Dental Fees are on the Web for your Patients

There are websites designed to help consumers estimate what dental services will cost them. One for you and your team to check out is:
http://www.fairhealthconsumer.org
On their website they state: “Fair Health is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help consumers understand the out-of-network reimbursement system and estimate out-of-network medical and dental costs. Our free website has an easy-to-use cost estimator tool to help with your health care expense planning. We also offer clear and unbiased educational articles and videos about the medical and dental reimbursement system.”

Fair Health was formed in 2009 as a result of a fraud investigation by then NY State’s Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The ADA granted access to the CDT codes in February of 2011. They will have medical information available in August of 2011.

We have always recommended that you submit your full fee to the insurance company on a dental claim form. It now becomes even more important to not submit contractually discounted fees.  Not only because this will skew the maximum allowable fees determined by carriers based on data submitted by practices but it will skew the costs posted on websites like Fair Health. This will cause consumers to question the fees you are charging when they have a “non-biased” resource about what your fees “should” be.

Have a team meeting and make sure everyone knows about this website and how your fees compare to what is posted on the Fair Health website. Talk about how to deal with patient’s concerns and what to say. As always if you need help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Part 2: What Questions to Ask when Networking. More low cost ways to market your practice

When networking you want others to feel good about themselves, and, to feel good about being in a conversation with us.  We want to ask questions that make others feel good about us as people, even though we have just met and they hardly know us.

 

Here are our top 10 questions that are not sales oriented in any way.  They are friendly and fun to answer and they will tell you something about the way a person thinks. In one conversation you will not use all these questions.  We recommend knowing them well enough to ask the ones you feel are appropriate for the conversation and the time frame available at your networking function.

 

Here are the 10 questions:

 

1.  How did you get your start in your business?

  • People like to share their story

2.  What do you enjoy the most about your profession?

  • The people you want to associate with will love to answer this question

3.  What separates you and your company from your competition?

  • Gives them permission to brag

4.  What advice would you give someone just starting in your business?

  • Mentor question

5.  What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?

  • What are your dreams question

6.  What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?

  • Mature business owner question

7.  What do you see as coming trends in your business?

  • Be a speculator question

8.  Describe the funniest (or strangest) thing you’ve experienced in your business?

  • War Stories question

9.  What have you found to be the most effective ways to promote your business?

  • All small businesses market in some way

10.  What one sentence would you like people to use when describing how you do business?

  • Customer service question

 

These are questions people will enjoy answering.  You are not being nosy.  Again, don’t plan to ask all 10 questions in one meeting. This is not an interrogation, these questions are meant to establish initial rapport.  When someone answers a question use genuine curiosity, try saying “tell me more”.  Learn as much as you can about your fellow business owners in your community, there may be opportunities to cross promote your business or create a small business breakfast group.  The more people you know, the more people who know you, the larger your practice will become.

 

What is one networking event you could attend in your community?

What are the benefits of your services?

When Linda and I observe teams we are consistently struck by communication skill opportunities. Asking questions, listening, and using benefits are the top three areas all practices can work on. Teams are excellent at explaining the technical aspects of what they are going to do, how strong a crown will be, how beautiful a smile will look but the benefits the patient will receive, that deeper core issue, is generally not delved into. Benefits are why your patients buy.

Think about the following. If I asked you what you wanted (business related) in the next 90 days, many of you would say you wanted more new patients or better cash flow. What does that really give you? Does it actually give you more than money in the bank, or a wallet filled with cash? I’ll argue that what you are really looking for is financial freedom, peace of mind, more time with your family, reduced stress over making ends meet, or some combination these. That’s why most of you hire us, to help you get to the benefits that are most important to you.

The same is true in your practice. Identifying benefits allows you to speak to your patients on a much deeper, more personal, and emotional level. The more questions you ask, the more benefits you uncover, the better the relationship, the more likely it is that you will have case acceptance. As challenging as it is for most teams to believe, patients are buying the benefits they receive first and foremost, not the technical quality of your work. Your role is to understand what benefits the individual patient is looking for and to help them understand how your high quality dentistry will get them those benefits.

When you look over the services offered by practices, the easiest “sell” is the whiter brighter smile, relief from migraines or headaches, (or other pain), or better sleep. Patients don’t know why they would want to replace a filling. How often in your practice do you hear “it doesn’t hurt”? Most patients don’t care that replacing the filling now is better for the tooth, will make it stronger and it will look better. What is the individualized benefit for that patient? Is it so they don’t have a painful experience, is it so they don’t miss work unexpectedly, or perhaps it is so they don’t incur a larger personal expense, or is it something else?

Think about benefits as motivators or concerns. A patient can be motivated to come to the dentist by: their appearance, their spouse (or lack of spouse), pain, embarrassment, or what else? Concerns are those things that prevent the patient from moving forward with treatment (money/insurance benefits, fear, distrust, time and others).

