Boost Patient Care with Flexible Financing Options

Whether planned or not, dental care is expensive. Although most Americans have private dental insurance through their employer or another plan, patients will likely have some out of pocket costs for the majority of preventive and emergency dental procedures.

These added costs are both frustrating and stressful for many Americans, especially given the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on jobs and the economy as a whole. But when a patient needs a crown or replacement filling, it needs to be taken care of. So what can you do to encourage patients to seek care even if it’s tough on the wallet? That’s where flexible financing options come in. Here are three good reasons to offer financing to your patients.

BOOST PATIENT MORALE

In today’s uncertain economic climate, major or even minor dental procedures can be cost prohibitive. For patients without dental insurance, even the cost of an annual cleaning may be too much. If you offer financing as a payment option, your patients can still receive excellent dental care without draining their funds to do it. This is especially important in today’s social and economic environment as a result of COVID-19. There are several ways to incorporate flexible financing into your payment plans.  Popular options from companies like CareCredit include low monthly payments, zero prepayment penalties, and low interest loans. If your patient has poor or no credit, they may still qualify for certain plans if that’s something you feel would benefit your consumer base.

ATTRACT NEW PATIENTS

Another benefit of offering flexible financial payment plans is that it attracts new patients who might otherwise be unable to seek high quality dental care. As stated before, consider the needs of your patients. How might the pandemic have affected their wallets? What options can you offer to assure them of their options even if they can’t afford standard procedures out of pocket? This applies not only to new patients but also to your existing ones.

INCREASE YOUR BOTTOM LINE 

Although it might mean less upfront revenue at the time of service, incorporating flexible financing terms can result in increased profit later on. Why? Because the alternative is that new or existing patients don’t seek dental care even in an emergency because of the potential costs. This not only puts your patients at risk for developing significant dental conditions, but also affects your practice if no procedures take place to generate income. Flexible financing payment plans are practical, effective and beneficial for your practice and for the patients you serve.

CURIOUS ABOUT FLEXIBLE FINANCING OPTIONS FOR YOUR PRACTICE?

Contact Dr. Coughlin today with any questions you have about how flexible financing options can boost your dental practice.

Questions to Ask Before Offering Teledentistry Services

Over the past several months, social distancing and remote work have become the new normal for most Americans. For dental practice owners, implementing telehealth options to continue operations is in many cases a necessity in order to comply with both federal and state recommendations.

If your practice hasn’t already done so, consider getting your team and patients on board with a telehealth program. Not only does it mean that you can still offer your services, but your patients will also feel appreciated and thought of during this uncertain time.

However, there are some things you need to consider before turning your practice into a telehealth operation. This post will go over just a few of these factors.

HOURS OF OPERATION

The nature of dental work is that many visits are due to emergent scenarios like cavities or an infected tooth. Other patients may only see you twice a year for their checkups. This can make determining standard hours of operations difficult under “normal” circumstances, but remote services add more stress to the issue.

Here are some questions you need to consider regarding hours of operation in a telehealth-based world. By reviewing these and other factors, you can be more prepared for the changes that telehealth services bring.

• Do you want to set aside certain hours for emergency vs regular visits?
• Will telehealth services only be for non-emergent clients? How does this relate to cleanings?
• If your in-person support team are necessary for your business operations, how do their positions fit into telehealth practices? Is there room for them to work remotely if possible?

PROGRAMS

There are many different platforms available for telehealth programs. However, an important thing to note is that not all of the popular options (Skype, Facetime) offer HIPAA Compliant regulations for their video conference services. Platforms that provide HIPAA compliant protected teledentistry services include Cisco, GoToMeeting and Zoom. Since the privacy, protection, and security of your clients is of vital importance, this is an important aspect to keep in mind. It is also likely that some training for telehealth platforms may be needed for both staff and patients, so preparation in this area can be very helpful for all involved. For example, consider training and designating one staff member to be the “go-to” person for all things related to the technical side of telehealth services.

PAPERWORK

Much of the administrative aspect of running an efficient dental practice relates to the proper use, storage, and disposal of patient-sensitive paperwork. When it comes to preparing your office for telehealth services, make sure to go through these questions about paperwork to ensure as seamless a transition as possible.

• Do you offer your patients a disclosure form to receive teledentistry services?
• How do you plan to store paperwork from telehealth visits for record purposes?
• What systems do you have in place to properly secure paperwork if moving them from one program to another?

NEED HELP?

Want to implement teledentistry options during this time of uncertainty but aren’t sure where to start? Dr. Coughlin is here to guide, support and encourage you now and in the future to grow and sustain a dental practice that goes above and beyond. Call us today!

