Your first appointment with your new dental patient is going well. They seem to like your team. They’re impressed with your office. And you really seemed to hit it off when they sat in the chair.
Then, comes the moment of truth — presenting the treatment plan.
Although new patients will hope to get in and out with just a cleaning and exam, most will inevitably need more extensive treatment. Getting acceptance for a dental treatment plan you recommend can be a big obstacle, especially with a new patient who is just getting to know you.
Luckily, there are some proven ways to establish the amount of trust they’ll need to move forward with the treatment plan that you suggest.
Get the patient involved with the treatment plan
Involving patients in the diagnosis process can be a great way to build up the amount of trust they will need to move forward with a treatment plan. For the patient, seeing can lead to believing.
“It’s all about presentation and educating the patient. Use an intraoral camera and give patients a full tour of their mouth. Let them see what’s going on. You’re not trying to convince them, you’re trying to educate them,” states Laci Phillips of Practice Dynamics.
Excluding patients during the exam and diagnosis can leave them with a lot of questions and concerns. The more involved they are, the fewer obstacles you’ll have when the time comes to get them to consent to treatment.
“I think so many questions pop up when we are not staying engaged with the patient through the exam process,” agrees Geri Gottlieb, founder of GC Practice Coaching and Development. “Tell them what you’re doing and why.”
Discussing treatment cost with the patient
Of course, the presentation of treatment always leads to the topic of cost. But should the dentist discuss fees with the patient when asked, or should that be handed off to an administrative team member?
Lois Banta of Banta Consulting suggests that “doctors shouldn’t be discussing financial arrangements. Doctors should be making themselves available to practice dentistry, unless the doctor is extremely comfortable presenting the fee.”
If that information does come from the dentist, Banta feels there is a proper way to present it.
“What I do believe very strongly in is the financial discussion should never happen chairside. That is a vulnerable room, patients are in a vulnerable position and if there is no other place, then at the very least make sure the physical positioning of the patient is so they are not laid back, there’s no bib around their neck, they are seated facing the dentist or the financial coordinator,” explains Banta.
Getting acceptance of a treatment plan from a patient who will have to pay out of pocket is almost always the biggest hurdle to overcome. But just like every other part of the new dental patient experience, communication is the key.
“Fear doesn’t come from paying the money, it comes from a lack of understanding of how they will pay the money,” states Andrea Greer of On Point Dental Consulting. “Not having clear communication with the patient creates an obstacle that can be difficult to overcome.”
Presenting options can help the patient decide on an affordable solution, but Greer suggests using caution if doing so.
“Be very careful about presenting options. Options confuse people. Unless you’re able to take the time necessary to explain it to them, you need to be careful about presenting options,” says Greer.
Dental image consultant Janice Hurley also likes to soften sticker shock by keeping the focus of the financial conversation on how the treatment will help the patient. “When I’m referring to treatment and cost, I’m always talking about it in terms of benefit to the patient.”
Ultimately, the patient’s health, and not the patient’s budget, should determine the treatment that you suggest.
“Don’t assume a new patient’s financial situation. If you feel they need a crown rather than a big old filling, then that’s what you need to recommend to them,” advises Greer.
Improve the rest of the new dental patient experience
Presenting treatment plans is just one piece of the new dental patient experience. If you want to wow your new patients and keep them coming back for more, get our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Improving the New Dental Patient Experience. It’s packed with tips and tricks from some of the dental industry’s top consultants. Get your copy today!