By really listening for a patient’s motivators and concerns you will understand what you need to explain to help them make a decision regarding treatment. This also helps your patient’s feel you really understand them and they will be more strongly connected to your practice. This is the foundation of having a relationship-based practice.

Here is some homework: Identify the potential motivators and concerns of your patients regarding your treatment recommendations. See how many times in the next week you can hear your patients indicating a motivator or concern. Watch how using the patient’s motivators and concerns in conversation helps patients and improves your connection with the patients. Enjoy!

What can be shared on email with patients?

The following question was posted to the Academy of Dental Practice Management Consultants which Linda and I belong to. I thought you would all want to know the answer.

How specific can email to patient be reminding them about treatment? Can you mention specific treatment needs or only make a general statement to contact the office? Is this covered under HIPAA?

The answer below is from:  Linda Harvey, MS, LHRM, DFASHRM •

Email is a great source of confusion for everyone.
HIPAA requires that patient info must be kept secure. Regular email transmission which includes responding to email received from patients is not secure.
That being said, there are several options:
1) use a secure portal such as eDossea or subscribe to a service thru Eaglesoft or Dentrix (I believe they both offer such a service).
2) use an email encryption service (there are free ones)
3) implement an office policy that limits what you are allowed to email to patients such as appointment confirmation. I just met the Practice Administrator who said they have a strict policy against emailing patients or responding to patient emails.
4) get the patient’s permission to communicate via unencrypted email. This is an important piece of information one can gather on the Acknowledgement Form new patients sign. BUT, I would still limit the type of information emailed.

Referring back to your question about treatment, I would not mention specific treatment in an email. For example, an email reminder that the pt has unused benefits would be better than saying “are you ready to schedule for those extractions and implants.”

HIPAA is quite serious about enforcing the regulations; plus the random audits are in full force. Have already met one dental Business Associate that was audited. I just got back from Tampa working with a doctor whose staff gave a patient the wrong records on a CD…patient then complained to the Office of Civil Rights. They are now under investigation and have a narrow window to correct and reply to the complaint.

Linda Harvey is a great source of information regarding risk management and being HIPAA compliant.  If anyone needs a speaker for a study club she would be fabulous! Her website is:  http://www.lindaharvey.net

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Managerial Courage

This is a term I ran across recently and I really like it. It is a leadership trait. Without it a practice will suffer with teamwork issues or general malaise. Without teamwork and high positive energy, practices produce less.

Let’s look at the characteristics present when you do not have managerial courage.
• Unwilling to take a strong stand when one is required
• Reluctant to deal with difficult issues regarding teamwork
• Can’t give tough feedback, and would prefer someone else do it
• Wants to believe if you ignore the bad behavior, it will go away
• Meetings are few and far between and conflict is avoided
• Allows others to take the lead with the hope that they will not be challenged
• Believes they are suffering because of the stupidity of others
• Blames themselves and decides “it’s all my fault, if only I were a better leader”

Does this sound like anyone you know?

Managerial courage is what you need to get you through the day with integrity and honesty. Unfortunately, we have heard too many stories about how doctors hid out in their offices in turtle mode, and stopped talking when they should have started. We believe you can be reflexive in your thinking about a teamwork frustration or reflective. If you are hostile, indignant, resentful, depressed, or feeling hopeless, you are reacting to the situation in a reflexive, or people focused, way. We suggest focusing on determining the reason for the behavior of the others, be curious, be concerned. Open a dialog and search for a solution. Managerial courage looks for solutions not destruction.

Here are some steps you can take the next time you need managerial courage:
• Express your appreciation for the relationship you have. You would not waste the time talking about it if you did not value the team member in some way. This is not appreciating the tasks they do as part of their job description. It sounds something like: “We work closely together, our relationship is important to me and I know honesty and trust is vital to both of us, that’s why I thought it was important to have this talk.”
• State facts not your interpretation or assumption about the behavior. “I noticed … or I saw…”
• Ask the person for help in understanding their behavior
• Move to the future (sometimes people get stuck endlessly talking about the behavior) and state what you would like to see differently.
• Negotiate to solve the problem or state the consequences.

Since some conflicts and frustrations may have “gotten your goat”, make sure you are in the right frame of mind to have this discussion. While not all behavior is innocent, many conflicts are caused by misunderstandings or problems with systems, roles, or inadequate information. The lack of skill, insight, or courage can all be resolved. An exercise to do to get yourself in the right frame of mind is to finish the following phrase 3 times: “Well at least it is not …”

Work on your managerial courage for the betterment of your practice and for the betterment of your home life. When issues are not resolved they go home with you. We believe your family and your outside personal life deserve unencumbered time. What is the first step you could take to improve your managerial courage?

