How to Increase Dental Case Acceptance?
As young children, if we wanted something, we asked for it. Depending on our circumstances, usually we didn’t get it, but we weren’t afraid to ask. As we grow older we become more and more reserved and less likely to ask for what we want. This can be for various reasons, but when it comes to talking money with patients, dentists don’t like to as they don’t want to seem money-motivated.
Any person that has to deal with asking people for money and sales can seem money-motivated if their techniques are incorrect. Every business has a sales function, in a dental office that function takes place face-to-face with the patient. And that is where tactic number two, if followed, will lead to better case acceptance.
Financial discussions should be take place in a separate consultation room, NOT at the front desk when a patient is leaving. Doctor offices typically perform services and then collect payment when services are completed at which time, a patient is sent to the front desk. While this may work for a medical office when just co-pays are being collected and insurance is being billed for the rest, this does not work well for the dentist or the patient in a dental office.
Here is where I will get on my soapbox about having a separate consultation room and a trained or skilled financial/treatment coordinator. Firstly, discussing patient treatment and cost at the front desk while the patient is standing around other patients is a violation of patient privacy. The same situation could be possible if you’re discussing in the operatory and you have open style rooms. Second and also very important, most receptionists are not trained on how to handle patient’s financial objections and it’s just plain unfair to expect them to do this well if they’re not trained properly on how to do it. The receptionist cannot handle the patient’s objections and they will usually attempt to schedule a patient for their next appointment. When this is done the patient may or may not show up as the finances have not been worked out. Nothing is worse than having a two-hour appointment blocked out, and the patient canceling that day or no showing.
It is also just plain old good customer service. Sitting down with a patient in a private setting and discussing the patient’s treatment while answering their questions, gives the patient the impression that you care. If you are at your medical doctor’s office and you need a procedure and you had questions about the procedure after you find out the cost, would you want the receptionist to answer the question or the doctor?
Many times a patient will not accept treatment because they still have questions about the treatment plan or the necessity of the procedure. Many times patients do not realize their doubt or apprehension until they find out how much they have to pay out-of-pocket.
Another way to look at it, which may be good or bad depending on your circumstances, is that your financial future is determined by your front desk and how well they collect money. If they are good at collecting money then you’ll do okay, if they are poor then you will struggle financially. If you are doing well, and happy financially, make sure you hold onto the person that is talking money in your practice. You might even want to give him a little bump in pay. If you are not, it is time to evaluate the dental case acceptance process in your practice and isolate what areas need to improve to get better dental case acceptance with your patients. The formal consultation room is a good place to start.