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Episode 176: Re-activating Past Due Hygiene Patients

February 24, 2022
In this episode, Gary and Naren discuss the importance of re-activating past due hygiene patients and how it correlates to building a strong patient base.
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When you are in the process of dropping PPO plans, the larger your patient base is, the stronger your practice is! Hence when you re-activate your past-due hygiene patients, you are also building your patient base. In addition, within the past two years, the visiting patterns of patients have altered because of Covid-19. Thus, many practices have patients who are past due from hygiene. In this episode, Gary discusses why it’s essential to re-activate these past-due hygiene patients and how dentists can utilize technology to achieve this.

Episode Timestamps

  • 00:00:51 – Intro to the episode
  • 00:01:14 – Quick announcement
  • 00:02:50 – How active patient base correlates to the process of dropping PPO plans
  • 00:03:31 – Dentists are file cabinet millionaires
  • 00:05:17 – How do we re-activate past due hygiene patients
  • 00:06:25 – Using technology to re-activate past due hygiene patients
  • 00:08:30 – Benefit statement

N: Hello everyone, welcome to the less insurance dependence podcast – the official podcast of the reducing insurance dependence academy – www.rid.academy; this is Naren, your co-host. Today’s topic is Re-activating Past Due Hygiene Patients. Re-activating Past Due Hygiene Patients before we jump into our topic, I have an exciting announcement. We have our very first MBA, the thriving dentist MBA, the ten elements of a thriving dentist practice coming up on March 29th, 30th, and 31st. So it is 3 evenings, 3 hours each – 7 pm to 10 pm est, you get 9 hours of CE, and you know sign-up and see if you might learn something from it – the link is thrivingdentist.com/MBA, and the whole goal of this is to teach you the 10 elects that Gary has taught and used in his own work plus in all of the clients work. So you learn these 10 elements of a thriving practice, you will have workshop-style exercises to do, every single day, and then you can take it and apply it – we do run it like a workshop; therefore, the seats are limited, so please go to thriving dentist.com/MBA and see if there are seats available and if there are, please reserve your seats, and looking forward to seeing you there! Gary, let’s jump into today’s topic. Today’s topic is re-activating past-due hygiene patients. We have mutual clients, and one of the things I know that you have been talking to me about and you know and let me know based on the work that you do with mutual clients is there are a lot of opportunities, especially within hygiene and you believe in a strong hygiene practice as part of a thriving practice so today’s episode is going to be all about one of those opportunities and how do you strengthen your hygiene practice. So Gary over to you. 

G: Yeah, Naren, thanks – yeah, let me give some context to our listener regarding this topic and how it relates to successfully dropping PPO plans. Well, we know through our work with hundreds of practices around the country that we have helped in our coaching work to successfully drop PPO plans is that the larger your patient base is when you start the process, the stronger your practice is in terms of dropping PPO plans. So the idea of re-activating past-due hygiene patients directly relates to building your active patient base in your practice. So with that context in mind, I want you to know why it ties to the less insurance dependence podcast, so years ago, you heard me talk about Dr. Omar reed as a mentor of mine. Dr. Reed – this is going back to the early 1980s; I remember him telling me something that still sticks with me today over 40 years later. 

He said Gary; most dentists are file cabinet millionaires! And I remember the first time he told me that I was still green behind the ears when I was starting my career. I did not exactly know what he meant., and I must have had a look in my eyes like I was confused – and so he said, Gary, let me tell you what I meant by that, and you have to go back to the early 1980s to understand the reference to file cabinets because back then all of the charts were paper charts, charts were often kept on bookshelves or in a file cabinet, so when he talked about the file cabinet, these were typically storing patients charts alphabetically, so he said Naren let me show you. We walked over to his rows of file cabinets, and he said this is where you are going to see most offices, and most dentists are file cabinet millionaires and what I mean by that Gary – if they could only get their existing patients to accept the treatment and it comes in regularly for hygiene there is over a million dollars worth of treatment and opportunity in that practice, and that was a time when there was a book written in the early 1980s about how to have a hundred thousand dollar practice – in other words, a hundred thousand dollar practice was kind of like the pinnacle, so inflation and you know numbers have changed over that time but if you were talking abbot most dentists being a file cabinet billionaire in the early 1980s I wonder what that is like today. So let’s talk about how we re-activate people that are past due in hygiene, and I believe that this is especially relevant now in the last 2 years as we have been struggling with Covid that our patients visit patterns to the dentist have been altered. There was a time when people were staying away from the dentist because, for whatever reason, maybe they were concerned, but I think even people that were regular about moving into the dental office every 6 months or whatever their recall cycle was that some of that has been disrupted, so there are a lot of practices where there are people that are past due from hygiene. Naren, can you understand that relationship to what is going on in practices? Does that seem irrelevant to what you are experiencing with the work that you do with clients? 

