2020 is drawing to a close, and while that likely evokes a wide range of emotions in most people there are some basic logistical realities we all have to deal with. Among these are the reset in dental benefits that happens in most insurance plans, which can wreak havoc with the cost of an ongoing treatment plan for both dental health providers and patients. So, with the holidays approaching and New Year’s on the horizon, let’s talk about how you can help your patients finish their treatment plans before the end of the year.
First off, you and your staff need to be ready for an end of year glut of patients. Whether that means expanding schedules, approving overtime, or working weekends, you’ll want to be ready to put in some extra hours so that everyone involved can make the most out of this year’s insurance benefits. We know–it’s a stressful time of the year and we’re all spread a little thin right now. But this is the best approach for both your patients and your business, so take a breath and push on through.
With that in mind, now’s the time of year for patient outreach. We’ve talked elsewhere about how to help patients make the most out of their unused dental benefits, and a big piece of that involved reminding them that they have unused benefits left on the table. If you have patients with both unused benefits and unfinished treatment plans, the clock is ticking doubly fast. It may be time to reach out to them directly via email, telephone call, or both. Emails are time-efficient, easy to use reminders that can reach a large number of people fairly quickly. Telephone calls offer a chance for direct, personal communication. Not only are patients more likely to respond to a person-to-person phone call, but it also gives them the chance to discuss any questions they have about either their treatment or their insurance benefits. This in turn gives you the chance to guide them toward the right decision and help them understand their best course of treatment both this year and the next. We all know that the personal touch is a big part of success for any medical care provider, and that principle applies here. Take the time, make the time, and reach out to your patients directly.
While we’re on the subject, don’t neglect social media. A few quick reminders there can catch your patients’ attention, particularly those in their late teens and 20s. It’s akin to email in that it’s a fast way to remind people of the importance of finishing their treatment plans for the year. Paired with a follow-up telephone call or text message, and you’ll be en route to success.
There are several reasons that patients may neglect to finish their treatment plans before the end of the year, but in 2020 we should talk about the role the ongoing pandemic may play. Many patients may be concerned about their overall health and a possible exposure in a relatively public place like a dentist’s office. Your patient outreach–be it via phone, text, social media, or direct phone call–is not only a chance to remind them about their unused benefits and the importance of completing their dental plan before the end of the year. It’s a chance to reiterate that your office or practice is taking steps to keep sterile, disinfected, and appropriately socially distanced during treatment. You can remind them that the dentist is a safe place to visit, even in the midst of this pandemic. It never hurts to say it, and they may just need to hear that as part of making the decision to come in and complete their course of treatment.
It’s been a challenging year for dentists and oral health care providers everywhere, but now you have the chance to finish strong both medically and as a business. For both your office and your patients, finishing their treatment plans end 2020 on a good note and lays the foundation for further success in 2021.