When patients say no to treatment, it hurts your practice

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

If case acceptance numbers are low in your practice, you’re likely pretty familiar with the problems all those “Nos” can bring. Not only does team morale suffer, the lack of scheduled treatment hurts practice productivity and ultimately your bottom line. You and your team members become stressed, and are left wondering why patients don’t want to go forward with the treatment you recommend.

When patients keep saying no, it can be pretty frustrating and damaging to a practice—especially if you don’t have any idea why it’s happening (which most dentists don’t). The good news? I can help you figure it out. Once you know what’s holding patients back, you can make the adjustments necessary to finally reach that 85 percent benchmark.

Ready to get started? Let’s go over some of the most common reasons patients opt to not go forward with treatment, and what you can do to change their minds.

They don’t understand the consequences of ignoring dental issues. When patients aren’t educated about the value of dentistry, they’re more likely to think it’s OK to skip treatment. That’s why it’s so important for you to spend time educating patients about their condition and the services you provide that can help get them to optimal health.

There are plenty of tools you can use for improved patient education, from intraoral cameras to digital x-rays to informative videos. Putting educational video and brochures in the waiting area that patients can take home and sending monthly e-newsletters with dental-related articles also help keep oral health top of mind, even when patients aren’t in the chair.

When you focus on education, patients will start to see the value of the treatment you recommend and the possible consequences of skipping or delaying said treatment—and that will boost case acceptance in your practice.

They don’t fully trust you yet. Patients are often leery when dentists recommend treatment, especially when the doctor they’re visiting for the first time tells them they need thousands of dollars in dentistry. Before you can present large, expenses cases to patients, you need to earn their trust. If you don’t, they won’t schedule any treatment at all, and they might even opt to make their next appointment at the practice down the street.

Instead of overwhelming new patients with large price tags, focus on the work they need done right away. Let them know that once you take care of immediate issues, there are other treatment options you’d also like to discuss. They’ll be more likely to accept less expensive treatment, and if they’re happy with the experience and the results, they’ll actually want to hear your other recommendations.

Taking the time to build a rapport with patients also will help you earn their trust. Ask them about their jobs, their families and their oral health goals. Instead of just focusing on the dentistry, make an effort to get to know them. They’ll feel more connected to the practice, and, you guessed it, be more apt to accept treatment.

They have reservations about the procedure. Even though you think you’ve thoroughly explained treatment while talking to patients chairside, many of them leave your office with unanswered questions. Maybe they didn’t feel comfortable taking up your time with questions, or maybe they felt like their questions were silly. Whatever the reason, the result is usually the same: they don’t schedule treatment.

I suggest you consider hiring a Treatment Coordinator and have this team member go over treatment recommendations with every patient. He or she should sit with patients in a relaxing environment and educate them about treatment and what might happen if they opt to skip it. This presentation can take as long as needed, giving patients plenty of opportunity to ask their questions and learn more about why treatment is being recommended.

It’s also a good idea to train your coordinator to follow up with patients two days after the initial presentation. During this phone call, he or she should address any lingering concerns or perceived barriers to care. Patients will appreciate this level of attention–not only helping them feel that all-important connection to your practice, but also making them more likely to accept treatment.

Treatment is just too expensive. Cost is one of the most common reasons patients say no to treatment. It could be because they simply can’t afford it, or because they’d rather spend their money on other things. Offering third party financing from companies like CareCredit helps with both. Instead of writing one big check, patients can pay off their bill in small monthly increments. This makes the cost of dentistry much more manageable, leading to more patients on your schedule.

When case acceptance is down, it hurts your practice. You and your team members take on extra stress, and are left trying to figure out why patients aren’t entrusting your practice to get them to better health. Lackluster case acceptance is frustrating and costly, and keeps you from meeting your full potential. Understanding why patients say no and taking action to change their mind will help get your case acceptance rates up where they should be, boosting practice productivity and your bottom line.

Next Thursday: Lackluster case acceptance got you down? Follow these 5 tips to turn it around! Share this Newsletter

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Interested in having McKenzie Management Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
Be sure to find us on Facebook! Facebook Page