By JoAnne Tanner
Many practices are still feeling the pinch of the recession, but with a few simple tactics you can boost business and recession proof your practice. Below is just part of what JoAnne Tanner, a leading dental practice consultant, shared with us to help your practice continue to find success. Although JoAnne focuses on dental practices, these principles apply to all healthcare practices.
Maximize Your Current Patient Base
Develop and implement a system to follow up on patients who need treatment that have not scheduled an appointment. I strongly believe that each patient should be contacted three times for follow up before being retired back to the shelf. Allow your scheduling coordinator or treatment coordinator to decide their best method to keep track of these patients. Such options may be to keep a list of patients needing followups, create a “memo” in the computer if available, or create a calendar and place the patients name and treatment needed on a day. Then follow up as needed. Additionally, assign a team member to print a report of the previous month's treatment plans (or pull up written records) and review to see who has not scheduled and make sure they have received their follow up calls.
Provide An Ongoing Call List To Assist You When Filling The Schedule
When scheduling a patient, ask your scheduling coordinator to let patients know she will call them with any openings that become available sooner. A list should be created for treatment patients and hygiene patients with patients' preferred day and time, provider they prefer to see, and how many contacts have been made.
Additionally, if you have a patient who has had to re-schedule an appointment more than twice it would be advisable to offer to place them on a call list instead of reappointing.
Provide A Caring Form Of Follow-Up For Our Patients That Shows We Care
If your scheduling coordinator has attempted to contact a patient three times by phone and has not received a response have her send a reactivation letter informing the patient that you miss seeing them and to contact your office. A treatment reminder letter may also be appropriate to send to patients who need necessary treatment outlining the benefits of having work done. On a lighter note, birthday cards and referral appreciation gifts are a great way to show you truly appreciate your patients.
Have The Entire Team Involved In Increasing Patient Flow
Review appropriate wording with your team on how to ask for referrals. Encourage everyone to come up with a great way to discuss this with patients so they feel comfortable. Some offices create team competitions or individual competitions for asking for referrals, or you may opt to reward the group as a whole for reaching a set goal of new patient referrals per month. Always remember to thank existing patients who refer new patients to your practice.
Offer Affordable Payment Options
Patients appreciate knowing that they have many options. In order to be perceived as affordable and flexible by your patient, you need to offer payment options. These options must be beneficial to the practice, as well as the patient. The patient will then select the option that meets their needs. It's important to have something visually to show the patient, and not just the treatment, it needs to have the payment options. Without the payment options, the patient is only going to remember the big number and not what the monthly payment plan with all of the attractive options.
JoAnne Tanner, MBA, brings compelling insights to dental practice management from her more than twenty-five years of experience in the dental profession. Her ability to provide dental professionals with management skills needed to maintain control, create an environment for achievement, and instill enthusiasm in the entire dental team has made her a strong asset to the dental profession. JoAnne holds a Master in Business Administration with an emphasis on Strategic Planning and a BS in Marketing Management. For more information, contact JoAnne Tanner, MBA at
(916) 791-2720 or visit her website at www.joannetanner.com.
About Apex EDI
Apex EDI is a leading healthcare claims clearinghouse for medical and dental professionals. Apex EDI serves thousands of physicians, dentists, and other medical providers nationwide with its Apex OneTouch® solution. The OneTouch® solution is a Web-based electronic claims reimbursement system that increases productivity and profitability while facilitating fast payment of insurance claims and providing additional reporting and analysis. Founded in 1995, Apex EDI is based in American Fork, Utah.