Episode 13

Last minute hygiene cancellations and no shows | How to handle the insurance focused patient

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On this episode of the Dear Laura Show

Welcome back to another exciting episode of “Dear Laura Show”! We are thrilled to have you join us once again. For those new to the show, a warm welcome! In this podcast, Laura Nelson, a dental management specialist, answers questions from dental team members and doctors to provide valuable insights and solutions for running a successful dental practice. If you’ve been following us, thank you for your continued support. Today, we’ll be delving into two significant topics that dental offices often grapple with – dealing with last-minute hygiene cancellations and addressing the concerns of insurance-focused patients.

Topic 1: Navigating the Challenge of Last-Minute Hygiene Cancellations
Laura begins by acknowledging that dental offices face various types of cancellations, but hygiene cancellations have their unique challenges. Unlike new patient cancellations or doctor production cancellations, hygiene cancellations are often due to patients not prioritizing dental cleanings on their schedules. Patients book these appointments months in advance and do not necessarily feel a sense of urgency to attend them when the time comes.

Why Patients Cancel Last-Minute:
Patients may cancel hygiene appointments last-minute due to various reasons, such as other commitments, social events, or unexpected situations that arise. Dental cleanings may not be perceived as high-priority appointments, resulting in patients rescheduling or canceling without giving much thought to the implications.

Rethinking the Dental Office Philosophy:
Laura emphasizes the need for dental practices to reevaluate their approach to hygiene cancellations. Rather than relying solely on imposing cancellation fees, practices should aim to change their philosophy and communication strategies. The dental team needs to make patients understand the importance of hygiene appointments and the reserved time allocated for them.

Training the Dental Team:
To address hygiene cancellations effectively, the entire dental team must be on board with the new philosophy. Verbal skills training becomes crucial in conveying to patients the significance of keeping their scheduled appointments. Dental team members need to communicate the value of the reserved time, making it clear that last-minute cancellations may not be easily accommodated in the future.

Avoiding Overreliance on Cancellation Fees:
While some dental offices impose cancellation fees to discourage last-minute cancellations, Laura advises against solely relying on this approach. Cancellation fees may not necessarily prevent cancellations, and they may even lead to dissatisfied patients. Instead, it is essential to build patient trust and cooperation through effective communication and proper verbal skills.

Topic 2: Handling Insurance-Focused Patients with Care and Understanding
Patients often focus on insurance coverage and costs when engaging with dental practices. They may inquire about insurance acceptance, coverage details, and out-of-pocket expenses before considering their dental needs. Understanding this perspective helps dental teams navigate such conversations with sensitivity and professionalism.

Addressing Insurance-Related Concerns:
Laura explains that patients’ insurance book and pocketbook are the two primary factors guiding their decisions when seeking dental care. Dental practices need to acknowledge these concerns while steering the conversation towards the patient’s dental health and well-being.

Moving the Focus to Dental Health:
Although patients may initially prioritize insurance-related questions, dental teams must transition the conversation to emphasize the importance of overall dental health. Patients need to be made aware that their dental health is the primary concern, and the dental team is dedicated to providing quality care regardless of insurance coverage.

Insurance Savvy vs. Insurance Driven:
Laura highlights the importance of the dental team being insurance savvy rather than insurance-driven. Being knowledgeable about insurance details is essential, but it is equally vital not to lead every conversation with insurance-related questions. Dental teams should instead focus on building rapport, addressing patient concerns, and fostering a patient-centered approach to care.

In this informative episode, Laura Nelson offers practical insights for dental practices to effectively manage last-minute hygiene cancellations and handle insurance-focused patient interactions. The key lies in shifting the dental office philosophy and verbal skills to prioritize patient appointments and emphasize dental health over insurance coverage. Building patient trust and understanding their perspectives are essential for fostering positive patient experiences.

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