Friday, September 21, 2012

Finding the Right Fit: Patients, Treatment Plans and Budgeting

In this economy, money is tight for most families. As dental professionals, our role lies in helping patients make dentistry a priority and to enable them to afford the quality of care that will allow them to achieve optimum oral health. Here are five ways to incentivize treatment plans, and help patients maintain a healthy relationship with your practice and their oral care. 

·         1 – Patient Financing Available
Financing can be a necessity, especially when it comes to configuring medical and dental expenses into your budget. If treatment is too expensive, patients may need credit options, which is why many offices offer financing through CareCredit. Patient financing through CareCredit provides patients with a suspended or reduced interest rate if they can pay it off within a certain amount of time.

·         2 – Make Fee Schedules Available Before Treatment
As healthcare providers, it is always in our best interest to provide fees and terms of payments in advance of treatment. This method “inform before you perform” helps patients prepare financially. It also establishes goals and solidifies the patient/provider relationship. 

·         3 – Provide Multiple Treatment Options
There is usually more than one plan or option to give patients choices when it comes to their treatment plan. Patients like having options. The truth is most patients will have the necessary treatment if they have the funds available for treatment. Often, the only set-back is funds. When patients are asked to spend money, multiple and affordable options help reassure that they are being presented with all of the information available so that they can make informed decisions. Also, it helps them to understand the timeline of a diagnosis and treatments options. For example, it would X to treat a cavity, but if the cavity goes untreated and becomes an abscess, then it would cost XX to treat or extract. This helps patients understand the conditions and consequences if the initial problem is left untreated.  

·         4 – Be Considerate of Patient Readiness
If the diagnosis is not good, patients may not be prepared to hear about the treatment plan or the expense to restore their oral health and smile. This is where dental staff can help build loyalty, by educating patients on the importance of ongoing and treatment, and by partnering and working on short term and long term oral treatment plans to get them back on track and smiling. Keep in mind that the circumstances and budget will vary from patient to patient. 

·         5 –Big Bonus: In-House Membership Programs
Many patients or even their family members are without dental insurance, which is why they are often happy to learn of in-house discount dental plans that make exams, cleanings, and dental treatment more affordable. American Dental Plan offers plans for individuals, couples and families for one low annual fee, and this helps patients save from 30-40 percent. ADP offers value added cost savings for patients as they bundle services into an attractive price, providing peace of mind. 

Regardless of the economy, patients and consumers are looking for affordable alternatives to traditional dental insurance to enable their families to afford the care they know they need. In addition, at a time when patients can download coupons for different dental care needs, and go from one dental office to another, you want them to build loyalty to your practice and to their oral care, short and long term. The best way to build the relationship and loyalty, is by giving them options, and by providing quality care.