Top Customer Service Tips for Dentists

Did you know that in today’s day and age, in many cases, dental providers may be employed by a large corporation and the dentist may not have any ownership in the company? This can lead to patients feeling they are not important and are just a number in the office. That is not only bad for the patient but also for the corporation. The top priority in every dental officeshould be seeing customers smile. One because they’re proud of their teeth, and two because they’re happy with their dentist.

Chances are, there are plenty of dentists to choose from in your area. So what makes patients pick their dental practice and stick with it? It’s not just how you treat their teeth, but how you treat them altogether. Yes, to run a successful dental practice isn’t just about how you handle dental procedures, but how you serve your patients in all the other aspects. Your attitude and atmosphere can go a long way.

Customer service is key in setting you apart from your competitors. And in this day and age, with the ease of social sharing and online reviews, it’s really important. So, you might be wondering the best ways to make an impact on your patients and keep them coming back. These five easy tips will help get your patients passing along their good experiences, giving you free referrals and recommendations.

  1. Remember your manners.

It’s free and easy, and quite possibly the most important: make your patients feel valued! Sure you’re busy, but don’t let them know it. Give your patients all the patience you can and don’t make them feel rushed. Talk to them about their concerns and explain procedures in detail in a way they can understand everything in easy terms.

  1. Create a culture of top-notch customer care.

Create a standard for your team to live up to everyday, with every patient. Make sure your staff is genuine and observant. Be sure they welcome patients as soon as they walk in and that they’re overly-pleasant every time they pick up the phone. Remind them to pay customers compliments and to converse with them like they’re a friend.

  1. Go above and beyond.

Anybody can give out a free toothbrush. Go for the gold vs. the ordinarydental officeexperience. Pass out gift cards if they have to wait a while. Offer incentives for referrals. Provide special toys or trinkets for kids.  And when you have an unhappy patient, make things right, right away. Actually listen to their complaints and work to resolve the problem.

  1. Give patients a positive experience.

Many people hate going to the dentist. But offering an office that feels welcoming and refreshing can make all the difference. Create a space they feel comfortable, whether it’s bringing a comfy couch into the front area or playing soothing music while they wait.

Oh, and don’t make them wait long. A good rule of customer service is making people feel like they’re a priority, and making them wait for you does the opposite of that.

  1. Keep a clean space.

Having a dental officeobviously means keeping your clinical areas hygienic. But making sure the other areas are clean can be just as important. What’s the waiting area look like from the patient’s perspective? How does the parking lot look? Is your receptionist’s desk cluttered with paperwork? Are your restrooms tidy?

No matter how good you are at what you do, customer service can make or break your practice. Having a friendly staff and a caring team can take your dental officeto a whole new level. The best way to get referrals and grow your practice is by fostering a patient-focused culture. After all, they’re the reason you’re in business! Learn more about what you can do as a  dentistto grow your practice with this program created to help improve the customer care you provide.

 

Customer experience is the key to growing your dental practice

How do you view your clients? When it comes to how they choose you they are obviously consumers first. They do research online and ask for recommendations from friends and family. And you need to market to them as potential sources of recurring revenue for years to come.

However once they sit in the chair with mouths wide open, they become your patient.

And that’s how they see themselves as well. I’m going to assume that your skills as a dentist are good to great. So how do you differentiate yourself from the dentist down the street?

I suggest that providing a good “consumer experience” is just as important as providing good patient outcomes to the success of your business.

If you constantly make mistakes on your billing, or let your waiting room overfill with patients waiting to be seen as they flip through decades old issues of Dentistry Today, people will be less likely to return to your practice or recommend it to friends and family.

If you want to be successful over the long haul you need to have the processes and procedures in place to turn your patients into repeat customers.

It really is the little things. But also the big things. A solid customer focus should be as important to you as providing great clinical outcomes. People remember waiting rooms and billing issues – and they talk about them with their friends because they understand them and can be communicated as short anecdotes that sum up their experience.

If patients have a positive experience with all aspects of your business they are more likely to agree to treatment plans recommended by you. This is key to growing your practice.

If patients do not believe, like and trust (BLT) you, it can become very difficult to get case acceptance. And even when you do get grudging case acceptance from a patient who does not 100% believe, like or trust in you, it will ultimately it will lead to problems.

In the end, health care providers are held in high esteem. But selling is not negative. You are a service provider. And if your service has value and it is demonstrated at every point of the customer experience your practice will grow.

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Beyond the Bridge: Building your dental practice with new and alternative services

I’ve worked as a dentist for 4 decades. The business has change considerably during that time.

The path to success used to be very straightforward. You would go to school, study hard, gain clinical expertise and then open a practice.

It would be an oversimplification to say that it was easy. Running a business never is. But it was a business model that most of us could figure out.

