treatment and restrict patients from choosing their own dentist.
What if you could offer your patients a genuine alternative to dental insurance? One that would incentivize patients to seek the treatment they need, at a cost they could afford? An in-house dental savings plan benefits patients by showing them they actually can afford quality oral healthcare without the hassles of insurance. You can finally meet patient expectations – without sacrificing the welfare of your practice.
As dentists, we need to look at our business through the eyes of our patients. And patients, particularly those who have been avoiding the dentist, don’t see dentistry the same way we do.
They see us dentists as cold and uncaring, and they see our practices as sterile. Even if this isn’t actually true, it is the way many patients perceive us, and our practices, to be.
So how can we change patients’ thought processes? Through improved communication. Take the time to get to know the patients so that you are able to build a long-term relationship. Avoid clinical language. When recommending treatment, clearly explain their options as well as your reasons as to why you recommend the course of treatment.
Speaking with patients, instead of at them, will help to foster loyalty and will help them to see you as more than just another dentist, but also as their trusted oral health consultant giving them all the more reason to keep coming back to you.
What if we could be successful by decreasing our dependence on insurance?
One of my friends from dental school called me shortly after he’d set up his practice to talk insurance with me. He was frustrated with how much time and money he was giving the insurance companies, and knowing that I had scrapped the insurance model and started offering my own pricing, programs, and savings plans, he was curious if he could pull it off as well.
We began to sift through what he liked about accepting dental insurance and what he didn’t. I decided to ask my friend a few simple questions…
Q: What is the upside of offering insurance?
A: I’m able to accept patients who have dental insurance, which increases practice revenue.
Q: Does it cost you a lot for the patient to use insurance?
Q: Do you have issues with case acceptance?
Q: Does the blame fall on you when the insurance company won’t accept your treatment plan?
Q: Does insurance cover all of your patient’s treatment?
A: No. Only a small percentage, really.
As a system, traditional dental insurance is very flawed. When you really break down the way insurance forces you to do business, you see that the only people it’s really benefitting are the insurance companies. It costs you time and resources, and since so many dentists accept it, the benefit is very modest. It allows you to fit in with the dentists in your area, not stand out.
That’s why my friend called me. Because I was able to eliminate the third parties and put the “private” back in private practice, creating a winning solution for my patients and my practice.
You’re an amazing dentist. When it comes to providing your patients with top-notch dental care, you are the expert. And except for when it comes to specialized procedures outside your area of expertise, there’s no need for you to seek outside help.
But we went to dental school, not business school. We shouldn’t expect to be experts at dental practice marketing. Maybe we recognize the need for marketing but do we really know how to increase revenue and build patient loyalty? And do we actually have the time and/or interest to do so?
Marketing and practice management are highly refined skills. They’re careers in and of themselves. While you may have a slight understanding of them, you’re not an expert. And why should you be? You went to school to be a dentist, right?
There’s no better way to catapult your business ahead than to find a partner that can provide the capabilities needed to enhance your practice. No need to spend your time reinventing the wheel. Where does your satisfaction come from: treating patients or researching consumer behavior? Do what you enjoy.
When was the last time you examined your fee schedule? Chances are, it has been awhile. Your fee schedule is an important component of your business plan, and the start of a new year is the perfect time to make adjustments to get your practice off to a strong start.
The problem is that without regularly looking at your fees, it’s impossible for you to make effective decisions regarding your business. The key is finding the fee schedule sweet spot that enables you remain viable without running the risk of your services becoming undervalued. You also can’t provide your patients with benefits such as cash, senior or advance payment discounts, Comprehensive Finance, Care Credit or Whitening for Life. Patient benefits continue to be one of your best tools for building patient loyalty and setting yourself apart from your competitors.
Without increasing your fees, you may not be able to stay competitive; you can’t afford to continue to update your practice with the latest technology, or to get all of the necessary continuing education to hone your clinical skills. Operating a successful practice depends on implementing these kinds of patient incentives in a way that boosts your bottom line rather than destroying it. And the key to doing this lies in setting appropriate fees. Take the time this January to evaluate your fee schedule and make 2014 your most profitable year yet.