A lot of the practices we talk to nationwide continue to wrestle with the balance as they push through new challenges brought on by the pandemic.
How can I prioritize both added safety measures and financial arrangements – for the health of patients, our team, and the practice?
In a perfect world, you’d have the ideal mix of quality care offered in the safest environment possible, and collections sufficient to cover your costs and leave you reasonably compensated for all you’ve provided. After all, isn’t this what has to happen to keep your doors open and continue caring for patients?
And so more specific questions re/surface. Do you defer the cost to the patient? Should you just absorb the cost? Does, or will, insurance reimburse for PPE?
The reality of new regulations and requirements has been set for several months now, and practices are still rolling up their sleeves again and again to figure out the right formula. Turns out, it’s not always so simple as raising or adding fees to cover the change.
I wanted to show you a creative way to break the gridlock and tip the scales – in everyone’s favor.
Let’s address your lingering question: how do you tip the scales for everyone, all at once?
Find ways to deliver more. Grow the value pie – stop slicing off more pieces.
Think about it. An additional fee for something your patient won’t likely perceive as anything beyond what they’ve received before, and especially for a level of safety most patients feel should be a given, is a tough proposition.
I want to be clear before we continue – we can make all the arguments that fully justify factoring added expenses for PPE and other measures into cost of care to patients. After all, your practice is a business, right?
And just like every business today, your patient relationships and the loyalty you grow, and maintain, or lose, is an increasingly complex equation. Sometimes what is logical on our end just doesn’t sell through!
If you’re not already, be sure to make it a priority to re/evaluate the packaging and delivery until it ‘clicks’ for everyone. It’s amazing how varied results can be with the same ‘product’ but a different approach.
Bring more to the table for your patients – and stand behind that value
Let’s talk about slicing the value pie first – because, no matter what, a bigger pie can always be cut and shared too many ways for anyone to be satisfied with their piece. There’s a key principle that’s been coached for decades by consultants and leaders in case presentation and acceptance, and it paves the way for the entire life of each patient relationship.
The best way to start so everyone ends up with more at the table? Stop itemizing treatment plans.
If you ever find yourself wishing you could get more patients to think just a little less about money and insurance, and a bit more about their health and the value you provide, you’re one of many talented, ethical dental teams who wrestle with this every day!
While there are many variables that impact how often you hear “YES” to treatment, your ability to help patients shift their primary focus from financials to making good decisions for their health is at the top of the list.
Real quick before we continue, let’s get something out of the way:
The ways you can implement the following will depend on a few factors specific to your practice – first and foremost, whether you are a contracted provider with insurance plans or fee for service. As you evaluate, I encourage you to avoid letting these variables alone decide whether you implement the principle in full, or not at all.
Teams who find a way to leverage certain principles, even in minimum form, are usually found in a distinct class of performance, reaping a list of rewards admired by others who failed to act on the knowledge in some way. We’ll come back to some examples here in a bit.
High performing practices use the way they list procedures and fees on treatment plans to help with acceptance! If you are not already, start presenting treatment as a single total fee instead of itemized by code and fee.
An itemized plan that lists a fee alongside each individual component offers little more than added confusion and an invitation for patients to “shop” the list for parts and pieces to question as optional – or even unnecessary in some cases when a patient is heavily insurance-driven.
The ways you can put this to work are more flexible than you might think. Even if you are in network, begin with a non-itemized plan and provide full detail if/when your patients request it. You’d be surprised how many would prefer to stay out of the weeds. Make ‘easy and simplified’ the rule for the majority, and ‘diving into the details’ the exception as necessary.
With practice and timing, you’ll be ‘cutting fewer slices’ from the level of care you set out to deliver – and your patients will value you more for it.
Now let’s talk about packing more value in, for a bigger pie.
Done right, offering patients an extended protection plan on treatment delivers big on loyalty, satisfaction, treatment acceptance and scheduling consistency. Somewhere on the list, depending on your goals, is the ability to generate additional revenue.
For many of our practices, this has become a secret weapon for handling the added burden of PPE expenses:
Instead of absorbing the cost or passing it straight to patients – offset it with additional revenue from additional value your patients will be happy to pay for!
Dr. Travis Campbell of 380 Family Dentistry included this in his highlight of creative ways to offset the cost of PPE and increase revenue for the practice in these trying times.
“For years I have done what many dentists do, which is provide replacement work for free within a certain time frame. We originally put this in writing in order to communicate to the patient things that are NOT under warranty, setting realistic expectations. For example, we cannot warranty a filling for 10 years, stats say they don't last that long for the average patient. Without a written plan, some patients will have the belief that dental work should last forever.
We thankfully don't have a lot of replacement work needed. The biggest challenge was when a patient already moved away and was unable to return to the office. This is one of the main benefits of a 3rd party warranty company, as they cover all those costs (or pay you for any replacements you need in office).
The big benefit is the company that handles this has zero cost to the office. The patients pay for the warranty program, and the office can charge any amount above that they choose to cover the costs of team management (or PPE costs).” - Source: Facebook - Dr. Travis Campbell
THE BOTTOM LINE: Deliver more value the right way and your patients will be happy to pay for it. Practices nationwide are leveraging extended peace of mind their patients love, and are easily absorbing the added cost of PPE while boosting loyalty and satisfaction for years down the road.
To discuss how you can best implement these recommendations in your practice, schedule a quick coaching session with our Success team.