Upgrade Your Dental Office Payment Options

By Brian Eggert, IC System

Here’s something you may not realize about Americans: We’re still pretty attached to paper checks, and your dental practice is probably no exception, even if credit card payments are still accepted at the front desk. Still, it’s pretty clear the paper check is on its way out. In one decade, the trusty check has gone from the most common form of non-cash payment to being eclipsed by debit cards, credit cards and electronic funds transfers, according to the Federal Reserve. Take steps to upgrade your dental office payment options. Reducing check payments also reduces the time and labor to process payments, allowing you to receive payment more quickly. This makes payment processing more efficient and decreases time and money spent on collections.

Start Accepting Electronic Insurance Payments
Dental practices have an opportunity to recapture time and money by making the switch to electronic funds transfers when processing insurance payments. According to the National Association of Dental Plans, only 11 percent of dental plans are not equipped to issue electronic payments. Yet in 2015, 92 percent of dental practices still accepted payment from health plans and providers by paper check, while the remaining 8 percent were considered fully electronic (ACH/EFT), according to the 2016 CAQH Index.

What’s interesting about this report is a majority of dental practices are already submitting claims (74 percent) and verifying eligibility and benefits (58 percent) through fully electronic means. Upgrading the system to one that accepts electronic payment from payers is the next logical step. When comparing the time spent and costs for every transaction, the savings benefits are clear:

  • Providers spend anywhere from 5-17 minutes on each paper check, versus 1-4 minutes on electronic payments.
  • Processing each check costs providers $2.89, compared to $0.69 per EFT.

Add Payment Features
In real life, patients are customers — people who have a lot of other bills to pay, and chances are, they’re using debit and credit cards. Along with that, it’s important to remember that in the span of a decade, customers now have an array of safe, easy and convenient ways to pay by credit card online and with their mobile devices. They value having control over when and where they pay. They also want to be sure it’s safe.

A secure online payment portal lets your patients pay on their terms. Even better, if the widget lets them set up automatic, recurring payments to pay down higher-cost procedures, that ensures on-time payments to you.

Adding mobile pay services at the front desk and online also is a simple and secure way to streamline the payment process for patients in and out of the office. These add another layer of security in the transaction, but allow customers to settle up without having to dig out their credit or debit cards.

Need collection help? Call us at 800.279.3511 to REQUEST PRICING!

IC System is an FDA Services (FDAS) Crown Savings Merchant. FDAS has researched and vetted business solutions so FDA members can take advantage of exclusive deals and discounts offered through the Crown Savings program. Members who participate will save time, money and hassle, putting the focus back on patient care. Crown Savings benefits members and the association as the program produces revenue for the FDA through use of the association’s trade dress and mailing list. Greater participation means more revenue for the association to add value to the FDA membership. For more information, go to fdaservices.com/ic-system.

Know What’s Driving Your Dental Practice’s Inbound Calls

By Allison Doyle, Demandforce

Whether your dental office is staffed by two or 20, in order to maintain growth and profitability, you need to keep your chairs full with a steady stream of new and returning patients. Yet according to a Health Policy Institute study released by the American Dental Association, the projected growth rate of dentists per capita between 2015 and 2035 is 7.9 percent. This means that your practice will soon be (if it isn’t already) immersed in a competitive marketplace.

The modern Florida dental practice knows its patients and markets to them.
With more options for your patients to choose from when it comes to their dental health, it’s now more important than ever to know who your patients are, and what drives them to book an appointment. You not only have to attract new patients to your practice, but you also have to nurture relationships with your current patients to keep them coming back — and to keep referring you to their friends and family.

You may already be sending email marketing to your patients like recall promotions or referral rewards. You could even be actively posting on your Facebook page and running ads. These are all great ways to get your dental practice to stand out among the crowd, but how do you know which are the most effective, and which you could do without?

Call Tracking removes the mystery from your marketing campaigns.
Call Tracking is the ability to assign unique, trackable phone numbers to specific marketing campaigns, so you know exactly what’s driving your inbound calls. In some Call Tracking portals, you can even see helpful data such as call duration, caller name and a recording of the call itself.

Having this data not only helps you gain valuable patient insights, but also allows you to identify your most effective campaigns and make data-driven marketing decisions. For example, if you see that a certain email promotion has had success in bringing in new patients, you might try sending it to your inactive patient base as a recall campaign.

 

If you’re looking for a way to track campaign performance, or learn more about Call Tracking and other marketing tools designed specifically for Florida dentists, visit demandforce.com. Call Tracking is available to all Demandforce customers, and Florida Dental Association members receive special pricing on the Demandforce platform. For more information, or to set up a live demo, visit demandforce.com/FDA.

The Value of Your Current Patients

By Jackie Ulasewich, Founder, My Dental Agency

There are a lot of reasons to want to bring in new patients. Maybe you want to expand your practice enough to hire an associate, maybe you want to open a second location or maybe you want to make sure your practice is established enough for you to have a healthy retirement when the time comes. Whatever the reason, you need to remember the people who have already helped you grow your practice: your current patients. Bringing new patients through the front door is useless if your current patients are sneaking out through the back.

Why They’re Valuable
If you’re lucky, your patients are loyal to you. With patient loyalty comes regular visits, more involved treatments and those sought-after referrals. If you are not loyal in return, then what’s to stop them from switching to another practice?

How to Create Loyalty
Your patients have tons of dentists from which to choose. Some of those dentists may offer discounted treatments, some may be closer to home or work or some may have a stronger marketing game. What makes your practice unique is YOU, but you have to be willing to remind your patients that you’re there for them beyond their semi-annual appointments and you have to let them see who you are when they’re not in your chair. The following ideas will get you started.

