Fortifying Your Practice Through A PPO Transition

By Bill Rossi:

This article is a follow-up to “Is Your Practice Primed to Drop One or More PPOs?” which appeared in the October 15th Newsletter. 

So you’ve pulled the trigger and decided to drop a PPO.  It’s important that you don’t just leave PPO participation.  You have to be working toward something.  The stimulation of a PPO transition can help create a “Practice Renaissance.”

You’ll be adding thousands to your collections each month – plow some of that back into strengthening the practice through:

  • Taking good care of your team: Chances are, they have some trepidation about the transition. Let them know that as they make progress leaving a PPO, and on the above, that there are rewards for them too.  Give them a stake in the practice’s success.  Perhaps they share in, say, 15% of the practice’s increase in collections over the next 12 months.  Or, add a group bonus or celebration for collections over a certain target.
  • Continuing Ed: Learn new procedures to keep more procedures in house.
  • Team Continuing Ed: Keep you and the team psyched up and energized to present the treatment you already can provide.
  • Tune-up your Recall System: Do not assume that your team has this nailed down. This is the number one way you’ll keep patient flow strong and your active patient base active. 75% of your hygiene patients should be committed to their next appointment.  You have to actually measure  Many offices overestimate how well they are doing.  Set up a well-planned pattern for contacting patients due and past due including calls, emails and texts.  Put someone in charge of monitoring this, your most important administrative system.
  • Make the best use of your digital communications: (e.g., Lighthouse, SolutionReach, RevenueWell, etc.): Set up quarterly email blasts to patients on topics such as implants, Dental Health Month, your team, seasonal events and so on.
  • Have a “Clinical Protocol Meeting”: Go over all of the procedures your practice does with team members.  Refine and reassert your clinical guidelines.  See my article on Clinical Calibration ( If you do more for the people you see, you don’t have to see more and more people on the PPO treadmill.
  • Ask the hygienists to light up and track use of the intraoral cameras: This should be done for the majority of your adult hygiene patients.  Over half of intraoral cameras are used less than five times per week.  And make sure every hygienist has a working intraoral camera.
  • Train your administrative team on how to tactfully deal with financial arrangements for patients in and out of network. They have to know how to do this.  Talk them through how they will handle patients’ questions, such as, “Do you take my insurance?,” “Will insurance cover this?, “Why did you drop my PPO?,” and “Can I remain a patient?”  One good all-purpose phrase is, “No insurance covers 100% of recommended treatment, but it certainly helps and you’re lucky to have it.  Here’s how your insurance works here . . .
  • Google Reviews matter: Pick someone in your office to run the campaign to get these. At least 50 per full time Doctor is a worthwhile goal.
  • Update your website: If it’s been more than three years, it’s time!
  • Train your administrative team to tactfully welcome patients into the practice, whatever their insurance.
  • Don’t send letters! (unless the PPO does). It is best to talk to patients face to face. Assume that most of your patients will want to stay and act accordingly. I can assure you Doctor, that patients like you for more than your “Network Status.”  You will keep more than you think.  If a patient does decide to leave, be graceful about it and let them know, “They are always welcome back if their circumstances change…” Some will come back.

Dentists have spent the last 20 years signing up. Congratulations on starting to “un-sign” up and taking back control from the PPOs.