Doctor, That’s Not a Treatment Presentation
As patients are winding their way back into the dental office for necessary and desired treatment, dental teams are seeking to maximize every patient interaction. The days of being too busy to worry about the efficiency of practice systems are long gone. The recession taught many practice owners that in lean times, system efficiency is the make it or break it factor. Above all, practices are taking a much closer look at treatment presentation and acceptance.
In working with practices, we consistently find that doctors misunderstand their role in the treatment presentation process. Let me explain. Consider the typical doctor/patient scenario. The doctor diagnoses treatment for the patient and, in his/her mind, thoroughly explains why the patient needs the treatment and what the doctor is proposing. From there, the patient is dismissed and goes to the front desk to schedule the next appointment for treatment. Or so the doctor thinks.
At least 7 out of 10 times, the front desk employee becomes the default treatment presenter. The patient goes to the front desk where the phone is ringing and other patients are checking in/checking out, and they start asking questions about the doctor’s recommendation. The patient sheepishly looks at the business employee and says, “I didn’t want to sound stupid, but I didn’t really get what the doctor was telling me. Could you please explain this to me? Now why do I need this bridge? How’s this going to work? How much is this going to cost me? Do I have to do this now?”
Did I mention that the phone is ringing and other patients are standing there waiting to check in and check out? The doctor’s production now hinges on how well the busy business employee, with no treatment presentation training, answers the patient’s questions.
The other common scenario is the patient has lots of questions, but they don’t ask them. They make their way to the front desk and say, “I’m going to think about it; I’ll call you back.” They leave and likely don’t schedule the appointments necessary, largely because they don’t have enough information to make an informed decision. They have no clear understanding of why this treatment is important. They have no idea how much it will cost. They don’t know how many appointments will be required, or how much time those appointments will take. Most importantly, they have virtually no appreciation for how pursuing the recommended course of treatment will benefit them now and in the long-term. They can’t make an educated decision, so they make no decision.
Dentists like to think that they are the ones presenting treatment. In actuality, what most are doing is introducing treatment to the patient. The doctor plants the seeds where many questions grow, and if they remain unanswered then the recommended treatment withers on the vine.
As Belle DuCharme explains in the McKenzie Management Educational DVD Treatment Acceptance Tactics, dentist after dentist thinks that his/her treatment acceptance is much higher than it actually is. They commonly believe that because they have introduced a particular course of treatment to their patients, those patients have scheduled and are pursuing that treatment. Dental teams seldom look at treatment acceptance as a system. Rather, they look at the schedule and if the schedule is full, they assume treatment acceptance is right on track. It’s an illusion. They are stunned when they actually look at the unscheduled treatment report and discover that treatment acceptance is well below the 85% benchmark.
Treatment acceptance is one of the most critical systems in the practice. And as a system it requires specific procedures, a designated person responsible, proper training, measurement of its effectiveness, and accountability. Achieving the 85% goal for treatment acceptance is essential in helping the practice move forward, grow, and meet other established goals and objectives. It is the cornerstone of the business. If patients are not pursuing recommended treatment at a certain level, the practice stagnates.
Next week, move beyond the treatment introductions to achieve treatment acceptance.
Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.
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