Case Presentation: Getting Your Patients to Yes
This lecture presents communication strategies designed to increase the acceptance level of treatment in your practice. By focusing on better understanding your patients, your team will be prepared to meet each unique person's needs, creating higher levels of trust, a stronger feeling of connectedness (retention), ultimately leading to more of the dentistry you diagnose being completed.
Effective case presentation and acceptance
Read the original article in The California Dental Association’s monthly news magazine, the CDA Update
In today's dental market, patients have more choices than ever before. High expectations and an influx of information means competition is fierce, leading to a marked shift in how practice owners attract and retain patients.
Long gone are the days when patients choose their dentist based on static provider directories, word of mouth or the Yellow Pages. Today, consumers are highly connected and able to research online reviews, ratings and guides prior to making a dental or health care choice.
The same can be said of case acceptance. With so many choices, patients no longer have to rely solely on their dentist's recommendation to agree to treatment. They now have an endless supply of information at their fingertips as well as an endless supply of competitors to which they can turn to for a second opinion.
To meet the demands of the changing consumer, dentists must employ new strategies. In the course of advising practices here in California, I see successful dentists going above and beyond to not only meet, but to exceed, patient expectations. At ADC, we work to make customer service front-and-center in our member-clients' business models.
Forging relationships with patients is paramount to building trust, and trust is ultimately the key to case acceptance. But it goes beyond the individual dentist's relationship with the patient; rather, the entire dental team must be on board for this strategy to succeed. If a team doesn't understand the purpose of the practice's case acceptance strategy, they are less likely to give the approach their all.
Practice owners must ensure each member of the dental team is striving toward the same goals. I recommend each team start the workday with a "huddle" to go over the prior day's successes and prepare for the new day ahead. This is a good opportunity to reiterate shared purpose, the importance of each team member's unique contribution, and create a game plan for the day.
Building trust can't just rely on a one-time interaction. It begins with the very first phone call and follows through clinical evaluation, financial discussion and scheduling treatment. Every step of the way, staff should be focused on connecting with the patient and building a rapport.
Simple techniques such as answering the phone with a smile, greeting the patient by name or inquiring about a patient's family can go a long way in forming strong relationships. Each staff member should listen to the patient and tailor the interaction to the patient's unique needs. For example, offering a same-day appointment to a patient who is busy at work, or speaking in a calm and reassuring manner with a patient who experiences dental anxiety, strengthens the practice-patient relationship. It's the relational approach, rather than the procedural approach that sets the stage for a patient's trust.
A practice's approach to financial considerations can also be enhanced to further the likelihood of case acceptance. While each dental practice has its own financial policy, offering several options makes case acceptance more likely. Practices should work to eliminate finances as a stumbling block, offering to maximize insurance benefits, break up large treatment plans into phases or facilitate third-party financing. If the patient still declines treatment, staff should accept the decision without pressuring the patient and simply schedule the next hygiene appointment. Getting the patient back in the office increases the likelihood that he or she will eventually obtain the necessary treatment.
While some dentists may feel as though they are resorting to salesmanship to "close the deal" the reality is that case acceptance is about improved oral health outcomes. It's not upselling to educate patients about the importance of proceeding with treatment. Getting a patient to say "yes" isn't about a hard sell. It's about creating an environment where the walls come down and trust goes up.