Episode #245: 5 Ways to Reduce PPO Dependency with Kirk Behrendt and Jenni Poulos
In this episode of The Best Practices Show, Kirk talks with Jenni Poulos, a lead practice coach at ACT Dental. Kirk and Jenni discuss three important frameworks, the first being "E-R=C" (Expectation minus Reality equals Conflict). It’s important to make sure what the patients expect to happen and what actually happens when they come, are consistent. This framework is one that is helpful to constantly refer back to.
The second framework is Ask, Listen, and Repeat. Building trust and great relationships is accomplished by seeking to understand the patient, and this is easily accomplished when following the three-step process. The third framework is Language Creates Value. How well you communicate your services and how qualified your team is, will determine how much your patients value your practice.
The 5 steps for reducing dependency on dental PPO includes considering your readiness. You are able to determine your readiness by looking at the data. It’s important to consider why patients are at your practice; because of you or because of their plan. Also, having enough cash saved up to cover three months of your practice’s operating expenses, plus enough in savings to cover a year of your expenses, are important safeguards to have in place when going through this transition.
Gather the data. It’s important to begin by considering how many active patients you have, these are patients who have visited in the last eighteen months. Then, see how many patients are on each insurance plan. It’s also wise to consider your procedure codes, so you are able to determine how much chair time is being spent on those patients. Also take note on how many new patients you get from each plan. Additionally, look at your contract with insurance companies, run explanation of benefit audits periodically on each contract, and know your fees.
After you gather data, then you need to get a plan in place. It’s important to determine which plans you can afford to eliminate and the order in which you should do so. It’s very important that the transition is gradual so that you are aware of the effects of each change. As you’re considering your data, it is helpful to consider that insurance costs are also a marketing cost of sorts. Another valuable thing, as you begin to transition, is to have a membership plan in place.
Once you’ve completed the first three steps, its time prepare your practice and your team. Face to face is a much more effective and respectful way to communicate the changes to your patients. Each morning you can make note of who is coming in that day that needs to be informed about the insurance changes. Letters are a very ineffective way to notify your patients.
Finally, as you move forward in this process, it’s important to communicate over and over again. Make sure that you are truly equipping your team to be able to walk your patients through the time of transition. Mindset is very important throughout the process, and one important mindset shift to make is to stop thinking of it as insurance and think of it instead as a benefit plan. Another important thing to note is that it’s important to always be honest with the patients so they know what to expect. It’s also valuable to affirm what your patients feel, encourage them that others have felt the same way, and share with them what others have found. Additionally, positivity in how you respond to questions about insurance is very important.
Ask, Listen, and Repeat (12:40)
Get a plan in place (34:35)
Prepare your practice and your team (47:03)
Feel, felt, found (1:02:05)
“We always need to seek to understand before we try to be understood.” -Jenni
“Everything that we say or don’t say is contributing to the value of what we do.” -Jenni
“Your ability to communicate will determine how far you go in dentistry, with your team, with your patients.” -Kirk
“Data removes all emotion.” -Jenni
“The seven most expensive words in business are, ‘That’s the way we’ve always done it.’” -Kirk
“You can’t take smart action without knowing where you stand.” -Jenni
“The more you talk about insurance, the more they think about insurance.” -Kirk
“Make every effort you possibly can to have face to face conversations.” -Jenni
“Make sure your team members are equipped with the tools for success.” -Kirk
“What you focus on grows.” -Kirk
10:23-12:39- Expectation minus reality equals conflict
12:40-14:47- Ask, listen, and repeat
14:48-17:48- Language creates value
19:04-25:06- Determine your readiness
25:07-34:34- Gather the data
34:35-40:43- Get a plan in place
47:03-55:07- Prepare your practice and your team
55:38-1:11:07- Communicate over and over again
1:11:12-1:26:01- Favorite phrases to use for communicating
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