Dental practices have a responsibility to themselves and their patients to get them back in the door. What am I talking about? I'm referring to treatment acceptance. When a patient walks out the door without all their treatments completed or a pre-appointment, the practice needs to ask themselves if they did their best to give the patient great care.
On the other hand, a practice is a business that has employees and families it supports. To practice good business, a dental practice should be recommending treatment plans not only to insure the health of the patient, but additionally to support the financial health of the business by maximizing their current profit opportunity.
What is your current case acceptance?
How is your practice currently measuring the amount of treatment plans being accepted? If you don't currently track it, you should be. Knowing where you are at, is going to help direct where you're going.
“A goal properly set is halfway reached.”- Zig Ziglar.
Set a goal of where you'd like your case acceptance to be and start tracking your progress. We recommend using an automated KPI tracking system vs. a manual system or by hand. This keeps your numbers more accurate, and automation saves you time!
What should your goal be?
According to Dental Economics–Levin Group Annual Practice Survey, the target for case acceptance should be above 80%! The reality is only about 60% of patients accept their treatment plan.
Case acceptance is considered one of the biggest growth opportunities in a practice. So why are so many practices missing the mark? Often, it's because dentists feel uncomfortable with trying to sell a treatment plan to a patient.
As we said at the beginning, it is your responsibility to communicate to your patients that this is a benefit and sometimes a necessity for their overall health. It's more then a business transaction.
How to improve your treatment case acceptance:
Every practice has room to improve their patient care acceptance. Here are 5 tips to improve yours!
1. Chair-side manor
How you approach a patient sets a tone for trust and comfort. When you first interact with them, take a moment to ask how they are doing before getting started. A great opener is asking: "how are you feeling?" or "why are you in today?"
Consider how their feeling and their comfort before you consider your timeline or schedule. It's important to stay on time for your other patients, but it's equally important to be present for each one. Staying in control of the conversation and asking pointed questions will help a patient feel understood, and at the same time keeping your practice on time and appointments on track.
2. Explain it to be understood
Take the time to practice explaining a treatment in a way a patient will be able to understand it. Use benefit statements like: "you won't have pain anymore" or "you'll be more comfortable." Everyone should care about the technicalities of their oral hygiene. Most patients are interested in what the procedure result will be. Place the emphasis on that and how their lifestyle will be improved. Then, explain what procedure you will do to help them get there.
3. Make it easy to have completed
After you've explained the treatment that is needed ask them, "when do you need to be out of the office by?" Emphasize that you'd like to get them taken care of as soon as possible. If they say a time that doesn't allow the team to complete the procedure, have a schedule or your scheduling coordinator nearby and pre-appoint them for their next one.
4. Give financial options
When it comes to treatment planning, financial reasons are often why a patient will say "no" to a procedure. That's usually why people don't go to the dentist in the first place. Make sure you review all the payment options that are available during your presentation. If a patient is still unsure, ask them what they need to feel comfortable with making their decision.
Payment options should be given once it's scheduled. Be careful not to assume what someone can afford. Offer at least 3 payment options up front. If none of those seem to be a fit, offer a few more.
Don't forget in all of this to communicate the urgency to complete their treatment. There's a problem you have diagnosed that needs to be fixed in order to improve their life and health. Make sure they understand that you want to help them and that they need this procedure done. Some procedures are more serious than others and really do require immediate attention. Communicate things clearly and figure out a plan with your patient to reach the goal of giving them the best care possible.
Patient acceptance is an easy way to improve patient care and maximize profitability. Use your case acceptant KPI to understand how you are currently doing as a practice. Create a strategy of what you can improve and how you can do so. Do you need more payment options? What about more chair-side time with your patients? Connect with your team and get their feedback!