Navigating Year-End Considerations in Dental Offices
As the year draws to a close, dental offices must consider a range of factors to ensure their practice operates efficiently and effectively. This article delves into key aspects, including insurance, patient scheduling, equipment management, and the use of marketing letters, offering valuable insights and guidance.
If you would like a more detailed breakdown, please watch the member-only CE Course: Preparing for the End of Year.
The open enrollment period, typically from October to December, marks a critical time for patients as they sign up for insurance plans. Dental offices may have no control over open enrollment, but they do receive numerous patient inquiries during this period. A well-prepared team is essential to answer patient questions about insurance and financial matters. Maintaining a record of frequently asked questions can serve as a valuable training resource.
For dental offices offering membership plans, it’s vital to educate patients about the distinctions between these plans and traditional insurance. Membership plans can be an attractive option, especially for individuals purchasing insurance independently.
The holiday season and patients looking to maximize their insurance benefits often lead to increased activity in dental offices towards the year's end. Thorough planning and preparation are crucial to handle the surge efficiently.
Equipment and Instruments
Adequate equipment and instrument availability are vital to meet the increased demand. It's crucial to maintain a sufficient quantity of essential items such as handpieces for seamless operations during rush periods. Saving money always helps too. Berman Instruments provides high-quality instruments at very competitive prices. I recommend exploring their inventory for replenishing your supplies.
Time to Organize
Efficient organization of operatory supplies can save time and streamline last-minute treatments. Having readily accessible disposable goods in each operatory can be a time-saver.
Collections and Prepayment
Effective systems for handling collections should be in place. Prepayment strategies can be beneficial during busy periods like year-end.
Letters to patients reminding them to utilize their expiring insurance benefits are essential. These letters can also include messages about preventing loss, utilizing HSA and FSA accounts, and available financing options. The end-of-year letter serves as an internal marketing tool and should include a clear call to action encouraging patients to book appointments and contact the office. The delivery of end-of-year letters can be through physical mail or email, depending on patient demographics. Offering both options can be advantageous.
Planning for the Holiday Season
Planning for the holiday season well in advance, which includes establishing holiday hours and effectively communicating these changes to patients, is of utmost importance. Utilizing platforms such as Google, updating the website, and sending out emails are valuable means to keep patients well-informed. Here are some additional considerations:
- A plan for phone coverage during holidays, such as setting up an emergency line or extra phone lines, ensures that someone is available to answer patient calls.
- Office Parties
- Bonuses vs Gifts: it is important to differentiate between bonuses, which should be earned, and gifts, which are given freely.
- Handling year-end Emergency Patients
- Preparing for same-day treatment for those in need is essential. Planning for after-hours care may also be necessary.
Planning for the Next Year
When preparing for the upcoming year, it is crucial to set office goals, schedule CE classes, vacations, and contemplate special offers or promotions for the continued success of your practice. Additionally, you might want to take into account:
- Reviewing Insurance Participation and deciding whether to remain in-network, go out-of-network, or work with umbrella plans is critical. Understanding fee schedules and their impact on the practice's finances is essential.
- Aligning practice management choices with your personality and preferences reduces stress and enhances your practice's success.
- Next year’s schedule, CE, vacation, etc.
- Raising Fees
Dentists often contemplate fee adjustments for the upcoming year, typically within the range of 3% to 10%. To start, assess your current fee schedule using resources like fairhealthconsumer.org, which provides average fees for various dental procedures. Compare your fees with these averages for common procedures to identify necessary adjustments.
Addressing these year-end considerations enhances operational efficiency, elevates patient satisfaction, and improves financial performance, setting the stage for a successful year-end as well as preparing for the year ahead.
If you would like a more detailed breakdown and discussion, please view the member CE course, Preparing for the End of Year.
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by Dr. Travis CampbellBuy Now
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