Scheduling patients with non-participating insurance plans

January 31, 2019

How the front desk team to get 50-70 percent of patents with non-participating plans to schedule an appointment anyway.

It happens every day. A person eagerly calls a dental practice to make an appointment, only to discover that the practice doesn’t participate with their insurance plan. For a potential patient, this is often a deal-breaker. Most people will not schedule an appointment with a practice that doesn’t participate with their plan and who can blame them?

They pay monthly insurance premiums so that they can receive dental care for a small co-pay, or even better - no co-pay at all. You may feel powerless to stop the loss of these patients however we’ve had tremendous success in helping practices in schedule like these patients every day. The key is how you address them. 


Never turn patients away


Calls from patients who have dental plans in which the practice doesn't participate happen every day but most practices are simply unprepared for them. The front desk staff often tells patients that the practice does not participate, essentially ending further conversation. Our approach is to embrace these patients and give them excellent reasons to make an appointment anyway. Remember, they called you, or maybe a friend referred them, so it’s up to the front desk team to make the most of the opportunity.

More from the author: Is it time for a practice checkup?

Does it work every time? No, but it does work on 50–70 percent of these calls. There’s no magical formula for this, but there is effective scripting that can help.

Scripting is critical

Most people don’t understand the principle behind scripting and instruct their staff to read scripts verbatim. Regardless, the true power of scripting lies in your ability to be extremely positive, focus on benefits, develop a relationship with new patient callers and give them a compelling reason to come to the practice. Think of it in terms of a football team that must run a certain play: while the play has been carefully diagrammed for each player, the ultimate goal is to gain yards. To gain those yards, players can - and must - modify what they’re doing based on the unexpected things that can happen during the play. The same is true for scripting. Staff members should use a script as a guideline, but modify it to fit within the conversations they will have with a wide variety of patients.

When given the proper scripting during the first new patient phone call, many people will make an appointment to meet the practice - especially if it’s complimentary. Once they’re in your office, it’s all about providing five-star customer service, educating and orienting the patient about the practice and making a compelling case for why they should stay with you.

I was recently asked at a seminar whether it was worth taking the time and effort to try to convince these patients to come in. When I quoted the statistic from the Levin Group Data Center that the average lifetime value of a patient is $12,500, everyone in the room immediately decided that it’s well worth it. Being able to convert 50 to 70 percent of these calls to appointments is a massive win for the practice that will increase both production and profit.

Summary

Convincing patients that don’t participate in plans you accept is easier than most practices think, however most don’t make the effort. With effective scripting these callers can be motivated to come to the office, giving you the chance to convert them to patients