The COVID-19 pandemic affected businesses throughout 2020 and, unfortunately, most are still struggling with financial loss now in 2021. Business closures, drastic decreases in clientele, and staff layoffs are just a few of the changes that affected dental practices across the United States and the world.
Now that it has been deemed safe by the Centers on Disease Control to reopen your dental practice, how can you recover the financial losses from 2020? Here, we will discuss ways to start recovering lost revenue, including the following:
- increasing patient flow
- increasing financial flexibility for patients
- evaluating collections processes.
Increase Patient Flow
During the pandemic, most dental practices closed for routine appointments and only scheduled emergent appointments to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections. In 2019, only 64.9% of adults reported seeing a dentist in the last 12 months. In the year 2020, it is expected that the percentage of dental visits was significantly lower due to financial hardship and dental practice closures.
As the first step to increasing patient flow, make personal phone calls to each client on your established patient list and help your patients schedule routine appointments for themselves and their families. Perhaps you could offer a special on certain cosmetic treatment appointments, such as teeth whitening.
Some patients may be concerned about financial obligations, so discuss your various financial payment plan options during the call. Again, this is a good opportunity to offer an ongoing special for popular cosmetic treatments. Once patients are in for their appointment, be sure to schedule all follow-up appointments before they leave to ensure continuous patient flow.
Offer Flexible Financial Options
Due to financial hardships, many patients may not wish to seek routine dental care or treatment for problems due to being unable to pay for treatments at the time of service. There are many options for payment assistance that you can consider using and sharing with your patients; some that you may not have previously offered pre-pandemic.
One option is interest-free financing. Many offices offer patients third-party lenders to collect payment. The issue with these lenders is patients may be denied due to credit. What some people do not know is that dental practices can offer financing themselves. This is beneficial because the cost of service is the same, but patients will like the idea that they won’t be charged extra for payment plans.
Another option is payment plans for patients who have lost dental benefits or are unemployed. Patients could pay 50% of charges at the time of service and agree to payments for the remaining balance. This is beneficial to both the practice and the patient, as the practice still receives a large payment at the time of service, and the patient can have the flexibility of monthly payments for the remaining balance.
Don’t overlook the convenience of credit cards for payment. Many patients will readily place charges not covered by their insurance, and especially some emergency treatments, on a credit card. Make sure you share which credit cards you offer, including specialty medical and dental cards.
Evaluate for Collections Opportunities
Most patients should pay for treatment and services at the time of their appointment. However, those with payment plan agreements may fall behind due to unfortunate circumstances. One way to help with payment collections is to call patients that are late on payments to offer to take payment over the phone.
When calling patients to collect a payment, ensure you are following proper procedure. Patients should have provided prior written consent to receiving phone calls or text messages from your dental practice. If patients are unable to make a payment when called, you can offer one of your financial arrangement options. Either method gives your practice an opportunity to collect payments. And the patient can continue to receive services from your practice when needed, without facing more financial hardship.
The American Dental Association recently released a strategic recovery plan for dental practices recovering lost revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan suggests setting goals in four main areas for ideal revenue recovery. The four sections are practice, staff, patients, and financials. Examples of financial goals listed include expanded practice hours, cross-training team members, cash saving, and streamlining processes.
Most dental offices are open during weekdays. Consider offering appointments on weekends or late appointments on weekdays to service patients who have started back to work. Cross-training team members and streamlining office processes can save time and money by being more efficient. Finally, evaluating your cash flow to look for ways to save money is an easy method to save money for emergencies. Selecting specific recovery plan goals and planning accordingly for improvement will help ensure success in revenue recovery.
Seeking assistance from a professional agency like PPO Negotiation Solutions to perform a revenue assessment on your dental practice can be a great option for recovering lost revenue fast. PPO Negotiation Solutions starts by analyzing your practice’s payor mix index, reviewing PPO schedules and negotiating PPO fees. The company will ensure credentialing of all providers and monitor the implementation of their established game plan to increase your practice’s revenue. They will also provide education to staff on the best way to reduce costs and renew processes to save money. Give them a call today and get back on track in 2021.