Ways To Improve Your Patient’s Periodontal Health And Your Profits

periodontal healthFor many dentists, the thought of having a patient that needs some extra periodontal help isn’t always a the good feeling of being able to help that it should be.  Many patients have limited insurance coverage and it could mean losing money for the dentist. While an ideal periodontal treatment plan and payment could mean bonuses for all the team members, patients and insurance companies aren’t always willing to fork over the payment.  In an article from Dentistry Today, you can read about ways to improve your patient’s periodontal health as well as your practice’s financial health.

Prioritize The Assessment – The two major reasons that periodontal patients fall through the cracks are the financial barrier and also inadequate assessment.  Many hygienists don’t recognize when the patient needs extra appointments for periodontal care. The periodontal screening exam should be at the top of the list for every new patient who shows any of the warning signs, such as, receding gums, bleeding gums or gingival inflammation.

Use Effective Communication – When you know the facts, you need to deliver them to the patient effectively in order to seal the deal on optimal care. Many patients will need to be educated about the state of their oral condition. Describe what periodontal disease is and how it affects the gums, teeth and bone.  Mention to them about how their oral health affects their overall health.  Having a full disclosure of the facts will help patients and they will appreciate your honesty. Be a good listener as well as a good communicator. Patients want to know that you are aware and care about their concerns.

Insist On Early Intervention – When you diagnose periodontal disease, don’t delay with treatments.  Early intervention can stop the aggressive disease and avoid surgery. Keep seeing the patient every 6 weeks for reassessment.

Push For Excellent Home Care – While patients only come in every 3 or 4 months, what they do in between appointments at home is super important. Help them with suggestions for appropriate toothpaste, mouth rinse and cleaning aids for them to use at home.

Practice Appropriate Insurance Billing – Many practices try to bill insurance as regular check ups so that they can get more money.  The problem is that you are actually losing out on the periodontal charges that insurance companies will cover.  Be sure to bill appropriately so that you aren’t selling yourself short.

Use Positive Reinforcement – Periodontal disease is not fun for patients so be sure to let them know when things are going well. Don’t judge them, and allow them to feel good about their accomplishments.  Help them set goals and make a big deal about it when they achieve these goals. Appreciate the baby steps they take and compliment them.

Six Ways To Improve A Patient’s Health And Your Profits: How To Enhance Your Practice’s Financial Health

Strategies For Retaining Patients

strategies for retaining patientsAs with any business, dentists have competition with other dentists around every corner. In addition to offering high quality service and having competitive prices, there is more that needs to be done for dentists to retain those hard earned patients.  Here are some strategies for retaining patients.

  • Make a good first impression – Training your staff on customer service and making a great first impression is a must. It’s hard to erase a negative experience from a patient’s memory. The front desk staff should be nice and welcoming.  The waiting room should have some comfortable furniture with welcoming décor. Making these additions to your practice may seem unnecessary, but it can make all the difference.
  • Engage with your patients – It is also important for the dentist to have good customer service skills. If you are shy or abrasive, you won’t be successful. Be interested in your patient’s lives. Ask about their family and try to remember details of your conversations.  Take notes after patients leave so that you can refer to conversations that were had at previous visits. Your patients will be very impressed and flattered that you remember personal details about themselves and their families.
  • Follow Up Procedures – You need to have balanced follow up procedures.  You don’t want to be too aggressive in reminding them for checkups, but you want to be helpful in these reminders. A good rule of thumb is to remind the patient just once and then let it go.
  • Know where you stand – Be sure to collect data of your current patient retention rates.  How else will you know if you have a problem?  If you are retaining the majority of patients then you will know that what you are doing is working.  But if more than half are not being retained, you know that you need to make some changes. If you are having trouble with retaining patients one idea is to have patients fill out a survey to see what things can be improved upon.
  • Social media – In this day and age there is nothing more important than social media for your practice. You need to establish an online presence to allow you to engage with your patients. Establishing personal connections through social media can work wonders for your patient retention rates.

