The methods for patient care in dental practices changed drastically in 2020. In March 2020, the CDC released a statement recommending that dental practices postpone elective procedures, surgeries, and non-urgent visits. Although the recommendations have been updated and more elective procedures were allowed, the COVID-19 virus is still present, and it is unknown what the future holds for businesses and healthcare.
Due to the pandemic, dental practices had to get creative with how they cared for patients, with many adopting virtual services to provide care. Let’s talk about some ways that dental practices have maintained their business during the pandemic that are still being utilized today.
Loans and Grants
Due to the need to cancel and postpone many patient appointments, dental practices had to investigate ways to sustain themselves financially for the short term. The CARES Act, introduced in 2020, included financial assistance for businesses, including paycheck protection programs, emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), delayed payroll tax payments, enhanced unemployment benefits, and more. Small Business Administration loans were available to assist with payroll-related costs, mortgage payments, and even utilities. These financial options were very beneficial to dental practices in 2020, and some benefits are still being used today as some practices still struggle to return to normalcy.
Review of Insurance Plans
Another way that dental practices could help their revenue during the pandemic is to audit their fee schedules with insurance plans. Typically, contracts are due for negotiation after two years. The purpose of reviewing fees is to maintain the price of services and prevent inflation and neglect. Investigate to see which insurance fees are due for negotiation. Before negotiating, review some negotiating tips to ensure you are getting the best fees. Communicate regularly with insurance providers and team members about changes in plans.
Understandably, patients over the last year and a half have likely suffered from financial hardships. You may not have been auditing charts as frequently due to giving patients a grace period to bring their accounts up to date. However, now that things are getting back to normal, it would be a good time to audit patient charts for late payments and missed payments. When reaching out to patients to collect a payment, ensure they are aware of your payment plan options, and assist them in working out a plan that will work for them and the dental practice.
Updating Your Dental Practice’s Website
Recently, people have been using the internet more than ever. When businesses were shut down for the pandemic, many began to utilize electronic means of communication. Your business website is especially important to maintain patient contact, educate patients, manage appointments, and receive payment for services. An easy-to-use and visually appealing website is also a marketing strategy to attract new clients. If your website has not been recently updated or is not user-friendly, make some updates to attract new patients and promote better communication with them. Once updated, track your website metrics and monitor for needed improvements and changes.
Promoting a Better Office Culture
Staffing changes, layoffs, and financial hardships have likely impacted your office culture. Take note of your staff’s needs during this difficult time. Promote a positive work environment by being helpful and maintaining a positive attitude. Ask your team what you can do to make their time at work more enjoyable. Review some tips for improving your office culture. Happy staff is more likely to stay with their jobs. And patients will also benefit from the positive and healing environment.
Communication has changed from in-person to mostly virtual over the last year. Your staff has likely perfected the various forms of virtual communication with the use of telehealth. But some people may be a little rusty with in-person communications now that dental practices have reopened. Review patient communication basics with your team. Encourage clear, detailed, and frequent communication with patients before, during, and after their visit. Notate some important communication tips to share with your team.
Update Procedures and Equipment
Now would be a perfect time to update your systems, equipment, and even protocols for your dental office. Advanced patient care is needed during this time to really recover from possible losses. Patients will be impressed by advanced technologies and improved treatment options. Once necessary improvements and updates are made, promote the changes on your website, social media, and by word of mouth to attract new patients.
Outsourcing your negotiations and credentialing could be very beneficial as your dental practice recovers from 2020. A team of professionals would assist in the following:
- negotiation of PPO fees
- credentialing providers,
- reviewing your current processes for possible improvement
- PPO Negotiation Solutions can also provide education on how to better improve your processes, recover losses and ensure better financial outcomes. Call or click today to let them improve your dental practice and assist with recovery opportunities.