Preventive care is a critical part of patient dental care. For private practice owners, it’s also an important revenue stream. By encouraging patients to have annual exams and undergo regular screening procedures, you help both your patients and your bottom line. Here are some ideas to inspire your patients to be more proactive about preventive care.
Promote Insurance Plan Understanding
Patients may not be aware of their insurance benefits for preventive care. Some insurance plans cover preventive care like checkups at a higher rate than other care. In many cases, a deductible will not apply, and patients can get a yearly checkup at no cost to them.
Encourage your patients to call their insurance companies to understand all of the preventive care services available to them at little to no cost. This can be done when you’re making appointment reminder calls or via email or direct mail at the start of the new year. Once patients have a better understanding of their coverage, encourage them to take full advantage of the benefits for themselves and their families.
Develop a Personalized Dental Care Forecast
When new patients join your practice, take the time to outline a rough schedule of preventive care for them. Recommend how often they should come in for specific procedures, such as exams, cleanings, X-rays, and fluoride treatments. Explain the importance of these procedures, and let your patients know that your practice will follow up to schedule appointments as needed.
Turn to Automation
When it’s time for a patient’s annual checkup, don’t wait to be contacted. Use a patient portal or scheduling software to send automated reminder messages a few weeks before to encourage patients to schedule an appointment.
Marketing automation can help your staff save a lot of time so they don’t have to make reminders manually and individually. It can also help ensure consistent follow-up with patients so reminders don’t fall to the wayside of busy staff members.
Encourage Early Appointment Scheduling
Another good approach is to schedule preventive appointments in person. When patients come in for treatment, suggest scheduling their next preventive appointment while they’re at the reception desk. This can save them the hassle of having to do it later, and it will help keep your appointment book full.
Drive End-of-Year Preventive Care
When the fourth quarter approaches, consider sending reminders to patients about taking advantage of insurance benefits that will expire at the end of December. Encourage them to schedule preventive appointments before it’s too late, as unused benefits will be lost if they’re not redeemed within the year.
Putting Your Plan into Action
Encouraging patients to understand their dental care insurance plans only takes a few minutes of staff time. Developing a personalized preventive care calendar can also take just a few minutes. Simply jot down the recommended dates for coming in so patients can plan their schedules accordingly and inquire about the number of covered preventive care visits from their insurance company. Once they know how often they should visit, patients can book their appointments for the year before leaving the office.
The other strategies may require a budget. If your current scheduling tools don’t have marketing automation capabilities, consider upgrading. It can be an investment, but one that can improve your practice management and encourage preventive care at the same time.
Driving awareness of getting in for an appointment before the year’s benefits expire can be as simple as putting signs in the waiting room reminding your patients to do so. You might also consider putting an advertising budget behind this initiative and spreading the word through direct mail or digital ads. To accommodate the anticipated busy end-of-year period, you may need to hire someone or extend hours, which indicates extra costs you’ll need to cover in that timeframe.
Strategies that have a low investment but high return include:
- Promoting insurance understanding
- Developing a personalized preventive care schedule
- Encouraging early appointment planning
Strategies that require a high investment but yield a high return include:
- Marketing automation software
- Marketing and advertising
- Hiring staff
- Extended hours
If you don’t have the extra cash on hand to fund these and other initiatives to help drive more preventive care, a working capital loan or business credit card can help you cover the initial costs so you can improve your practice management and encourage preventive care at the same time.
Mr. Gruebele is senior vice president at Bankers Healthcare Group, the leading provider of financial solutions for healthcare professionals. Contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the BHG website at bankershealthcaregroup.com.