Who Is Presenting Treatment Plans In Your Office?
The typical scenario in a general dental office includes the dentist presenting the diagnosis and explaining the treatment options and recommended course of treatment to the patient. Next on the scene is the transition from the clinical to the treatment coordinator or financial coordinator to offer payment options and get the patient scheduled for treatment.
If the patient and the doctor have forged a trusting relationship and the patient is motivated to have the treatment started, it is much easier to then agree upon a method of payment and schedule the appointments. If the patient is wavering and not convinced that the treatment is something they want or can afford, there will be more of a challenge for the treatment coordinator or financial coordinator to get them appointed. It is at this critical moment that having someone trained and experienced in presenting treatment will make the difference to patient acceptance. Also important, and somewhat undervalued, is someone presenting treatment who personally values good dental care.
JB, a treatment coordinator for Dr. Ad’s office, was attending a McKenzie Management dental training course when the question was raised: “Do you think dental work is expensive?” He and a couple others in the room said “Yes, I think dentistry is expensive.” He went on to explain that he had spent thousands of dollars on dental work in another office and that his bite had been severely off since then. His teeth did not meet correctly enough to bite through a sandwich, yet he presented thousands of dollars in treatment to patients daily. He had not told his current employer out of embarrassment.
Another person said that she felt the fees were high in her office, and when she knew the patient had financial challenges she felt that she should offer them discounts or only have them do the treatment that was the least expensive option, even though the result would be less than favorable. Her own teeth had not had regular care and she had some broken fillings and a missing tooth on the lower right side of her mouth. “I feel sorry for our patients that don’t have the money and I think they probably can wait until they get more money to have the treatment done.”
When considering long-term value, dentistry (done correctly) is a good investment. A crown in a healthy well maintained mouth should last 5 to 20 years. Implants are 99% successful and offer patients an opportunity to eat anything again and look many years younger. Even a professional cleaning to prevent future problems is good for six months. A haircut is about every 3 to 4 weeks and costs about the same. A haircut you could do yourself, but not a professional cleaning.
Having a fee analysis to establish your fee baseline is crucial to determining where your fees place in the local marketplace. If your fees are on the low end in the area, then giving discounts would not be recommended. It would also be prudent to raise your fees to the level of the local usual and customary fee level. Correct pricing of products and services is necessary for any business seeking to be successful and competitive. Raising fees yearly is required for a business to stay current with rising costs associated with doing business, and paying close attention to costs of some items which may have recently been driven up dramatically - like the cost of gold and other metals.
If team members, who are critical to treatment acceptance, don’t understand and accept the long-term financial value and the benefits to a healthy mouth and body, it would be difficult for them to communicate these values to patients. Every team member should value dentistry and its relationship to total health. Have an open discussion with your team about their values and feelings in regards to dentistry. Take an interest in the dental health of the team and see to it that everyone gets regular examinations, preventive maintenance and corrective care. There is nothing better than a testimonial from a team member to a patient about receiving care in your office. Hearing “Dr. Ad did this beautiful crown for me and now I can chew on the left side of my mouth” can make a difference to a patient wondering about your skill level or the results of the treatment. For training in Treatment Acceptance for you or your team, give McKenzie Management a call today to schedule training that will make a difference to your patients and your team.
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