Dental Practice Management

Dental Practice Management Solutions

While many dentists frown on focusing on one or two specialties because they don’t want to leave general dentistry behind, miss out on a great opportunity.

Patients WANT specialists… and especially in dentistry, where patients pay out-of-pocket and travel far away for the RIGHT care, many dental practices that focus on their specialty can be extremely profitable.

Unlike in other medical marketing, Dental Practice Marketing largely depends on the design and functionality of the Dental Website. It should have informative content, galleries, and testimonials… why?

Because when a patient comes to the Dentist Website he already made an emotional decision to do so. Now he’s looking to make a rational decision based on verification of the information they received from the referring source (which in majority is another patient)

It’s Crucial to understand that a Dental Website that is designed for the Dental Marketing Campaign also serves a great function in Dental Practice Management. The phone number should be visible on every page, patients should be able to write an email and send it safely, a newsletter should be sent out every few weeks, patient forms should be available online… and patient portals are simply a must for 2011 and beyond!

Aside from the dentist website and offering patients the best experience of their lives the only piece missing from Dentist Marketing is the tracking! You MUST track every single initiative, its costs, and results. The entire success on Dental Marketing must be a result of a process of continued improvement, modification, and research.

In future articles we will discuss the best practices of Dental Websites and why every dentist website should be built on a Content Management System that’s easy to manage. Can’t wait? Go to Healthcare Marketing COE’s website on Dental Marketing and contact us.

Familiarize yourself with the best practices in Dental Marketing, what makes a dentist website work, and what referring physicians demand from interactions with you. We look forward to hearing from you.

Although the vast majority of patients keep their appointments, about 10% of patients cause 80% of that frustration.

Developing a protocol for handling this group of patients is essential to avoid lost revenue of anywhere from $150.00 (minimally) to $700.00 per day, depending upon the procedure. With roughly 200 working days in a year, this works out to an annual loss of between $30,000 and $140,000. These are year 2009 figures.

Follow the four steps below to slow the daily losses.

How to Handle Failed Appointments

Identify the patients who are chronic offenders.

Use a code in your practice management software to designate these patients. Some codes which may be beneficial are:

LA: Usually Late. These patients can wreak havoc on your schedule and drive up stress for everyone in the office.
SD: Same-day Patient. These are patients who have a history of cancellations (at least two cancellations). They should be told to call for a same day appointment.

DP: Doubtful Patient. No track record has been established yet, but the patient seemed hesitant at the time of setting appointment.

Be proactive in managing the difficult patients.

LA: Communicate the importance of being on time in a way that makes sense to the patient. Tell them that your appointment schedule is sequential, and if one person turns up late, the entire schedule is upset and every patient after that has to wait. Tell them politely that you can help them only if they can uphold their end of the bargain. If necessary, set their appointment 15 minutes ahead of their actual appointment time.

SD: Ask these patients to call when they have the time and the finances to come in. Do not book their appointment in advance, but if they call, and an opening is available that same day, ask them to come in.

DP: Call the patient three days in advance of their appointment. Talk to them live and confirm that they are going to keep their appointment. If you are unable to reach them live, leave a message asking them to call the office to confirm that they will keep the appointment. If you do not hear from them 24 hours prior to the appointment, open the slot up for another appointment.

Do not give peak-demand appointment slots (such as early morning, evenings, or Saturdays) to chronic offenders.

Be considerate and reasonable in developing your list of chronic offenders. Patients do have legitimate reasons for canceling appointments, such as a health problem, a real car breakdown, a daycare issue, a death in the family, being called in for overtime work at the last minute, and so forth. Give the patient the benefit of the doubt when possible.

Put the patient on this list only if they are habitual cancellers, and take them off the list when their behavior puts them back among the 90% of patients who habitually show up for their appointments – on time.