Take Advantage of Your Existing Patient Base

 

Melinda SpitekHow to Add Profitability — Without Adding Patients!
Special Marketing Feature
By Melinda Spitek, Hycomb Marketing

We all love to get new patients, but a lot of the dentists I consult with aren’t aware of the gold mine they’re sitting on: high value current patients!

My office is located in California’s Wine Country, where the marketing of wine is a Great Big Deal. Did you know that less than 10% of the population purchases more than 80% of all wine sold? That’s a critical core consumer group. You find it mirrored again and again in other industries and enterprises.

And dentistry is no exception! There are five basic components of a successful internal dental marketing strategy:

 

  • Information value (keeping your patients up-to-date on what you offer),
  • Educational value (teaching your patients about important health issues),
  • Repetition value (reminding your patients that you are their dentist and that they might be past due for recare),
  • Consistency, and
  • Consistency.

 

 

We are so inundated with information these days that people forget faster than ever. That’s why it’s never been more important to have an ongoing internal marketing program— and a realistic idea of what it can accomplish.

As an example, consider sending a regular newsletter to your entire patient base. Such a strategy provides:

 

  • Information and educational value,
  • Repeated name recognition,
  • A tangible link to your practice,
  • Flexibility of involvement (your office can be closely tied to development of the materials, or not involved at all), and
  • Cost-effective promotion to high-value current patients.

 

 

I’m often asked, “Do patients read newsletters?” I’ll be honest. Chances are a quarter of them will toss it without reading a word. But, even so, they will recall your name and know it came from you. Maybe half will read some of the newsletter with your name reminding them that you are their dentist. Maybe a quarter will read it cover to cover and be stimulated!

I’d compare this strategy to a political campaign. How could signs reading ROSS FOR GOVERNOR — absent any information about ROSS — motivate a vote? It’s the accumulative effect of these reminders on an individual’s memory that stimulates action.

That is the effect a sustained internal marketing effort can have on growing the productivity of your existing patient base.

Melinda Spitek is CEO of Hycomb Marketing Inc. Hycomb was founded in 1980 for the purpose of helping dentists market their practices. Melinda has had plenty of hands-on experience as well, having worked 23 years in dental offices. For help with marketing, just call Hycomb at (800) 523-6961 or visit www.hycomb.com.

High-Tech Dental Robot Encourages Better Dentistry

Meet the Dental Patient of the Future

Simroid, Simulated Dental Patient

Having a hard time finding volunteers who’ll let you practice brand-new dental techniques on them? What you need is a robotic dental patient! The 2007 International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo saw the introduction of Simroid, a humanlike robot that reacts to dental pain in a humanlike manner.

There’s impressive technology behind Simroid. She can follow instructions, sense tooth pain, gag and say, “That hurts!” The goal of this high-tech robot is not just to improve dentists’ technical skills, but also their chairside manner.

Read mote

The 2010 State of Dentistry Address

Jim Du Molin's 2010 State of Dentistry AddressIn Jim Du Molin’s “The 2010 State of Dentistry Address,” he discusses how the #1 problem facing President Obama is the same as that faced by dentistry.

“2010 has arrived,” Jim says. “While the president talks about the state of the union… what about the state of dentistry?

The 2010 State of Dentistry AddressIs dentistry stuck in the same hole as the rest of the country?” he asks.

Pretty much, folks,” he continues.

“Our surveys tell us that the average dental practice production is down from 15% to as much as 50%…

“But the real culprit is unemployment.

“The President tells us that unemployment is at 10% nationwide and our country’s #1 problem. But if you dig deeper, looking at all the numbers… the real unemployment number is closer to 17.5%.

How does this translate to dentistry? Roughly speaking, this 17.5% – and all their family members – are out of the dental market, unless they are in pain… at which point they turn into an emergency appointment, one that does not convert into a full treatment plan, because they don’t have the money!

“If dental implant, cosmetic dentistry and braces patients have been a little scarce lately in your practice… it’s simple. These are highly discretionary services. No one is in pain here, and money is tight.

“Now at this point, as a dental management guru, I’m supposed to kick your tush and tell you to get out there and spend some money on marketing for new patients.

“Well, I’m not going to do that.”

Want to know what Jim suggests? Just go to www.TWDU.info to view the video and learn more.

Orthodontic Braces: Taxpayers Spent $424 Million for Children in Texas

Orthodontic Braces: Taxpayers Spent $424 Million for Children in TexasIn June of this year, The Wealthy Dentist published a story about Taxpayers footing the bill for orthodontic braces in Texas.

In Texas, Medicaid pays dentists for orthodontics per procedure, instead of a lump sum for the “finished mouth” of straight teeth.

This has made Medicaid orthodontia a lucrative dental business in Texas.

WFAA-TV of Texas has been investigating this story for the last six months and has uncovered hundreds of millions of dollars of questionable Medicaid spending on dental braces for children in Texas. Their news reports prompted federal investigators to now audit the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which controls the Medicaid funds.

According to the WFAA website –

In a letter to the state, the Inspector General says it will examine the “authorization process for orthodontic treatment” under Texas Medicaid. “The objective of our audit,” the letter continues, “is to review the State’s controls to ensure that only medically necessary orthodontic cases are paid.” The time period covered by the audit is September 1, 2008 through May 28, 2011.

