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
Interested in having McKenzie Management Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Is Your Outdated Office Hurting Production Numbers?
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant

Dentist Case Study #219

The doctor’s concerns: “I recently bought a practice in an upper-income neighborhood. Since opening, I’ve struggled with production numbers and patient retention. Team morale is also low.”

The Facts
This doctor bought an existing office with 902 active patients. The nearly 30 year old practice was definitely showing its age. While he installed some new equipment, he really didn’t make any updates to the interior or exterior.

It was clear this practice needed a makeover, which is something our dentist didn’t even consider when he purchased it. He told me he didn’t pay much attention to the front office and waiting area and really wasn’t that concerned about practice cosmetics. We explained to him why he should be, and gave him some tips to help bring new life to his practice – which in turn increased productivity and boosted team morale.

The Issues
First, we noticed the outside sign was old and dingy. Not only that, it wasn’t illuminated, making it difficult to spot during the dark winter evenings. Parking was also a bit of a problem. Patients had to park on a high-traffic street behind the building. Team members usually took the best parking spots closest to the sidewalk, meaning patients had to walk a bit to get to the office. The dentist fixed this right away, setting aside premium spots for his patients, which we’re told they appreciated.

When I first stepped inside the practice, I couldn’t help but notice the old tile floor. Sure it was clean, but the room just wasn’t very inviting. Uncomfortable plastic chairs lined the wall. It felt like being in an ER waiting room. There also wasn’t much in the way of decorations, and I didn’t see any before-and-after photos on the walls or marketing materials anywhere. I’d describe the atmosphere as sterile – not exactly what patients are looking for in a dental home.

The bathroom was also out of paper towels and I noticed fingerprints on the windows. While this might not seem like a big deal, these are things patients will notice, which means dentists should pay attention to them as well.

Our Recommendations
This dentist had a lot to offer, but it just wasn’t reflected in his outdated office. We suggested he hire someone to create a logo for his practice and then put the logo on his new sign. The illuminated sign is now easy to spot at night and includes a logo that patients associate with the doctor and his practice.

Now let’s go back inside the office. We recommended the doctor cover the tile floor with an area rug to absorb sound and give the room a warm feel. We also told him it was time to buy new chairs. Chairs with arms that are easy to get out of tend to work best, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in this doctor’s reception area now. There are also lamps, tables and live plants. Instead of an ER, the space feels more like a living room, creating an inviting environment that helps put patients at ease.

We also recommended the doctor create a checklist for whoever is responsible for cleaning. This helps ensure things like spider webs and fingerprints are taken care of.

Finally, we talked to the doctor about decorations for the walls. While he didn’t have anything up at all, some doctors opt to hang pictures they just happen to like. While that’s better than nothing, it’s much more effective to place photos of families showing off beautiful smiles that you created. Posters promoting services you offer, such as clear aligners and whitening, are also good options. When patients see the posters, they might be prompted to ask you about those services.

The Results
When I returned to the office six months later, I felt like I was walking into a new practice. Creating that living room feel in the waiting room made a huge difference. The doctor also added a refreshment area so team members could offer patients water, tea and coffee as they waited.

Patients certainly have noticed the update. Many of them have made comments to the doctor and his team about how much they love the practice’s new look and feel. Team members are happier to come to work each day and patient retention numbers as well as productivity are on the rise.

Making necessary practice updates can really have a positive impact on productivity and revenues. Take a few minutes to walk through your front door and view your practice through a patient’s eyes. If you feel like it’s time for a makeover, give McKenzie Management a call and we’ll help you get started.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you implement proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com

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