4 reasons patients don’t go forward with treatment

September 2, 2015
Sally McKenzie
Sally McKenzie
Sally McKenzie

Sally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, which offers educational and management products available at www.mckenziemgmt.com. Contact Ms. McKenzie directly at (877) 777-6151 or at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.

Your case acceptance rates are abysmal, and you have no idea why. You and your team members talk with your patients about the importance of going forward with treatment, yet most never do-even when you think they’re ready to schedule.

Your case acceptance rates are abysmal, and you have no idea why. You and your team members talk with your patients about the importance of going forward with treatment, yet most never do-even when you think they’re ready to schedule.

Not only is all this rejection frustrating, it’s costing your practice. In fact, if your case acceptance rate is below the 85 percent benchmark, you’re losing thousands of dollars every year. That isn’t exactly the best way to build a successful, profitable practice.

Many practices struggle with case acceptance, but there are steps you can take to get more patients to give that all-important yes. Before you can make the necessary changes, however, you have to understand why patients aren’t going forward with treatment.

To help get you started, I put together four common reasons patients say no, and how you can change their minds, ensuring they not only get the treatment they need, but that you grow your production numbers and your bottom line.

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1. They don’t trust you. If patients don’t trust you, there’s no way they’re going to accept your treatment recommendations. That’s why it’s so important to build trust with your patients, and establish a connection.

How? Take the time to educate them. Make sure they understand why you’re  recommending treatment and the importance of maintaining their oral health. Show them educational videos and give them educational brochures. Help them understand the value of dentistry and the services you provide. Ask them about their concerns and their health goals, and answer any questions they have. Find out what motivates them, and show them you care. Bottom line, if you do your best to put them at ease, they’ll be much more likely to accept treatment.

I also suggest taking the time to get to know your patients. Ask them about their families and their jobs. Build a rapport, and not only will patients trust you with their oral health care needs, they’ll be more likely to become loyal patients who refer you to family andfriends.

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2. You don’t have a treatment coordinator. As much as you might like handling case presentations, spending five or 10 minutes talking with patients about their options just isn’t enough. They’ll know you’re in a hurry and won’t want to waste your time with what they might think are silly questions.

Consider hiring a treatment coordinator to handle case presentations for all producers in the practice. This person will take patients to a quiet, comfortable place to go over treatment details, from how long it will take to how much it will cost. This gives patients the opportunity to ask questions about treatment without feeling rushed, and to bring up any perceived barriers.

Remember most patients won’t commit to treatment right away. They’ll want to think about their options and talk it over with their family. Before patients leave, your treatment coordinator should schedule a time to follow up. If they can’t find a specific time, I recommend following up within two days so the presentation is still fresh in the patient’s mind. During this sales call, the treatment coordinator should emphasize the benefits of treatment and be prepared to address concerns brought up during the initial presentation. Taking the time to call patients to talk about treatment again will make them much more comfortable with the process, and more likely to schedule that appointment.

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3. You put too much focus on money. If your treatment coordinator starts by telling patients how much the recommended procedure will cost, that’s all patients will think about during the case presentation-especially if it’s a big number. They also might think all you care about is collecting the money, not providing them with the best care possible. That isn’t how you get patients to accept treatment. Instead of starting off with the price tag, focus on the benefits of treatment. When it’s time to talk about money, tell patients about the financing options your practice offers. The cost of treatment is often a perceived barrier, but if patients know they can make small monthly payments through a third-party financing company like CareCredit, they’ll feel much more comfortable saying yes. This is also the time to explain how ignoring the problem now could lead to more complicated, costly problems later.

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You don’t listen. Sometimes dentists and their team members get so wrapped up in presenting treatment, they forget to listen to their patients. When patients say no, don’t just leave it at that. Ask them why and take the opportunity to address their concerns and any misconceptions they might have. Tailor your patient education to answer their questions and put their minds at ease.

Case acceptance is vital to your practice’s success. Your practice will never reach true success and profitability if patients don’t move forward with treatment. Making these changes will help turn it around, but if you need more guidance, I’m happy to help. For more advice designed to help you boost your case acceptance numbers, consider taking my one-day treatment presentation training.

You don’t listen. Sometimes dentists and their team members get so wrapped up in presenting treatment, they forget to listen to their patients. When patients say no, don’t just leave it at that. Ask them why and take the opportunity to address their concerns and any misconceptions they might have. Tailor your patient education to answer their questions and put their minds at ease. Case acceptance is vital to your practice’s success. Your practice will never reach true success and profitability if patients don’t move forward with treatment. Making these changes will help turn it around, but if you need more guidance, I’m happy to help. For more advice designed to help you boost your case acceptance numbers, consider taking my one-day treatment presentation training. More from Sally McKenzie: 3 ways staff conflict is costing you patients">More from Sally McKenzie: 3 ways staff conflict is costing you patients