N: Yes, Gary absolutely – I mean, there are a lot of opportunities out there, and I think Covid also threw a kind of curveball right, and it is it throwing a curveball, so depending on who the patient is, you know there might be a lot of people who have work that is not done, and especially because they can’t afford.

G: And they are kind of past due for hygiene.

N: Yes, exactly

G: You know ready to commit, so to re-activate the great news is we have the technology today to make it very efficient and if you are not already using some kind of technology to communicate with your patients, patient communication app – we as Weave, Weave is our phone system, but it is also your patient communication system that means we can send text messages we can send emails I addition to using the phone and to be fair there are other apps that do that very well. Smile reminder, demand force, lighthouse 360 are 3 of those, and there are others, but if you are not already using one of those applications, I would strongly encourage you to use one because it allows you to communicate very efficiently with groups of your patients instead of having to call them one by one. I have been doing this long enough to remember Naren when the only way to re-activate past-due hygiene was to call the on the phone, and even back when that was not very effective because guess what happened most of the time – if you go back 30 years, 35 years – what happened most of the time when we called patients?

N: Even those days, I bet it went to voicemail, right?

G: Naren, you are dating yourself – there was no voicemail 35 years ago! 

N: Oh, that is true! It went to a telephone recording machine!

G: Oh yeah! (Laughs)

N: I still remember those 1990, those last ones.

G: The last ones! But it went to a telephone recording machine, and they had it – so it was very inefficient. It was literally like, one at a time. Today you can send out, you know, 50 text messages that would say something like; it could be individually identified – hey Naren, this is Carly from LifeSmiles dental care; we missed you! I am contacting you to make your next appointment. Now we know Naren that if we see you on a regular basis in hygiene, we accomplish 2 things, we keep you as healthy as possible, and we reduce your future dental expenses! So let me pause there –that might be the kind of message that we send out – whatever we are communicating with people in hygiene, we want to talk about a benefit statement. We want to use a benefit statement – it is not just enough to say, you are overdue for your hygiene, that is true, but we have to give the benefit stat met, and the benefit statement that I like to give is the one that I just said to you. We know Naren that if we see you on a regular basis, we can accomplish 2 things, and we can keep this healthy as possible, and reduce your future dental expenses, so make sure you include a benefit statement, and now we kind of get to the point where you can decide just how much technology you want to use. You can finish that message with, give me a call, and I will be happy to find an appointment that works for you. That is one way to do it, and for some of you, that might be how you choose to do that – then people can get your message and respond. The other way is to say you can call me like you always have. I will be happy to find an appointment for you, or you can click this link here – and there will be a link in the email message that goes to the electronic scheduler, where they can actually go to the schedule and make their own appointment. Local med is a great one for that, there are others, but I like that one a lot. So it lowers a link where you can actually just make your own appointment. So click the link and pick the appointment that works well for you. So you can decide for yourself what degree of adopting technology that you are comfortable with; I do like using local med for that with our clients because it makes it very efficient and you can actually – you know the patient will make the appointment and never have to call back and never having to play phone tag – very efficient and very effective. And now we send that out! Now let’s talk about who we send that to! I would encourage you to start with the most recent past due patients. Because we are catching them early- we are catching them before they drift away. Patients have a tendency to drift away over time. 

N: Out of sight, out of mind!

