The end of the year is an opportune time to examine the business side of your dental practice, and evaluating your fees needs to be a priority.
Everywhere we turn, costs are on the rise. The goods and services that allow us to provide dentistry are getting more expensive with each passing year. Lab fees are going up. The cost of equipment and supplies is going up. Rent and utility bills continue to increase.
Employee benefits are getting more and more expensive. You may not be staying up-to-date with your fees, but I can guarantee you the vendors you rely on to help you run your practice are staying up to date with theirs.
Raising fees is a delicate process. There’s always the fear that if you raise your fees, your patients are going to go elsewhere. And it’s a valid fear. It’s a balancing act, and it’s easiest if you stay on top of your fee schedule.
If your fees are far lower than they should be and you raise them dramatically, you can bet that your patients are going to notice and complain. But if you raise your fees slowly over time and in keeping with local trends, it’s unlikely that anyone will even notice and, if they do, they’ll just chalk it up to inflation rather than blaming you for the fee increase.
In order to maintain a healthy business in 2015, it’s imperative that you adjust your fees to compensate for your rising operating costs. We are in this profession to help people and to provide a valuable service to our communities. However, if we don’t take care of the business side of our practices, we won’t be able to provide our services to our patients and communities at the level that they deserve.
With reimbursement rates falling across the board, dealing with insurance companies has become more trouble than they are worth. Going in network isn’t the only way to fill the schedule.
In fact there are better options for increasing new patient flow and stimulating practice growth without having to increase reliance on managed care. Here are 5 reasons to reduce the insurance companies’ influence on your practice:
1 – Collections Issues
Talk about a nightmare. Most practice management consultants recommend a 95-98% collections rate. Hard enough to achieve on its own, but becoming a provide for insurance plans just makes attaining this goal nearly impossible.
2 – Loss of Control of Your Fee Structure
Having to reduce your UCRs to the insurance companies’ liking defeats the purpose of being in private practice if you can’t even set your prices.
3 – Decrease in Patient Perception of “Quality”
One of things patients hate most about going to their medical doctor is the wait. Patients with appointments often find themselves waiting up to an hour while the MD has to see 10 patients per hour just to afford his or her overhead.
Why would a dentist ever want to emulate a medical practice? If you want to project an image of quality comprehensive care, a volume-based drill and fill operation may not be the way to go.
4 – Why Offer a Permanent Discount?
What is an insurance company? Basically it’s a marketing scheme. In return for them filling your appointment book, you agree to discount your services to the people they send to you. Forever.
5 – There Are Other Options!
With an in-house dental membership plan like QDP, dentists can offer their patients an alternative to dental insurance. Patients pay the dentist an annual membership fee and in return they receive a year’s worth of preventive care. The dentist gets paid up front and the patient has one low annual fee that is often a fraction of an annual dental insurance premium. There’s no third party involvement, and dentists get to collect their own fees and stay in charge of their fee schedules.
Insurance is not the only option for dentists. Alternatives exist that actually benefit the patients and the doctors in a more effective way. Reduce your reliance on managed care and set your practice on a path to success.
Much of the focus on marketing today is on the Millennial generation (typically considered those born between 1977 and 2002). Online marketing is a hot topic, and Millennials are among the most digitally adept group there is, so it is no wonder that companies strive to capture the Millennial audience. And there is no doubt that with their size and influence, Millennials are a consumer group that dentists will need to focus on in the years ahead.
However, in terms of marketing your practice, don’t forget one very significant portion of the population: Baby Boomers. There may not be a more powerful group than the Baby Boomer generation. Inside Dentistry just released an article highlighting the importance of preparing your practice for the Boomer generation and it’s worth taking a read.
Here are a few statistics from the article worth noting:
- A Baby Boomer turns 50 every 8.5 seconds and for the next 18 years, Boomers will turn 65 at a rate of about 8000 per day.
- Boomers not only have high household incomes (on average $70,000+), they also have high accumulated wealth.
- Baby Boomers account for almost half of all consumer spending.
So what does this mean for dentists?
Baby Boomers are interested in feeling good and looking good – and that goes for their smile. They take better care of themselves than their parent’s generation and they are working far longer as well. So not only do they have the disposable income for dentistry, they also see the value.
According to the article, between 2000 and 2010, dental spending increased among Baby Boomers, where as it flat lined in all other demographics.
Also interesting to dentists: Most Boomers are used to having dental insurance as after having this benefit throughout their working years. Upon retirement, they are left without coverage. Among adults older than age 45, only 41% reported having dental insurance.
So here is a group of people who want dental care, with the means to pay for it, but who do not have dental insurance. Welcome Baby Boomers into your practice with open arms and give them a way to pay for their preventive care with discounts on restorative and cosmetic procedures! QDP can do just this for you and for your Boomer patients. Turn their value for dentistry into real growth for your practice.
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!
I hear from many fellow dentists who feel that all dental marketing seems the same. They get frustrated when the same-old marketing techniques fail to produce any real growth, especially when the competition is offering the exact same thing. Discounted tooth whitening and a free toothbrush – does this really excite patients? Not likely.
The problem is that these types of promotions are the exact same as everyone else’s. If everyone else is doing it, then it’s impossible for your practice to stand out from the crowd. There’s nothing compelling enough to attract patients to your practice.
It’s time to change your approach to dental marketing. You don’t want incremental growth. You want double-digit growth. Make your practice original and offer patients something new.
Not every dentist offers an in-house dental membership plan, especially one that trumps insurance benefit maximums. Quality Dental Plan allows you to offer unique patient membership programs that increase practice revenue while helping patients afford the dentistry they need – without giving up all of your profits in promotional discounts or reduced fees for insurance companies. And with geographic exclusivity, you can be sure that no one else in the area is offering anything similar.
