Every day we have patients who come into a dental practice that require a treatment plan. How your office proceeds with presenting the treatment plan highly affects the percentage of case acceptance in your office. Where is the case presented? Is the patient brought back for a dental consultation after x-rays, charting, and study models are taken? Who presents the financial portion of the treatment plan? These are very important factors that need to be considered and if you are not implementing any of these factors, your need to consider restructuring case presentations in your dental practice.
Your Patient Needs A Lot of Dental Work, Now What?
You have a patient in the chair and they have had their x-rays taken, what does your office do next? Ideally, if you have a dental financial coordinator or dental manager, they can immediately create a dental treatment plan using your dental software. In this case, that person can sit down with the patient and go over the treatment plan, potential costs, and set up the appointments before the patient leaves the office. However, there are times that either you do not have the staff available to properly set up and present a treatment plan , and that is when you may have to bring a patient back for a consultation. Problem is, you may lose the patient to second opinions or they may never come back for a consultation. It is always best to take care of as much as possible at that initial visit. If you do not have someone to discuss treatment plans, you may need to consider hiring another person or cross-train your dental assistant.
Setting Up Financial Agreements and Insurance
When presenting a treatment plan, the patient is most likely most concerned with the cost of the treatment. Properly setting up insurance plans in the computer will allow you to give an approximate estimate of out of pocket costs. You may still need to submit a treatment plan in most cases, but at least your patient will have a general idea of the costs. Always use the term “approximate” when discussing insurance copayments and in financial agreements, even if you have the correct information in your system. Insurance can sometimes change their fees or the policy might have changed, so tell a patient that they will “exactly” owe a certain amount, could cost you money of the insurance does not pay that amount. If your patient does not have insurance, be prepared to discuss your office’s payment options or third party payers, such as Care Credit. The reason most people do not follow through with dental treatment is because of costs, so keep this in mind when presenting a treatment plan and thoroughly discuss why the treatment is necessary. Always make sure you have the patient sign a financial agreement when applicable and always discuss treatment plans and finances in a private place, such as a consultation room or private operatory.
Treatment Plan Agreement and Scheduling Appointments
After presenting the treatment plan and finalization the finances, the patient needs to sign the treatment plan stating that they understand what was presented to them. At this time, you can proceed to making the appointments needed. Even if you are waiting for the insurance predetermination, you can still schedule the appointments allowing the necessary time for the insurance to review the treatment. With electronic claims, it may only take days for a response. If you have a busy office, it is probably best to make the appointments a few weeks out and if the appointments need to be rescheduled, you can do so if it is necessary. Always follow up with predeterminations and submit all required documents. The reason for the delays in predeterminations is because proper documentation was not initially sent by the dental office.
These are a few ways to assist with higher case acceptance. Proper training of your team will help your patients understand their treatment plan from start to finish. When patients are given explanations and their questions are immediately answered, they will feel more comfortable and confident in your office and your team. The implementation and follow through made by your team will be what sets the standards in your dental practice.
© Warschaw Learning Institute, 2012