Influence: Connecting with People By Dr. John Maxwell

As a train’s source of energy and direction, the locomotive plays a vital role. However, unless a locomotive connects to other cars on the track, it is relatively useless. A train’s value comes from its ability to transport massive amounts of cargo, and doing so requires the locomotive to link up with dozens of freight cars. Traveling by itself, a locomotive would arrive at its destination empty-handed. In that case, its journey would be nothing more than a waste of fuel.

Leaders are like locomotives in that they’re blessed with drive, energy, and vision. However, until leaders learn the art of connection, their influence remains minimal. In isolation, their talents accomplish little, and their efforts are squandered.

Let’s look at practical ways whereby leaders can make meaningful connections with others. Continue reading “Influence: Connecting with People By Dr. John Maxwell”

Treatment Acceptance

What are you and your team focusing on to help patients understand the need for the treatment you are recommending and want to move forward with it?

Consider discussing at your next team meeting:
Your treatment planning – is it communicated clearly from the back to the front. How could it be improved?

Are you prepared for your consults – do you know your patients hot buttons, do you frame your explanation of treatment using their motivators or concerns? Do you understand their personal style, how it differs from yours, and how you need to adapt? Are you clear with your patients about the risks of waiting and what that will mean in terms of time and money? Patients want to understand what to do – most want to do something conservative and not life changing. I have heard it said that patients want “it” to look good, feel natural, and last a long time. Especially in these times they want value for their money.

Is your hygiene team supporting restorative treatment – do they focus on dentistry (what the patient is paying for when they come into the office, not just social chit chat), do they set the patient up well? Do you come in earlier in the appointment for the hygiene exam? Does the patient have to wait? Are you and your hygienist “in sync” about what the patients’ restorative and periodontal needs are?

What are doing to set yourself apart from other area dentists and to make it worthwhile to come to your practice? Think about how you might market the Oral Cancer detecting equipment, a Laser, a CEREC, or other similar system to your patients. These all provide a benefit that a patient might want and they give the patient a story to talk about with their friends and colleagues.

Keep focused on what is positive and on the basics in your practice!

What can be shared on email with patients?

The following question was posted to the Academy of Dental Practice Management Consultants which Linda and I belong to. I thought you would all want to know the answer.

How specific can email to patient be reminding them about treatment? Can you mention specific treatment needs or only make a general statement to contact the office? Is this covered under HIPAA?

The answer below is from:  Linda Harvey, MS, LHRM, DFASHRM •

Email is a great source of confusion for everyone.
HIPAA requires that patient info must be kept secure. Regular email transmission which includes responding to email received from patients is not secure.
That being said, there are several options:
1) use a secure portal such as eDossea or subscribe to a service thru Eaglesoft or Dentrix (I believe they both offer such a service).
2) use an email encryption service (there are free ones)
3) implement an office policy that limits what you are allowed to email to patients such as appointment confirmation. I just met the Practice Administrator who said they have a strict policy against emailing patients or responding to patient emails.
4) get the patient’s permission to communicate via unencrypted email. This is an important piece of information one can gather on the Acknowledgement Form new patients sign. BUT, I would still limit the type of information emailed.

Referring back to your question about treatment, I would not mention specific treatment in an email. For example, an email reminder that the pt has unused benefits would be better than saying “are you ready to schedule for those extractions and implants.”

HIPAA is quite serious about enforcing the regulations; plus the random audits are in full force. Have already met one dental Business Associate that was audited. I just got back from Tampa working with a doctor whose staff gave a patient the wrong records on a CD…patient then complained to the Office of Civil Rights. They are now under investigation and have a narrow window to correct and reply to the complaint.

Linda Harvey is a great source of information regarding risk management and being HIPAA compliant.  If anyone needs a speaker for a study club she would be fabulous! Her website is:  http://www.lindaharvey.net

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Dental Fees are on the Web for your Patients

There are websites designed to help consumers estimate what dental services will cost them. One for you and your team to check out is:
http://www.fairhealthconsumer.org
On their website they state: “Fair Health is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help consumers understand the out-of-network reimbursement system and estimate out-of-network medical and dental costs. Our free website has an easy-to-use cost estimator tool to help with your health care expense planning. We also offer clear and unbiased educational articles and videos about the medical and dental reimbursement system.”

Fair Health was formed in 2009 as a result of a fraud investigation by then NY State’s Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The ADA granted access to the CDT codes in February of 2011. They will have medical information available in August of 2011.

We have always recommended that you submit your full fee to the insurance company on a dental claim form. It now becomes even more important to not submit contractually discounted fees.  Not only because this will skew the maximum allowable fees determined by carriers based on data submitted by practices but it will skew the costs posted on websites like Fair Health. This will cause consumers to question the fees you are charging when they have a “non-biased” resource about what your fees “should” be.

Have a team meeting and make sure everyone knows about this website and how your fees compare to what is posted on the Fair Health website. Talk about how to deal with patient’s concerns and what to say. As always if you need help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.