Dental patients have only three excuses for denying treatment; Time, fear or money
Time excuses can be addressed by obviously scheduling enough time! Why that may seem like an obvious statement, front office staff members often do not consistently stick to a scheduling template. Patients on the phone can be quite convincing regarding their “emergency” and the sympathetic office staff member “squeezes” in the appointment causing bottlenecks of time. When opportunities for significant treatment arises if the Doctor is pulled in too many directions, it simply will not happen. Sticking to a scheduling template is especially important for new patients. It is recommended that your new patients are informed that 1-2 hours are reserved for them. You are then sending out the expectation to the new patient of the possibility that treatment other than an exam may happen. And you create enough time availability in the Doctors schedule for the new patient opportunity.
Fear of the dentist is obvious. You can eliminate fear from the procedure by showing compassion and educating the patient in laymen’s terms. Using dental terminology that only a dentist would understand will do nothing to assuage the fearful patient. Educating the patient begins with a quality exam where we engage the patient with eye contact building rapport and establishing trust. Active listening to the patient and making sure the patient is heard is the key.
Money of course is a big gee but patients will pay if they understand the value. If they do not understand the value, they are not going to pay for it. Value is created by conveying confidence and focus. It’s the Doctor’s job to first prioritize and clearly indicate the treatment plan thus communicating a definitive diagnosis which provides the path to success. Patients want to know what you recommend. Too many options can be confusing and makes it too difficult for the patient to decide; especially today. Use the best visual aids possible such as digital simulation so the patient can see their future. Financial options should be included within the new patient packs to expedite the process and increase the opportunity for same day treatment. The front staff should be trained to suggest to patients to at least apply for financing so they are aware of the options when and if they decide to proceed after their examination. The treatment financial presenter, whomever it is, must have excellent personal communication skills – Presentable, Credible and Likeable. Financing should be presented as a monthly payment first, rather than a total amount. Most importantly everyone needs to be on the same page meaning never assume who can or cannot afford treatment. The Doctor should listen in on the treatment financial presentation and be available to fill in the gap questions.
Whatever “excuses” the patient may present the Doctor should be present to help overcome these obstacles by assisting in addressing the root causes.