What’s more incentivizing to patients: a free toothbrush, or a way of affording a year’s worth of preventive care for the entire family? With QDP, you have a new message, a leg up and a way to break away from the pack.
Ever met someone who was dead sure about something, but you could easily see they were wrong? People are very committed to their beliefs. I hear from dentists like this all the time – they’re doing everything right and still not seeing any real growth in their business.
Often the problem is that they’ve already decided what’s right without learning about all of the options. They are stuck in the comfort zone, and it’s these preconceived notions that are exactly what hold us back. If someone decides they’ve made the right choice about something, they’re simply not going to be open to other possibilities, even if their choice proves to be flawed or even outright wrong.
In this era of decreased insurance reimbursements and increased patient consumerism, it is easy to understand why some dentists believe it is impossible to grow their practice. There will always be forces beyond our control that present challenges to practice success. What we must remember to focus on are the factors that we can control. What can we do now to create a sustainable practice that can thrive during times of economic success AND under duress?
The solution comes when we start to think outside the box. That is how I came to develop Quality Dental Plan. QDP gives dentists the opportunity to provide their patients with a way of affording dental care so that they can grow your practice on a long-term basis. QDP is a value-oriented, bundled preventive care system that allows dentists to reduce their reliance on insurance companies, while attracting new patients, especially those without any insurance coverage, to the practice, helping to protect the practice against economic downturns and times of financial crisis.
When it comes to opportunity for dental practice success, there’s always a multitude of possible solutions that exist at all times – you just have to reach out and find the one that works.
It’s a different world out today for dentists, one that has probably changed since you first started practicing. Dentists are forced to grapple with the often frustrating bureaucracy that comes with dealing with dental insurance companies. Decreasing reimbursements and increasing hassles have come to make accepting dental insurance quite costly – both in time and money – for your practice.
Finally, there is a solution for dentists looking to reduce their reliance on dental insurance companies – a genuine alternative to dental insurance. A dental membership plan can yield huge dividends for the dental practice while providing dentists with the freedom to operate their practice the way they first dreamed of doing.
Here are just a few of the benefits of a dental membership plan:
- Eliminating third party influence from your practice
- Increasing practice income
- Decreasing overhead
- Set your own fees and keep 100% of the profits
- Improving treatment acceptance by providing patients with actual benefits
- Instilling patient loyalty
If you are fed up with the insurance company hassles and are ready to make a change, consider the positive impacts a dental membership plan can make in your practice, and get back to running your practice in a way that benefits you and your patients.
I first started Quality Dental Plan in order to help my fellow dentists achieve practice success and freedom from insurance companies, while giving patients a compelling reason to go to the dentist.
Fast forward five years later, and we continue to work faithfully to helping dentists across the country. It is incredibly rewarding to hear the success stories from our member dentists. Rather than hearing from me, take a look at a few of our success stories, in the words of the dentists themselves.
Finally, a plan that benefits not only patients, but also practices. This plan is so simple to integrate into your office, your patients and staff will love it. – Frank Clayton, DDS – Suwanee, GA
I love that we have an option like Quality Dental Plan to offer our patients! A lot of patients in our area have lost dental coverage. Most people feel that a lack of dental coverage is a roadblock to going to the dentist. QDP gives those patients piece of mind about returning to the dentist. It’s great for doctors because it creates value, loyalty, and a busy schedule. It’s great for patients because they can get the dentistry they need at an affordable price. Total Win-Win! – Missy Lapic, President, Next Step Dental Resource – Willoughby Hills, Ohio
We originally tried doing an in-office discount plan on our own, but it became difficult figuring out all the details that had to be covered. When Dr. Marut told me about QDP, it was like an answer to our prayers. With full support on implementation, all the “bugs” already worked out, and a plan that was simple for patients to understand (as well as for us to implement), QDP has been a huge benefit to both our patients and our practice. Quite simply, it WORKS! – Charles Payet, DDS – Charlotte, NC
I have tried many various promotional activities over the years with limited success, but I can honestly say that joining Dan Marut’s QDP has been the best thing that has happened in years. I have only been with the plan for one month and have already enrolled 23 patients. It’s really a win-win situation for both the patients and myself. – Robert Wick, DDS – Hayward, CA
We remain committed to providing a genuine solution to dentists and their patients. If you are interested in learning more, click here to find out how Quality Dental Plan is rethinking dental plans.
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.
As a dentist, I’m passionate about my profession because it allows me to make a living while improving people’s lives. As the founder of Quality Dental Plan, I’m motivated to share QDP with dentists because it allows me to help more people than ever before.
Our challenge as dentists is changing patients’ beliefs about dentistry. People don’t realize how important routine preventive care is. Whether they don’t think they have time to see the dentist, or they believe it is too expensive, or if they are uninsured, too many Americans choose to skip routine care.
They often only call us when they have pain, which of course we understand is often much more expensive to treat than if they would have been coming in for regular checkups. And the problem is that pain doesn’t always accompany the more serious problems. 7 out of 10 cases of oral cancers aren’t detected until the late stages, so even though it’s 90% curable when detected early, it has one of the highest mortality rates of all cancers.
When we are able to reach more patients, we keep our communities healthier. You know that patients are out there who desperately need your care, but they are either unaware of you, or they don’t believe they can actually afford regular dental care. Dental practice marketing raises awareness for your practice, and promoting your offerings, such as QDP, can get more patients through the front door.
You may not believe in the power of dental practice marketing, or enjoy the process, but realize there is a greater message to be spread through your advertising. You aren’t just promoting your services – you’re spreading the word that preventive dentistry is important, and affordable, for everyone.