5 Strategies Dentists Should Use To Retain Patients|Dentistry IQ

Dental Membership Plans

What is a Dental Wellness Membership Plan?

Dental membership plans allow patients to purchase a membership to a specific dental practice who provides all their dental needs.  These include things like cleanings, exams, x-rays, and savings on other procedures. This is a great way for dental practices to get business from patients that are not insured.

Research has shown that the number one reason that patients avoid the dentist is because they don’t have any dental insurance. Currently, 46% of potential patients in the US do not have dental insurance. If a dental practice offers a membership plan they can increase their patient numbers and help people out.

Membership plans are simple and easy for patients to understand as many probably hold membership plans to other service providers. Patients make a small monthly payment to receive dental services, and as a loyal member they also receive discounts on other pricey procedures. Because they are paying monthly, it avoids a unexpected costly expense and makes it easier on the patient.

Another great thing about membership plans is that it puts the responsibility of appointments on the patient. The dental professional doesn’t have to chase existing patients with phone calls and emails to make and maintain their hygiene appointments. Because the patient is paying their monthly fee, they are more likely to stay on top of those appointments so they get their money’s worth.

Lastly, a dental membership plan gives dental practices more control over fees. Dental practices normally don’t have much control over fees and payments from dental insurance companies. With a membership plan, the practice sets the membership prices, fees and any exclusions for discounted services in order to be in control of their own revenues.

The 5 Reasons Dental Membership Plans Work|Dental Town

Reasons Your Dental Patients Are Not Returning

29763873-drawing-a-cartoon-character-with-tooth-face-vector-graphicsBeing able to attract new dental patients and hold on to current ones is the key to a successful dental business. But, this is not always an easy task. In an article written by Janis Peiser on GPP, she lists 5 reasons that your dental patients are not returning.

  • Excessive wait time – Time is a big deal for busy people these days. Be sure that your staff schedules realistic appointment times and does not double book.  Emergencies may occur from time to time that cause a delay.  If this happens, communicate with your patients and give them the choice to stay or rebook for a later date.
  • Too many forms – Patients are usually required to fill out many forms before their first appointment.  Have the forms available online that patients can fill out and send electronically before hand, on their own time.  If you prefer they fill them out at the office, be sure they are short and to the point.
  • Nothing to do – In this day and age, people feel they need to constantly be entertained.  They don’t want to look at a bunch of old magazines in the waiting room. Installing t.v.’s for patients is a practice that many dental offices are engaging in. Also, offering free Wi-Fi is helpful to patients as they can keep themselves entertained on their smart phones or tablets. This way they can even catch up on work while they wait if this is something they need to do.
  • Unfriendly staff – Your staff is extremely important to patient satisfaction and retention.  If your patients don’t feel welcome or feel like they have been treated badly, this is a sure way to lose them. Train all of your staff to greet the patients by name and always use a smile.  It’s nice to offer water or coffee to patients when they arrive. These simple things make all the difference.
  • Not providing the most current procedures – You may not be able to offer every dental procedure at your office, but the more that a patient can get done all in one place, the happier they will be. Be sure to get your office up to date on all the latest technology and equipment so you can offer more to your patients.

Lastly, don’t assume that because a patient has been with you for years, that you are not at risk for losing them.  Many factors, not limited to the ones above can cause a patient to leave. Follow these tips and more to be sure you are the best choice around.

Five Reasons That Keep Your Patients From Returning To Your Dental Practice|GPP

When Dental Patients Don’t Pay Their Bill

dental patients don't payIf you own a dental practice, you have probably wondered why some dental patients don’t pay the bill for the work that has been provided.  This can be a frustrating experience to say the least.  But you may have wondered if it is worth it to take the patient to court. In an article from Chris Salierno, DDS, he tells the story about a time he took a patient to court over just $280. Was it worth it?  Read about his experience here to find out: I Took a Patient to Court for Collections | The Curious Dentist.

A few lessons that he learned was how important it is to write good notes within the patients records.  He also learned that the patient may be responsible for the attorney fees as well as the outstanding balance, so this may make it more worth the time and effort.