  • Use Facebook multiple times a week. Only 20 percent of your posts should “sell” a service or product; the other 80 percent should be fun posts that show the personalities of both you and your practice.
  • Use targeted emails. Have you spoken with clients about a treatment such as implants or adult orthodontics who haven’t followed through? Reach out to those people via email to remind them of your discussion and encourage them to seek treatment.
  • Use email regularly. Once a month, reach out to your current patients via email. The content can be educational, but keep it fun; you’re trying to keep your patients informed and make them feel connected to the practice, not overwhelmed by information.
  • Use customized content. Nothing says “I’m just phoning it in” like mass-produced marketing content. Using customized content on your site, social networking platforms and emails is another way to set yourself apart from the other practices and let your patients know who you are.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to grow your practice. In fact, the same tricks that help your current patients feel connected to you also help potential patients know why your practice is unique. But instead of putting all of your efforts towards bringing in new patients, remember that you have current patients who need a reason to stay loyal.

 

With over a decade of experience in corporate dental laboratory marketing and brand development, Jackie Ulasewich decided to take her passion for the dental business and marketing to the next level by founding My Dental Agency. Since starting her company, she and her team have helped a wide variety of practices all over the nation focus their message, reach their target patients, and grow their practice through effective marketing campaigns. When she isn’t helping dental practices reach their full potential, she can be found at the beach with her three dogs or immersed in everything food-related with her large Italian family. For more information, call (800) 689-6434.

 This article originally appeared on DentistryToday.com

How to Calculate Your Marketing ROI

By Sarah Woods, Core Dental Solution

In my last blog post, I outlined the important key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine how well your practice’s marketing tactics are working. I discussed eight of the most important KPIs for every dental practice and the ones I often use as the directors of the overall marketing strategies I create for my clients. These KPIs are sales revenue, cost-per-lead, traffic-per-lead ratio, lead-to-customer ratio, number of calls (leads), patient retention percentage, number of patients reactivated and new patient source.

Before we start, what’s a lead? A lead is a prospective patient who has reached out to your practice in some way. This could be a phone call, a walk in or a website inquiry. A lead is different than traffic. Traffic is the people who go to the website, social media page or see your advertisement.

Now, let’s breakdown these KPIs and understand how each is calculated.

  • Sales revenue: It is important to look at both the production and collection numbers every month. Production is the raw amount before collections, adjustments and overhead is subtracted. When determining whether marketing efforts are working, production is more reliable than collections because many factors can affect collections. For example, marketing is not related to whether the correct copays are collected, how much insurance is adjusted or the amount of overhead.
  • Cost-per-lead: This measurement is important when determining how much a practice is spending for each lead. Simply divide the cost of marketing campaign by the total number of leads, like this:

cost of marketing campaign
      total number of leads

  • Traffic-to-lead ratio: This measurement is what I use to determine whether a marketing campaign is effective. It is calculated by converting the traffic to leads into a ratio, (traffic : leads). Remember, the traffic is everyone who sees a campaign, website, etc., and leads are the amount of people who reached out to the practice in some way. For example, to see how a website is doing, its analytics are used to determine the traffic. Leads can be measured manually (a staff person collecting information and documenting how many calls are coming into the practice) or with call-tracking.
  • Lead-to-customer ratio: This KPI is similar to the conversion rate in that it determines the amount of leads that convert to customers. The ratio is leads : customers, and can also be reduced.
  • Number of calls (leads): It is crucial to track every lead. The most effective and reliable way to do this is by using a call-tracking service. I don’t recommend staff members tracking leads because these numbers are significantly less reliable. This KPI is the foundation for the rest and it is crucial that it’s accurate.
  • Patient retention percentage: This KPI is calculated to determine the percentage of patients retained in the practice. It is calculated by taking the difference of the number of deactivated patients from the total patients, and then dividing by the total patients and multiplying by 100, like this:

(Total patients- deactivated patients)   x 100 =  Patient retention %
Total patients

  • Patient reactivation percentage: This KPI determines how many overdue patients (hasn’t been seen in at least nine months) are being reactivated. The patient reactivation percentage is calculated by taking the difference of the number of reactivated patients from the total number of overdue patients, and then dividing by the total number of overdue patients and multiplying by 100, like this:

(Total overdue patients – reactivated patients)  x 100 = Patient reactivation %
Total overdue patients

  • New patient source: This KPI is crucial and just like the number of leads KPI, the foundation for all the KPIs. It is crucial that the source of every new patient is entered correctly. This sometimes takes training staff on the importance of marketing and asking the right questions when a prospect calls.

There is one last KPI that I forgot to add to my last blog. It’s the annual new patient growth. This number is calculated by taking the difference of the number of patients in a given year and the number of patients in a previous year, and dividing by the number of patients in a previous year, then multiplying by 100, like this:

(Number of patients in given year – number of patients in previous year) x 100
Number of patients in previous year

Accurately calculating these KPIs is extremely important when determining whether your marketing is effective — and if done correctly, can prevent wasteful marketing spending.

 

Sarah Woods is a marketing consultant and president of Core Dental Solutions, a full-service dental marketing agency that provides digital, traditional and inbound marketing to dental practice owners meeting them where they are in their life cycle. They approach dental practice marketing with a “holistic” mindset. Rather than incorporating “set-and-forget” marketing tactics to generate revenue and address shortfalls, they turn a dental practice into a well-oiled machine. Sarah can be reached at Sarah@CoreDentalSolutions.com.