Overcome the difficult economy by offering patients innovative alternatives
These are challenging times for dentists in private practice. On top of the numerous responsibilities of owning and operating a dental practice, dentists are now dealing with obstacles such as the economic downturn, decreased insurance reimbursement rates, and the rise of corporate dentistry. It’s easy to see why some feel the dental industry outlook is bleak.
However there are a host of solutions for dentists to take advantage of in the face of these challenges.
- Encourage your state dental association and local component to be out there fighting for you.
- Say no to dental insurance companies as they attempt to treat you like an assembly line worker who needs to produce more widgets to make the same wage while the fat cats upstairs eat caviar and drink champagne off the sweat of your brow.
- Mentor dental students, pre-dental students and new dentists; show them the upside of private practice and the rewards that come from being in private practice – solo or group.
- Invest in and focus on delivering the highest level of patient care and customer service possible.
- Ensure that you and your team are getting the best ongoing continuing education.
- Seek out trusted practice management advisors like Pride Institute (www.prideinstitute.com) to make sure your team’s operational and verbal skills are up to date to ensure patients feel welcome in the practice and are more likely to keep appointments, accept treatment and refer their friends and family.
- Work with one of their marketing experts to develop a customized 360-degree marketing plan for your practice, from branding that can compete with the dental chains to internal and external marketing, to implementation of an enhanced electronic patient communications and social media strategy with reputable companies like Sesame Communications (www.sesamecommunciations.com) or My Social Practice (www.mysocialpractice.com).
- Provide affordable payment options to your patients and prospective patients, from outside patient financing to phasing of treatment plans to in-house membership programs like Quality Dental Plan that can help you attract fee-for-service patients in your community, encourage patient loyalty and collect fees in advance, all while keeping your practice free from the constraints and hassles of managed care.
- And finally, make sure that you have team members who are working hard every day to build strong and long-lasting personal relationships with each and every patient. It’s these relationships that patients value most and that compel them to demonstrate loyalty to you and your practice – even in the face of insurance concerns, corporate dentistry and personal economic woes.
It’s a difficult climate for dentists today. But there are solutions for those who persevere. Staying true to yourself as a healthcare professional, staying diligent in your care, and offering alternatives to patients they cannot find anywhere else, you can weather the storm of the current crisis.