12.22.06 - Issue # 250 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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Be Prepared For The End of the Year or Beware

As you scramble to try to meet the ever-demanding needs of your “last minute” patients, try to keep a cool head and not go into lecture mode.  Sending out the “use it or lose it” insurance letter helps, but there are still many patients who call and want to schedule the last week in December for work who, by average, have put off for 6 months to a year.  “I have benefit dollars left to use.” “ I have money in my flex spending account and you know Dr. Goodtooth said I shouldn’t wait too long to get this done.”  I just found out I won’t have insurance next year and there may be layoffs in my department in January.”

Of course we want to help.  As a health care professional there’s a “call to arms” when patients want or need treatment immediately.  By second nature you are a problem solver, so, here you are trying to think in the box and out of the box for ways to serve all of your patients and keep them from leaving the practice.  Here are some things you can do to help alleviate the pre-holiday scheduling stress.

  • Make a list of the patients who are demanding services at the end of the year and make notes on their respective records in the treatment planner or chart note area.  When this patient comes in for recall, you will see the note and can address the potential problem at that time.  If there is treatment that needs to be done, then explain to the patient that it has to be scheduled now, or by a certain date, to insure it will be completed to meet the end of the year deadlines.
  • Determine whether the insurance plan pays on the seat date or the prep date.  If you prep in December to use up benefits and seat in January, you will be in trouble if the insurance company calls and asks the date of the seat.
  • Send out the letter that reminds patients to get their work done prior to November to avoid the end of the year mad rush.  Also, inform patients of your intended time off during the months of November and December so that they can plan accordingly.  Patients hate to be told in December that you are going to be closed at the end of the month for ten days.
  • Hire extra help to improve customer service during busy times and to avoid overstressing your team.  Remember, December marks the flu season and many people fall ill during this time of year.
  • Prepare an ASAP list of patients willing to take last minute appointments should someone cancel.
  • If you have an associate, determine what days you will need to cover for each other.
  • Thank your patients for their loyalty this time of year by sending Holiday cards, or having an Open House Party.  Or put together a special patient goody bag, or raffle off a basket of holiday cheer.  Make hot spicy cider and decorate your office.
  • Continue to inform patients that their insurance benefit plan is designed to “help” them get healthy, and that it is necessary and common to pay out of pocket for many services.  Have them look at their tax situation to see if they would benefit by paying for services in this tax year versus next year. 
  • Make sure to plan ahead for coverage if the office will be closed down for several days, and prepare a post-op sheet with the directions to contact the doctor on call.  Telling the patient when they make the appointment, and assuring them that they will be taken care of in a professional manner, helps instill confidence in your practice.
  • Putting together a “temp cement” packet for patients in temporary crowns over the holidays is a good prevention for  “that call” during the Holiday festivities.

Want help with any of these bullet points?  We’ve got the answers in our Advanced Business Training for Front Office and Business Administrators.  Start your new year off with solid footing and schedule your training today. Happy Holidays to All!

For more information on McKenzie's Advanced Training for Front Office and Office Managers, email training@mckenziemgmt.com, call 1-877-777-6151 or visit our web-site at http://www.mckenziemgmt.com/

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