Follow these Tips to Improve Case Acceptance
You know how important it is for patients to accept the treatment you recommend – but that doesn’t mean they do. That’s why they say no so often; they don’t understand the consequences of not going forward with treatment, so they choose to wait or simply shrug off your recommendation. The result? They don’t get the treatment they need and your bottom line suffers.
Frustrating, I know, but this doesn’t have to be how the story plays out in your practice. Follow these tips to get your case acceptance rate closer to that 85% benchmark, fueling growth and helping your practice finally meet its full potential.
Find out what motivates them. Patients say no to treatment for many reasons. It’s your job to determine why they’re saying no and help them get past any perceived barriers to care.
If money is keeping patients from moving forward, for example, talk to them about the financing options your practice offers, such as CareCredit. Are they worried about how much time the procedure will take or any post-op pain they might experience? Educate them about the procedure to put their minds at ease. Really listen to their concerns and then address them.
I suggest you conduct new patient interviews to learn about their oral health goals. You can then tailor recommendations and treatment plans to align with those goals, making patients more likely to accept treatment. Remember that goals and concerns change over time, so it’s a good idea to repeat these interviews with current patients every 18 to 24 months.
Hire a Treatment Coordinator. As much as you might enjoy it, you just don’t have time to present treatment to every patient. That’s why I suggest hiring a Treatment Coordinator. This team member can take as much time as necessary to talk with patients about the recommended procedure, while you focus on producing.
Focus on the benefits of treatment rather than the cost. Yes, patients want to know how much treatment will cost, but your Treatment Coordinator shouldn’t start the presentation off with a price tag. Why? If it’s a large number, that’s all patients will think about throughout the entire presentation. Beyond that, if money is the initial focus, they might think all you care about is selling them something, which can be pretty off-putting. Either way, the chances of them accepting treatment are pretty low.
That’s why I suggest talking about the benefits of treatment instead. Make sure patients understand exactly what’s going on in their mouths and why the doctor is recommending treatment in the first place. The Treatment Coordinator should sit with patients in a private, comfortable room and go over every aspect of treatment and answer every question they have. Bring up cost after going over all the other important details and remind patients of financing options your practice offers. If money seems to be a factor, be sure to stress how delaying treatment can actually cost them more money down the road if the problem becomes worse.
Talk at their level. Remember, your patients didn’t go to dental school and probably don’t understand some of the more clinical terms that are part of your vocabulary. Trust me, talking over their heads won’t impress them; it will just make them less likely to accept treatment. You and your team members should keep the conversation at their level to help patients understand their condition and the treatment you’re recommending. Show them images whenever possible, have them watch educational videos and give them educational brochures to take home. This will all go a long way in getting more patients on the schedule.
Show them the value of dentistry. Educating patients isn’t just about helping them understand their specific problem. It also involves making sure they understand the value of dentistry and the services you provide. To help them see what goes into every appointment, send them home with a printout of everything you did and the products they received for free. Talk with them about the oral-systemic link. Show patients the value in maintaining their oral health, and case acceptance will rise.
Getting patients to accept treatment can be challenging. Many patients don’t understand the value of dentistry or the problems that may come up if they choose to ignore your treatment recommendations. Focusing on education will give patients the information they need to make the best decisions, ultimately improving case acceptance and growing your practice.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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Know Your Practice Numbers
Dentist Case Study #157
The doctor’s concerns: “Every month I struggle to pay my personal bills. I’m just not making enough. Some months I can’t even write myself a payroll check.”
Unfortunately, many dentists find themselves in this situation. Why? It’s typically because they don’t think about their lifestyle as part of the big picture and they make decisions based on emotions rather than facts. This is what happened to this dentist and is why he contacted McKenzie Management for guidance.
Here are the practice facts:
After talking with his team, I found they enjoy working with the doctor but they have noticed he’s become anxious about not bringing in enough money. The team doesn’t see what the problem is; they’re meeting their daily production goals 75% of the time, which as far as they’re concerned is pretty good. Their monthly goal is $96,000 in net collections, however, leaving them $16,000 short every month.
Even though the practice is struggling financially, the dentist bought a beautiful new home in an upscale neighborhood. He convinced himself he would work harder and start making enough money to offset the mortgage payment. The problem is, he came to this conclusion without putting together a definitive business plan to improve practice systems. That means even after he bought the house, his overhead stayed the same and collections stayed at 83% of goal. With those numbers he simply can’t afford to pay himself more, mortgage payment or not.
Around the same time, the doctor decided the reception area needed an update, so he invested in new furniture, a fish tank and other decorative items. He also hired another clinical assistant.
- What is my gross salary overhead for the existing team members?
When he did sit down to address these questions, it became clear he couldn’t afford to hire another clinical assistant. Here’s how it broke down. Standard payroll costs should be between 19-22% of total collections (not including payroll taxes and benefits, which are an additional 3-5%). His salary overhead costs were at 28%, or $22,400 of $80,000/month in collections. Now if the practice had been meeting its monthly goal, which was $96,000 in collections, payroll costs would have been at 23% and much closer to the industry benchmark.
Before hiring this new team member, the doctor should have performed a salary review to determine if he could afford the new hire and, if so, how much he could afford to pay him or her. He also should have thought about the new hire’s job description and how this person would help increase collections to justify the increased expense. The fact is, he felt pressured to hire because his team members insisted they needed more help. But remember, inefficiencies might be the result of broken systems, and adding a new team member won’t fix the problem. He should have taken a closer look at his systems before bringing a new team member on board.
The doctor also should have looked at total overhead. The industry standard is 62% of net collections. Turns out his was 76%. This left him with 24% or $19,200 a month.
The solution: The bottom line is, the practice was not producing/collecting enough money to support practice expenses. That means he couldn’t afford his new mortgage either. The doctor needed to find a way to fix this situation and alleviate some of his financial burden. With help from McKenzie Management, he developed a business plan that reduced overhead costs and increased revenues.
Together, we determined how much money he needed to bring in each month to satisfy his personal obligations and determined at 35% of monthly collections what that monthly amount needed to be.
We reviewed practice systems and came up with solutions to any obstacles we encountered along the way. Through this process, the doctor realized how important it was for him to diagnose necessary treatment and then trust his team members to encourage patients to accept that treatment and get more of them on the schedule. He now knows what his practice numbers are and what it takes to reach both his personal and practice goals. He’s making decisions based on facts rather than emotion.
The lesson: No matter how hard you work, there are limits to what your practice can produce and how much money you can bring in. Knowing your numbers and putting a plan in place to meet your personal and professional goals will help you make more informed buying decisions both inside and outside the practice.
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