Now that we’re headed into fall, it gets me thinking about all the things that need to be done at the office before towards the end of the year. There’s always a push at the end of the year for those patients who want to get treatment done that the doctor diagnosed months ago, and patients who want to use their outstanding insurance benefits before they renew in January.
This can be a very productive time for the office, but also a stressful one. You must find appointment times for all these patients. I recommend that you start scheduling those patients now. That way you can control the flow of your schedule. You can spread the patients out over the next few months, instead of trying to jam them all in December. December tends to be a shorter work month with the holidays and many patients will be out of town. It’s more beneficial for your practice to start scheduling these patients now, in the fall.
You can find all the patients with outstanding treatment in the Treatment Manager. The Treatment Manager button is found in the toolbar of the Schedule module.
The Treatment Manager allows you to generate a list of patients that have outstanding treatment plans through filter options.
I like to generate a list of patients that is filtered by procedure code range (a). This allows me to search for a specific procedure codes like a crown or bridge and get an idea of how many patients have those procedures treatment planned, but not scheduled. Another reason I would search for a crown or bridge is because those procedures take two appointments two weeks apart. Many insurance companies pay based on the seat date so it’s important to get both appointments completed before the insurance renews.
Another useful filter is a minimum treatment plan dollar amount (b) which can help you find high production cases. High production cases will result in higher revenue for the practice, so I like to contact those patients first.
You could also use filters to view only patients whose insurance renews in January (c) and who have benefits remaining. These patients are going to be motivated to schedule an appointment before their insurance renews on January 1st.
The Show Columns option (d) allow you to choose which type of information is displayed for each patient. For example, if you wanted to contact patients with treatment plans and outstanding insurance benefits, I would recommend viewing the following columns:
- Patient Name
- Last TP Date – shows you the last date treatment was diagnosed
- TP Total Amount – allows you to see the total amount, so you can contact the higher production treatment plans first
- TP Ins Estimate – shows you the estimated insurance portion of the treatment plan. You can use this to educate your patients. For example, I could explain to a patient that the estimated insurance portion for the treatment plan is $1000. If the patient doesn’t use that benefit before January 1st, they will lose these benefits
- TP Patient Estimate – gives the patient portion of the treatment plan
- Pri Ins Benefits Rem – shows the amount of primary insurance maximum remaining
Once you have the list of patients that fit the filtering criteria you’ve set, it’s nice to have all this information in front of you so you can answer any questions they have regarding their treatment plan when you contact the patient. The Treatment Manager also allows you to double-click a patient’s name on the list to open the Family Appointment List where you can easily see their treatment-planned procedures and upcoming appointments. Plus, you have the ability to schedule a new appointment right from there.
By starting this process now, using the Treatment Manager to filter patients who have outstanding treatment plans and whose insurance renews in January, you can contact patients and explain to them the advantages of using their insurance benefits before it renews. By starting early, you have more control of your schedule, and can spread the production out over the next few months instead of trying to squeeze all the patients in December.
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BY CHARLOTTE SKAGGS
Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner.