By improving your handling of dental consultations and billing conversations, you can make the insurance process less stressful for your patients and have better luck converting leads.
One word in the dental industry conjures up feelings of confusion or frustration in your patients unlike any other: “insurance”. Even though almost two out of three adults in the U.S. have some form of dental insurance, that does not stop it from being a complex matter for your patients to manage on their own.
Many patients have to overcome their own personal fear of the dentist, let alone the uncertainty that can come from not knowing how to pay for their dental care. Even for those of us with strong communication skills, discussing dental billing can be tricky.
By improving how you handle your dental consultations and dental plan conversations, you can make the process less stressful for your patients and have better luck converting leads.
1. Involve Your Team
More than likely, you are not the only member of your practice talking to patients about their dental benefits or their bill. That is why it is crucial to prepare your entire dental team beforehand, so that speaking with your patients about these important topics is easier to navigate.
2. Establish a Plan and Share It
The easiest way to keep you and your staff on the same page is to create a plan and talking points they can remember and easily stick to. Your morning huddles are a great place to discuss ideas that have been working in your dental consultations and which ones have not. If any changes need to be made, the huddle is the ideal place to communicate it to ensure you team adheres to the changes. Be sure that your team has made “estimate” part of their regular vocabulary. There is nothing worse than unintentional misinformation about cost, and using “estimate” as your terminology avoids connotation of a specific cost.
3. Help Your Patients Understand Their Dental Insurance
How many times has one of your patients declined a treatment because their dental insurance wouldn’t cover all of it, leading them to believe that the treatment itself was not necessary? Sadly, this is a common occurrence across the industry – therefore, it is important to make sure your patients understand that their dental insurance is more of a discount card than something that will cover every cost. Above all else, make sure your patients know that their well being is your top priority and your recommendations are based on this – not their insurance coverage.
4. Keep Sensitive Conversations Private
When you are faced with a large financial decision, wouldn’t you rather not consider the options and come to your decision in front of a host of strangers? You can make the decision much less stressful for your patients by having any sort of important billing conversations in a secluded, private room – it also adds a layer of trust to your doctor/patient relationship by making them feel more valued!
5. Offer Multiple Forms of Patient Education
A face-to-face conversation is obviously important, but you can make things easier for you and your patient by offering other forms of education. Office signage, waiting room TV messaging, even transforming your website into a sort of educational hub; these are all effective means of educating your patients on dental insurance before they talk with you or your staff.
6. Avoid TMI
Sometimes, it is more harmful to get too far in the weeds about your patient’s dental insurance. Keeping things general makes it easier for your patients to understand how their insurance will help them, rather than bogging them down in technical jargon.
7. Refer to Your Patient's Insurance
You and your staff may be authorities on all things dental, but sometimes the easiest solution is to refer your patients to the company that designed their plan. Your patients deserve the right answers to their questions, so if you or your staff are unsure – advise your patients to contact their insurer.
You don’t have to let insurance remain a frightening topic for your patients! By helping them understand their dental insurance and what it can do for them, the easier it will be for you to keep growing your practice!
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