Wake-Up Call

If your practice is moving in the direction of managed care, let alone participating in it, make sure it earns high marks for patient satisfaction.

Bob Levoy

If your practice is moving in the direction of managed care, let alone participating in it, make sure it earns high marks for patient satisfaction.

Managed care`s commitment to quality dentistry may remain a subject of intense debate among clinicians, but there`s no debating the emphasis MCOs (managed-care organizations) are placing on patient satisfaction. According to the Group Health Association of America, 97 percent of HMOs monitor and measure patient satisfaction.

Among the reasons:

- member dissatisfaction has been shown to be the leading reason for voluntary disenrollment from a plan.

- At a time when many large employers are limiting the number of health plans they offer employees, member dissatisfaction has increasingly become a reason for employers to drop a plan.

Conversely, satisfied members are more likely to:

- re-enroll in a plan

- pay more to be in the plan

- request their employer retain their plan

- encourage others to join their plan

As a result, MCOs are increasingly using patient-satisfaction data when recruiting dentists and, later, when deciding whether to deselect or continue working with them.

Among the parameters of satisfaction that Prudential Insurance Co. of America, for example, monitors among its five million-member DMOs (dental maintenance organization), are such matters as:

- how well the dentist explains diagnosis/treatment

- satisfaction with the time the dentist spends with patient

- satisfaction with the hygienist and staff

- how clean and well-kept the facilities are

- how convenient the dentist`s office hours are.

Although you may not be assessing patients` satisfaction with your practice, you can bet your managed-care payer will be, via its own surveys. Don`t risk being the last to know.

Bob Levoy is a marketing consultant, seminar speaker and writer based in Roslyn, NY. For further information, contact: Success Dynamics, Inc., 11 Vanad Dr., Roslyn, NY 11576; phone 516-482-5959.

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