The new station’s investigation revealed that during that period, Texas taxpayers spent $424 million on orthodontic braces for children under Medicaid. Taxpayers spent $100 million in 2008, $140 million in 2009, and $184 million in 2010, state records show.

Texas dentist, Dr. Christine Ellis, who teaches at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has twice traveled to Washington in an attempt to convince lawmakers to scale back Texas Medicaid orthodontics payments and divert funds for more pressing dental needs.

Her attempts fell on deaf ears. According to the WFAA-TV article, Ellis said, “There’s no response. No one is putting the brakes on this thing.”

Billy Millwee of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is now telling WFAA-TV that if taxpayers money has been lost, the Attorney General might take action to get it back. He went on to say that Texas will have a new managed care Medicaid dental program beginning next spring.

For more on this story see: Feds Investigate Texas Dental Medicaid Program and Taxpayers Footing the Bill for Braces in Texas.

Dentists State Powerful Reasons for Supporting Fluoride in Water

Dentists State Powerful Reasons for Supporting Fluoride in WaterSome dentists think that the water fluoridation debate is a non-issue.

“With over 65 years of research and practical experience of this proven safe and effective public health measure, it amazes me that this is still an issue,” complained one dental professional.

In our most recent survey, 68% of dentists said that they support the fluoridation of public water supplies, while 32% said fluoridating our drinking water is unnecessary.

Here are some dentist comments from this survey…

Fluoride is beneficial —

“My parents grew up with good oral hygiene and habits, but without public fluoridated water. They both had numerous cavities restored while growing up. My brother and I are in our 40s and grew up with fluoridated water. Neither of us have had any caries! I’m a big proponent of properly fluoridated public water.” (Ohio prosthodontist)

“It eliminated caries in American urban cities until “boutique bottled water” became fashionable.” (New York periodontist)

“I practice in the county where Muskegon was the control city when Grand Rapids started fluoridating their water in 1945. 80-90% of my patients had fluoridated water when their teeth were developing. With probably 99% accuracy I know whether they had city water (with fluoride) or well water (no fluoride). The difference in decay rate is substantial.” (Michigan dentist)

“I am a proponent of public water fluoridation for its known effects over the past 70 years. The shift to bottled water is diminishing that effect I believe so other modalities should be looked at such as adding it to salt as they do in Europe. Perhaps that would make McDonald’s fries a wee bit healthier!” (Pediatric dentist)

“How could one not support this? As a dental professional?” (Indiana dentist)

“It’s a no-brainer.” (Alabama dentist)

“The most cost effective means of caries prevention for all age groups.” (General dentist)

“If we have ever demonstrated that preventive measures can work, it was done with fluoride. Why do we need to prove this again and again and again???” (New York orthodontist)

Fluoride is bad science —

“This is based on old science and needs to be stopped. Infant warnings should be on water bills.” (Dental hygienist)

“Should not mass-medicate without the will of the masses! There are controversies that are appalling. The truth is in question about the benefits versus the risks. The opposition should be given an opportunity to present scientific data.” (Florida dentist)

“The ADA is out of touch. It is a Civil rights issue for black-American infants. The cost is too great to remove from their drinking water so they are in reality being forced-medication. Most of this expensive bio-hazard does not get on the teeth it is used to wash clothes water lawns. You can get fluoride in many products OTC that is sodium fl and not untested bio-hazard waste from fertilizer plants. The fertilizer plants should have to pay for the safety tests.” (General dentist)

“Dental decay is not caused by a lack of fluoride in our water supply.” (Pennsylvania dentist)

“High concentrations currently can have adverse affects on the systemic health of medically-compromised adults. Ingestion of H2o with fluoride is ONLY beneficial for children during adult tooth formation, but many children do not drink water consistently or may be risking fluorosis from fluoride intake from multiple sources, including water.” (Illinois dentist)

“The systemic ingestion of fluoride has shown no significant decrease in decay, but has been shown to damage the body including the skeletal system, the pineal and thyroid glands and the brain causing lowered IQ’s in children. There is also no way to control the dosage of this medication. There are plenty of products containing fluoride that can be used topically, the most effective application, for those who want to use it and it doesn’t need to be in the public water supply.” (Texas dentist)

“No dose control and too many systemic effects, with too many of the general population at risk.” (Texas hygienist)

“Scientific evidence shows NO beneficial effect on teeth when ingesting in water. Too many systemic problems with accumulation, however, so need to stop fluoridating our drinking water.” (General dentist)

A political issue —

“Fluoridation is the worst “public health” fiasco ever foisted upon an unsuspecting populace.” (Arkansas dentist)

“The major problem here is that city water jurisdictions pay for fluoridation and state/federal welfare pays for dental treatment. If either paid for both, fluoridation would be everywhere.” (Oregon dentist)

It is BAD public policy to medicate via the public water supply.” (Dental implantologist)

“If any city wants to op out (of fluoridation) then fine. Just don’t use tax money to fix your children’s teeth!” (California dentist)

“It’s a form of govt mind control! (tongue firmly planted in cheek).” (Oral surgeon)

“Sad state of affairs here in Florida when science takes a back seat to politics-again. It shows the decline of thinking so pervasive in America.” (Florida dentist)

What are your thoughts on fluoride in drinking water?

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