Reports in Hand = Cash in the Bank
Remember the good ol’ days? You know, the ones in which your schedule was booked for months, the patients were flowing like Champagne from a fountain, and you were rolling in the green - or at least you thought you were. Then came the recession; it put a cork in the bubbly, made Swiss cheese of the schedule, and as for cash flow, accounts receivables went from so-so to “uh-oh.”
The truth is, you probably have little or no idea what your receivables were before the economy hit the skids, because you were most likely racing through your days too quickly to give nary a glance at the figure. And, after all, enough patients were paying up front and in full. Ah yes, the good ol’ days.
By the time 2008 rolled around, practices had come a long way in educating patients about payment expectations. Gone were the days of patient dictated payment plans - “I would like to pay $50 a month on my $1,200 bill that way I’ll have it paid off in just two years. No problem, right?” Practices put their collective feet down and said goodbye to the banking biz. Policies were not only adopted, they were actually implemented. Business staff became more comfortable with confidently explaining financial policies to patients, and patients were more willing to accept them. Then economic circumstances changed, and dental teams panicked.
Two years later, it’s time to hit the pause button on practice panic and pay attention to what I’m about to tell you. We all know that the economy has undergone a series of changes and challenges over the last several months. That being said, the expectation remains: Practice collections should yield 98% for treatment currently being performed. Should you be sensitive to your local economy? Absolutely - but not at the expense of the practice’s financial solvency. It’s time to issue a collections correction and get your accounts receivables back on track. But before you dig out, you have to dig in - into key practice reports that is. These are your guide to cash in the bank.
The Accounts Receivable Aging Report
The Outstanding Insurance Claims Report
Now that you’ve carefully reviewed these key practice financial reports, you have a much better understanding of where your practice financials stand, and you are ready to take action.
Next week, six steps to solvency
Shoppers - Are They Really Looking for the Cheapest Care?
“It is a waste of my time to answer the questions of a shopper, they are just looking for the cheapest price and don’t care about quality.” Jane D, Office Manager
How often a patient continues to shop around after receiving a treatment plan is often unknown unless the patient says to you, “I am going to get a second opinion.” It is easy to assume their decision is swayed by the cost of the care and not the quality of the product and the expertise of the service. If you haven’t enhanced the quality of the products you use, then you haven’t established market value. For instance, if you say to the patient that you are providing white fillings for $380 a tooth, it doesn’t sound impressive but maybe it does sound expensive. Think about what is involved in making this filling.
“We are providing the best available composite material on the market, known for its durability and strength against fracture. We will be matching the color of this filling with your other teeth so it is as natural as the tooth you had originally. You will be able to chew normally on this tooth as soon as the numbness goes away. With proper care this filling(s) will last for many years.”
Dental services are provided in a sterile field by trained and licensed professionals. The patient is receiving a product and service with long term health value. It is up to the practice to be able to create an environment to deliver this message.
If you haven’t enhanced the value of your service to the patient, then you will be shopped for a second opinion. From the initial point of contact you are building trust by answering the patient’s questions, greeting the patient with a caring and helpful attitude, seating the patient on time and conducting yourself professionally. If there is tension in the office from friction between staff members or the doctor is in a surly mood, the patient will quickly pick up on this and will become cautious about having care in your practice. This lack of trust, not the suspicion that your fees are too high, is the main cause of “shopping” another practice.
When a person phones your office asking about your fees for a particular procedure, it is up to you to decide how much time you want to spend on this call. Generally, people who have been quoted a fee at another practice call to see if the fee they were quoted is reasonable. The patient has doubts, and in order to resolve these reservations they call offices nearby to “shop” for answers.
Take a little time, but take control of the conversation by asking:
“How did you hear about our office?”
If the patient wants a price for a crown, quote a range that includes a periapical x-ray and possible build-up fee and say, “We must verify this quote with an examination and an x-ray.”
Shoppers are not necessarily looking for the cheapest option. They want to perceive that the value of the product and the service equal the cost. Think of shoppers as people who need dental care and need questions answered. If you take the time to help them you may end up with a new patient, or maybe you’ll just create goodwill. You will be surprised to hear that offices get referrals from people who have never been patients but were treated well on the phone.
To learn about scripting for other situations that require excellent customer service skills, take the time to improve your practice by signing up today for a training course through McKenzie Management.
Your Future Is In Your Hygiene Department
One system that fails in almost all general family practices is in the area of hygiene. Let’s think about the logistics for a moment. If you are a doctor with a practice that is ten years old and you have been averaging 20 new hygiene patients a month, that is 2400 patients x 2 visits/yr = 4800 appointments needed. If your hygienist is averaging 9 patients per day, you would need 533 hygiene days. Working an average of 192 days a year, this equates to 2.7 hygienists per day. Imagine if you have been working 15-20 years!
Why Don’t You Have 2.7 Hygienists Per Day?
Reasons for Dr. Shively’s Weak Hygiene Department:
This letter should also include a statement indicating that as the dentist responsible for providing dental care for them, unless you see them on a regular basis you cannot be responsible for the maintenance of their dental health. These patients are now considered “inactive” and if you have paper records for your patients, their record should be relocated from the “active” A-Z records to the “inactive” A-Z records.
The Hygiene Coordinator
As a result, one of the team members accepted this most important role of Hygiene Coordinator. She understood that the future of the practice depended on her ability to maintain the follow-up systems in order to “grow” the Hygiene Department from one hygienist to two.
The Future of Your Practice
Know that the future of your practice is in hygiene. It is as simple as this: The more mouths you look in, the more productive you will be and the more patients you will serve!If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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