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.
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.
Year’s End. It’s about this time every year when we often start reflecting back over the past 12 months. For dental practice owners, it is a constructive habit to take the time to think about what processes worked well in the practice, and to identify where things might be done better.
Take your practice’s marketing, for example. New patient discounts are a popular promotion to increase new patient flow, but are these promotions really worth it?
Click here to find out how much your new patient discount is actually costing you.
A special discount doesn’t seem so special when everyone is offering the same one. And if it is costing you money, it’s time for a new solution.