13 Key Methods to Increase Dental Case Acceptance Rate
In dentistry, achieving optimal patient outcomes is not solely about clinical expertise; it also hinges on effective case acceptance strategies. Ensuring that patients both understand and embrace recommended treatments is crucial for achieving practice success. In this guide, we examine practical strategies that can empower your treatment coordinator and enhance case acceptance, fostering patient trust, and ultimately, delivering exceptional dental care.
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Securing patient commitment to proposed treatments is critical for both the well-being of your patients and the success of your practice. But achieving high case acceptance rates involves a strategic approach that combines effective communication, patient education, and a patient-centric mindset. In this Dentistry Huddle guide, we will explore several strategies and tactics aimed at increasing case acceptance for your dental practice.
Remember the 95-5 Rule
We'll start with a general methodology that is highly effective for maximizing the impact of the rest of the tactics in this guide: The 95-5 Rule.
This approach, championed by the All-Star Dental Academy, implies that 95% of the treatment coordinator's attention has to be on the condition and the consequences. Only 5% is reserved for the treatment side. That's it.
We can't emphasize it enough: compassion and empathy are your staff's greatest tools to increase case acceptance. The focus should be rooted in educating the patient on why they need treatment, rather than the treatment itself.
While a bit counter-intuitive, the general goal should be on quality of life, not just quality of teeth.
The Treatment Plan Presentation | Practice & Iterate
Conduct a critical analysis of your staff's presentation techniques. Dentists should analyze their delivery style, ensuring that they convey the information clearly, confidently, concisely, and compassionately.
Using visual aids such as images and videos can greatly enhance the effectiveness of the presentation, making it easier for them to understand and to make informed decisions. At the very least, the treatment plan should have a written-out component that your patients can take home to review if they need more time to make a decision.
When possible, making a treatment plan script can greatly improve the flow and consistency of the presentation. While this script can serve as a checklist, ensuring that all crucial information is covered and reducing the chances of omitting important details.
What should you include in this presentation? Start by outlining the sequence of information to be presented, including procedure details, benefits, length, cost, and payment options. Provide clarity on the steps involved in each procedure, the expected outcomes, and any potential risks or side effects. This helps patients understand what to expect, making them more comfortable and confident in their decisions.
Provide Financial Transparency
Remember, when you’re talking about treatment, they’re thinking about money.
Transparency regarding the cost of treatments is crucial, and your dental team should engage in open and honest discussions about financial aspects, explaining insurance coverage, available payment plans, and potential out-of-pocket expenses. This clarity helps alleviate financial concerns that often hinder case acceptance.
Having clear financial discussions with your patients will provide them with the context and knowledge that they will need to make an streamlined decision.
Offer Flexible Financing Options
To ease the mental burden of a large bill, interest-free in-house payment plans are a great tool. Offering these flexible financing options can make comprehensive treatments more accessible to a wider base of patients.
This flexibility can be a deciding factor for those concerned about the financial implications of extensive dental work.
By mitigating some of the financial fear of treatment, you'll see a lift in your case acceptance rate.
Technical Facts Are Secondary
When presenting treatment plans to patients, it is crucial to remember the importance of not focusing solely on technical facts. The balance of education and persuasion must be struck for prompt case acceptance.
While technical information is essential for dental professionals, it can be overwhelming and confusing for patients. Instead, highlight the benefits of treatment and address the patients' concerns and interests instead of inundating with facts about the treatment.
Patients are primarily interested in understanding how a particular treatment will impact them and improve their overall health. They want to know how it will enhance their quality of life, alleviate their symptoms, or help them achieve their oral health goals. When healthcare professionals solely focus on technical details, it can make the treatment plan seem abstract and detached from the patients' personal experiences.
Patients may feel overwhelmed or intimidated, and this can lead to them feeling discouraged or disinterested in the treatment plan, which can lead to further confusion and potential noncompliance.
While technical facts are crucial in treatment planning, it is essential to avoid solely focusing on them when presenting to patients.
Understand when to ask the “Commitment Question” during a case presentation
The "Commitment Question" is a powerful tool to increase case acceptance, and should be included in every case presentation. This question is designed to gauge the patient's level of commitment to proceed with the recommended treatment plan.
While acceptance up front is a major stepping stone, ensuring that treatment recommendations are being both accepted and followed through by the patients is more important. This is where the commitment question plays a significant role.
By asking the commitment question during every case presentation, we are giving the patients an opportunity to express their level of commitment to the prescribed treatment. This question can be as simple as, "Are you ready to move forward with this treatment plan?" or "Do you have any concerns or reservations about proceeding with the recommended treatment?"
Asking the "commitment question" provides two discrete benefits: First, it allows you to address any doubts or concerns that the patient may have, alleviating anxiety or uncertainties.
Second, asking the commitment question demonstrates that you care about your patients' opinions and preferences, which shows your dedication to patient support at your practice.
Implement a follow-up system that complements your case presentation
Developing a comprehensive follow-up system can ensure that no patients slip through the cracks after an initial nod for treatment. This timely communication also allows for relationship-building with those patients. By promptly following up with your patients after their appointment, you create an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to your patient experience and care. A brief call to inquire about the patient's well-being and address any questions or concerns about the treatment plan presentation can strengthen your patient-practitioner relationship.
