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12.12.08 Issue #353 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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Speaking The Language Of Treatment Acceptance

Dentists have always been concerned about whether a patient schedules for treatment after the initial comprehensive exam. “Did I convince them with the overkill of diagnostic information and the need to get the work done?” The need for treatment can be easily demonstrated, so why isn’t there 100% acceptance? Often after presenting a comprehensive treatment plan, the dentist is dismayed to hear that the patient did not schedule and wonders what went wrong.

Most of the time, the dentist presents the treatment and the assistant charts and enters the treatment plan in the computer. The patient is then released to the Scheduling Coordinator to set appointments.

In many practices, a Treatment Coordinator presents the treatment options, secures financing and schedules appointments after the patient receives the diagnosis from the dentist. In either situation, unless there are ways to measure the success of the system, it is unknown as to how to improve it. There isn’t a system of checks and balances to monitor whether the presentation was poor, satisfactory or excellent. Without a system of critiquing the presentation, nothing is done to work on perfecting it or identify ways to improve the communication. There are assumptions made about the patient’s refusal, such as whether or not the patient can afford it, and the matter is usually not investigated beyond that. To create a system to critique treatment presentations, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much did you get to know about your patient prior to presenting treatment?
  • Did you acknowledge the “chief concern” and the motivation of the patient to seek treatment?
  • Did you give the patient your undivided attention?
  • Did you inspire confidence by sincere enthusiasm, eye contact and body language?
  • Were you able to relate the proposed treatment to the patient’s motivation?
  • Did you engage in active listening and allow the patient to co-diagnose?
  • Do you know the psychographics of the dental community where you practice and the dental implications of the patient in relation to their ZIP code?
  • Were there absent decision makers who should have been involved?
  • Did you gain agreement on each phase before going on to the next?
  • Did you achieve informed consent in your education process?
  • Were you able to demonstrate your skills with a polished case book?
  • Did you ask the patient to accept the treatment plan

In the Treatment Acceptance Training course offered at McKenzie Management, the focus is on building relationships with patients after first understanding that personality types, demographics and psychographics of patients are critical to them accepting treatment.

Trust is a reason patients choose one dentist over another, and building trust requires time with the patient to communicate the level of care and attention they will receive. In the process of building trust you will uncover hidden objections that would not have been communicated otherwise. Once the proper foundation for presenting treatment has been established, it is time to work on the actual presentation or verbal exchange between the treatment presenter and the patient.

Take, for example, the story of Tabitha, a Treatment Coordinator (not her real name). She attended the Treatment Acceptance Training to polish her presentation and to improve her acceptance of larger cases. Tabitha was known as the “closer” or the “money person” in her practice and it showed in her style of treatment presentation. She came in at the end of the doctor’s diagnosis and did not hear anything that had been said to the patient. Tabitha also did not meet the patient prior to going in to “close” the sale. Her approach was to quickly ask if the patient understood what was presented and to explain the financial policy and get an appointment. Though it usually worked in smaller cases, the larger cases or multiple phase cases were left on the table. She was convinced that those patients could not afford the treatment.

After hearing her three recorded treatment presentations, she became aware that her main focus was the money; she did not spend any time with patients to address questions or concerns that they might have about their treatment plans. Her vocal speed sounded rushed and her tone was impatient. She talked over patients when they raised objections, forcing them to become quiet. Tabitha said that she always felt rushed because she had administrative tasks to complete before the end of the day.

The instructor used a point-by-point critique form to evaluate her presentation and give her feedback on improving what was said and how the patient responded to the presentation. Without this information, Tabitha would not have learned where she needed to improve.

Tracking the numbers of treatment acceptance is also necessary to accurately measure success. Salespeople who do not learn ways to improve their efforts will repeat the same business year after year. Salespeople that have been selling for ten years or more and haven’t improved sales quotas really don’t have ten years’ experience. Rather, they only have one—they haven’t increased their knowledge in ten years. Improve your presentations by signing up today for McKenzie Management’s one-day customized Treatment Acceptance Training. The course is designed to improve the performance of any team member that presents treatment.

For more information about McKenzie Management’s Advanced Training courses, email, call 1-877-777-6151 or visit our website at

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