Dentists are often asked by their patients about private health insurance for dentistry, and which “fund” is best.
An interesting question.
What is the best answer?
Let me start by saying this:
“Whenever there is a third-party intermediary between the provider of a service and the receiver of a service there will always be opportunity for compromise as well as extortion.”
This will happen if the third party is an insurer, or if the third party is an employer, or if the third party is a government.
Let’s look outside of health. If your employer offers to pay your out of pocket expenses on car, or travel, would you tend to spend a little more than if you were paying your own way?
Even in the automobile repair industry down here years ago, a well-known insurer received fines when it was found out that they were using non-genuine parts in their company owned auto-repair shops where members of the insurer were taking their cars for repairs.
This was simply a case of extortion because of opportunity, where the insurer was the provider of the service as well as the entity paying for the service.
But the poor old consumer thought they were being “looked after” by their insurer….
Of course this would never happen in health care?
An article in last week’s news reported that the Australian Government is working to “dramatically reduce” annual premium hikes from insurers so that they will be as close as possible to the general inflation rate of two per cent currently.
This comes at a time where ten thousand Australians are ditching their policies every month, because they are confused about coverage, they are unsure about value, and they are angry at the cumulative premium increase of close to fifty five per cent since 2009.
And the premium increases by the insurers have been dramatically higher than the cost of living for as long as I can remember, going back to 2001 at least.
Each and every year the insurers go cap in hand to the Government with their “bleeding hearts” and come away from the meeting being granted permission to excessively increase premiums, despite the fact that rebates or refunds for health services are not being increased by the same percentages on a per item basis. And insurance membership numbers are declining.
It eats at my craw that insurers will attempt to deflect attention away from their own inadequacies.
Just last week one insurer, who is happy to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars sponsoring sport every summer, was crying poor and suggesting that comparator websites are adding significantly to the cost of healthcare by taking their cut for their service.
Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?
Even the Australian Dental Association has questioned the double standards and this insurer’s lack of transparency.
These insurers and big corporates that provide dental services are also renowned for drawing up “concocted agreements” with their employees to make those employees, who only provide labour really, appear to be contractors, thus avoiding their obligations as an employer, of paying holiday pay, sick pay, superannuation and long service leave, in what would be easily considered as an attempt to gain “an unfair competitive advantage in the market place”.
Frankly, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then there’s a good chance that it is a duck.
Labour is labour. Exchanging time for dollars is employment, no matter how you dress it up.
Most “contractors” in dentistry are really labour providers only.
Contractors exist in other industries where work is seasonal, and employment is tied to a specific time agreement. Or where trades are engaged to complete a certain task in a set time frame, such as painting, or plastering, and the contractor is providing all of their own equipment and tools.
Employers of any sort in dentistry may be in for a rude shock when their “ducks” start asking for their unpaid entitlements that they have been hoodwinked out of.
You cannot write an agreement that contravenes the laws of the land.
And fair work entitlements are those. They are the laws of the land… just in the same way that bigamy is outlawed because of a law of the land and cannot be dismissed or ignored because of some “concocted agreement”.
It is time we took a really good look at the “business practices” of the bigger corporates…
When I am advising dental practices on creating their own individual customer service manual for their own individual practice, the biggest “take-away” for me is the end result of what the team becomes as a result of my coaching.
You see it’s one thing to give your team an article, or some course notes, or a book, and say:
“This is what we’re going to be doing here from now on”
as opposed to allowing them to develop and discover and build their own unique systems and protocols.
It’s like learning piano… you could read a book and maybe watch a video, and maybe you might improve your keyboard skills, but it will be piano lessons and the concurrent accountability that will really take your playing to a completely different level.
And once at that level, it can be very difficult to “un-learn” those skills and return to being the weak pianist you were before you began those lessons.
It’s the same with Customer Service skills.
And sure, you can read a book, and watch a video and attend a course, and pick up a few good ideas that may provide an immediate result, but in most cases they will not provide measurable results that create a sustainable permanent improvement.
Your team’s continued search for excellence, which results from your investing in their coaching, is a palpable result that is sustainable in your organisation as the new “raised bar” of “what we do around here” for long after these team members ever move on.
And that’s the benefit.
The culture of your organisation changes for the better.
When I coach teams, I teach the team members how to create and develop their organisation’s own Customer Service protocols that are unique to that team and that business.
I empower them.
And it is this empowerment that creates the “buy-in” from the team members and this in turn results in long term sustainable change in the way things in that Dental Office are done.
The team members can not un-learn the coaching. They will forget what they read in a book, or what they heard at a seminar.
But they will always remember what they were taught by their coach.
The resulting improvements to your business are permanent.
These improvements are there forever. Long after the coaching …
I see that in an effort to protect consumers, the Australian Government is looking at a suggestion that the medical profession should publicly display their fees, especially specialist doctors.
This is so the public can now choose the cheapest doctor.
What bright spark thought this up?
Cheap is good, right?
Would you buy the cheapest parachute?
Or maybe the cheapest tyres for your family car?
