The end of 2016 is fast approaching and as most dentists know, it can be a slow time of the year. During the last quarter, there is an increase in appointment reschedules or cancellations and occasional no-shows. It can have an adverse effect on your bottom line and overall office productivity. So how do you effectively get patients into your office during the holiday season? It's not as difficult as you might think. Here are a few strategic ways to incentivize patients to visit your office before the end of the year.
Most dental insurance plans expire at the end of a calendar year. Also, flexible spending accounts (FSA) or health savings accounts (HSA) may or may not allow funds to carry over to the next year; it depends on the individual plans and state requirements. In essence, there are plenty of potential dental claims that could go unused if you don't make it a point to get your patients in the chair! Start by doing some due diligence to determine which patients haven't used their benefits. Most practice management software programs provide patient visits and insurance claims information. Once you've come up with a list of patients, it's time to communicate with them.
Get the message out!
Proactively communicate to your patients why they should optimize dental plan benefits before year's end. The adage "use it or lose it" truly resonates with patients who haven't fully utilized their benefits. Be sure to remind patients that most plans don't allow unused benefits to be carried over to the next year.
Effective ways of communication
First, be straightforward in all communications with your patients. There's nothing wrong with telling them that they need to use or lose their dental benefits before year's end. Most patients will be thankful for the reminder! Next, call, e-mail, text, snail mail, and post reminders on your website, blog, and social media pages. It goes without saying that the more you do to get the word out, the better response you'll have. Also, be sure to have your staff consistently follow up with patients to get them into the office before the end of the year.
Depending on your staff and personal schedules during the last quarter, be as flexible as possible to accommodate last-minute appointments for patients who want to optimize their benefits before December 31. Look at it as an opportunity-not an inconvenience. Remember, today's consumers tend to be overworked and overcommitted. That said, annual doctor and semiannual dentist appointments get pushed back or forgotten if patients aren't given subtle and regular reminders.
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Capitalize on holiday cheer
Consider throwing a holiday party for patients and staff at your office. It doesn't have to be an expensive or extravagant affair. Finger food and nonalcoholic drinks plus some treats for kids will go a long way with patients. Send all patients an e-vite and include the option to schedule end-of-year appointments. Your patients will appreciate both the holiday gesture and party invitation to thank them for their business. It's also an excellent way to reinforce end-of-year appointments, making sure your chairs are at full capacity and that your staff is productive through December 31, 2016!
Ryan Lindgren is vice president of acquisitions and development at Benevis Practice Services, an Atlanta-based dental service organization. Since 2004, he has led Benevis acquisitions with an exceptional understanding and hands-on management of client interactions. Ryan encourages his team to approach practice transitions as partnerships, fostered through integrity, transparency, and open lines of communication. He can be reached at (844) 879-0087, [email protected], or at benevis.com.