The end of the year brings hectic and stressful times for all of us, enhanced this year in light of inflation. It also brings opportunity!
Completing needed dental treatment may well be the last thing on the minds of your patients as the holidays arrive. Over the past two years, almost 50% of the U.S. population has put off medical/dental care due to the pandemic.
Do you want to give your patients a gift they will truly appreciate? Focus the dental team on conducting open and sincere conversations regarding treatment recommendations, provide insurance and financing options, and encourage them to schedule before the end of the year
to best utilize dental benefits – and find an appointment in what may be an already tight practice schedule.
We routinely see four challenges that stand in the way of scheduling dental treatment, only exacerbated by recent concerns about inflation and hectic work schedules. These barriers include cost, time, insurance benefits, and perceived need for treatment.
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 that came from recent surveys:
- The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports healthcare spending has seen its most significant percentage point decline since 1960.
- According to Forbes and Dental Products Report estimates, only around 3%-10%of patients use all of their dental benefits annually.
- 43% of patients said they would undergo more dental treatment if they could use a payment plan.
- 70% of patients who hadn’t used financing were unaware financing was available as a payment option.
- 32% would have chosen not to have the treatment done if financing was not available.
Take steps to raise patient awareness and remove these challenges, providing your patients the opportunity for treatment:
- Run an unscheduled treatment plan report and identify the patients with pending treatment.
- Utilize an end-of-year letter that encourages them to use their dental benefits that may be expiring. Customize Burkhart’s Practice Support Team “End of Year Letter” template available here.
- Take a proactive approach and offer finance options.
- Promote your in-house membership plan.
- Follow up with patients you don’t hear from.
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 similarly, with balances lost if left unused by December 31st.
Utilize your practice management software to customize an end-of-year benefit letter specific to each patient. Identify outstanding treatment as well as remaining benefits.
A “one size fits all” letter will not gain as much traction as one customized for each patient.
During these stressful times leading up to the holiday season, it is truly a gift to remind your patients that you are looking out for them by pointing out this valuable benefit.
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