Top Reasons Patients Keep Saying ‘No’ to Treatment
When patients don’t accept the treatment you recommend, it can be pretty frustrating – and it’s happening in your practice more often than you’d like to admit. You think patients understand the importance of going forward with treatment and are ready to schedule, but for some reason they never do. Not only does this mean patients aren’t getting the care they need, it’s also killing your bottom line.
The truth is, if your case acceptance rate falls below the 85% benchmark, it’s costing you thousands of dollars in lost revenue every year. While this might seem discouraging, it also represents huge potential for practice growth. If more patients start saying ‘yes’ to treatment, you’ll grow production numbers and practice profits. The trick is figuring out how to get more patients to accept treatment.
That’s where I come in. Before you can boost your case acceptance numbers, you have to figure out why patients are opting to skip treatment and then make the necessary changes to get more of these patients on the schedule. Here are a few of the top reasons patients say no to treatment and what you and your team can do to get them to change their answer to ‘yes.’
1. They don’t understand the importance of treatment. The more educated your patients are, the more likely they are to accept the treatment you recommend. That’s why patient education is so vital. Take the time to educate patients about the importance of maintaining their oral health and the possible consequences of skipping treatment. Talk with them about the services you provide and how you can help improve their condition and quality of life. When patients truly understand the problem and what you can do to help, you’ll hear ‘yes’ more often.
2. They don’t feel a connection to your practice. It’s difficult for patients to accept treatment if they don’t trust you and your team members yet. Earn their trust not only by providing education, but by also taking the time to build a rapport. Ask patients about their jobs, their families and their oral health goals. Show patients you care about them as people and they’ll start feeling a connection to you and your practice. That means they’ll not only be more likely to accept treatment, they’ll be more likely to stay loyal to your practice. They might even refer family and friends.
3. They can’t afford it. This is a big one for many patients. Dental procedures can be expensive and some patients just can’t afford to write one big check to cover the cost. So instead of getting the treatment they need, they decide to wait.
To ease this burden, consider offering third party financing such as CareCredit. The thought of paying for treatment in small monthly chunks is much more manageable, making it easier for money-conscious patients to schedule needed treatment.
4. They have unanswered questions. A 10-minute case presentation usually isn’t enough to convince patients to accept treatment – but that’s often all the time dentists have. Patients can tell you’re rushed so they don’t ask the many questions they have, from how much treatment will cost to how long they’ll need to be off work.
I suggest hiring a Treatment Coordinator to present cases for all producers in your practice. This person should be trained in sales and prepared to take all the time necessary to answer patient questions. Presentations should happen in a comfortable room where patients don’t feel rushed. Trust me, patients will leave the practice with a much better understanding of the entire process, making them more likely to schedule.
5. It’s not top of mind. Many patients want to think about their options and talk it over with their significant other before making a final decision. They go home with the information you provided and promise to get back to you when they’re ready to schedule. But patients lead busy lives, and scheduling that appointment quickly moves down on their to-do list, or they convince themselves that treatment can wait.
How do you keep that initial case presentation top of mind? Train your Treatment Coordinator to follow up with every patient two days later. During these follow-up calls, the Treatment Coordinator should be prepared to address any concerns the patient brought up during the initial presentation as well as any perceived barriers to care. Use these calls as another opportunity to educate patients, and your case acceptance rates will start to rise.
If patients aren’t accepting treatment, your practice is likely struggling. Following these tips will help foster growth in your practice, but feel free to contact me if you need more guidance. Together we’ll grow your case acceptance and your bottom line.
Next week: Follow these tips to improve case acceptance
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email email@example.com
Bully, or just Bossy?
Office Manager Training Case File #3234
Working in the environment of the average dental practice involves close contact with fellow workers, patients, vendors and the boss or dentist CEO. There is much emphasis placed on “teamwork” because it is necessary to get through the highly structured day of the dental practice. Harassment of any form contributes to staff turnover, lost patients and low production.
Some employees have a leadership position assigned to them because they are excellent workers, but this does not always mean they can lead others successfully. An example is the case of Dr. J and Dr. W (names are fictitious), who are two dental specialists who had a difficult situation. Dr. J and Dr. W came to me because they believed the two-day Office Manager Training Course would cure their ills.
“We would like our lead dental assistant/office manager, Bee, to learn about managing a dental practice without resorting to anger. She is just a little rough around the edges and needs to be told to calm down,” explained Dr. J.
Dr. W also added that Bee was valued tremendously. She was the advanced lead dental assistant and the office manager because she had been there the longest and knew what to do without being trained. The problem was that two employees had recently come forward to say that Bee is a bully and they feel threatened.
Forms of bullying include:
• The employee who is always right and never allows anyone to change a system; most people avoid this person or don’t challenge what they say
A recent survey from The Society for Human Resource Management found 56% of US employers do not have workplace bullying policies, yet 35% of the US workforce has reported being bullied at work. No one wants to admit they have been bullied, because it’s a morale buster that deeply affects the person’s self-esteem and work performance.
1. Bee grabbed the arm of the Scheduling Coordinator and vehemently expressed “there will be no patients scheduled at 4:30 because I need to get out of here.”
2. Bee labeled anyone who couldn’t learn the software within a couple of days an “idiot” and refused to help them.
3. Bee criticized the Scheduling Coordinator in front of patients because appointments weren’t available for several weeks.
4. Bee formed lunch parties with other staff members and purposely did not include one of the hygienists because she was “slow.”
One way to prevent this is by implementing a workplace anti-harassment policy that all team members have to read, understand and sign. This would be according to state law and be included in the Employee Policy Handbook.
Bee had no formal training as a manager and did not know the state laws regarding harassment and creating a “hostile working environment.” She agreed that she was out of line with her behavior and needed to stop.
Working with Bee for two days demonstrated to me that she was indeed a hard working individual who gave more than 100% and expected the same from her teammates. She had become irritated that her coworkers kept making the same mistakes, especially in scheduling, and didn’t take the initiative to learn the software as she had done.
After covering the entire training program and concentrating on staff training and management, job descriptions and establishing written accountability, Bee had the clarity to manage her position within the practice. Learning to delegate some of her tasks to other dental assistants became a priority to lessen the stress on her and increase efficiency in the practice.
Want to learn about staff dynamics in a successful practice? Get professionally trained by McKenzie Management today.
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