Want to Boost Case Acceptance and Your Bottom Line? Offer Options
Dentist Case Study #289
The doctor’s concerns: “I’m just not as productive as I used to be and it’s killing my bottom line. Patients aren’t accepting treatment as often as they once did and I have no idea why.”
Practice overview: This doctor first opened his practice 15 years ago. He sees about 20 new patients a month and eight emergency patients. He focuses on general dentistry and placing implants.
Why patients are saying no to treatment: To get more patients in the chair and fix this doctor’s production numbers, we first needed to determine why patients were opting to skip recommended treatment. In some instances, it was because they simply couldn’t afford it, and the doctor didn’t offer third party financing like CareCredit to help ease the financial burden. He does now, making patients much more comfortable accepting expensive treatment plans.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only change this doctor needed to make. It became clear his case presentations needed a bit of a makeover. He usually spent 5-10 minutes chairside telling patients everything they needed before sending them on to the Financial Coordinator to make an appointment. A typical case presentation might go something like this:
“Samantha, it looks like you need some crowns and a few composite restorations. I also want to replace that missing tooth with a bridge or implant. Sound good? Let’s get you on the schedule.”
From there, the hygienist would enter all this information into the computer and then print out a treatment plan. In the case above, Samantha is looking at about $8,000 worth of dentistry. All she planned to pay for was a cleaning, so that price tag, as you might imagine, comes as a bit of a shock. The result? Samantha leaves without scheduling, and might even make an appointment with another dentist for a second opinion. Often, these patients never come back.
Our recommendation: This doctor routinely gave patients overwhelming treatment plans, which isn’t the best way to get patients on the schedule. Instead, we suggested the practice focus more on educating patients and offering them options, even if that means less overall production. The hygienist should spend time educating patients about potential concerns and showing them images taken with the intraoral camera. Then it isn’t a surprise when the dentist recommends treatment.
Here’s a better example of how to make treatment recommendations chairside:
“Samantha, we’ve found a few areas of concern today that I’d like to address, the first being two broken-down silver fillings. I’m afraid they might crack, which could lead to a dental emergency. To avoid that, I’d like to replace those fillings with two beautiful porcelain crowns. I know you have a busy work schedule, but you won’t need to be out of the office for long. We can complete the work here in one visit. Once we get the new crowns placed, we can address the other areas. Does that sound good to you?”
From there, the hygienist can let the Financial Coordinator know what was discussed and how much time is needed for the appointment, and Samantha can ask any questions she has about the procedure or payment before scheduling. The new price comes to $2,000 and can easily be paid via CareCredit. Samantha schedules before she leaves.
OK, so what happens when patients still don’t schedule?
Even when you present treatment this way and offer financing, not every patient is going to say yes. Maybe the cost still makes them nervous or they’re worried about taking the time off work. If cost is the motivating factor, alter the treatment plan even more. The doctor could talk to Samantha, for example, about replacing one filling instead of two. If the patient still says no or wants time to think about it, follow up two days later. Be prepared to address any lingering concerns and provide necessary education.
So how did this new way of presenting treatment help our doctor? His case acceptance rate went from 38% to 70%. Not bad! He’s increased production and his patients are now getting the treatment they need. Offering alternatives is a great way to make patients more comfortable accepting treatment and help ensure they stay loyal to your practice. It worked for this doctor, and it can work for you too.
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