8.31.12 Issue #547 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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3 Major Keys to Treatment Acceptance
Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Anyone that presents treatment to patients, whether it is the doctor or the support staff, understands the frustration when the patient does not schedule and “wants to think about it.” But if you look at it from the patient’s prospective, there is a lot to think about. Discretionary income for many is less these days than before the recession kicked in. While most people want good health and good teeth, the rationalization of whether it is the best investment of family funds can cause derailment in the ability to make a decision. Thoughts of whether there is a less expensive alternative or just to leave it to chance and deal with it later come into play. 

Patients differ in personalities, values, and resources to pay for dental care. As a Treatment Coordinator for many years, the lessons learned is that patients often leave the office not having all the information necessary to make such an important personal decision. It isn’t that they weren’t educated or informed; it is that they need to know if it is the right decision for them and for their family. Parents often postpone healthcare indefinitely so that funds can be spent on their children, and the elderly often think it isn’t prudent to put money into long lasting dental care when they most likely won’t be around to get the full value out of it. Sometimes patients don’t ask the questions they need answers to, even though they are asked “Do you have any questions about what we have discussed?” The conversation can be directed toward the following unasked questions and the recommended answers.

1. How do the treatment options differ in cost?
Preparing separate printed documents for each treatment option showing the estimated cost for each helps in the comparison of product to product. Information in the form brochures helps the patient to reference the information at home. When discussing the proposed treatment with family members it helps to have written information.

If the treatment is in phases such as would be for implants, the patient has some time to save for the restoration. In some cases a long-term interim prosthetic will keep the patient in the loop with the thought of replacing it at a specified date. If the patient wants to get a second opinion from another provider let them know that you will cooperate with sharing the x-rays and other pertinent information. This is an indicator that there may be a trust issue between the patient and the practice. Sometimes it comes from not knowing what the treatment “should” cost in the current market.

2. Which treatment will last the longest?
This information is critical to providing value to good dentistry. Long-term value realized in good dental care is one of the best investments a person can make. Demonstrate how the service and product is meant to last a long time and that you will warranty the product against defects for a year and prorate the value if the product fails within five years. When comparing long-term value of an implant versus a bridge, show that implants by average last 35 years compared to a bridge which has an average of 5 years of life and does not retain the bone, etc. On the treatment option sheet write the estimated long-term value of the service and the responsibility of the patient to keep routine maintenance visits to be considered for the warranty.

3. Do all the treatment options solve the problem?
If the patient needs an implant and a crown but wants the third option of a “flipper” or interim partial because it is affordable, spell out that this option will solve only part of the problem. The flipper is to fill the gap but is not functional as a tooth and is a short-term solution. Write on the treatment plan how many “repair” visits or adjustment visits you allow in 6 months and a timeline to replace the flipper. Patients often expect that if you do a service, even though it has a high failure rate, you will continue to replace or repair it. If it is determined the treatment has a guarded to poor result then it is a gamble to do the treatment at all and will mostly result in an unhappy patient.

Follow-up to patients who are “thinking about it” or have requested records to get another opinion is vital to treatment acceptance. If you do not keep yourself in front of the patient and counsel them in their care, they will lose the connection with your office and will gravitate to where their needs are met.

Want more training in treatment acceptance? Contact McKenzie Management today and sign up for the Treatment Acceptance Training Course.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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