By Kevin Burniston
If you are a dentist or work in the dental industry, it's likely you have a strong opinion about PPO insurance. If PPOs are such a polarizing topic, why have 85% of dental offices chosen to go in-network?
There are two simple answers – "new patients" and "current patients." PPO insurance has become the main source for new patients for many dental offices around the country. Dental offices agree to accept a lowered fee in return for being marketed by the insurance company as a network provider.
Depending on how deep the discount and which procedures are reimbursed, some offices view participation as an effective marketing tool, and others want nothing to do with it. Offices also join PPOs to keep their current patients. According to the National Association of Dental Plans, 77% of all dental policies sold today are PPOs. A number of offices have joined these networks out of fear that if they do not join they may lose current patients to offices that are in-network.
Before you select PPOs as your marketing tool of choice, consider what type of patient you want to attract and the potential alternative methods of attracting those patients. What are the characteristics of your ideal patient? 1) Does the patient arrive on time and keep appointments? 2) Does the patient pay his or her bills? 3) Does the patient accept treatment? 4) Does the patient refer friends and family? 5) Does the patient value his or her health and consider dentistry important?
If an ideal patient shares a positive experience that he or she had in an office, that office could potentially reach hundreds or thousands of ideal patients. Much like a billboard, the goal is to stay in front of potential patients so when they need a dentist they think of your office. Dentistry has always relied on word-of-mouth referrals, and with social media, we can amplify patients' voices.
When ideal patients are referred to a practice's social media site, what will they see? A major difference between social media and websites is many small businesses set up websites and do not update them for months or even years. The website is treated like an online flyer with information about the practice. If social media pages are not updated regularly, they can quickly become outdated and out of touch. Adding new content weekly is important to keeping social media pages looking fresh and current. When potential patients look at an office's social media pages, they should immediately get a sense of who the practice is.
One of the greatest advantages of social media is its ability to keep people connected. When patients understand the importance of dentistry, they tend to visit the dentist more often and take better care of their oral health. Social media gives the ability to constantly remind patients why coming to the dentist is important. Posting articles on the link between oral health and overall health gives patients one more reason to come back to a dentist.
If managing social media seems overwhelming, there are a few services that simplify the process. Storytellit.com is a free service for dentists that provides content suggestions with scheduling capabilities. Find everything you would like to post for the month in one hour and then schedule it to go out every Friday. If you prefer to delegate content selection as well, Likeable Dentists provides full-service social media management. For more information, visit LikeableDentists.com.
Whether you choose to focus your marketing efforts on social media or PPO insurance, ultimately both methods will help you gain and retain ideal patients and build an ideal practice.
During his 10 years with Henry Schein, Kevin Burniston has had the opportunity to meet with more than 1,000 dentists. Each one has unique hopes, dreams, and concerns about his or her practice and family. Kevin's goal is to help each dentist reach those dreams. Contact him at (800) 372-4346 or [email protected]. Learn more at HenryScheinBusinessSolutions.com.
Past DE Articles