By Dr. Greg Grillo
Dr. Johnson* is a colleague of mine with a terrific dental practice. Like me, he endured the 2020 roller-coaster and reached 80% of his pre-pandemic volume. According to the American Dental Association , that’s a plateau many practices still find themselves pushing through today. While he’s aiming to accelerate growth in 2021, he’s kept his team together, reassured patients, and maintained some profitability.
It’s been a gut-wrenching ride. We all relate, especially when we see a few more grey hairs in the mirror.
But Dr. J impresses me. While dentists often retract in the face of slowdowns, he’s looking at new ways to engage and work with his patients. He recently launched teledentistry consults that link a call-to-action from email and video campaigns. The awareness he’s building with patients continues to open new doors, including elective cosmetic opportunities. He jumped all over paperless forms and curbside check-in. His patients responded, and so did his staff.
This past fall, we were discussing deferred treatment and the implications in each of our patient bases. The CDC determined that over 40% of people have delayed medical services , especially routine care. Pain and infection motivate patients before, during, and after a pandemic. But it’s easy for patients to push aside care that’s not urgent or uncomfortable now. That’s happening in our dental practices, too.
The Real Cost of Deferred, Forgotten Treatment
Every day, we see people who let a little bit of decay become a little bit more. The cavity that didn’t hurt turned into cellulitis and a painful weekend. We understand the consequences during regular times. Naturally, many of us are concerned about what delayed dental care becomes during this unique stretch of history.
I suggested that Dr. J. run a quick report in his PMS to see how much unscheduled treatment sits in his charts. It’s not an intuitive report in every software, but he looked and generated one.
I told him to sit down before he looked at the summary. He found high six-figures on the bottom line; almost every practice uncovers more than they expect.
Some of that unscheduled treatment tells the story of COVID-19. But it’s also the story of every other year, too. We have patients that will eventually be in our chairs with a toothache because we didn’t help them get the treatment they need.
We let them down.
That sounds a little harsh, but it’s an insightful way for me to look at it as a dentist. I can do more to help my patients address the problems we’ve already identified. We just need to help them fit it into their schedules, priorities, and budgets.
More so, I feel obligated to do so. And I need all the help I can get.
The Solution Is At Our Fingertips
Legwork Treatment Opportunities helps us serve our patients at the highest level, and our P&L statements thank us, too. This innovative tool quickly shows us which patients haven’t scheduled yet, their last follow-up, and the benefits of completing treatment. Better yet, we can educate our patients on the value of the dentistry they need by linking to automated tools, like Legwork Campaigns .
Many times, patients don’t recognize why they need treatment when nothing hurts. When we bring their diagnosed care to the surface, we’re able to help them get over the next hurdle–scheduling.
Good dentistry isn’t a one-stop proposition. Patients who show up for their diagnostic exams still have a long way to go. They need to understand, accept, schedule, pay, return, and remain advocates who leave reviews and refer their friends. A system for moving patients towards their care starts with constantly bringing their needs to the surface. Otherwise, busy lives and competing needs drown them out until pain or infection propels it to the forefront.
No one wins with that outcome.
Legwork Treatment Opportunities may put more treatment in your chair than any marketing campaign for new patients. And our existing patients are just waiting for us to nudge them further along the journey.
One Key To Loyalty That We Often Overlook
As clinicians, we’re most concerned about performing procedures. But our patients may be more concerned about paying for them. Well-defined financial policies help eliminate many misunderstandings, and online payment portals fit the modern consumer while increasing collections. A patient can pay their balance after a busy day at work by jumping on their phone. Otherwise, it’s too easy to bury a paper statement on their desk.
Legwork Pay gives consumers what they expect to find in a modern business. But it may also help patients stick around and complete more treatment. One study found that after a new visit to a physician, 80% of patients with portal accounts returned for a second visit within 18 months. In comparison, patients without portal accounts returned only 67% of the time.
Generation X patients tend to be the most brand-loyal demographic. They’re also a major contributor to practice revenue as they raise families and move through peak earning years. Everything we do to serve them better builds loyalty, and that’s hard to replicate any other way. A simple feature like online bill payment or scheduling helps our businesses’ efficiency, but it also helps patients perpetuate our brand.
Inspire Your Patients to Get Treatment
Dr. Johnson tells me he’s excited about new ideas like Legwork Treatment Opportunities for integrating his digital tools Those vital elements provide the fuel to get our practices back to 100% of our past production and launch more growth. Keeping it all on one platform makes it work with our patients, and that’s one of the keys to more efficiency, profitability, and satisfaction in 2021. Learn how Legwork can help you make treatment more accessible to your patients so the unscheduled gets scheduled!
*Name changed to protect identity