Analyze your practice finances
Take a close look at your practice finances to determine which PPOs are profitable and whether any are paying you below cost. We've found that when dentists take a look at all insurance reimbursements - and not just those from a subset of procedures - they're often surprised that there are many procedures where they are just breaking even or losing money on insurance reimbursements. You're not in business to subsidize insurance companies, so a good place to start is looking at how reimbursements compare to your costs.
Review industry trends
Looking at what other dentists are doing is a good place to start learning about how you can improve things in your practice. Are you charging fees that are well below average for your region? Are there new ways patients are paying for dental care that could benefit your patients and practice?
Determine how many PPO patients you can lose
After taking a close look at their finances, some dentists find they can lose more than half their PPO patients and still remain profitable - if they stop accepting the low PPO reimbursements. If you're nervous about losing patients when you leave a PPO, determining exactly how many you can lose and still run your business can be reassuring.
Set a timeline
Once you've decided which PPOs to leave first, set a timeline for leaving those PPOs with milestones along the way. It typically takes at least 6 months to leave a PPO, and you'll need to educate your staff on the process, inform patients and set up an alternative for patients who like to have a budgetable monthly payment for dental care.
Discuss the changes with staff
Your staff will be a key part of making sure your transition to an Unrestricted Provider is smooth and successful. Make sure they are prepared to talk with patients about the changes, and answer any questions your staff has. Sometimes staff are concerned about patient reactions or the future of the practice. Assure them you've thought through the process, done all the necessary calculations, and you have determined that becoming an Unrestricted Provider will help the practice thrive and allow you to continue treating patients at a high quality of care.
Research PPO messaging
When you decide to leave a PPO, the PPO will make you out to be a bad egg. They'll strongly suggest to your patients that the patients need to find a new dentist, and the PPO may even imply that you can't be the patient's dentist anymore. This, of course, is not true. It's important to know what the PPOs will tell your patients so you can get ahead of this and reassure them that you'll still be there to provide the same high quality care they've come to expect.
Create positive messaging
Part of getting ahead of what the PPOs will tell your patients is creating positive messaging to inform your patients about the changes in your practice. You should share with them all the benefits that you'll offer as an Unrestricted Provider, such as high quality care, the freedom to refer to the best specialists for them and fair, market-based fees.
Set up an alternative to the PPOs
Many patients like the fact that a PPO offers them a budgetable, monthly payment to cover their dental care. And, they may be hoping to keep paying for dental care each month, rather than face larger bills a few times a year. An in-office membership program is a great option to offer your patients a way to continue to pay a small amount toward dental care each month.
Communicate the changes
You want to make sure your patients know about the changes before they happen. It can take a few touch points with patients before they fully understand the changes. You should consider conversations when they are in the office, a flier or info sheet to take home, and a letter to all affected patients. Each touch point should share the same, positive message about why you are making the changes.
Periodically analyze your finances
After you become an Unrestricted Provider, you'll want to periodically review and analyze your finances to determine if there are any tweaks that could further improve your situation.