Focus on patients first and help them overcome barriers to care.
The end of the year brings hectic and stressful times for all of us – especially this year, in light of COVID’s impact. Completing needed dental treatment may very well be the last thing on the minds of your patients as the holidays arrive. Do you want to give your patients a gift they will appreciate? Focus the dental team on conducting open and sincere conversations regarding treatment recommendations, providing insurance and financing options, and encouraging them to schedule before the end of the year to best utilize dental benefits.
We routinely see four challenges that stand in the way of scheduling dental treatment, exacerbated this year by the health crisis and unemployment rates. These barriers include cost, time, insurance benefits, and perceived need for treatment. This year, health fears are also top of mind for patients.
Over the years, several studies have sought to understand patients’ decision-making processes and how to make it easier for them to say yes to treatment. Dental teams should take special note of several interesting statistics from recent surveys.
- A Price Waterhouse survey revealed 32% of consumers are planning to adjust their spending on healthcare as a result of COVID.
- 88% of consumers said they want to know their payment responsibility upfront.
- 35% of patients expressed interest in learning about payment plans; among younger patients, interest was nearly double.
- 70% of patients were unaware financing was available as a payment option.
- 32% would have chosen not to have the treatment done if financing was not available.
One survey concluded, “Because the majority of patients chose their current dental provider for future care, the initial treatment and fee conversation may be the most critical dialogue in the practice.”
Steps you can take to remove this challenge — providing your patients the opportunity for treatment:
- Run an unscheduled treatment plan report to identify the patients with pending treatment.
- Utilize an end-of-year letter* encouraging them to use their dental benefits which may be expiring.
- Take a proactive approach and offer finance options.
- Promote your in-house membership plan.
- If you don’t hear from patients, follow up.
Many dental benefit plans run on a calendar year and expire at the end of December. In other words, they are a “use it or lose it” plan. Flex Spending Accounts often work in the same way, with balances that are lost if left unused by December 31st.
A “one size fits all” letter will not gain as much traction. Identify outstanding treatment as well as remaining benefits. Utilize your practice management software to customize an end-of-year benefit letter specific to each patient.
During these stressful times leading up to the holiday season, give your patients a gift by pointing out this valuable benefit. They will be grateful and you will be busy!
*Customize Burkhart’s Practice Support Team “End-of-Year Benefit Letter” template for your practice.
Category: Practice ConsultingBack to Articles