Over the past few weeks, we’ve discussed a new reality faced by dental marketers. We’ve created this terminology in an attempt to encompass a whole slew of trends—so it’s no surprise that this new reality is actually the culmination of many moving parts.
Its catalyst is a growing dependence on the internet, as consumers now have higher expectations from online interactions than ever before. These heightened demands have been perpetuated by companies who seamlessly integrate their digital and physical experiences into a holistic package. As we’ve mentioned, companies like Apple have created an entirely new, modern retail experience that’s caused consumers to reconsider how they engage with brands.
This reimagined consumerism is bleeding into healthcare, as patients are increasingly treating healthcare and dental services like other retail-based companies. Your patients can now search for a provider that best fits their needs. Whereas dental care in the past was often defined by convenience, consumers are now empowered with the element of choice. Much like they do with consumer-based products, patients can shop for dental providers that best fit their needs.
What this means is that patients are now in the driver’s seat of their interactions with healthcare providers. What we haven’t discussed about the new reality, however, is how dental insurance plays into the picture—especially in the era of the value-based healthcare model.
What Rising Dental Costs Mean for Your Patients
While dental costs have increased in most states in over the past five years, reimbursements—the amount usually funded by employers—have declined. This has created mounting pressure for employers to manage costs. But as research from ADA suggests, benefit levels have not quite matched coverage rates. This has created a disconnect.
Although dental insurance coverage is expanding its reach, cost still remains a primary barrier for many adults. An ADA survey found, that between 2013 and 2016, nearly one in five working-age adults did not receive needed dental care and more than one-fourth did not have dental benefits. Of the 47 million surveyed individuals, the top three self-reported reasons for not procuring dental care were the following:
- “Could not afford the cost.”
- “Insurance did not cover procedures.”
- “Did not want to spend the money.”
Dental care has the highest cost barriers compared to other healthcare services. But according to the ADA, rising costs are just one of the reasons that there’s been a rise in value-based dental care. And dentists can actually benefit from this emerging trend.
How Dentists Can Embrace a Value-Based Agenda
Generally speaking, the U.S. healthcare system is moving away the provider-centric, fee-for-service model of care in which practices sought to deliver the highest quantity of services to the highest quantity of people. Thanks to an overarching, shifting landscape—one’s that not entirely dissimilar than the new reality we’ve discussing at Workshop Digital—there’s been a new focus on patient-centric, value-based care.
Dentists should embrace this value-based agenda and shift from old models of care into more patient-centric ones. In the context of value-based care, the word “value” refers to the worth of service, more so than its cost. It means providing higher-quality care at the lowest possible price. This proactive approach stresses prevention and overall wellness, which in turn, should reduce repeat visits and procedures. The healthier a patient is, the less treatment they require.
Ultimately, value-based dental care puts your patients first. And ideally, costs remain the same. As the ADA suggests, value-based oral care is around the corner. However, a true value-based won’t happen overnight. What you can do is meet your patients halfway.
Eliminate Obstacles & Include Dental Insurance Details
Whether you attract prospects via an organic Google search, paid advertisements, or your Google My Business listing, it’s safe to say that marketing is often indirectly responsible for the first engagement that prospects have with a dental practice. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that your efforts are catered around both new prospects and existing patients.
To stay competitive, it’s imperative to cater to your patients. Value-based care should work to reduce barriers as much as possible. Because the modern patient is prone to shop around, it’s important to be as transparent and upfront as possible in the early stages of your interactions.
For example, at Workshop Digital, we found that only 38% of top-ranking dental practice websites include a full list of accepted insurance providers. Be specific and transparent about pricing and payment options. Provide your patients an easy way to contact your office if they have any billing or other questions. And if you don’t accept a specific insurance (e.g. Medicaid or Tricare), it’s important to upfront about that as well.
Ultimately, dental insurance is a complex topic with many nuances. Offering your patients insight into insurance and payment details helps reduce any unnecessary friction and creates the foundation of a healthy client relationship. In an era dominated by customer-centricity, it’s your responsibility to inform them about their options. You want to guarantee that prospects are fit for your practice—and empower them to make decisions on their own time.
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