12.4.15 Issue #717 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Why Patients Aren’t Accepting Implant Treatment
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Patients are becoming more and more interested in dental implants. They’ve heard about the benefits of this treatment option, and are intrigued by what implants can do for their smile and their confidence.

The truth is, today’s patients don’t want to settle for the dental appliances their parents had; they want an esthetic, comfortable option that looks and acts like natural teeth. That’s what implants provide, making them the perfect alternative to partial dentures.

You know the interest is there, so you’re probably wondering why you’re not performing more implant cases in your practice. My guess? Like most dentists, you’re likely making assumptions about what your patients can afford and not even offering implants as an option. You don’t talk it up, so patients don’t even know you offer implants. Well doctor, it’s time for that to change, and for you to start using dental implants to grow your practice and your profits.

Here’s a look at the benefits implants can bring your practice, and how you can start increasing the number of implants you place each year.

The Benefits
Once you’re prepared to deliver implants, this new service can bring significant financial gains. Not convinced? Let me break down the numbers. Say your practice seats maxillary partial dentures on 38 patients a year for an average cost of $1,754. That’s $66,652 in revenue. If you offered those patients dental implants as an option for $5,850 and half of them accepted, that would yield $111,150 – an increase of $44,498 in revenue.

But implants don’t just offer benefits to your practice; they’re also a great option for your patients. A partial simply doesn’t address long-term mouth health and function. It can’t simulate the patient’s original tooth, but an implant can. Implants are often the best treatment option, and one you should discuss with every patient who’s a candidate.

Why You’re Not Performing More Implant Cases
Many dentists assume their patients simply can’t afford implants. Yes, implants are expensive and the price tag may very well keep some patients from moving forward with treatment – but it won’t deter every patient.

You can’t make assumptions about your patients. It’s your job to present them with the best treatment options, and to go over the pros and cons of all those options. Walk your patients through the various scenarios and help them make educated decisions about their dental health, rather than only giving them the options you think they can afford.

To help relieve some of the financial burden, consider offering patients third party financing from a company like CareCredit. If patients know they can make small payments toward their implants rather than writing one large check, they’ll be much more comfortable going forward with treatment.

Bottom line, talk with your patients about all their options, including implants. Dental implants can truly change your patients’ lives, enabling them to eat without pain and once again giving them confidence in their smile.

Provide Education
If you want to increase the number of implant cases you perform, spend time educating your team about implants and the benefits they provide patients. Get them excited about this treatment option. Team members should be able to speak with patients about implants and answer the many questions that come up. To help, prepare a list of frequently asked questions your team members can refer to when needed.

Once your team members are educated about implant dentistry, they can pass this education on to your patients. Be sure they keep the message consistent, and that they can tell patients about your experience with implants and the success you’ve had since adding implants to your list of services.

I also suggest more subtle forms of education, such as hanging an 8x10 frame promoting implants in your reception area, and 11x17 frames in every treatment room, as well as adding implant information to your website and social-media forums. Type a bulleted list of questions and answers about dental implants in large font your patients can see while sitting in the chair or waiting for their appointment. Here are a few examples of questions you can use from the American Academy of Implant Dentistry:

What are dental implants?
Dental implants are substitutes for the roots of missing teeth. They act as an anchor for a replacement tooth or crown or a set of replacement teeth.

Am I a candidate for implants?
Implant patients are of all ages and implants may be the right choice for anyone missing one or more teeth due to injury, disease or decay. They are especially practical for patients who prefer an option other than removable dentures or partials. A credentialed implant dentist can determine if you are a candidate for dental implants after a careful evaluation of your dental and medical history.

Grow your Practice with Implants
Offering implants can help boost your bottom line, and is a great option for patients who are missing teeth for any reason. If you want to increase the number of implant cases you perform in your practice, focus on education and never assume patients will say no just because implants are an expensive treatment option. Help them see it as an investment in their health, and you’ll soon notice the number of implant cases you perform begin to increase.

Next week, 7 ways to improve implant case presentation in your practice. 

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Interested in having McKenzie Management Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Seven Secrets of Successful Dental Managers
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

How can you manage scheduling, accounts receivables and staffing issues when you don’t know the numbers it takes to run the practice daily? To stay in business, a company has to make money. That means bringing money in the door and budgeting to spend less than you bring in. Depending on your function in the organization, you may have more influence on one area or the other, but you need to understand both. You can help your practice, your employees, and yourself by getting better at managing the costs of the practice.

“Doctor doesn’t share that information with me.” This is a common response from front office business staff sent in for training. The reason they are there for training is because there are red flags on the schedule in the form of no-shows and cancellations, the accounts receivables are too high, and customer service is suffering with complaints and less than stellar reviews on social media.

Let’s illustrate in seven points how a successful dental office manager navigates through this position.

1. Leading people is the usual description of what a manager does. But, he or she is also responsible for leadership over a segment of work, practice results relating to performance of other staff, and systems within the practice that create revenue like collections and insurance. Leading anyone is related to goals. Goals for a dental business include production goals in the form of dollars. If you don’t know the production goals you cannot lead others forward. Without leadership there is chaos.

2. Strategizing the schedule and the day. A dental office schedule should never be a “fill the lines and keep the doctor(s) away from the desk” approach to office production.  Great dental managers know what procedures will provide the numbers to meet goals, and what procedures can be overlapped and extended to capture the goal. It is strategy, not accident, which drives a productive schedule. Having a well-planned schedule means patients will be seen on time and dismissed on time. Patients feel important when their time is respected.