G: Out of sight, out of mind – at some point with certain patients, it becomes an embarrassment issue, and they become embarrassed. Oh my gosh, I know I should come every 6 months, it has been 3 years and what will they do? What will some people do? When they are facing that embarrassment?

N: They will not come at all

G: Or call another office. 

N: Yes, exactly.

G: Where they don’t have, there is behaviour. 

N: Exactly – they can sound like they are good people!

G: Hype, I am a new patient! (Laughs) yeah, so good paints, of course, will realise the genuine nature of your message and want to get back in.

N: Yes

G: It is very effective to get people back into hygiene, and hygiene is a great truly gentle way to get people back into the practice, because now you know they have been away from the dentist in a while, and it gives them an opportunity to do exams to discover treatment needs, and it just feeds the practice. The more hygiene activity you have in your practice, the more exams we have, the more treatment ends up on the doctor’s schedule, so one side you know very much feeds the other, but now I want you to get – I want you to think more creatively about this. Given this technology that we have through patient communication, text, and email – we can actually go back over maybe a longer period of time – than you would normally go back if all you had to do was call the patient if the only technology you had was a phone call to call them. We could now go back further, so let’s say we start at the time that we are recording this Naren; it is early 2022

N: Yes

G: So maybe we start with the first list – is it people that are past due from 2021?

N: Mhmm

G: Okay, and ten, you know where I am going with this- what would be the next group Naren if we are going back? People who are past due from 2020.

N: Exactly – exactly.

G: Yeah, and very often offices stop there – they stop there, but I want you to think about something Naren, imagine that you are a dentist – you have got a loyal patient they love you, and imagine you are at the grocery store – what is the most common grocery store name in Mississauga?

N: Lob laws

G: Say that again

N: Lob laws

G: Right, if I was Canadian, I would recognize that name?

N: Absolutely – 

G: So I am sitting here scratching my head because I don’t know what that is!

N: (Laughs)

G: But that is your grocery store?

N: Yes

G: In the US, that might be Vaughn’s; it might be the safe way, could be any – could be piggly wiggly if you are in the south!

N: Yes!

G: So imagine you are in Lob Laws, and you are pausing your cart one way down the aisle and clear at the end of the aisle there is a patient of yours that you recognize and he or she has not been in for years for whatever reasons.

N: Mhmm

G: I bet they still think you are their dentist!

N: 3 years!

G: I bet they still hank that I bet they have not gone somewhere else. I mean, they could have 

N: Absolutely

G: But I bet they just drifted, they just drifted, and they are still going to think of you as their dentist, so we can go back further, so if we have already gone through 2020, where are we going through next?

N: 2019! Yes

G: Yeah, and you can go back further – you know, depends again on what your needs are to fill your schedule and what that group looks like, but you know, go back to 2018, 2017, go back 5 years – and in many cases – and remember so efficient we are doing this in a matter of minutes, and seeding the message out to a group of people it is not taking a lot of admin time to do this. 

G: You know there is a – when we used to do this by phone, Naren and we would actually talk to the patient, we would say we missed you it has been a while since we have seen you. Often times the patient would say – no, I think I was just in!

N: Laughs

G: And you know I remember in my own office when I would hear this, and then one of my team members used to say well actually – I have taken a look at his Joe and the last time we saw you was 3 years ago!

N: Right!

G: And he will typically say, oh my gosh, I had no idea – I really thought I was just there! Naren, I was sharing this concept recently with one of my clients that people have a distorted sense of timing because the world we live in moves so fast. We don’t even pay attention to what month or week sometimes! And you know when was the last time I took a vacation! When was the last time I did this! Today I was talking about this to a client of mine, and we were on zoom, and I said you know people have a distorted sense of timing and he burst into this big smile and said Gary, I have to tell you a story – it is a little embarrassing but can I tell you this? So I said sure! He said I decided I wanted to make an appointment with my physician for my annual physical, and he said – I thought I had been to him two or three years, and it was time for a physical, and so he called his primary care physicians office and said you know I want to make an appointment for my annual physical and I am a little embarrassed by this, but I know I should do it every year abut I think it has been 2 or 3 years, and the receptionist at the primary care physician said – actually last time we saw you was 8 years ago!

