Get More Dentist Referrals?
The old way of building a specialist practice focused on doing everything we could to: get more dentist referrals
It’s a fact. Our specialist – referral model is shifting and if you choose to NOT change with the times, you’ll end up like one of these companies:
- Toy ‘R Us
The AAP reached out in December to deliver a workshop for the October 2018 annual meeting in Vancouver.
Note: *If you haven’t signed up for the workshop then unfortunately it’s too late (they are sold out 450 seats unless they plan on opening up additional seating).
Our association has been hearing for some time now from members that their referrals/practices are declining and wanted help.
Never fear….Help is on the way.
The Turbulent Times of the Periodontist
Both Dr. Peter Fritz and I will be giving a 4 hour in depth look at the “Turbulent Times” of the periodontist and what can be done NOW to fix many of the issues.
I want to give you a taste of things to come in our October workshop by sharing with you a little bit about why dentists shouldn’t be relied on 100% of the time for referrals.
Top 3 Reasons We Shouldn’t Rely On GPs for Referrals
#3. Reliance on their own success
I remember back when my local dental supply rep used to always talk about his success or lack of it. He would come into the office and ask me how our practice was going. Why? The main reason was so he could gauge his revenue stream both present and for the future.
If I told him that we were really busy NOW and booked out for several weeks, then he knew that he would be getting a nice commission check now the following month.
If we were slow, he’d know that he needed to step up his “selling” in order to make up for the lack of patients.
When I used to rely 100% on dentists for patients, he’d tell me that the other local dental offices were also taking a beating and that’s probably why our phones weren’t ringing. For us, it was typically a two week lag time.
At that time, we were booked out about two weeks in advance. So after those two weeks of treating patients; we then noticed a sharp drop off in our new patient numbers.
Think about it. If you were a general dentist and had multiple holes in your schedule, would you be referring out everything you could possibly do? Probably not.
More than likely you’d try to do that extraction on #19 even though it was broken off at the gumline and you MAY have to lay a flap to remove bone because bills had to be paid.
Relying on dentists for referrals is like the stock market… if their practice is up one month, then yours is more than likely going to be up too.
But if their practice is down, then because of your reliance on them, yours will be too.
#2. Lack of relationships
How many times have you asked one of your patients who their dentist was and they couldn’t tell you? It happens to me on a weekly basis. It was mind boggling at first, but the more I thought about and figured out what was really happening, then I came to understand the situation. You see, many patients these days don’t have the relationships that they used to have with their dentists. I had the same dentist my entire life until 3 years ago when he retired.
Part of the reason there’s lack of a relationship has to do with dental insurance but a major part comes from their dentist. How many dentists keep in monthly contact with their patients using newsletters, email or social media contact? Not many.
As you’re well aware, most patients are clueless about how dental insurance works. Many “think” it works similar to health insurance. They feel that after they meet their deductible, the rest should be covered. Wrong. If their dentists are developing healthy relationships & educating them, then they should stick with them no matter what insurance plan they’re on. It’s all about building TRUST.
I’m sure you can tell the difference when you receive a referral via a “fee for service” dentist vs an “insurance mill“. I typically will know before I walk into the operatory during the first visit because my staff forewarns me. These people are skeptical and have to be educated because typically nobody has ever done so.
Ex: They don’t realize that probing depths should be charted at each hygiene visit. Heck, most have never even seen a perio probe!
How can you rely on a referral source that won’t make it a top priority to build healthy relationships with their OWN patients?
You can’t and continue to win.
I stated in a previous post that DEBT accumulation was the #1 reason why our referrals are NOT coming from dentists like they have in the past.
Here’s a brief recap:
Here’s what GPs are dealing with:
- Student loan average of over $300K (more for private education)
- They feel the peer pressure that most of their GP friends are placing implants, treating ortho cases, doing molar root canals, etc so in turn they should too
- Are visited by dental reps monthly (ex: implant and Invisalign) telling them how EASY doing specialist-type procedures are
- Are aware most dental meetings discuss/teach specialty procedures to GPs
Debt is killing many people today. Not just dentists.
I feel so strongly about becoming debt free that I started another site here.
Proverbs 22:7 states, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”
We can’t control the amount of student loan and practice debt our local dentists are in nor should we want to. As the cost of dental education continues to rise, and more student loan debt is incurred, then we will continue to see the decline of relationships being formed between the GP and specialist. It’s sad but true.
Just this morning I saw a sweet older lady that had her teeth removed 2 years ago and couldn’t wear her lower denture at all. She needed extensive bone grafting in order for any hope of getting lower implants to help support her denture. Due to being in a debt-free position, it was MUCH easier to refer her to another specialist who had extensive training in advanced bone grafting than try to tackle it myself.
I didn’t have large debts hanging over my head telling me to “just do it.” I could have probably done a satisfactory job but it was in her best interest that the other specialist handle her case.
We’re supposed to put patients first, right?
It’s a shame so many dentists are now so strapped in debt that putting their patients last and their debt payments first is becoming the NORM.
What do you think?
What other reasons do you think we shouldn’t 100% rely on dentists for patients?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.