8.31.07 - Issue # 286 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
McKenzie Management
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A McKenzie Management Case Study

Dr. Robert Friedlander- Case Study #279

“I seem to be seeing a sufficient number of new patients in the practice and I am grateful for that.  However, I don’t see my production increasing.”

Practice facts:

  • 12 year old family practice
  • Collection to Production rate is 99%
  • 8 hygiene days with a 91% retention rate
  • 60-day outstanding insurance claims no more than $2,000
  • Accounts Receivable to Net Production ratio is 1.27

Sharon, Dr. Friedlander’s Hygiene/Financial Coordinator is doing a great job managing her departments, as noted from the statistics.  Kathy, his Schedule Coordinator, does an excellent job of keeping the doctor scheduled to his daily goal of $4,250.  However, she shared with me a little secret.  “It is getting harder and harder to find treatment to schedule daily in order to meet the doctor’s daily goal.  I am really concerned that it won’t be long before I won’t have the patients to schedule, even though we are seeing new patients every month.”

Observations

  • The average treatment plan being presented to the patient is $3,200.
  • Dr. Friedlander enjoys presenting his treatment options to the patients…and the patients understand them if they were a doctor or dentist!
  • The treatment plans are not “phased”
  • The doctor is concerned about HIS treatment agenda instead of the patient’s agenda

Unfortunately, Dr. Friedlander is not alone in his thinking when it comes to treatment presentations.  “I want to dazzle my patients with my “big words”.  The patient will be so impressed that they will want to schedule for this treatment that they don’t understand!”

Our observation has been that if a patient doesn’t understand what is being presented to them, they respond one of two ways:

  1. The patient will ask more questions in order to get more information in order to make a decision, or
  2. They don’t make a decision.  Their response is, “I will need to think about it.”

Recommendations to improve treatment presentations

  • Get the patient involved in their own dental conditions by using digital photos and intra-oral cameras.
  • When reviewing the existing treatment, call the findings out loud to your assistant in terms that the patient can understand.  REMEMBER:  most patients understand dentistry on a 3rd grade level.
    • Cavities instead of decay
    • Old cracked silver fillings instead of fractured amalgam
    • Tooth-colored filling instead of resin or composite
  • Focus on the patient’s concerns.  Dr. Friedlander was concerned about what HIS agenda was instead of the patient’s agenda.  If the patient is concerned about a fractured cusp on the front tooth, THAT is their agenda.  Give them what they want!  Gain their trust. 
  • Focus on the next appointment and what is going to be done and how much time it will take.  Avoid “selling” the patient the entire treatment plan.  You will scare them away!  If you doubt my statement, ask your staff!
  • Here is your script:  “Mrs. Jones, as you and I have discovered together, you have some dental concerns.  Let’s start with your primary concern, the tooth on the upper left side that is broken.  We will place a nice porcelain crown over it that looks like this (have a typodent or an actual model with a crown on it) and you will be very pleased with the results.  The crown will serve you for a long time.  How does that sound?”

Assistant’s Responsibility after treatment presentation by doctor:

  • After Dr. Friedlander dismisses himself from the operatory, now the assistant becomes involved.  She reiterates what the doctor has talked to Mrs. Jones about.  “Mrs. Jones, do you have any questions about the placement of your porcelain crown that I can answer for you?  Great…let’s go up to the front desk and ask Kathy to schedule your appointment.”
  • Sharon walks with the patient to the Schedule Coordinator and repeats the information.  “Kathy, Mrs. Jones and the doctor decided that the best option to repair her tooth on the upper left side is with a porcelain crown.  She will be here about 90 minutes.”

Many patients don’t want to know the full price tag. Mrs. Jones is a perfect example.  Her chief complaint was a broken tooth on the upper left side.  Do you think that she wanted to hear about the other $4,000 worth of treatment that she needs? She doesn’t know if she likes or trusts you yet.  The reason she left her other dentist is because the Financial Coordinator tried to sell her a large treatment plan over $5,000!  Of course, performing treatment based on your skill and judgment is not to be overlooked but, listen to your patients and try to take one step at a time to build the level of trust with the patient.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies….. email info@mckenziemgmt.com.
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