For this week’s post, we’ve brought in several of our top consultants for a Q&A about case acceptance. And more specifically. questions we’ve received from our readers about case acceptance in the current (post COVID-19) business environment.
Ultimately, you can only perform treatment that a patient accepts. And between the lost production you have to make up from the shutdown and the new financial barriers in the wake of the pandemic, how you handle all of this right now is critical.
So, we brought our Senior Power Client Manager, Chris Menkhaus, and Power Client Managers, Mary Bergeron, Medina Begalieva, and Erica Vargas together to answer your questions about how to increase your case acceptance and productivity in the months to come.
Q: How much should I factor in the patient’s insurance coverage and financial situation when presenting a case?
Erica: This is a great question! A lot of times, people are so focused on what insurance covers or doesn’t cover, and they have a preconceived idea about what they think the patient will accept right now versus what the patient actually needs.
And, obviously, the treatment plan is the treatment plan. You’re the dentist and you have to decide what a patient needs based on your professional judgment. We focus on management – clinical is up to our clients.
And this problem – i.e. worrying about what a patient will accept, or presenting in “phases” so as to not “blow the patient away”—is not the way to go. It’s a better bet to improve your communication skills so as to feel confident about presenting everything a patient needs.
And to that end, I’ve seen many times where a client presents complete treatment to someone who they think might not go for it right now – maybe they have no insurance, financial means are not so great, etc. – and then the patient pulls out their checkbook, a credit card or fills out a finance company application. They didn’t expect this outcome – but this is one of those things where you never know until you ask. If you don’t ask – the answer is definitely “no.” And let’s be real: someone’s apparent ability to afford a treatment plan has nothing to do with whether or not they need it. The treatment plan is the treatment plan. It is what it is.
So, focus your attention on your patient and their comprehensive care. If you genuinely care about the patient and are interested in them receiving care, you’ll see a boost in case acceptance because you’re focusing your attention on what truly matters.
Mary: At the MGE Communication & Sales Seminars, Dr. Winteregg talks about how he would just present the ideal option for the patient—without any consideration for insurance coverage. He would just think if this was his mother, what would he tell her to do? And that’s exactly what he’d tell the patient before even getting into insurance or finances.
You could even say to a patient, “If you were my mom, you wouldn’t be walking out of here without ____.” If that’s what you believe—if the patient really needs it—then how would you treat your family member? We want to treat the patient that same way. The patient picks that up and can sense that you really do care about their health.
Medina: I absolutely agree with that. Caring about the patient is the most important thing because it communicates to them. Whether or not the patient has money or not is beside the point because you can always help them through that. What matters is presenting the correct treatment based on what they need and not anything else. Once a patient understands how important their treatment is to their health, that’s when they’ll purchase.
Q: What’s the most common mistake you see dentists make with treatment presentations?
Erica: I think the biggest pitfall is trying to rush through it too quickly. Oftentimes doctors don’t schedule enough time for their presentations. Instead of taking 30 minutes to make sure the patient understands their treatment, they’re trying to squeeze it into 10 minutes because their schedule is over-booked.
This is a very common reason as to why case presentations fail and why the patient doesn’t accept their treatment. So make sure you have enough time to present the treatment and if you don’t have enough time, schedule it for another day.
If you have a schedule coordinator or someone who runs the schedule for you, but it’s not as efficient as it could be, we have a whole course dedicated to scheduling on our online training platform, DDS Success. It shows you how to include enough time for thorough case presentations while staying highly productive. You can schedule a free demo of the platform here.
Q: I am often hesitant to present a large case because it’s a lot more money than the patient was prepared to spend. How can I make this discussion more comfortable?
Chris: I think one of the most important pieces of advice we could all give is don’t lose sight of why you’re doing this. Some clients are afraid they’ll come off money motivated because they’re asking the patient to pay right now. And I get that, but you’re selling dentistry – you’re getting someone healthy again. It’s not like you’re selling big screen TVs. And there’s nothing wrong with big screen TVs, but you’re selling health and longevity which I think is a whole lot more important.
And even with elective dentistry, you’re selling someone’s self-confidence. That’s a big deal! Maybe they’ll feel more comfortable in business and go for that promotion or feel excited to actually smile and show their teeth. That can feel priceless to many people. So, we can’t lose sight of why we’re doing this. Because, yes, money is involved, but you decided to be a dentist for much bigger reasons than money.
Something we really emphasize with clients is to be direct, clear, and sincere in your approach. You dedicated all this time going to school so that you could actually apply these wonderful tools to get people healthy. And if you were in the patient’s shoes and we were handling an issue that may take years off your life (there’s plenty of studies on how oral health affects systemic health you could cite), would you want the person to be direct or tell you that it’s up to you if you want to do it or not? Of course, you’d want them to be direct.
Mary: Yes, and taking the patient’s attention off of the money aspect of it helps a lot too. Because a lot of patients tend to default to “Oh, I couldn’t spend that. I don’t have that money.” And sometimes that’s true, but many times there is a solution to the finances—and they don’t want to solve it because they don’t truly understand the treatment plan. Maybe there’s something about it they didn’t get or maybe there’s something they’re not saying, like being afraid of needles or afraid of it being painful, etc. And like Medina said above, once they truly understand their treatment plan and you’ve addressed all of their concerns, they’ll accept their treatment.
Chris: And I think dentists sometimes forget how respected they are as the patient’s provider. The patient respects a direct and clear treatment but if you sound unconfident or doubtful, the patient starts to lose that respect. I always recommend the dentist present the treatment and talk about the numbers with the patient prior to passing them over to a Financial or Treatment Coordinator. And ideally, you would have that person (the Financial or Treatment Coordinator) in the room with you while presenting the treatment plan. That way the patient agrees with you and the person who’s going to be collecting money on the treatment so that it flows naturally.
Mary: Correct, and that helps eliminate a common issue of the patient saying “yes” to the doctor and then telling the person collecting the money a different answer and walking away.
We hope these tips help! If you want to take the next step and really make a HUGE difference in your case acceptance, I highly recommend attending the MGE Communication & Sales Seminars. The average attendee increases their collections by $290,000 a year—and more importantly, helps more of their patients get healthy. And now, you can attend these seminars online with our HD quality live streams. Learn more here.