How to Feel Good About Boosting your Production
Treatment Acceptance Case #TA390
“Dr. Smileright” (names have been changed) was in a slump with his practice treatment acceptance rates. He decided to have his Treatment Coordinator professionally trained using McKenzie Management’s Treatment Acceptance Training program.
The pre-training conference call with Dr. Smileright revealed he was not comfortable with what he felt was “pushing” patients to accept treatment, with scare tactics about root canals or muscling to get the patient to buy services they didn’t need like veneers. He wanted to present the findings and let the patient decide if they wished to continue or not.
I invited him to join his Treatment Coordinator in the training course so he could see for himself that presenting treatment options to patients is not about forceful tactics often used by sales people. My recent experience with an optometrist office resonated with his concern. It wasn’t so much that the sales person was trying to push very expensive designer frames for glasses I only needed for computer work, but that I could see the doctor listening in the hall to hear if she “closed” me. Because of my experience there, I never returned.
In the latest edition of the magazine Decisions in Dentistry, there is an article whose source is the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry/Cosmetic State of the Industry Survey 2015 (to AACD members), with some very interesting statistics about what patients purchase in the realm of cosmetic dentistry.
Per this publication, there is a growing demand from consumers for these services. The survey included 60% general practitioners, of which 29% described themselves as cosmetic dentists. The top ranked concern for patients was appearance, followed by cost, and lastly, longevity of services. Most frequent services were cosmetic restorative procedures such as bonding, veneers and teeth whitening. Production-wise, cosmetic procedures were valuable to all the practices; the average production per cosmetic patient was $1000 or more, and 27% of visits yielded $2500 or more.
The number one referral source for patients seeking a “cosmetic” dentist was word-of-mouth. In other words, people who were pleased with their cosmetic results talked about it with friends and relatives, spreading the word. Many general dentists don’t market their skills or capitalize on the words “cosmetic dentistry” because they fear being pushy. One such dentist I knew was appalled when one of his long-time patients showed up at her recall appointment with eight new anterior veneers. When he asked her about the treatment she replied, “I went to the cosmetic dentist that my friend went to, I never knew you could do the work.”
Dr. Smileright and his Treatment Coordinator attended the course, and by the time we were finished we had identified some thought patterns that were blocking their communication with patients. One was diagnosing the patient’s ability to pay, and number two was determining whether they “needed” the treatment. We concluded that these thoughts about their patients were, in reality, none of their business!
For cosmetic services to be part of the practice, the dentist and team must be educated in the value these services offer to people’s lives. Improved aesthetics make a person not only look more attractive, but imbues health and confidence.
Per this survey, patient concerns are typically in this order: appearance, cost and longevity. During the training, we concentrated on ways to improve the marketing of services that would improve the patient’s appearance. We tied that in with the long-term value and focusing on how cosmetic services can improve total health and wellbeing.
Dr. Smileright indicated he also wanted his implant restorative numbers to improve. He realized he had often talked patients out of implants in favor or cheaper alternatives. He adopted a new approach and would now start with the best treatment for the patient, rather than compromising his clinical decisions with “what the patient can afford” or “what the insurance would pay” dialogue.
Presenting treatment is not just about showing the patient a list of codes and fees with a guestimate of insurance participation. It’s taking the time to listen to the patient and addressing not only the obvious needs, but also what the patient really wants for their life. Sometimes the connection between great teeth and a better life are not obvious to people who have learned to live with stained, broken and missing teeth. It is up to the dental team to provide answers to questions that are not always asked in a kind, empathetic and most of all enthusiastic way.
Want to learn some of the finer points to presenting treatment to patients? Call McKenzie Management today at 877-777-6151 and find out more about the Treatment Acceptance Course.Forward this article to a friend
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