Fast forward to today and everything has changed. Dentists are getting squeezed from every direction. Patients now see themselves as customers and expect to be treated as such, insurance companies are getting stingier with their schedules and we are being forced into competition with well funded and aggressive Dental Service Organizations (DSO) and Managed Service Organizations (MSO).

Any one of these is enough to keep you up at night. And when you take them together it can seem completely overwhelming.

Dentist have two choices. The first is to continue business a usual and hope nobody notices.

The second is to adapt to the new environment and begin offering new and complimentary services and procedures that are a natural fit for our skills and expertise.

Welcome to the new era of “Spa Dentistry”

It’s certainly not a term you hear a lot. And it requires a lot more than offering warm towels, relaxing music and simple massages. In my definition it means expanding your services to include more cosmetic and beauty solutions to clients. When you think about it, adding services like Botox and Dermal fillers into your practice is a natural extension of what you do and fits well with the cosmetic dentistry model.

Adding to your existing clinical skills through additional training opens the door to an expanded practice as well as a completely new revenue stream. Your patients already trust you and believe in your skills. Offering them new services in a familiar environment makes it easy for them to “give it a try.” And the best part is that these are full fee treatments, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with insurance companies.

In addition to Botox and Derma fillers, some other treatment options to consider include:

  • Radiofrequency treatments (RF) to tighten the skin around the face and neck. Each treatment takes only 5-10 minutes and maintenance is every 4-12 months.
  • Laser treatments to remove red and brown spots on and/or around the face, spider veins, unwanted hair and tattoos as well as scar tissue or wrinkles. Each treatment takes between 25-60 minutes and usually can be completed in 2-4 visit with each visit scheduled 4-6 weeks apart.
  • You can also use both RF and Laser to remove unwanted adipose tissue under the chin, sub mental area inner and outer thighs and abdomen.  These treatments usually can be completed in 2-6 treatments scheduled 6-8 weeks apart and each session lasting between 25-60 minutes.
  • Hydra facials, which replenish the youthfulness of the skin in 30-40 minutes taking years off your patients skin and is maintained by a follow up visit every other month.
  • Kybella injections in the sub mental area to remove unwanted fat or adipose tissue causing the dreaded double chin.
  • PDO sutures or what is commonly referred to as a lunchtime facelift almost instantly taking years off your face.

The majority of our patients want to improve their looks. With our focus on teeth we are leaving a lot of business on the table for others to gram. Remember If they aren’t getting it from you they will find an alternate service provider take care of their cosmetic needs.

Our business is changing quickly. You don’t have the luxury to wait around and “see what happens.” Your competition is coming for you and you need to be ready to adapt to the changing marketplace now or you may soon find yourself out of it all together.

Grow your practice with a targeted referral strategy

We all want more clients. If you want your practice to grow one of the best metrics you can use to track success and predict future growth is how many new patients come through your door each month vs those you lose.

There are many strategies you can use to keep your funnel full, including advertising and sponsorships that will help increase your brand recognition. However one of the most significant things we can do in the healthcare industry to improve our businesses is increase referrals from existing clients.

I recently spoke to Stacey Brown Randall from Growth by Referrals about how a properly implemented referral strategy can help dentists get more of the patients “they want” to choose their practice.

“First you need to be willing to touch business development everyday,” says Randall.

“When I started paying attention to how we are taught to do referrals – which is to ask – it really sounded like a cold call to me.”

For Randall “the ask” was a significant barrier. So she developed a system whereby you identify who the clients you already have that you would like to have more of and turn those existing patients into advocates for your business by going beyond once or twice a year contacts and actually offering the type of client experience that keeps you top of mind.

“We typically refer people who are like us,” says Randall. “However only 20% to 30% of clients refer on a consistent basis. So you need to have the right client experience and referral strategy in place so that when opportunities for referral occur people are saying ‘you have got to go see my dentist’.”

This is a great point as it does not simply mean that you are increasing the number of referrals – but also the quality of those who are referred.

If dentists do their tracking properly there is always a referral source. Whether it’s a personal referral, or a referral from an insurance company or even another healthcare professional.

“A lot of referrals should be coming from other practitioners,” says Randall. “So dentists and other healthcare professionals should be cultivating those relationships.”

If you would like to learn more about Stacey you can visit her site www.GrowthByReferrals.com.


Ascent Dental Solutions is a full-service agency dedicated to helping dentists build their practices and map out their careers. It is the brainchild of Dr. Kevin Coughlin, who earned his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and currently serves as a faculty member there. While Dr. Coughlin continues to practice dentistry as the principal owner of the 14-location Baystate Dental PC, he has a strong passion for helping fellow dentists maximize their success. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.