N: Laughs

G: 8 years ago! He said, oh my gosh, I am doubly embarrassed because I know I should be doing this, and they said the right thing- they said, I am so glad you called in today we will get you back in and get you back on that regular schedule. We will look forward to seeing you, and they scheduled it, but in his – he said Gary, what you just said just applied to me! I thought it was 2 or 3 years, and in fact, it was 8 and he said now I realise that could totally be true of many of my patients, and I am going to do this, and I went back, actually went back, guess how many years we went back Naren? With what I have told you? 

N: Laughs definitely more than 8

G: Yeah, we went back 8 years – based on this! And it represented a bonanza of patients you know existing patent reconnecting with the office, reconnecting with the office – and by the way, the longer they have been away from a dental perspective in a way the better it is for us because it is likely that they have some concerns beyond hygiene appointments!

N: Very true!

G: And now we can catch those with those patients before they become bigger issues. So there are just so many good reasons to do this, and we wanted to talk about this, you know in this show, in the less insurance dependence because of how it relates to strengthening your practice, as you go out of network! The more active patients – the active patient, is defined as a patient that has been in your practice in the last 2 years, in the last 2 years, so now you are going to be building your active patient base up, making you that much stronger as you start to drop PPO plans- so it has a direct correlation to everything we are talking about in the less insurance dependence podcast. So we want to get a little granular with you today and share this ish you – and encourage you to re-activate make sure you have got some availability to accommodate them when they respond! So that is something you have to take a look at – you don’t want to re-activate people and discover you have no availability in hygiene! 

N: Right

G: So be proactive about that and visit that and solve that! But we think it is going to be a very useful way to strengthen your practice, you know when you are operating from a position of strength when you go out of network, all kinds of good things happen as opposed to being in a position of weakness, so this is part of what will make you a stronger practice well as we wrap up today I have a request from our listeners. My request is that you go over to iTunes – type in less insurance dependence podcast, and write a review for us. Those iTunes reviews for podcasters, work like Google reviews work, or your dental practice. It helps more dentists find us. If you would be kind enough to jump on iTunes, simply type in less insurance dependence podcast – you will see our image come up, and then if you scroll down, you will see how you can leave a review and if you can be kind enough to leave this review that will help more dentists find us.

I want to thank all of our listeners for all you do to support our work. We love what we do at the less insurance deduce podcast, but we could not do it without you – thanks for all of your help, thanks for all of your work! And thanks for making each month a record month for us in terms of downloads and listeners, and we want to continue that! Thanks in advance for leaving us a review. On that note, thank you for the privilege of your time today, and we look forward to connecting with you on the next less insurance dependence podcast.

Resources


Gary Takacs

Gary Takacs One of Gary's most significant achievements as a dental practice management coach is transforming his own practice, LifeSmiles, from one that was infected with PPO plans, no effective marketing strategy, and an overhead of 80% to a very successful dental practice that is currently one of the top-performing practices in the US.

With over 2,200 coaching clients, Gary has first-hand experience transforming insurance-dependent practices into thriving and profitable practices.

Through his Personalized Coaching Program, Gary shares access to the systems, strategies, processes, and experience gained over 41 years of coaching dentists and transforming over 2200 practices worldwide.

Learn More:: www.thrivingdentist.com/coaching/
Connect with Gary Takacs on Linkedin

Naren Arulrajah

Naren ArulrajahAs CEO of Ekwa Marketing, Naren has over a decade of experience working with dental practices and helping them attract the ideal type of patients to their practices. It is his goal to help dentists do more of the type of dentistry they love with the help and support of effective digital marketing.

Ekwa’s "Done-For-You" Digital Marketing model blends fundamental persuasion principles with an all-in-one Digital Marketing solution to help your ideal patients find you and choose you for reasons other than being on their insurance plan.

If you’re interested in finding out if Ekwa is the right fit for you and your practice, book a Free Marketing Strategy Meeting with Ekwa’s Marketing Director, Lila Stone.

Book Free Marketing Strategy Meeting: www.lessinsurancedependence.com/marketing-strategy-meeting/

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