3. Prioritizing the daily tasks and goals. To sustain and increase the numbers that drive the practice, a great manager’s focus needs to be on what is most important to achieving practice goals. Make it a daily goal to follow-up on unscheduled treatment and unscheduled recall appointments. Don’t allow “out of sight out of mind” to direct attention away from this critical source of practice revenue. Your practice should be patient-centered, not staff-centered.

4. Working with the team on policy and motivation.  Having an office policy manual is an important tool, but keeping connected with the staff to support their efforts in job performance calls for a manager who is literally on the floor with the team, not in an office separated by a door. A good work ethic by the leaders improves work performance of the team.

5. Be the vision for the practice by example. Lead by example of your work, not by words that dissipate and die a week later. If you want to bring in new ideas and change for the better of the practice, be the one who makes it happen for the team. 

6. Understanding overhead and managing the numbers. Do you know the industry standard for total salaries and employee benefits? How do you know if you can afford to give raises, or for that matter hire another person? Do you know what dental supplies should be for your practice? How do you know you aren’t spending too much on supplies? Overhead cost management is critical to success.

7. Know where the money is. Analyze daily and monthly reports to see where the practice stands with total accounts receivables and insurance accounts receivables. Don’t let these numbers increase beyond your control. Run the practice by provider by code analysis to see who is producing and what is being produced. Is this number reaching the goal for production? What can be done to influence these numbers to grow? 

Management of a busy dental practice can be challenging and taxing of patience and energy. On the flip side, it can also be very rewarding as you witness happy patients with beautiful, healthy smiles and engaged team members who truly have a passion for helping people.

Want to improve your dental management skills? Call McKenzie Management and set up your customized Dental Office Manager Training today.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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Laurie Hardison
Senior Consultant
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How to Keep Front Office Conversations Professional
By Laurie Hardison, Senior Consultant

You just received a call from an unhappy patient – at home. Mrs. Smith is upset because your Front Office Manager, Susan, treated her rudely while trying to collect payment for a past due bill over the phone. Susan didn’t mean to be rude, but she’d had a long day and admits to losing her patience.

Yes, Susan feels bad about what happened – but the damage is done. The patient is unhappy with the practice, and Susan is now nervous about making collections calls.

The fact is, these conversational “oops” moments can happen to anyone on your team, but you can’t simply let them slide. Whoever trips up needs more than a reprimand, especially when their usual patient skills are satisfactory.

When this happens, the team member should call the patient to apologize. In Susan’s situation, she might say something like, “Mrs. Smith, I was definitely out of line, and I apologize.” The apology should be delivered with compassion and sincerity. I suggest practicing the apology before calling to make sure it translates that way. Remember, this isn’t the time to make excuses or be overly dramatic. The team member should apologize and then drop it.

Scripts Can Help
One way to avoid these uncomfortable conversations is to create written scripts. This is a smart way to approach office communications. If Susan had been armed with a script before calling Mrs. Smith, she likely would have stayed on track instead of insulting the patient. Before team members make outbound calls, they should research the account and know the following: 

- Who is the responsible party on the account?
- Was there insurance involved in the payment?
- Was there a payment plan or other financial notes in the chart?
- Were statements received and was there a due date on the statement?
- What payment options and timelines are you willing to offer the responsible party?
- What is your mental state? Are you tired or ill? Calling tomorrow and achieving results is better than calling today and making two people uncomfortable.

Here are a few other common conversational slip-ups that can happen in the dental office and how you and your team members can avoid them:

Forgetting The Patient’s Name 
You see a lot of patients, so it’s not surprising that a team member might forget a patient name from time to time. To avoid this, take pictures of every patient and place them in the patient page in the computer. Devise a plan to associate names with faces. If your patient named Matt looks a little like Matt Damon, use that to help remember his name. It’s also a good idea to add notes about patient interests, hobbies or family to help jar your memory. Remember to say every patients’ name back to them and to engage listening skills to hear it the first time.

Using Dental Jargon
If you want patients to accept treatment, they must understand the value of the care you provide. The more educated they are about the importance of maintaining their oral health the better, but education doesn’t do patients much good if they don’t understand it.

Don’t try to impress your patients with your dental knowledge or use technical language when explaining treatment. This will only leave them feeling confused and maybe even insulted – and less likely to accept treatment. Speak on their level, and educate them on the benefits of treatment and the potential consequences of ignoring problems in their mouth.

Telling Jokes
This is dangerous territory. While you or a team member might think jokes are entertaining, there’s a good chance your patients think they’re out of line. Avoid telling jokes, or you might end up offending your patients, thus sending them to the practice down the street.

The “Tireless Talker”
Some patients like to talk, and the endless chatter can get annoying and keep team members from performing other tasks. You have to be careful here – you don’t want to offend these friendly, chatty patients. Devise a rescue plan and create a signal that alerts team members to these situations. On signal, someone should call the trapped team member on the phone, or come to the front desk to say he or she is needed in the back office.

Another option? The team member can say something like “I’ve taken far too much of your time and I have to call some patients. Perhaps we can talk at your next visit.” This gets him or her out of the conversation without hurting anyone’s feelings.

The more prepared your office is, the less likely your team members will have these “oops” moments when talking with patients. Develop scripts and practice them as a team to create clearly defined office communications. This will help you achieve positive results and provide your patients with excellent customer service – leading to satisfied, loyal patients who are happy to call your practice their dental home.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you implement proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com

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