(Note: we have much more extensive training for team members involved in case presentations and financial arrangements on our online training platform, DDS Success. I highly suggest signing up now at www.ddssuccess.com and training your whole team on many of the MGE systems from the comfort of your own office!)
How you handle a couple of simple points when discussing treatment (and financial arrangements) with patients can have a dramatic impact on your overall treatment acceptance percentage. Now, if you’ve been reading our articles, or watching our YouTube channel, you’ve heard Dr. Winteregg or Dr. Pasco on more than one occasion bring up that when discussing treatment the doctor has to tell a patient how much it’s going to cost. Yes, the doctor should discuss cost and fees!
Personally, as a dental patient, I can tell you that if my dentist wasn’t able to tell me how much my treatment plan was going to cost, I would find that a little bit odd. After all, they’re the owner of the practice!
Now we move to the financial discussion. Assuming you’ve covered cost and turned your patient over to your Treatment Coordinator/Financial Secretary (or in some cases Office Manager), let’s have a look at a few points surrounding the financial discussion.
(Related: 4 Profitability Killers in a Dental Practice)
Don’t make it a spectacle:
This goes without saying in many cases, but the treatment discussion should happen in a private area – not at the front desk. It’s not a spectator sport. In some cases (especially if a patient has financial issues they are embarrassed about) you don’t want this aired in public! You’ll find that having this conversation in private will make people more forthcoming about what’s going on. As well as make them comfortable asking questions they might not have asked out front.
Make them participate in the Financial Discussion:
And here’s where I see a lot of mistakes: instead of having the patient participate in HOW to sort out the financial arrangement, the Treatment Coordinator instead begins providing numerous financial “solutions,” right off the bat. For example, Care Credit, LendingClub, or some other financial plan. Whatever different options the office has, they automatically start giving those to the patient. And don’t get me wrong – I’m all for these – that’s not the point. The problem is: we’re not asking the patient to participate in figuring out HOW to pay!
Instead, try asking a patient, “How would you like to take care of the treatment?” or “How would you like to pay for this?” or “How would you normally pay for something like this?”
Find out from the patient what their solution is
You know they’re already thinking about it and looking at the different options they could have because they’ve already spoken with the doctor about the treatment and they already know how much it’s going to cost. So, it’s likely that they’ve already started working out solutions in their mind. Go ahead and ask them what those would be! Get them to take responsibility for their treatment plan. After all, it is their health and they’re the ones that need to get it taken care of.
They might tell you they could put some down on a credit card now. Or they could pay for half, or they might just ask you, “Well, I’m not really sure how I can pay for it. What options does the office have?” Now, this is when you can talk to the patient about Care Credit or LendingClub or paying half now, or whatever other options your practice may have. But, you now have the patient participating in how they could take care of the finances for their treatment plan.
(Related: What Should a Treatment Coordinator Do?)
This also gives you a “plan B” if they’re not approved for patient financing
If you made the mistake of bringing up financing immediately as the first solution, then it can be disheartening for the patient if they don’t get approved. They will then be far less receptive to working out another solution.
However, if you have them participate as above, there’s a good chance they’ve already mentioned that they could possibly put it on a credit card, pay half up front, etc. So, you already have a backup plan in place. Now you can just move ahead with that plan.
Doing it this way, you’ve worked out with the patient how they can take responsibility for their treatment; you get them paid up and scheduled on for the service that they need.
I hope this tip helps! And as always, feel free to contact us for a free consultation at (800) 640-1140.