An Early Bite with Dr. John Paul: “Why Are You Sending Me to a Specialist?”

By Dr. John Paul, FDA Editor

We’ve all had the patient who does most of what we suggest but never wants to leave our office. What do you say when your patient asks, “Why do I have to go to a specialist? I’m so comfortable here.”

“Mrs. Gruntbuns, I have a friend down the street who is an expert in the treatment you need. It’s all she does, and she is faster, better and cheaper than I could possibly be for you. What she can do in 45 minutes would take me three hours and two visits. For this procedure, my service isn’t the best and I want the best for you. When she’s done with your procedure, she will send you right back to me and I will take care of the other things you need.”

Maybe your patient needs more than one specialist. “Mrs. Gruntbuns, your condition is complicated and will need a team of dentists to restore your mouth the way you want it to be. We’ll work with specialists for those things because they do much better than I could, but I’ll always be the ‘general manager’ of your care. You may ask me questions anytime about the care I provide directly or the services our specialists are providing.”

Have a question you have a tough time answering? Send it to Dr. Paul at jpaul@bot.floridadental.org.

Why Soliciting New Patients by Phone is Different Than Advertising by Mail

By Graham Nicol, Esq., Health Care Risk Manager, Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist (Health Law)

Q: In Florida, a dentist cannot lawfully solicit members of the public to become patients either in-person or by telephone. Does that mean dentists can solicit new patients via the mail?

A: Yes, it means exactly that. The Board of Dentistry distinguishes between in-person or telephone solicitation versus that done by mail. The reason they treat the communications differently based on phone versus mail is that phone solicitation “cannot be supervised, may exert pressure and often demands an immediate response without affording the recipient an opportunity for comparison or reflection.” A patient is not under pressure via television or radio advertising or by receiving a flyer in the mail.

As 21st century Americans, we all quite effectively ignore advertising and junk mail, but hanging up on a telephone caller is harder to do. So don’t call strangers on the phone asking them to be your patients. Even worse, don’t stroll door to door looking for patients like it’s Halloween! Getting arrested for trespassing is never going to build your practice.

 

This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. If you have a specific concern or need legal advice regarding your dental practice, you should contact a qualified attorney.

An Early Bite with Dr. John Paul: “Are You on My Insurance?”

By Dr. John Paul, FDA Editor

What do you want your staff to say when a patient asks some variation of, “Why aren’t you on my insurance plan?” This is usually asked with the hidden threat or just basic confusion that they have to go where their insurance says.

“Mrs. Gruntbuns, if Dr. Paul were to be ‘on your insurance’ he will be required to sign a contract with your company that will dictate how he behaves when he sees you. Sometimes it may be just as simple as what to charge when, but it could mean he can’t provide a service that might be the most appropriate service for you. Because he believes no one should interfere in his relationship with you, he is unwilling to sign such a contract. That said, we will work with any insurance company that can provide your benefits in a timely manner without undue interference; we just aren’t ‘on your plan.’”

If you are a preferred provider for some plans but not all, you can use this same wording. Just note that you have reviewed the contract you will be required to sign and feel that unlike other plans you accept, this one will put unnecessary stress on your doctor-patient relationship.

Have a question you have a tough time answering? Send it to Dr. Paul at jpaul@bot.floridadental.org.

Case Studies: Health Care Data Breach Risks (video)

By The Doctors Company

The health care industry suffers more data breaches than any other business segment — a total of 51 percent of all breaches. This video presents an overview of the cybersecurity threats facing health care organizations and what they can do to mitigate their risk.