April 25, 2017

Dental Marketing Ideas: Is Your Dental Practice Accepting New Patients?

Quantity vs Quality

good dental marketing is about quality not quantity

I recently encountered a dental marketing consultant who basically teaches dental practices to book appointments in volume.

I was fascinated enough by their own “dirty” marketing tactics, that I decided to write a blog series about the psychological tricks they use to get you to invest with them.

Putting that aside for the moment, I actually, out of morbid curiosity, called several of their clients to see what the “secret” is.  

As a side note, I hate when people tell you they have a secret to get you to spend time or money with them only to find out that their secret is either not a secret or is really stupid.

Either way, my experience was moderately scary.  Why?  Great question.

The Secret 

So apparently, the “secret” is that this company teaches you and your staff how to book as many appointments as possible, regardless of the quality of the patient or the quality of the ensuing patient relationship with your practice.  The “secret” part about this is how they teach you and your staff to lure people in.

The Art of Deception

OK, so here is basically the script of one of my calls, with me pretending to be a new patient.

Me : “Hi, I need a new dentist and was wondering if you accept Aetna”

Staff : “We work with all insurance companies.”

Me : “So you accept Aetna?”

Staff : “We work with all insurance companies.”

Me : “So my insurance will cover my treatment?”

Staff : “Not if your insurance carrier doesn’t reimburse us.”

Me : “What happens if a patient gets treatment from you and insurance doesn’t pay?”

Staff : “We bill the patient.”

Me : “Does this create a lot of unhappy patients/”

Staff : “No, they are happy because we provided them the courtesy of filing the claim wit the carrier.”

Me : I hung up!!!! 

Now, I am not stupid and neither are you.  However, I saw the deception because I was looking for the deception.  What was the deception? They replace the word accept with the word work.  They “work” with all insurance companies vs they “accept” all insurance plans.

So, an unsuspecting patient, hearing that they “work” with ALL insurance carriers, schedules their treatment.  Naturally, I would really love to talk to the patients who get the bill once their insurance claim is rejected, but not being able to do so, I will assume the staff was not lying to me when she said that the patients are happy.  Ignorance actually is bliss.

The Tragedy

You are probably thinking I am crazy.  New patients who pay higher fees?  What’s so bad about that?

Well, the tragedy of this situation represents all that is wrong with marketing for a profit. First, I don’t believe every patient acquisition is equally a good acquisition. Some patients are going to drain you of your time and resources and your happiness.  

Additionally, if you sign a patient through “deceptive” tactics, there is a chance that not only your patient will not be pleased, but that you will have a patient that makes your life miserable.  

Is it really all about the money?

Everything aside, if you are a production junkie and believe that a good dental practice is one that thrives on volume, either through new patients or aggressively up selling unneeded services to your patients, you can ignore this post.  

Deceptive tactics will work for you because you actually care more about your wallet than your patient.  Much like an assembly line, you will not only produce more, you will likely reduce your costs.

For sure, if you fool people into getting treatment from you, you will most likely grow a huge profitable practice.  However, you will do so at the expense of providing ethical dental care, and focusing on the dental health needs of your patients.  I think there is a better way to practice for a profit by balancing the needs of your patients with your own personal financial goals.  Just one mans opinion.

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