Lackluster case acceptance got you down? Follow these 5 tips to turn it around

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

You likely became a dentist because you wanted to help people reach their oral health goals. You had visions of providing patients with the treatment they need to enjoy healthy, beautiful smiles—but you can’t really do that if patients aren’t accepting the treatment you recommend.

Lackluster case acceptance rates can be pretty frustrating. Not only are patients not receiving the treatment they need to reach optimal health, you’re also struggling to meet production goals. The result? Reduced revenues and extra stress.

Don’t let all those “Nos” get you down. Instead, take action. Make the necessary changes and you’ll soon find your schedule is full and your bottom line much more robust. These five tips will help get you there.

1. Consider hiring a Treatment Coordinator. Even if you love presenting treatment and think you’re pretty good at it, bringing on a Treatment Coordinator will do wonders for your case acceptance rate. Instead of you spending five or 10 minutes going over treatment chairside, this team member can sit down with patients in a relaxing environment for as long as necessary. Patients will feel more comfortable asking questions about treatment and expressing their concerns. The coordinator can cover every aspect of treatment, giving patients all the information they need to make an informed decision about their oral health care.

I also suggest you train your coordinator to follow up with patients two days after that first presentation. Why? Most patients won’t make a decision before they leave the practice. They’ll want to think over their options and get insight from their spouse. If only two days have passed since the initial discussion, it will still be top of mind when the coordinator makes this call. He or she will have the opportunity to address any remaining questions and end the conversation with the patient scheduling.

2. Find out what’s holding patients back. When patients say no to treatment, you usually have no idea why. It could be the cost, it could be fear or it could be they just don’t see the value. Instead of shrugging your shoulders and saying better luck next time, ask patients why they’re opting to skip treatment—then use their answers to change their mind.

Let’s say a patient says no because she’s afraid of the procedure. Maybe she had a bad experience in the past and is anxious about the pain she knows she’ll have both during and after treatment. This is where education comes in. Talk her through the procedure and let her know exactly what to expect before, during and after. Make sure she understands that if she puts off treatment, the problem will only get worse, and she may end up in even more pain and need more complicated treatment down the road.

If cost is the issue, make patients aware of the payment options your practice offers, such as CareCredit. When patients know a practice has third party financing, they’re often more comfortable accepting treatment. Paying the bill in small monthly increments significantly reduces the financial burden, meaning patients get the treatment they need and your revenues rise.

3. Learn about their goals. Knowing what types of services patients are interested in will help you tailor treatment recommendations and plans. How can you learn about your patients’ goals? Ask them. Conduct new patient interviews so you know exactly what’s top of mind from the beginning. Repeat the interviews every 18 to 24 months to keep updated on changing goals and interests.

4. Take the focus off money. While cost is a concern for patients, it shouldn’t be the focus of your case presentations. Instead, your coordinator should start the conversation by talking about the benefits of treatment and the possible consequences of delaying it. The team member should answer all questions patients have about the procedure, and let them know how much it will cost at the end of the discussion. Otherwise, patients will spend the presentation thinking about how much treatment will set them back, rather than how much it will benefit them (especially if it’s a large price tag).

Educating patients during treatment presentations will help show them the value of the care you provide and of maintaining their oral health. When they see the value of dentistry, they’ll be more willing to spend their money on it (and of course knowing they can pay via third party financing also helps).

5. Don’t talk over their heads. Patients aren’t going to say yes to treatment if they don’t understand it. When explaining a procedure, remember to talk at their level. Using clinical words they’ve never heard of won’t impress them. Instead, it will leave them confused and less likely to schedule the treatment you know they need.

If lackluster case acceptance numbers are bringing you down, now is the time to make some changes. Following these five tips will help you get more patients on the schedule, reducing stress levels while also growing your bottom line.

Need more guidance? No problem. I’m here to help. Consider taking McKenzie Management’s one-day treatment presentation training to learn exactly how you can improve case acceptance in your practice.

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