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Language to Leave Your PPOs

Our goal at ACT is to help you build a Better Practice, and a Better Life, and a big part of achieving this is learning how to navigate the ins and outs of PPOs. A major component to that is learning how to communicate, because using the right language is crucial to explaining to your patients why they should stick with you during this time of transition. The things we say carry a lot of weight because they build safety and trust, and in this time of uncertainty it’s crucially important to remember that language matters now more than ever. 

Change Your Thinking

The first step to moving away from PPOs is to get rid of the limiting belief that patients will only see you because you’re on their insurance plan. Your patients come to see you because you’re valuable. They come because of you. Own that fact and communicate from a place of believing that the patients who value you and the service you provide will stay with you. When you begin with this mindset, you’re starting from a place of value and strength instead of a place of fear and concern. There’s already so much fear present during a time of transition—doctors afraid of losing patients, patients afraid because they don’t know what’s happening, and team members afraid because they’re not trained to answer patients’ questions.

Look to Your Values

When coaching a practice through this transition, the first question I hear is always “I don’t know where to begin this conversation.” As with everything in business, the conversation about transitioning from PPOs needs to start with your core values. You must be able to tell your patients why you’re transitioning, so in essence you need to tell them why you got into dentistry, and that’s where your core values come in. Did you become a dentist because you want to let a third party inform the treatment you provide, or because you want to do what’s best for the patient, every time? You need to be confident in answering your “Why” because your team needs to see that confidence so they can be confident as well. Once you’ve answered that first question, then you’re able to move on more easily.

Work as a Team

When you make the decision to transition away from PPO and in-network status, the conversation can’t start up front with your administrative team members. There’s a different kind of trust that exists between the dentist or hygienist and the patients, so that’s where the conversation must start. Let the clinical team start the conversation from the position of your core values, and then move it up front so the admin team can fill in the gaps, because they should not have to bear the brunt of the conversation. 

We say it all the time, but the truth is the admin team gets the least amount of training anywhere in dentistry, and yet they’re expected to execute a ton of tasks every day they’ve received no additional training in. We’re responsible for filling that gap and giving them training, because the person on the phone needs to put the patient at ease and create a lot of confidence. Kirk says that “The person who answers your phone doesn’t represent your business—he or she is your whole business,” so the care, skill, and eloquence of someone at the phone determines a lot of your success.

It’s critically important to get everyone on the same page, so devote time each month to calibrating your verbal skills as a team. Everyone needs to be aligned on the language they use, and they need to practice and lean into these skills so you have plenty of time for the transition to be successful.

Say This, Not That

In our years of helping practices grow and improve, we’ve heard so many comments over and over and have seen how they land with the patients. As such, we’ve become experts on what we unintentionally communicate with the words we choose. We created the Say This, Not That document you can download for free to help you pay attention to what you’re saying, how it might be landing, and some proven alternatives you can consider. There’s always a better way to phrase something, such as saying:

  • “Investment” instead of “fee”
  • “Unrestricted provider” or “insurance friendly” instead of “out of network”

When you put a positive spin on it, you’re showing the patient you’ve created something unique and special where the patient will feel heard and that they have value beyond what’s on their insurance. Your practice is like no other, and the things you say need to be authentically you. We don’t like scripts because what works in one practice may not work in another. A script is a way to get started, but when you have a team member with the right core values; clarity; and the Say This, Not That document; they don’t need a script.

Kirk says that “Your ability to communicate will determine how far you go in dentistry, so don’t ever stop improving how you communicate.” Download the Say This, Not That document and use it to work with your team each month to calibrate your verbal skills. Make sure any new team members become familiar with it right away, so they can start off on the right foot. When your team invests in practicing unbelievable verbal skills, it separates you from the sea of sameness and you’ll get such an incredible return on your investment.

For additional help, download the ACT Dental PPO Roadmap, and use it to chart your path to transitioning away from PPOs. Language matters, and your team needs the training and skills to help you move away from the increasingly-complex world of PPOs, so contact the ACT coaches today and start working with them to elevate your team. When you can effectively communicate with your patients about why they should come to you because of who you are, not because you’re on a list, you’ll be one step closer to a Better Practice, and a Better Life!

Jenni Poulos is a Lead Practice Coach at ACT.


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