Many years ago I bemoaned this question to a medical doctor I knew. I said:
“Merv. At least in medicine you don’t have patients whinging about the price difference between what you charge and what their health fund rebates them.”
And Dr. Merv said back to me:
“David. I refer people to cardiologists that are great and they come back to me asking if I can send them to one who doesn’t charge the gap.”
Sometimes you simply cannot protect people from their own stupidity.
We’re talking about heart surgery here.
Life and death stuff.
Heart surgery. Something where you want the best?
It simply makes no sense to me to be choosing a health care provider based on price alone?
As I used to say when patients asked me about cheaper dentistry:
“Every dentist knows what his work is worth.”
And you need to be being paid what your work is worth.
I’m figuring that the Pareto Principle will kick in here with regard to the public choosing their specialist based on his fees.
Eighty percent of the population will be price conscious and twenty percent of the population will be service, skill, and experience conscious.
Which section of the population would you like to serve as your customers?
A True Story.
Twenty years ago, when laser eye surgery became popular for correcting short sightedness, I made the mistake of thinking that all ophthalmic surgeons were the same.
Well, aren’t they?
There was a choice of two different procedures. One procedure was called PRK, which put simply, involved the removal of epithelial tissue by what felt like scratching, so that the laser could access the cornea. The other choice was LASIK, which involved using a keratome to slice a flap of epithelium in a C-shape, so that the laser could access the cornea.
With LASIK, the flap is placed back after the laser, and the flap begins uniting. No stitches.
With PRK the epithelium needed time to grow back.
So back to me…. I chose to visit a firm of ophthalmic surgeons known to me. I was told by the surgeon I saw that LASIK was a very risky procedure and that PRK was much safer.
So I chose PRK.
Oh, I was also told by this surgeon that with PRK you needed to do one eye and let it recover, and then do the next eye several months later.
I had read that it was possible to have LASIK done on both eyes on the one day.
But I took this specialist’s advice, and I had the PRK done on my right eye.
It was the most painful procedure I have ever experienced.
Firstly, my right eye was covered for a week, and I needed to stay indoors away from direct sunlight and bright lights. I could not go out into direct sunlight for two weeks and when I returned to work, I used to have to drive the one mile to work with my right eye covered over because it watered profusely, even after the recovery time at home.
Needless to say I was not impressed.
I researched a LASIK doctor and consulted with him about having LASIK in my untreated left eye.
There was no way I was ever going to have PRK on my left eye.
Fast forward, and I had LASIK performed on my left eye by the new doctor.
The following morning after the surgery I removed the protective patch from my eye and drove myself twenty-five miles across town and back to have the surgery reviewed by my specialist. Without a hitch.
The surgeon said that my surgery was a great success.
In fact, the LASIK treatment to my left eye was so successful that I became aware that my PRK treated right eye had not been done as well as my LASIK treated left eye. As a consequence, I later had the PRK treated eye “topped up” with some LASIK.
And played eighteen holes of golf the very next day.
Are all specialist doctors the same?
Should I choose a specialist doctor only based on their fee?
I don’t think so….
Oh by the way…..
If all of the private health insurers were all compelled to publish ALL OF THEIR REBATES for every procedure then consumers could really make informed financial decisions on the part that really is purely financial transactions only…..
As we roll into another New Year it is a good time for you to reflect and review your goals for your business in the upcoming 2018.
Central to all business goals is the fact that you need to be increasing your business revenues.
And paramount to achieving this increase in revenue is the fact that you need to be selling more to your customers and you need to be having them visit your places of business more often.
The number one thing that keeps our customers returning to our place of business and keeps them purchasing from us is that they LIKE us and what we do for them and central to this is how we make our customers feel.
People do business with people they like and they keep coming back and doing business with those people if they feel appreciated, welcomed, respected and understood.
And central to this is our level of customer service.
In 2018, it is not enough to say:
“Yes, we do great customer service…”
You need to have a system.
Unless your services in your business are systemised, then you are really providing a disjointed mishmash of occasional niceties smattered between times of complete vanilla ordinariness.
Providing great customer service is a process of strategically placed moments of magic throughout the customers’ visits to your business that have your customers stopping in their tracks and saying:
“Wow. These guys really get it.”
“Wow. These guys are RED HOT when it comes to customer service.”
Are your customers stopping in their tracks to say WOW and thank you?
Because if they are not, and I mean if they ALL are not, then you need to lift your game.
And lifting your game involves having a game plan.
Not a thought.
Not a concept.
Not an idea.
But having a real-life MANUAL of “This is What We Do Here”
And when we do it.
And why we do it.
And what we do when, and what we do when things don’t go exactly to plan.
If your Customer Service Plan is the MSUAWGA Plan, then you need to ditch that plan.
Because businesses that don’t have a blueprint for their customer service will be losing customers to those businesses that do.
The choice is simple…which lane is your business in?
The fast lane?
The slow lane?
The breakdown lane?
You can choose. Everybody can choose their lane for 2018.
What will be your choice?
Take action now.
Build a plan for your service in 2018.
Don’t be left behind.. it won’t be fun back there….