Improving Practice Operations: From Hiring to Coverage and Everything in Between

by | Sep 14, 2023 | Dental Office, Employer advice, In The News, Practice Advice, Practice Marketing | 0 comments

Talk to anyone in dentistry right now and the two major pain points that almost every office is having is staffing and being profitable while working with dental insurance.  

It is always my goal to help dental offices in all aspects of their operations and that is why DirectDental has partnered up with Kleer to create a blog post to help you with these two major pains.  

In this post we will discuss various tips for hiring and finding coverage when short staffed and discuss marketing efforts and tips to finally get rid of insurance and become a fee-for-service practice. 

Up first, let’s discuss this staffing shortage amongst dental assistants, hygienists and other dental personnel.  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this shortage of Dental Professionals to continue until 2031 and according to a recent ADA study, over 70% of dentists find hiring dental hygienist and Dental Assistants to be “extremely” or “very” challenging.  

So what can you do?

Job Post

  • Make sure your pay and benefits are competitive for the area
  • Put your pay and benefits up at the top.  Applicants have way too many options, so having an ad that stands out is going to get people to click and read and hopefully apply.
  • Don’t write an essay – 400 words at the most.
  • Make applying easy.  Again, applicants have a lot of jobs to apply to.  If they have to stop to write a cover letter and email to you, they will pass on the job. Just let them apply with a click and once you have sold them on how great your practice is, THEN you can make them jump through hoops to prove they are worthy.
  • Cast as wide a net as possible.  Use a job board that posts to many different sites, post on social media and find facebook groups in your area to post your job.  Reach out to the local schools and previous employees and persons in your dental network who might know of someone who is looking for work. 

These posts offer more insight into having success with your job postings. 

How to Get Dental Assistants and Hygienists to Apply to Your Job Post

7 Tools DSOs use to Staff Their Dental Jobs

Why Dental Offices Should Always Be Hiring

How To Get Applicants to Your Dental Job

Contacting, Scheduling and Conducting Interviews

  • Don’t be too nit-picky about resume typos.  If they have the skills and experience they are worth you giving them a call. 
  • Keep the first conversation fun.  You want to build some rapport and get them excited to meet with you.  Use this time to compliment them on their work history while letting them talk about why they are looking for  a new job and what their dream position looks like. 
  • Try to schedule interviews as soon as possible.  The biggest challenge is getting the person in for an interview before another office offers them a position.  From the time they apply to the time they are in your office interviewing should be shorter than 72 hours. 
  • Make sure to continue to build a connection and rapport at every interview.  Remember you are competing with several different dental offices for this candidate, they will ultimately choose the office they feel most comfortable at. 
  • If you feel any “warm and fuzzies” offer them a position right away.  Do not lose them to another office. 

These post offer more insight into hiring and keeping your dental staff:

Is Your Hiring Process Costing Your Candidates?

How to Get Dental Applicants to Call You Back

Why Background Checks are a Must

Make Your New Dental Employee Stick

4 Tips to Effectively Train Your New Employee 

Finding Coverage When Short Staffed 

DirectDental has temps in all 50 states, however, there are some markets where we are still growing.  If you are in one of those markets, here are ways to find temps. 

  1. Your local dental temp agency.
  2. Facebook Groups – Search “Dental Hygienists” AND “Your Location” And then click on groups. This will show you the dental hygiene groups in your area and you can post your temp job. You can do this for dental assistants and front office dental personnel as well.
  3. Ask your coworkers/employees or colleagues in your study club if they have anybody they can suggest for a temp.
  4. Post a permanent job on DirectDental for a temp. It will go out to all the major job boards to help you find some temps quickly. Just make sure to include in your post it’s for a temp shift. This video shows you how to manage your jobs.

Once you find a temp, make sure you have as much success with them as possible.  This post will give you all the ins and outs of having a temp in your office

You can also work to improve the attendance of your dental employees.

If you are in an area with a lot of temps, this video will show you how to request temps on DirectDental.

Now let’s talk about Dental Insurance.

The #1 concern a dentist has with dropping insurance is that they feel they will lose their patients.  And yes, you will lose some, but losing patients might actually mean making more money.  

Kleer breaks it down for us. 

Analyze PPOs and determine which plans to keep, renegotiate and drop.

1. For each PPO, create a table with the following columns: 

CDT Code, Procedure Description, UCR Fee, PPO Fee and Procedure Frequency (last calendar year).

2. For each PPO, calculate the Weighted Average Discount: 

  • Create an UCR Revenue column that equals UCR Fee multiplied by Procedure Frequency. 
  • Create a PPO Revenue column that equals the PPO Fee multiplied by Procedure Frequency. 
  • Create a PPO Discount column that equals UCR Revenue minus PPO Revenue, divided by UCR Revenue. This will show the average discount for each CDT code. 
  • Calculate the Weighted Average Discount across all of the CDT codes by subtracting the total of the PPO Revenue column from the total of the UCR Revenue column and dividing it by the total for the UCR Revenue column.

3. Create a table summarizing the data you have collected for each PPO and use it to determine which plans to keep, renegotiate and drop.

