One of the most impactful actions you can take to improve your dental practice is to start presenting treatment plans the right way. Not only will you benefit if you do but your team members and patients will too.
For decades, case presentation consisted solely of education. Doctors simply educated patients about the care they suggest moving forward with. They list the issues they suggest addressing and what it means for their oral health.
It’s no surprise that the old way caused so many practice owners to struggle. Patients know they need treatment or they would not have gone to the dentist. They might not know everything that’s needed but they know they need treatment. So, if all you are doing is educating them, you are only adding medical terms and confirmation to what they already knew. You’re not doing anything to help them move forward. You’re not helping them say yes to the treatment they need. That’s why so many patients leave offices without scheduling appointments to get their treatment completed.
Here’s how to present a treatment plan to help your patients move forward with their care.
Understand your patients’ perspectives and objections before presenting your plan.
Before you can help a patient say yes to treatment, you need to take the time to understand what’s going on in your patients’ lives outside of your practice.
They’re busy. They have family, job, and personal commitments. And they have countless financial stresses. So, although they come to your office knowing they need dental care, they also often come in feeling busy and limited by budget pressures.
Thus, in order to help them move forward, we have to give them the confidence that they can do so with limited time and a tight budget. We know they want the care because they’re in our chair. But we must act as patient advocates to help them move forward to better oral health.
Once you commit to taking the role of patient advocate, follow this simple treatment acceptance framework. By doing so, you will help more patients move forward with the care they need.
Start your case presentation with one, simple question.
When we jump right into presenting our treatment plans, we fail to offer important context to our discussions. If we present too much, patients get overwhelmed. But withholding treatment we recommend to avoid overwhelming patients doesn't help patients either.
Thus, we must present everything needed without overwhelming them. To do so, ask for permission to tell them everything that’s needed to achieve optimal oral health. They will say yes and you can present everything that’s needed without overwhelming them.
Make it easy for patients to say yes to your treatment plan.
We know patients have time and financial restrictions that keep them from moving forward. To be true patient advocates to help them move forward we need to help them overcome those constraints. Make scheduling and affordability easier and you will get more patients to move forward.
Overcoming Time Objections
Consider scheduling longer appointments so patients can get their care done in fewer appointments. That helps them avoid taking more time off or having to come back and forth multiple times. It also helps them get to optimal oral health faster.
If you can get care done in one longer visit, ask patients if there's a reason they wouldn't be able to come in for one visit to achieve optimal oral health. Many times, they will be surprised that they can get their care done in one shot and will move forward. Sometimes they will reference affordability being an obstacle.
Overcoming Money Objections
If affordability is an obstacle, help patients afford their care. Let them know many patients have limited budgets and that it is very common. Then, let them know how other patients fit care in their budgets.
Tell them many patients have zero or low-interest credit cards that help them spread out the payments while receiving treatment right away. You could have a few zero-interest promotion credit card offers on file to show them if you want as well. If credit card payments are not an option, talk with them about using dental financing to structure payments into monthly installments they can afford. Finally, you can offer to spread out care over months so they can still get all the care they need.
Once you present these three options, ask them, “Which one of these ways would work best for you?” That question encourages them to move forward to get the care they need.
Immediately schedule their treatment in accordance with their choice.
Once they say yes, secure a deposit or set up the financial arrangement for their care and get them on their schedule. If they choose the option of spreading out care, make sure they know the entire schedule is important. That means, if they cancel or miss one appointment you will have to cancel the rest of the appointments.
Are you presenting treatment plans the right way?
If patients leave without scheduling their treatment, your case presentation style is often the reason. Do you take the role of patient advocate to help them move forward with the care they need? If not, get permission to tell them everything that’s needed. Make scheduling easier for them to fit into their schedules. Have three affordability offers ready to help them overcome money objections. Let them know they’re not alone with time and money pressures. Then present the three affordability options and ask them to choose among the three. By doing so, you will help more patients move forward with the care they need.