Increasing case acceptanceâ€”and consequently, your bottom lineâ€”in your practice boils down to good communication.
Wouldn’t you like to increase case acceptance among your dental patients? Okay, silly question. Of course you would. Because doing so directly affects—in a positive way—your practice’s bottom line.
And doing so starts with communication.
Alan Hollander, a managing consultant with ePractice Manager, says strong communication and interpersonal skills are the keys to getting case acceptance.
“An individual who is easy to talk to, to bond with, who can show genuine interest in the patient—that’s the attitude,” Hollander says of interactions between patients and dental practice staff. “It’s a real conversation with someone you truly care about.”
Hollander says that the techniques needed to increase case acceptance can be taught as long as you have staff with the right personality. You can then begin to hone their skills through role playing and coaching.
“Unfortunately, these are things that are most overlooked in practices,” he says. “We try to get our clients to practice different things that they want to implement in the practice, and to go over them at every staff meeting.”
For example, Hollander says the most common patient impediment to moving forward with treatment is money. However, the staff member—let’s call them the treatment coordinator—needs to be able to broach this topic comfortably. They can’t be thrown off if the patient makes comments about how costly the treatment may be.
“(The treatment coordinator) is there for one purpose: to get across to the patient the value of the treatment,” Hollander says. “They shouldn’t even be thinking about the cost when they’re talking to the patient.”
That’s what needs to be practiced, Hollander explains. Roleplay exactly what might transpire in the interaction with a patient. And be prepared to guide the patient to look at various options for payment.
“If a patient’s response to a $10,000 treatment plan is, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money,’ don’t say, ‘Yeah, that is a lot of money,’” Hollander explains. “Say, ‘I understand, but let’s look at some options here. How would you normally finance a purchase of this amount?’ The way it comes across most effectively is if the treatment coordinator is focused on doing the right thing for the patient.”
Quality over quantity
Hollander believes that initial patient appointments are very important where case acceptance is concerned. But he stresses that it’s the quality of the time spent with a new patient, not necessarily how much time. For the new patient, he says, it’s all about the experience.
“Ask them questions,” Hollander recommends. “Understand their needs. That’s the most important thing in the initial contact. Really engage the individual in a conversation. That requires two-way communication, and that’s what we emphasize in training. It’s about questioning the patient, and are they communicating their concerns fully.”
It’s also important to track case acceptance numbers and share them with staff. Those numbers reflect the quality and effectiveness of the consultations. So setting up goals with mutual objectives is critical.
“It’s always interesting to me when I go into practices, or we see new practices, and there’s no goal for the month,” Hollander says. “There’s no objective, and there’s nothing that people are working towards. Goals are very important.”
Because goals, Hollander says, relate directly to a practice’s bottom line. If case acceptance numbers are higher, it means you’re capturing more individuals who are already coming to the practice. And there are no additional costs. You have the same staff doing the same thing, only perhaps being more efficient. Sure, if you sell more crowns or more implants you have the cost of doing business. But Hollander says that’s minimal in comparison to the potential revenue you can capture.
“Consider the numbers,” Hollander says. “If each case is $2,000 and you capture just one additional case per week, that’s an additional $100,000 a year in revenue with very high margins. It’s the fastest way to increase profitability.”
The best way to start improving case acceptance, Hollander recommends, is to go back over data for the last three months and establish a baseline. Look at how many consultations were done, and what were the respective treatment plans that were started?
“That’s a great metric to track because it shows the effectiveness of the consultations,” he says. “If I present to you $6,000 worth of treatments and you accept $1,000, that’s a 20 percent acceptance.”
Hollander also recommends examining which patients comply with the recommended treatments within 30 days. For those who don’t, put them on a recall program—which is also another good way of keeping patients active.