4.14.17 Issue #788 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Use the New Patient Interview to Boost Case Acceptance
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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If you want patients to accept treatment, you need to understand them. That means finding out what motivates them, what they think about their smile and what they’d like to improve. It’s not about selling dentistry; it’s about getting to know them and even partnering with them so you can better meet their needs.

When you have the same priorities as your patients, your practice’s retention and case acceptance rates will go up. Patients will feel more in control of the process and like you really “get them” – which fosters loyalty and trust. They won’t feel pressured into accepting treatment they don’t really want. Rather, they’ll gladly accept treatment that will help them meet their oral health goals.

So how can you make this happen in your practice? It all starts with the new patient interview. During this conversation, your Treatment Coordinator should not only focus on creating connections with new patients, he or she should walk away knowing exactly what their concerns and goals are.     

Here are examples of a few questions to help get them talking:

How is your smile important to your professional and personal life?
Does your smile give you confidence when interacting with people, both personally and professionally? 
What, if anything, bothers you about your smile or your oral health in general?
If I gave you a magic wand, what would you change about your smile?
Do you ever have problems with chewing or with pain in your mouth?
Have you ever had a negative experience in a dental office? If so, can you share what happened and how it was resolved?
On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you place the value of achieving optimal oral health?  

Your Treatment Coordinator should enter the answers to these questions into the patient’s electronic record. That way, you can review the responses and be prepared to discuss them during the exam. If the interview reveals they’re unhappy with their smile, ask them to point out the specific areas they’d like to change and explain why. This not only helps you quickly establish a rapport with new patients, it gives you valuable insight into their priorities and concerns.

Focus on Education
Through tailored education, address patient fears and tell them about the services you provide that can help them meet their goals. Use intraoral cameras, x-rays and other diagnostic tools to show patients exactly what’s going on in their mouths, and then discuss how you can fix issues they’ve pointed out or that you’ve found. Patients may not realize they have certain flaws until they see them up close. If their goal is to have a beautiful smile, once they realize those flaws exist, they might be more open to talking about cosmetic options they hadn’t considered before. 

Don’t Go Overboard
It’s important to remember not to overwhelm new patients. If you give them a large treatment plan on the first visit it could scare them off. Instead, I recommend asking patients to return and address a smaller concern first. Let them know you’ll talk about a more comprehensive treatment plan and how you can help them meet their oral health goals during that next appointment.

The Case Presentation
When your Treatment Coordinator presents the treatment plan, make sure it includes the number of visits, length of each visit, how the plan will be managed and what the patient can expect once treatment is complete. Give the patient plenty of time to ask questions, and have the coordinator cover every element of treatment, including cost and payment schedule (though this shouldn’t be the focus).

Use this appointment to discuss the benefit of going forward with treatment and address any lingering concerns the patient has. If the patient doesn’t accept treatment on the spot, the coordinator should follow up in two days, prepared to offer more education and ultimately get the patient on the schedule.

Building relationships and really getting to know your patients is key to improving patient retention and case acceptance, which is why the new patient interview is so important. If patients know your priorities align with theirs, they’ll be much more comfortable accepting treatment. Tailor your treatment plans to patient wants and needs, and you’ll boost practice productivity as well as your bottom line.

Need more guidance to improve case acceptance in your practice? Feel free to give me a call and I’ll help you meet your goals.

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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