Now that we’ve entered into a fresh new year and the frenzy of the holiday rush is behind us, we’re all contemplating how we might make 2022 great for our practices. In the past two years, dentists have experienced unprecedented challenges and shifts in our industry, but with the right mindset, these shifts can become advantages. As we begin the year, there are many ways to make your dental practice thrive.
Here are the four points we think you should focus on for a successful 2022 …
1. Create a Dental Membership Plan
Every year, more and more people are without dental insurance coverage. There are a variety of reasons for this, ranging from patients realizing that their premiums aren’t worth it, to the gig economy resulting in less opportunity for employer-sponsored coverage. Regardless of the story behind it, the fact is that an estimated 74 million Americans had no dental insurance coverage.
Undoubtedly, this is an alarming figure. It’s one that likely worries you and your team. After all, you got into this profession because you care about people’s oral health, and uninsured patients generally come see you less often. But there is a way to work this to everyone’s advantage. You can improve your practice’s cash flow, fill the appointment book out again, and ensure that your patients are getting the care they need.
The answer is dental membership plans! Because they allow uninsured patients to pay for care in a subscription-like fashion, they make it financially possible for them to receive cleanings again.
If you haven’t established a membership program for your practice, we feel there is no better time than the present.
2. Think About Dropping PPOs
On that same note, our second recommendation is to consider dropping PPOs.
We recently shared a blog post all about this topic, but the gist is this:
You and many other practices have been experiencing a lowering of reimbursements, sometimes by as much as 30%. That adds up to a ton of lost revenue, and it doesn’t have to be this way. Keeping in mind the lack of insurance coverage we just talked about, think of the possibilities if you could market your dental membership plan so effectively that you and your patients didn’t need insurance companies any longer. That is a win for you and them. (Not to mention the time your office staff is going to save if they barely have to communicate with insurance reps!)
The option to negotiate your fees is certainly there, but so is the idea of going out of network altogether.
If you are thinking of doing just that but aren’t sure, we do have an interactive guide to help you figure it out and navigate that new chapter! It was informed by our CEO (and a practicing dentist himself), Dr. Brett Wells, so we think you’ll find it a hugely helpful resource.
3. Renew a Focus on Marketing and Branding
We know that you know marketing is important. But we’re in an age where there are so many options to communicate and distractions are at their peak. That means that marketing and strong branding are more essential than ever.
If you don’t yet have your website and social media presence built out, now is the time! You’ll also want to set yourself up for success with email marketing and two-way texting. Combined, these avenues of communication will definitely help your dental practice thrive in 2022. Worry not, we’ve got a few informative articles to dive you fully into each topic:
- 6 Ideas for Your Dental Practice’s Website
- Social Media for Dentists: Why You Should Invest In It
- 5 Tips for Your Dental Practice’s Social Media
And be on the lookout for two upcoming posts: Email Marketing for Dental Practices: Why it Works + Content Ideas and Let’s Chat: How Two-Way Texts Improve Patient Turnout + A How-To.
Once you have all of that organized, systemized, and ready to roll, you’ll have the tools in place to ramp up your marketing approach.
If you don’t already have team members dedicated to marketing, you could either promote someone you think would excel at it or hire new office staff. Once you’ve got a team assembled and are ready to start brainstorming, here are some great ideas to help you get started.
4. Evaluate Scheduling
Lastly, in order to make your dental practice thrive in 2022, we think you should look back on the past few months of 2021 and ask yourself: Have we been overscheduling?
With the hygienist shortage remaining a relevant problem, you want to make sure you aren’t stressing them out so much that you’re likely to lose them. The last thing you want in the midst of establishing a dental membership plan and increasing your marketing efforts is to lose a few hygienists (and their appointment capacity).
Ask yourself these questions from our post on the matter:
- Do I see my hygienists using their allotted break times?
- Has the office manager/front desk team mentioned an overbooked schedule more than twice in the past month?
- When I visit with a patient, do they seem to be satisfied with their care? If not, are they antsy, agitated, and full of questions and concerns?
- Is our patient turnover rate higher than we would expect/like it to be?
After you’ve had a chance to think these answers over, involve your hygienists in the conversation, too.
Of course, you have to consider the impacts on revenue as well. But for a thriving practice and a thriving team, you need to find a good balance.
And really, that sentiment could apply to this entire blog post. How can you make your dental practice thrive in 2022? By finding a balance between patient concerns, staff concerns, and revenue! To summarize, here’s how we think you can achieve that:
- Create a Dental Membership Plan
- Think About Dropping PPOs
- Renew a Focus on Marketing and Branding
- Evaluate Scheduling
Of course, you might have other goals for your practice too, but we believe these four big tasks combine beautifully to set you and your practice up for success this year. Onward and upward!