New Patient Calls Made Easy
I get it, you are busy and your doctor wants you to acquire new patients. You also manage a barrage of other tasks and then you throw a New Patient call on the top of everything else. It feels like you will never get ahead or even meet expectations. After all, there are entire training courses on the New Patient phone call alone! I’d like to try and simplify it just a bit for you:
It all starts with the PHONE:
Ideally you are not the only person at the front desk, especially if the office has more than one hygienist. Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:
- Ask if you can put someone on hold before you do. There is nothing worse than calling an office and not getting a word in before you hear terrible on hold music. And if it’s a New Patient that didn’t get a strong referral from someone, they will hang up and move on.
- Find out if they are a new or existing patient right away! If you are busy but there is someone you can hand the call off to, simply say “Welcome to the practice! We are looking forward to having you! I’d like to hand you off to Sally because I am helping another patient. May I put you on hold for one moment? She is sitting right here ready to take your call.” – or some version of this. Bottom line: tell them what you are doing and make then know you WANT to take their call.
- The patient on the phone cannot see the patient in front of you! I’m sure you’ve heard this in countless webinars or consultant articles (like this one). Slow down, get your wits about you, and look the patient in the eyes, and tell them you have to take this call so you can call them back, whatever works and keeps the integrity of new patient call as well as the patient you are working with in person.
- Get what you need and get out! Meaning, get some basic demographics. I see office’s ask if they can ask a patient over the phone if they are pregnant. Most women are going to tell you that. Before you end the call ask: “Do you have a latex allergy or is there anything else we should know before you come in?”.
Now I’m a realist and I still occasionally work in an office and answer phones. I know darn well that you will inevitably have a patient walk in that needs to be pre-med, pregnant, special needs, etc. and it would have been GREAT to know in advance, but crystal balls don’t come standard with every dental practice. When you have a New Patient call sheet and you know the front office is trained and following it, the clinical team won’t blame the front office for not getting enough info on the phone first.
Insurance and plan information:
This is actually my favorite part! This is a well-debated topic, but I believe in this insurance-driven world we live in, it’s a necessary evil. Here are some tried and true verbiage for handling this: “Do you have dental benefits you’d like to utilize for your appointment? Great, if you have time, I’d like to get that information so we can be well prepared for your appointment.” Again, get what you need and get out. I know this isn’t a perfect world we live in, so here are some scenarios to work with:
- Patient doesn’t have card with them: “Would it be okay if I sent you an email right now and you can respond to it? We just ask to get this back 3 days prior to your appointment.” This way you’ve not only got their email, you can communicate easier with the patient.
- Patient has no clue what their plan is: “What I can do is email you a short list of what we’ll need, and you can respond back to me when you have it. We will just need the information 3 days prior to your appointment.”
This only works if you have a good system in place of checking benefits, especially for new patients, 3-4 days prior (try using Followupthen for your own email reminder). If you haven’t heard from them Email first, text next and last resort call.
Obviously, this isn’t a complete training on New Patient calls, but I hope it helps simplify things for your office. If this still seems like an impossible task, please consider outsourcing it! There are some great companies that were created specifically to help alleviate some of the workload. You can also refer to the previous two blogs if you want to know more about outsourcing certain admin duties.
BONUS: Some of my favorite resources!
Books: Moving Your Patient to YES! Easy Insurance Conversations. By Teresa Duncan. Administration with Confidence. By Charles Blair, D.D.S.
Virtual Administration: Dental Practice Enhancement
Insurance Training: Dental Insurance Skills Training
Send me an email for live administration training: DentalSuccessTraining@gmail.com
Bridget Fay Cseko, BBA, FAADOM
Revenue Cycle Coach, Speaker, Dental Admin Guru