On top of this, you can further improve your follow-up process by implementing a feedback collection system. Actively seeking patient feedback, both positive and negative, provides valuable insights into their experience. This information can be used to make necessary adjustments to enhance patient satisfaction and improve case acceptance rates over time.
Prioritize Same-Day Treatment
While this approach won't always be applicable due to scheduling difficulties, offering same-day treatment can make patients more likely to accept a proposed treatment plan. When patients visit your office, they often have limited time and may not want to make multiple visits for treatment. When the dentist presents a comprehensive treatment plan and is able to provide immediate care, patients are more likely to agree to the proposed treatment.
Moreover, by providing immediate care for dental issues on the same day they are diagnosed, you give your patients a sense of relief and satisfaction. This positive experience builds trust and loyalty, increasing the likelihood of the patient returning for future treatments and referring others to the practice.
Make "Mutual Diagnosis" a common practice
Mutual diagnosis is an approach used in dental examinations where both the dentist and the patient come together to assess and understand the patient's dental condition. It involves actively involving the patient in the diagnosis process, allowing them to visually see and acknowledge their dental issues.
One of the tools commonly used in mutual diagnosis is an intra-oral camera. This small, handheld device captures images of the patient's teeth and displays them on a computer screen. By using the intra-oral camera, dentists can show patients visual evidence of their dental conditions, such as heavily restored posterior teeth and limited tooth structure. This visual evidence helps patients develop a better understanding of their dental issues and ensures that they are actively engaged in the diagnosis process.
Importantly, the mutual diagnosis approach goes beyond just showing patients visual evidence. It also involves having the patient verbally acknowledge their own dental issues and record their observations. This step is vital as it encourages patients to take ownership of their oral health and enables them to communicate their concerns effectively. By having patients actively participate and voice their observations, dentists can gather valuable information to create a more accurate diagnosis, leading to better treatment planning and improved patient satisfaction.
Urgency is a powerful tool, but should not be abused
For dental professionals, it is crucial to effectively communicate the urgency of dental problems to patients. By explaining the risks associated with delayed treatment, you help your patients understand the importance of addressing their dental issues promptly.
One effective way to promote this urgency is to visually demonstrate the extent of the dental problem.
By showing the patient visuals (via pre-made examples or an intra-oral scope) , they can see the severity of their dental issues for themselves, making it easier for them to comprehend the urgency.
But this approach comes with its caveats, as promoting fear to accelerate treatment makes for a negative patient experience.
When discussing the treatment options, it is crucial to strike a balance between emphasizing the need for immediate action to prevent further damage and assuaging your patients fears of treatment. Though in some cases delaying will result in more complex and costly treatments in the future, situations where the immediate future consequences are less dire might call for a softer approach.
Educate on In-House Membership Plans to Offer Savings
To alleviate the financial stress of dental care (especially for patients without insurance), offering access to a dental membership plan can be a great solution. It is important to note that a dental savings plan is not an insurance product, but rather an in-house program that offers discounted rates for various dental treatments.
It's a win-win situation for your practice and your patients. With dental membership plans, patients pay a subscription fee directly to your practice. This means you get too collect a steady, recurring revenue stream. We provide an in-depth guide for setting up Membership Plans here.
On the patient side, there is access to discounted rates for dental care, which helps mitigate the financial stress often associated with dental expenses. Depending on how your plan is configured, the monthly rate can be lower than insurance premium while still providing coverage to the majority of common treatments.
By having your treatment coordinator educate your patients on Memberships, you have an opportunity to increase case acceptance by offering patients another financial solution for their treatment.
Incentives | Consider Offering Free Add-Ons
This might be a more controversial option, but we list it for practices in the position to offer it. Offering free, low-cost treatments to patients (e.g. whitening) can be a highly effective strategy for enticing them to expedite accepting more comprehensive treatments. However, it is crucial to introduce this option at the appropriate time, after addressing any pressing dental issues.
Introducing the concept of a free treatment option as a reward for completing necessary treatments also provides an incentive for patients to return to your practice. It creates a sense of value and appreciation from your patients, as they are being offered a complimentary service that enhances their smile. Treatments like whitening also work as a marketing tool for your practice, as they showcase the success of your dental treatments.
Timing is crucial in this offering. By waiting until after pressing dental issues have been resolved, your patients will feel that you prioritize their oral health. This approach can lead to a higher case acceptance rate, with patients more likely to trust your recommendations and follow through with necessary treatments.
Deliver Information According to the Patient’s Personality
To fully optimize your process for case acceptance, you'll need to leverage principles of psychology. Even with a fully dialed-in presentation, if you misinterpret the mindset and intentions of your patients, your treatment plan may fall upon deaf ears.
Knowing your patient personality types will allow you to navigate this challenge effectively. Understand that some patients are inquisitive and detail-oriented. Some patients are Type-A. Some are quiet and shy, while others are friendly and outgoing.
Matching the tone that resonates with each personality type will give your treatment coordinator an edge and will be a major factor in boosting case acceptance rate.
Some closing thoughts
Though requiring more labor and planning up front, implementing these strategies to increase case acceptance should be a high priority for your practice.
By using a multifaceted approach that encompasses effective communication, patient education, financial transparency, team collaboration, and a patient-centric mindset, you create a practice system that also optimizes your overall patient experience and treatment outcomes.
Using these strategies requires dedication, ongoing training, and a commitment to providing the highest level of patient care. But as your practice embraces these tactics, you'll gradually see results that will influence your practice success.