Increase Insurance Utilization Through Patient Outreach



If you’re a frequent “Off the Cusp” reader, you know we’re keen on the idea that effective patient communication is one of the easiest, most measurable and predictable ways to grow your practice. And if we’re talking easy and predictable, there’s one periodic topic of outreach that’s guaranteed to pay for itself many times over: insurance and FSA benefit reminders. Here’s how to make the best of these.

Timing and Frequency

When it comes to insurance-related communications, there is nothing more important than “calendaring” them ahead of time. Ideally you’ll want to send out at least three messages a year: the first a few weeks after the start of the insurance year; the second four months prior to its close; and the last two months before your patients’ insurance benefits expire. Also, for this campaign to be as successful as possible, you need to communicate with both fiscal and calendar year patients, so plan your campaigns with this in mind. Not doing so is akin to making an appointment with someone in a different time zone, and never agreeing on whose schedule to follow. It’s also worth mentioning that you shouldn’t worry one iota about sending three different messages to your patient base about their insurance benefits. People will appreciate you being thoughtful and looking out for them.

Messaging

The tone and content of your insurance communications may vary, but there are several general points you need to get across:

  • In your “beginning of the year” message, you need to let your patients know their insurance has just renewed (new money!), and prompt them to think about the care they’ll need this year (or didn’t complete last year). You’ll also want to let them know that by coming in early, they have a better opportunity to maximize coverage for any treatment that requires more than one appointment.
  • When you’re nearing the close of the year, the tone will need to change a bit, and with this message you’ll want to remind patients they’ll be forfeiting benefit coverage they’ve already paid for, and passing up a chance to stay healthy. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to add a sentence about your schedule filling up fast to incent them to make an appointment as soon as possible.
  • As far as flexible spending reminders go, you need to a) remind your patients that FSA money is lost at the end of the year, and more importantly, b) remind them that FSA funds can be used for both medical AND dental expenses.

Lastly, please don’t forget to “convert” the reader into an appointment with a call to action. Sending them to an online appointment request form works great – but it can be as simple as just giving them your phone number again and asking for a call.

Targeting

Based on our experience, insurance-related communications can be hugely valuable to any practice – even if you send them indiscriminately to all of your active patients. Yet you can achieve higher than average results with just a little extra effort spent on segmenting your patient base and sending these messages only to patients who are most likely to respond. Here are some places you can start:

  • Target only people who have insurance. This sounds obvious, but many times offices will just send emails and letters to every single patient on record.
  • Filter your message to people with at least $150-200 remaining in their insurance account.
  • Pursue patients with insurance carriers known to pay quickly and/or compensate you the most.
  • If your schedule is relatively full at the end of the year, only target patients who have outstanding treatment plans, and fall within the above patient populations. A further refinement of this option would be to target only those patients with treatment plans for high-value procedures. This will help you get a serious boost in production rather than filling up the schedule with exams and prophy appointments.

Lastly, on targeting – figure out what channels you can use to get the message out most effectively. For example, programs like RevenueWell allow you to send printed/mailed letters only to those patients in your practice management system who don’t have an email address on file. This way, you’re not sending direct mail to patients you can reach cost-free via email. Text messaging can also be a great way to reach people fast, as can social media.

Final thoughts

We see tremendous success from customers using expiring insurance benefit reminders. They’re simple to send out, benefit greatly from targeting and produce an easy-to-track ROI. If these communications aren’t yet a part of your marketing repertoire, or you’re not already using such a campaign, you owe it to yourself to explore them. You will not be disappointed!

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