The Great Recession took a toll on dental practices that they still haven’t quite recovered from. Did you know the average number of patient visits declined by five per week in 2017 compared to 2007? At this time of year, in particular, you may find lots of empty appointment spots in your calendar. How can you keep your chairs filled and your revenues coming in during the slow holiday season? Here are seven tips that will help.
- Enhance case acceptance by communicating treatment plans more effectively. Some 85% of U.S. adults say their oral health is important to them. But often, even patients who care about their teeth are reluctant to embrace the treatment plans their dentists suggest. To boost case acceptance, use photos and X-rays of the patient’s mouth to demonstrate the need for treatment. Clearly explain what treatment will do and what can happen if treatment is delayed. Offer different options for treatment, such as breaking it into stages. Some patients prefer to spread treatments out over time; others prefer to get everything done at once. You can also use Lighthouse’s automated treatment plan reminders to help motivate patients to complete their care (and if you accept CareCredit, you can even promote this alternate payment option in your reminders). Be sure to let patients know about any other financing options your practice offers.
- Use appointment reminders. It’s difficult to get patients scheduled at this time of year, and busy holiday schedules make it easy for patients to forget their appointments. Don’t lose out on revenues by suffering from patient no-shows. Sending appointment reminders helps ensure your practice’s production stays steady. Lighthouse 360 can send patients automatic appointment reminders, by text, email or phone, and send the confirmation directly to your PMS.
- Be ready to handle last-minute cancellations. This time of year, holiday events, colds and flus, or unexpected travel plans can lead to lots of last-minute cancellations. Enforcing your practice policies regarding fines for late cancellations is one way to recapture some of the lost revenue. Another is to use a solution such as Lighthouse 360’s Fill-In feature. It automatically detects cancellations and contacts patients who have expressed interest in an appointment until the slot is filled. Some 90% of Lighthouse 360 clients say Fill-In helps to reduce no-shows.
- Capitalize on Flexible Spending Account (FSA) year-end spending deadlines. Patients who have standard healthcare FSAs will lose any unspent funds in their accounts at the end of the plan year. Did you know Americans lose more than $400 million in tax-free dollars annually by failing to use money in their FSAs? Remind patients about FSA deadlines via email and social media. You can even reach out by phone to patients who have been putting off treatments.
- Bill immediately. Submit insurance claims and send out bills the same day an exam or procedure is completed. The faster you invoice or submit your claim or bill, the faster you can get paid. You can also speed payment from patients by asking for partial payment when the appointment is booked and the rest on completion of the treatment.
- Follow up on late payments right away. Whether it’s payments from insurance companies or payments from individuals, you can boost your revenues by being proactive. Follow up as soon as payments are overdue to see if there are any problems. Insurance payments might be delayed by an easily fixable error such as improper coding.
- Promote cosmetic dentistry procedures. Encourage patients to give themselves the gift of a whiter smile in time for holiday festivities or New Year’s resolutions. Some 70% of U.S. adults say a smile can make or break a first impression, and 53% say their smile affects their overall success. Offer discounts on popular procedures.
- Reactivate dormant patients. Identify patients who haven’t visited in 18 to 36 months. Then use Lighthouse 360 to send dormant patients customized recall emails or letters. Sweeten the pot by offering them a discount exam or some type of free “extra.” When dormant patients do come in for appointments, ensure your staff treats them like VIPs with friendly greetings. Update their records and contact information so you can stay in touch going forward.
Find out how Lighthouse 360 can help you boost practice revenues all year round.