  • The table will include Insurance Plan Name, Number of Patients on the Plan, Annual Production per Patient and Weighted Average Discount. 
  • Isolate the plans with a low Weighted Average Discount, high Number of Patients on the Plan and high Annual Production per Patient. These are the plans you will keep. 
  • Isolate the plans with a high Weighted Average Discount, low Number of Patients on the Plan and low Annual Production per Patient. These are the plans you will drop. 
  • The remaining plans will be renegotiated.

You can read more about “The Math” around dropping insurances by clicking here.

Kleer was also kind enough to let us share their 7 Steps to Drop Your Bad PPOs Playbook.  You can download that here.

Transition Your Existing PPO Patients to Your Membership Plan 

As you transition PPOs out of your practice, you will lose some patients who were more committed to their insurance plans than your practice. However, prior to dropping any PPOs you’ll want to have a dental membership plan in place. 

What is a dental membership plan? Dental membership plans offer subscription-based dental coverage that dentists and DSOs can provide directly to patients. Patients pay your practice to access routine preventative care, such as cleanings, exams, x-rays, in addition to savings on other non-routine procedures. 

Unlike dental discount plans that are controlled by a third-party dental membership plans allow you to offer multiple customized care plans for the needs of your practice and patients. You control everything including treatment protocol, subscription fees, treatment savings, and payment options (annual and/or monthly). 

Dental membership plans are an easy and profitable way to transition your PPO patients (whose insurance you no longer accept) to a better coverage option — eliminating hassles like payment processing delays, denials, maximums, and the coordination of benefits.

Take it from Cataloochee Dental Group who leveraged their membership plan to reduce their PPO participation by 70% without impacting patients or production. You can read more about their success here

Invite Uninsured and Dormant Patients to Your Membership Plan with Automated Marketing

A membership plan provides the coverage your dormant and uninsured patients need to recommit to care. The subscription removes the mystery and fear of paying for care and the included hygiene visits remove a key barrier that keeps them from visiting. As a result, your patients will become compliant, loyal patients that pay your practice an annual subscription, and accept much needed treatment.

Marketing to this demographic of patients is actually cheaper and more effective since these patients already know and trust your practice. It can also help mitigate the impact of patient attrition due to reducing your participation. Membership platforms like Kleer are designed to automatically market to patients in your database who are a good fit for your membership plan. 

How can Kleer’s automated patient marketing impact your growth?

  1. It drives engagement across the patient spectrum. Campaigns are designed to be highly targeted based on patient behavior and coverage status — ensuring you’re reaching the right patient at the right time to boost membership plan enrollment.
  2. It delivers consistent compelling messaging with one click. Streamline your workflow, optimize your time, and minimize manual effort — helping you to grow your membership plan without taking away from patient care.
  3. It reengages more qualified patients. 89% of uninsured patients are interested in purchasing a dental care plan — even if they don’t articulate it. Kleer unlocks the potential of those patients, turning them into life-long members.

Attract New Patients with Multichannel Marketing 

Multi-channel marketing is just what the name implies: a marketing strategy that leverages multiple channels and mediums to spread a specific message.

Perhaps you send out a postcard at the beginning of the month. Simultaneously, you run Facebook ads promoting your practice. Couple those with a geo-targeted Google advertisements and a custom landing page to book an appointment, and you’ve covered a lot of bases.

As you begin crafting your marketing campaigns, we’ve listed our 10 best strategies and channel placements.  You can also market to the small businesses in your area and invite them to your membership plan as well as work on getting more 5 star reviews.

Benefits of being fully staffed, limiting your dental accepted dental insurance and offering an In-house dental plan. 

My mind is swarming with benefits.  The biggest one is simple.  Having all three of these items in play allows you to offer superior dental care to all of your patients.  But there are more. 

  • Enjoy life a little more.  Having a full staff and the ability to take on less patients for more money may even allow you to take a much deserved vacation.
  • Applicants are going to want to work in your office.  I have a much easier time staffing fee-for-service dental offices than offices that take insurance.  Dental Assistants and Hygienists know that the office is quality over quantity and that is the type of practice they want to be a part of.
  • Residual Income. If you set up an in-house dental plan, your patients pay into that plan monthly.  So you have that money coming in every month no matter what.  Wouldn’t it be so nice walking into a month with $20k+ that you know will be collected that month? 
  • More accurate collections and no need to hire an expensive biller. When you limit your PPOs more patients are going to pay your full UCR fee.  Which means you don’t have to bill insurances and your patients pay that money upfront. You can save the money you would pay for a dental insurance biller (most are asking for $25 to $30/hr) and reallocate that to pay your hygienist and dental assistant more (so another office doesn’t steal them from you).
  • And many more – This is just the tip of the iceberg.  All I know is that my clients that have made the switch to minimal PPOs and an in-house dental plan seem the most at ease with their daily operations.  

Get started:

Kleer and DirectDental have agreed to give our clients exclusive discounts. To learn more about these discounts with Kleer click here.  And to learn more about the discounts with DirectDental click here


Holli Perez

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