Last updated on September 28th, 2018 at 03:40 pm
When patients have treatment that is pending, be sure to present/discuss it with them every time you see them.
You may think the patient who said he or she wanted to wait or “think about it” has spent the last six months thinking about it, but let’s face it, many don’t! Many never thought about it again (unless they had a toothache) and very likely have forgotten most of the details.
Patients forget, they go home and (since it doesn’t always hurt) and their treatment plan drops to the bottom of their “to-do list.” So when you do their recall exam, make sure you have enough time to discuss their treatment (again). However, don’t walk in the room and start discussing it as if you already know what their response is going to be (in other words, another no). Have an open mind. It’s almost as if you have to forget that you’ve discussed it before, and treat like the first time you’re talking about it. Why? Well, if you start the discussion with the idea they’re already going to say no, believe it or not your attitude communicates. Be interested! Maybe they said “no” last time but who knows what they’re going to say this time!
There is something else to think with here: The odds are low that they remember much (or any) of the details of why they need the treatment you’re recommending. You on the other hand, are very familiar with what it is they need and why. You’ve probably reviewed the case again before you walked in the room. You also live and breathe dentistry. They don’t. And, if they didn’t accept it the last time you talked, they probably didn’t completely understand it!
(Related: What Should a Treatment Coordinator Do?)
So, be excited. Treat it newly. Go over it in detail, explaining everything just as you would if they’d never heard anything about it before.
Now if you really want to master the subject of case acceptance, I would recommend the MGE Communication & Sales Seminars.
Get all financing options worked out in advance of the patient applying for credit.
A few years ago credit was cheap and easy. It felt like third party financing companies approved people all day long. These days it’s a bit tougher to get financing for patients. The problem arises when they get declined, then possibly get declined a second time…and then just give up. This can be pretty demoralizing and potentially embarrassing. And, once a patient has been declined, they’ll very often lose interest in figuring out an alternate way to pay for their treatment. So if at that point you ask them for a co-signer or another way of paying, they aren’t on board anymore and just want to go home.
What would I do? Prior to trying to finance the patient, I would work out how they could pay for their treatment without turning to financing. I’d call this Plan A. In other words, a patient’s copayment is let’s say $4000. Well, start the conversation by figuring out how they would pay (i.e., a credit card, check, etc). you could ask something like “How would you normally take care of something like this?” Once you’ve worked that out, you can explain that you have financing options and see if they want to do that. They may decide to avoid financing altogether and just write you a check. Or if they do the financing and get declined you can always go back to Plan A! The idea here is you have a solution that has been worked out before a decline when a patient is in a frame of mind to actually work things out!
(Related: 4 Profitability Killers in a Dental Practice)
Now, if you have an idea the person might get declined based on the things that they’ve told you, you might ask if they have a potential cosigner prior to applying. Again, we are using our Plan A idea as above. Work out the solution before it becomes a problem. Again, the patient will be in a much more receptive frame of mind before getting declined than after. And keep in mind, ultimately our primary interest isn’t that they pay, it’s that we actually get the treatment done. Paying is nice, but that’s not what this game is all about. The game so to speak is about getting people healthy!
My point with all of this is that the more you address these possibilities in advance, the easier it will be to get the treatment paid for and done.
Pre-paying: it’s okay to tell the patient to pay for the treatment now (before it is actually performed).
At MGE, we’ve found that having patients pre-pay for treatment is beneficial for both you and the patient. I don’t want to get into a big debate here on whether or not pre-paying is best—but I can tell you it reduces cancellations and billing problems drastically and patients will get started quicker on the treatment they need.
Now, if you are trying to implement a pre-pay system for the first time, you may be wondering how you should introduce this concept to patients who are used to being billed later. The first thing to remember is that pre-paying for a service isn’t a strange idea—you do it every time you buy a cup of coffee from Starbucks or book a flight online. Patients are only used to being billed later because dentists have trained them to expect that within the industry.
It’s perfectly okay to simply tell the patient to pay now (during the treatment presentation) with total confidence, and most of the time that’ll be fine and there won’t be any issue. You may fear that you’ll come across as “pushy,” but that’s only because you think you’ll sound pushy! Patients usually just see it as what it is—a logistical thing. If the patient does ask about, you can simply tell them that you want to take care of the administrative side of things now while you can answer all of their questions and sort out the details, so when they come in to get the work done it’s just about them and their treatment.
I give one word of caution here: if a patient is going to prepay for treatment, make sure you get them in right away and started. Do not have someone prepay and then make them wait a long time to start—it’s foolish from a business perspective and honestly it’s just not very good service.
So there you have it. And again if you really want to get a handle on this subject, come to the MGE Communication & Sales Seminars or if you’d rather train yourself and your entire team online, sign up for our online training platform, DDS Success. If you have any questions, you can reach me at (800) 640-1140 or firstname.lastname@example.org.