How to Improve Case Acceptance and Grow Your Bottom Line
You’re beyond frustrated. It seems like no matter what you do, patients just aren’t interested in accepting treatment. You feel stuck, and you’re not sure how much longer your practice can survive if something doesn’t change soon.
While this is stressful, there are steps you can take to improve case acceptance in your practice – and you don’t have to do it on your own. I’m here to help and offer guidance that will boost your production numbers, your bottom line and even your confidence.
Ready to get started? Follow these tips to improve case acceptance in your practice.
1. Hire a Treatment Coordinator. As much as you might like giving treatment presentations, you simply don’t have time to go over the details of every treatment plan with every patient. And let’s be honest, the 10 minutes you do have to quickly go over treatment certainly isn’t enough to make patients comfortable saying yes.
I recommend hiring a Treatment Coordinator, who is trained in sales, to sit down with every patient and go over treatment. This important team member should take patients to a quiet, comfortable environment to present treatment, and spend as much time as necessary answering questions.
2. Find out what motivates patients. When patients say no to treatment, you have to find out why. Are they worried about money? Do they not want to take the time off work? Have they had a negative dental experience in the past that makes them fearful of going forward? Find out what their concerns are and address them, and patients will be more likely to reconsider. If money’s an issue, for example, talk with patients about the third party financing options you offer, such as CareCredit, and how this can make dentistry more affordable.
It’s important to know what motivates patients from the beginning. If you don’t already, I suggest you start conducting new patient interviews. Ask new patients about their oral health goals, and ask current patients the same questions every 18 to 24 months. When you know what your patients’ oral health goals are, you’ll have a better feel for which services to recommend, making them much more likely to accept treatment.
3. Build relationships with your patients. If you’re like most clinicians, you’d probably much rather focus on the dentistry than spend a lot of time chatting with patients. Sorry, but that isn’t enough these days. No matter how talented you are clinically, if you want to increase practice productivity, you need to take time to get to know your patients. Build a rapport, and encourage your team members to do the same. The more connected your patients feel to the practice, the more likely they are to accept treatment.
4. Don’t talk over their heads. Providing patient education is key to improving case acceptance, but you have to make sure patients understand that education. Don’t use clinical words they’ve never heard of; this won’t help you get them to say yes to treatment. Instead, talk at their level and ‘show don’t tell’ whenever possible.
5. Make sure patients understand the value of dentistry. If patients don’t know how important it is to maintain their oral health, they’re not going to accept treatment. Educate them about the oral systemic link, and what could happen if they ignore what’s going on in their mouths. Talk to them about the services you offer, and the value those services provide.
6. Always follow up. Patients typically don’t say yes to treatment right away. They usually want to think about it, or talk with their spouse about the options. That’s why it’s so important to train your Treatment Coordinator to follow up with every patient.
Before patients leave the office, your Treatment Coordinator should schedule a time to follow up. If that isn’t possible, he or she should follow up in two days. That way, the conversation is still fresh.
Trust me, if a patient isn’t sure about scheduling treatment, they aren’t going to call your office to schedule an appointment. That’s why your Treatment Coordinator must follow up and take the time to address any lingering concerns. Before making these calls, the Treatment Coordinator should be armed with information from the case presentation and already know the patient’s chief concerns. If these concerns can be addressed during the call, patients once unsure about treatment will finally show up on the schedule.
Many practices struggle with case acceptance, and it’s killing their bottom line and their confidence. If you’re one of them, it’s time to make changes that will ultimately grow your production numbers and practice revenues. Focus on building relationships with your patients, and on educating them about the importance of maintaining their oral health. Once you do, you’ll notice your case acceptance rates rise, putting your practice well on its way to true success and profitability.
I know change isn’t easy, so if you need more guidance, I’m here to help. I offer a one day treatment presentation training that’s designed to help hurting practices get on the path toward success. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re interested in signing up and finally improving case acceptance in your practice.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Time in Hygiene
When you checked the hygiene schedule last week, it was completely full. However, when you look at it from week to week after the fact, there are often a lot of openings. What is really going on with your hygiene schedule? Are patients canceling last minute, not showing up, or do you have too much hygiene time available compared to the appointments that are needed?
No matter what we do, there will be cases when a patient has to cancel due to illness, last minute scheduling conflicts, etc. Hopefully your front office has created a “last minute change in the schedule list” or a “VIP list” allowing those last minute cancellations to be filled. The front desk should be educated to ask every patient who schedules their appointment in advance the following questions:
1. Is it ok for us to call you if we have a change in our schedule?
These questions are particularly helpful if the patient had to delay their appointment a week or two because of the time of day, or if the day of the week they wanted was already booked. This is also the perfect time to create value in the hygiene appointment by simply stating:
“Since we had to make your appointment two weeks from the date you are actually due for your hygiene appointment, can we call you if we have a change in our schedule? It is really important for your overall health and the health of your mouth that we keep you on schedule for your hygiene appointments.”
Anytime the opportunity arises to create value in the hygiene appointment, it should be taken. This is the job of the entire team, and the entire team should believe in the value of the hygiene appointment themselves. If you or your staff do not believe in the value of the hygiene appointment, then why would your patients?
