11.25.16 Issue #768 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

How to Win Emergency Patients Over
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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For many practices, emergency patients are a huge source of frustration. They come to you in a panic looking for relief from their pain, and once you provide it, you can almost guarantee you’ll never see them again.

While you’re happy to help these patients, they send your day into chaos only to disappear – which is why you get them in and out of the chair as soon as possible. But what if you could turn them into happy, loyal patients who accept treatment recommendations and refer you to family and friends? That could mean huge growth for practice productivity and your bottom line.

Not sure how to win these patients over? That’s where I come in. I’ve put together a few tips that will help your office better handle emergency patients, as well as make them want to call your practice their dental home.

Develop a script
When emergency patients call your practice, they should not feel like they’re annoying the person on the other end of the line or disrupting your day. That isn’t going to make them want to become loyal patients. But if the person they talk to shows genuine compassion and assures them the doctor can help, there’s a much better chance they’ll schedule a comprehensive exam after you take care of their more immediate problem.

Team members don’t mean to make these patients feel like they’re a nuisance, but if they don’t have a script to follow, it’s easy to say something patients might take the wrong way. Creating scripts will help ensure team members aren’t put on the spot when an emergency patient calls. The script should serve as a general guide to all team members to help them gather all the necessary information from these patients. They should also convey essential details and express a caring tone during the conversation. Trust me, this will make patients feel like they found the right dentist to help with their current situation and will go a long way in making them want to stay loyal to your practice.

Make sure your team members know how important emergency patients are
The truth is, many of your team members likely see emergency patients as a disruption rather than an opportunity for growth. Explain how emergency patients can benefit the practice and then encourage team members to go out of their way to make them feel comfortable once they arrive, whether that means offering water while they wait or helping them fill out paperwork in the comfort of a consult room. Show them you are genuinely concerned and they’ll be more likely to connect with the practice – which might prompt them to schedule a comprehensive exam.

Leave room in the schedule
Not only do you want emergency patients to schedule comprehensive exams before they leave, you want them to schedule them as soon as possible. That’s why I suggest you reserve time in the schedule for emergency patients who want to make appointments. Remember the exam should take place within a week or so after they schedule, not six weeks or six months later.

It’s also a good idea to leave slots open in your schedule for emergencies. That way, your Scheduling Coordinator will know exactly where to put them, alleviating some of the stress that often comes with fitting these patients in last minute.

Look for cues
There’s a reason emergency patients don’t have a dental home, and it’s important for you to find out what that reason is. Train your dental assistant to take note of any obstacles they bring up when discussing scheduling a comprehensive exam. Here are a few common things to take note of:

- They appear scared or anxious
- They keep asking how much treatment will cost, how much pain they can expect or how long the procedure will take
- They keep apologizing because it’s been so long since they’ve seen a dentist
- They seem angry or frustrated
- They mention a negative dental experience has kept them from pursuing comprehensive care

Knowing what their perceived barriers to care are will help you tailor your education. Address their concerns and explain why it’s so important to maintain oral health. Show them exactly what’s going on in their mouth and help them understand the benefits of the services you provide. When you do, they’ll start to see the value in dental care. They’ll also appreciate you taking the time to provide education about their condition and how they can prevent problems in the future.

Emergency patients represent a huge opportunity for your practice. If you can convert 80% of the emergency patients you see into comprehensive exams, it truly will do wonders for your practice. When you plan for emergency patients and educate them and show them you care, they’ll reward you with practice loyalty and referrals.

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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Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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What You Should Know About Net Production and Net Collections
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant

Case Study #277

The doctor’s concerns: Like many dentists, the doctor in this case study called McKenzie Management because his practice was struggling and he needed to find ways to earn more income. Here’s a look at his practice statistics:

- Gross Production for the month = $76,000   
- Gross Collections for the month = $65,500
- Gross Production to Gross Collections % = 86%

At first glance, it seems that on average he made his daily production goal for the month. The problem is, statistics can be deceiving – especially if you’re not comparing apples to apples. You probably talk with your dentist friends about how much you produce each month. But to really know how your practice is doing, it’s more important to determine how much you’re collecting, specifically how much you’re collecting after adjustments, which is your net collections.

A Look at Gross Production
Gross production is different for different offices. Some offices post the already adjusted PPO fees as their gross production, while other practices post their office fees for patients where PPO contracted fees are not applicable. As an example, let’s look at a D1110 ADA Code where the office fee is $80 and the contracted PPO fee is only $68 and what that means in three different practices.

- Office A is a PPO participant with this patient’s insurance and posts $80
- Office B is a PPO participant with a similar patient’s insurance and posts $68
- Office C doesn’t participate with the patient’s insurance and posts $80

These figures are all considered gross production because the Financial Coordinator hasn’t applied any adjustments.

A Look at Net Production
Let’s take the same numbers from the above example to illustrate net production. Office A receives the insurance payment and the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) and now must post an adjustment of $12. Why? The EOB shows the submitted amount of the claim was $80, but the allowed amount is only $68. The difference must be adjusted, making the new production for this office $68.

Now let’s look at office B. Office B receives payment from the insurance company and the EOB shows both the submitted amount and the allowed amount to be $68. That means no adjustment is needed and the net production is still $68.

Finally we have Office C. The EOB with the insurance payment indicates the submitted amount and the allowed amount are both $80. Again no adjustment is needed and the net production is $80.

Now let’s look at gross collections for the same scenario, assuming insurance paid 100% for this procedure in their plan:

- Office A collected $68
- Office B collected $68
- Office C collected $80

The amounts above all represent gross collections because no adjustments have been posted to them. But let’s say office C’s family balance was only $68 before the insurance paid. Because the insurance is paying $80, there’s now a credit balance of $12 that needs to be returned to the account. Once that $12 check is written to the patient, that office’s net collections becomes $68.

OK, so you’re probably wondering why this all matters. It’s to show you that gross production means nothing, and net production is nothing more than the amount collections are based on. Gross collections mean nothing because it doesn’t take refunds and NSF checks into account. So that leaves net collections. This is the number you should be focused on.

A Word on Credit Balances
As I worked with this particular doctor, I also reviewed his credit balances, which is the amount of money owed to patients because of the difference between what the patient paid and what the insurance paid. This just means the insurance paid more than anticipated and you owe the patient money.

Many states require these balances to be paid within 30 days, but that wasn’t the case with this doctor. We found he owed more than $14,000 in credit balances because he only returned overpayments if patients requested them. Please note it’s very important to exclude credit balances from the Accounts Receivable Report. In this doctor’s case, the $14,000 reduced his A/R to $53,800 when it really was $67,800 or 1.01x his net production instead of .80x, which he was misled to believe.

What This Means for the Doctor
This doctor incurred production adjustments equivalent to 12% of his gross production, bringing his net production to $66,880. Production adjustments are any adjustments that reduce the original fee, whether it’s senior citizen discounts, family courtesy or bad debt write-offs, to name a few. None of these are collection adjustments, which only include refunds and a recharge of an NSF check.

This doctor also incurred $356 in refunds for the month because a patient elected not to complete treatment he already paid for. Therefore, his NET collections for the month came to $65,144. 

$66,880 net produced

$65,144 net collected = 97.4% net collection to net production percentage compared to the 86% we saw when comparing gross production and collection dollars.

This gives us a much more accurate picture of what’s going on in the practice, which helps us better determine where the doctor should focus his efforts to make financial improvements.

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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