4 Reasons Patients Don’t Schedule Treatment
Over the years, I’ve worked with countless dentists who struggle with case acceptance. It seems like no matter what they do, they just can’t get their patients to schedule the treatment they recommend. They’re frustrated and worried about their financial future, and that leads to a stressful environment for everyone in the practice.
Did I just describe the situation in your office? If so, don’t worry. I can help you improve case acceptance so you finally reach the 85% benchmark, growing practice production and your bottom line. But before we can get started, we need to determine why patients are saying no to treatment. From there, you can start to make changes that will take your practice from struggling to thriving.
Patients don’t schedule treatment for many reasons. Here are four of the most common:
1. They’re afraid. Unfortunately, dental fears are common and often keep patients from getting the treatment they need. That’s why education is so important.
The more patients are educated about the treatment you’re recommending, the more comfortable they’ll be going forward with the procedure. Make sure they understand exactly what the treatment involves and how you plan to keep them comfortable. Ask about their concerns and tailor your education to address those concerns. Talk with patients about the possible consequences of not going forward with treatment, and show them x-rays and images that clearly illustrate their condition.
It’s also a good idea to let patients look through before and after photos of similar successful cases you’ve completed. This will not only help ease their fears, it will also go a long way toward building connections and earning their trust – making them much more likely to accept the treatment you recommend.
2. They can’t afford it. Most patients don’t put money away specifically for dental care and have no idea how they’re going to pay for treatment. If they’re not in pain, patients often convince themselves they don’t need treatment, which leads to more complicated problems and additional costs down the road.
Offering third-party financing from a company like CareCredit helps ease the financial burden. Financing enables patients to pay for treatment in small chunks each month, rather than writing one large check at the time of service. Paying for dentistry becomes more manageable, and that means more patients will opt to schedule treatment.
3. They didn’t get their questions answered. Most dentists don’t have a lot of time to spend on case presentations. Sure, they go over treatment and let patients know why it’s necessary, but that often isn’t enough. Patients usually have questions, but decide not to ask them because they don’t want to take up too much of the doctor’s time. So while patients say they understand and will make an appointment before they leave, they usually don’t.
That’s why I suggest hiring a Treatment Coordinator to handle case presentations for all producers in the practice. The coordinator should go over every detail with patients in a comfortable, quiet environment, giving them the opportunity to ask questions without feeling rushed. These conversations also help patients feel more connected to the practice, which of course makes them more comfortable scheduling treatment.
4. They forget about it. Your patients are very busy people and likely have a lot on their minds. While you know how important their dental health is, many patients will forget to call back and schedule treatment once they leave.
To overcome this, I suggest you train your Treatment Coordinator to follow up with every patient two days after the initial case presentation. That way the conversation is still top of mind. Use these calls as an opportunity to educate patients even more and address any lingering concerns. Patients will appreciate the extra effort and gain an even better understanding of why they should accept treatment.
Getting patients to schedule the treatment you recommend can be difficult, but it’s vital to your practice’s success. If case acceptance is low, it’s costing you thousands of dollars in lost revenue, as well as hurting team morale. Understanding why patients aren’t scheduling will help you boost practice production numbers and ultimately your bottom line.
Need more guidance? Consider taking my one-day treatment presentation training to learn exactly what you need to do to improve case acceptance in your practice.
Next week: Make patients want to say yes to treatment
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
6 Myths that Hold Your Practice Down
2018 has just begun. Many of us have made New Year’s Resolutions, and this year we intend to keep them. However, along with the New Year are the same old tapes we play in our heads to give us sound reasons why some things just don’t work for us. Over time these excuses become urban myths that we accept without question.
1. There are certain times during the year when our dental practice is not busy. Though some practices will have a “seasonal” flow to them based on demographics, this belief should never be an excuse to not actively market your office. For example, practices often assume that no one will want to come in at certain times during the day, without even offering these times to patients. Are your practice hours convenient to the people you serve? Studies show that patients like 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM appointments, and will gravitate toward practices that offer more flexible times.
Practices often spread their daily schedule out to give the impression they are busier. But making a one-hour appointment into a two-hour appointment will block out opportunities for last minute callers to get in for treatment. Book from the top down and bottom up, leaving middle appointment times open for opportunities that call in. Staying efficient will also help you better prepare to handle heavy patient loads when business picks up. Honor your practice hours, even when things are slow. If you aren’t there, you cannot serve your patients.
2. Patients don’t call the office when it’s closed for the night or weekend.
3. Patients don’t call when we are at lunch, and if a patient wants us they will leave a voicemail or call back.
Stagger lunch times so someone is always there to field phone calls and schedule appointments. Or have lunch brought into your practice, versus going out to a restaurant. You will save time, and you can record the meals 100% as a business expense if they occur at your office.
4. Patients won’t drive more than three miles to a dental office.
The more convenient you are to your target patient base the better (e.g. pediatric or orthodontic practices near schools, etc.). Some convenience factors to keep in mind when selecting a site include patient parking, proximity to mass transit and ease of access to major thoroughfares, etc. Operating out of a location with high street visibility is important too because 24% of dental patients find their dentist either driving or walking by the office.
5. Patients will not pay for services unless insurance covers most of it.
The average American paid out-of-pocket dental expenses of $544 in 2013, according to a 2016 report from the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute. This is an average amount, but does prove that patients pay for services not paid by their insurance company.
6. Patients who have not wanted cosmetic work in the past won’t want it in the future either.
Good business systems are a great defense against the myths that plague dental practices. Want to learn about building the best business systems? Call McKenzie Management today and talk to a trained consultant.
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