When there are a lot of no-shows in hygiene, the first thing to work on is creating value and providing education for your patients. If you or your team do not know how to do this, it may be important to provide training to emphasize the value of the hygiene appointment and enable your team to educate every patient they see. Remember, the hygiene appointment is not “just a cleaning.”
You should also evaluate how many days of hygiene are needed in your office. Just because the schedule appears full and it is difficult to schedule patients for their hygiene appointments, it does not necessarily mean you need to add more hygiene time. Many offices end up adding more hygiene appointments than they really need, only to find out they are now unable to keep the schedule full.
If you have a lot of openings in your schedule because you have too much hygiene time, you may need to have your hygiene department evaluated. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to let a hygienist go, or even cut hours. However, it may mean that you need to make some changes to improve efficiencies and streamline the schedule.
For example, if your periodontal therapy is not 33% of the hygiene department’s production, there may need to be some changes when it comes to the treatment and diagnosis of periodontal disease in your practice.
These are a few things to consider in the coming weeks/months. When we schedule appointments in advance, without having particular time blocks in our schedule based on past history, it can give a false sense of security. Hopefully your hygiene department tracks the open time, no-shows and cancellations, and knows where the numbers are when it comes to their goals.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email email@example.com and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
Who’s Leading Your Marketing Strategy?
The top dental practices in the US have something in common. Individually and collectively, they are led by highly intelligent men and women who excel as healthcare providers. Furthermore, they share a commitment to excellence in leadership, personal and professional growth, and success in business.
As individuals, these top dentists stand out as leaders. They understand that marketing drives business, and an exceptional business leads to richly rewarding success. What’s more, it takes leaders (who just happen to be busy dentists) to develop a profitable and people-based service business.
The following leadership habits, tips and ideas will help you stand out as one of the top few marketing-savvy dentists. Consider it a starting point, and know that the adoption of any new set of skills and behaviors is a process which takes time, and for which you might benefit from the assistance of a trained professional coach or consultant.
1. Envision success daily. Take time each day (however long you need) to mentally picture your definition of success. Focus your daily tasks, large and small, on achieving these goals. Be sure to reward yourself for making any movement toward your goals.
2. Share your vision. Communicate your values, plans and ideas within your practice. When staff are engaged and understand strategies and goals, they can contribute to achieving the vision. Collective strength propels positive change and motivated growth. And the creation by the leader of a sense of urgency puts it all in motion.
3. Patients are first. Healthcare leaders know, understand and respect the consumer – the patient. It doesn’t matter much what the practice wants to do; what the patient needs, wants and can benefit from is what counts most. Success follows when leadership shapes an organization to meet and exceed the expectations of the customer (even when it isn’t easy to do).
4. Manage effectively. Business success, especially in a service business, is driven by how people interact, communicate and work toward common goals with the consumer/patient. Successful team leadership requires exceptional people skills. Another way of thinking of people skills is ‘perception management.’ Do you have a good idea of how you come across to others?
5. Neither success nor failure in business is final. Growing a dental practice requires energy to sustain business achievements, guard against the competition, and to push past setbacks. What systems do you have in place to keep your practice moving forward?
6. Service and satisfaction is what you should be “selling.” The ‘patient experience’ has become a critical test of success in healthcare delivery. Leaders create a culture of excellent clinical care and best possible outcomes in a patient-centered and service-excellence environment. Are you and your staff learning and developing ways of creating such an environment?
7. Leaders lead by example. Colleagues, staff members and even organizational cultures are shaped and motivated by clear role models they can emulate. Your success depends on the success of others. Recognize their contributions, help them grow, and remember – they are looking to you for the example of how to feel, behave, and create and sustain needed change.
8. Risk has its rewards. The familiarity of a “comfort zone” is often a barrier to personal, professional and financial growth. Leaders take well-considered risks to push the boundaries and reach new territory. That’s where new rewards are found.
9. Times are ever-changing. To stay competitive, and to lead the industry, you and your practice must innovate or die. Increased competition and near-constant change in the healthcare delivery system is the new norm. And, just as you need to stay current with advances in dental science for clinical excellence, the same holds true for survival in the business of healthcare. Leaders find ways to differentiate. They look ahead, identify trends, adapt plans and innovate regularly.
10. Hire the right people to help you lead most effectively. Finding and retaining the right people – the exceptional ones – is a challenging task, but well worth the effort. Leaders understand that in many ways people are the business. Organizations willing to accept and tolerate “adequate” or “acceptable” performance do not fare well amongst the growing competition and changing times. For excellence that drives success, leaders should be willing to “hire slow and fire fast.” Behavioral interviewing is quite an effective way to learn the most about the candidate in a short amount of time. To learn more about this technique, look up the STAR interviewing technique.
Many of these tips are logical and probably things you already know. However, implementing them and stepping into successful leadership in these ways is not easy at all. Do not hesitate to ask for help from professionals who can guide you in the right direction.
Dr. Gale provides coaching and training to enhance leadership skills, interpersonal communications and team building. If you would like to learn more, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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