A new patient phone call is the first introduction someone has to your office. When people are looking for a new dental office they are looking for a practice that is conveniently located, has appointment slots available when they want them, will allow them to use the dental insurance their employer has provided, and above all, makes them feel warm and welcome.
Here are four things dental practices must focus on to win new patients in 2023:
- Dental practices must be easy to find online
- They must be easy to talk to over the phone
- They must have ready appointment availability
- They must make it easy for patients to make payments
Based on a customer survey conducted in June 2022, Patient Prism’s client success team quickly realized that many of our dental practices battle with how to handle insurance phone calls and conversations. Therefore, they created this quick tip sheet to help.
#1 Make sure your website clearly explains you have payment options.
Because new patients research you online before calling you, your website needs to be clear:
- You have payment options so patients can make affordable monthly payments.
- Whether their insurance is in-network or out-of-network, you will file claim forms for them and work to maximize their benefits.
- You offer third-party financing for dental care through CareCredit or an alternative financing company.
- You have financial expertise on your team to create a custom payment plan so the
caller can have the care they need.
- Do you have an in-house plan? Tell them about it.
- Do you have a new patient special? Tell them about it.
#2 Make sure your teams have studied your payment options and are familiar with your advertised specials.
Don’t be caught off guard and stumble to produce an answer. Anyone who might answer the phone needs to be well prepared to close the deal and schedule an appointment during the call.
The team members who answer the phone, all need to be well versed in your payment options and how you help patients who are concerned about their insurance or lack of dental insurance. They also need to know what your advertising is promoting and any special fees you are currently offering. They also need to know if the special fees are only for uninsured patients and what procedures they cover. Communicate this information within and across your teams!
#3 Don’t forget to mention all aspects of how you help uninsured patients pay for their care.
When a new patient calls with concerns about not having insurance, have a reminder card that lists your payment options and new patient special. You might say, “Our fees are competitive, and we have a great new patient special that will cost you only $X for an exam and x-rays. Let’s get you scheduled, see what you need, and we’ll figure out what we can do to help you. We offer monthly payment plans and financing, and we even have our own in-house dental benefits plan you might want to join in lieu of dental insurance.”
#4 Confidently address concerns about out-of-network plans.
Many of your patients have plans that are out of network, and you do help them use their plans. Tell concerned callers that this is something you deal with every day. You might say, “Even though we are not in-network with your plan, we are used to dealing with this. If you give me information about of your plan, I will verify which services are covered and how much would be covered if you come here. I can call you back with that information later today. We’d love to have you as a patient.” Use reassuring words like, “That’s okay. We have other patients with that plan,” and “Oh yes, I’ve heard of your plan before.”
#5 Offer a complimentary benefits check
One of the most frequent questions that you will get is “How much will my insurance cover?” What you need to be prepared to say in 2022 is, “I believe it may be in the ballpark of $x. However, what I’d like to do is research it for you. If you give me information about your plan, I will verify which services are covered and how much would be covered if you come here. I can call you back with that information later today. We’d love to have you as a patient!”
Setting insurance verification as a priority will enable you to call back swiftly and delight the new patient with your follow-up. In addition to the information, say, “I’m so glad you called our office. I think you will really like it here. Let’s get you scheduled!”
#6 If a new patient wants to know the new patient fee, you’ve got this!
Say, “If you do not have insurance coverage, that’s okay. The initial new patient fee will be $X and it includes an exam and bitewing x-rays. Let’s get you in. Let’s get you looked at. We’re here to help you.”
#7 If a new patient needs urgent treatment, be as empathetic and helpful as you can.
You might say, “We want to help you as fast as we can. Let’s get you in. Let’s get you looked at and then the doctor will know what you need. We’re here to help you be seen right away and to help you find a way to pay for your care. We’ll maximize your insurance and provide options, including a payment plan for paying your portion of the fee.” If the patient does not have insurance and you have an in-house benefits plan, switch that up and say, “We have an affordable, in-house dental benefits plan you might want to sign up for when you come in. Let’s get you on today’s schedule and out of pain!”