How patients decide to accept, delay or decline care

April 15, 2016
CareCredit
CareCredit

It seems almost every day patients leave the practice to “think about” needed dentistry. Patients’ Path to Dental Care Purchases study surveyed patients who had made, or were planning to make, a dental care purchase that required an out-of-pocket investment. The study findings can provide insight into patients’ decision-making process and how dental teams can help patients accept needed dentistry without delay.

Sandra is glad she has dental insurance, but knows that it’s a bit limited. So, she often puts her kid’s oral health needs before her own. And, although she agreed she needed the dentistry the doctor was recommending, she left the practice without committing to care because she knew she had her sister’s wedding, the kids’ birthdays and, hopefully, a small vacation coming up in the next two months.

And whether or not she has all of these considerations, according to Patients’ Path to Dental Care Purchases Study, Sandra’s decision-making path may take an average of 70 days. During this time, she will seek information and solutions to answer two questions:

Should I get the care?

Can I get the care?

It seems almost every day patients leave the practice to “think about” needed dentistry. Patients’ Path to Dental Care Purchases study surveyed patients who had made, or were planning to make, a dental care purchase that required an out-of-pocket investment. The study findings can provide insight into patients’ decision-making process and how dental teams can help patients accept needed dentistry without delay.

Related reading: Health care financing options can help patients navigate unplanned dental expenses

Cost remains a barrier to care

Not surprisingly, the study found cost of care was a key consideration during the decision-making process, with more patients researching cost and finances than treatment. This means that during the critical financial conversation, patients often are seeking a financing solution. Proactively offering a variety of payment options, including a financing solution, before patients feel they “have” to ask may help patients see how care fits into their budget and lifestyle. In fact, the study found that 52 percent of patients were not aware financing was available for their dental needs, yet 47 percent of patients said they would consider financing through a healthcare credit card like CareCredit if it enabled them to receive care immediately.

It’s easy to let patients know about CareCredit. Trisha L., an OM from Bluffton, South Carolina, has several ways to let patients know financing is available. “We want to give patients a heads-up before they even come in. We explain the different financing options we have with CareCredit on the phone. And it’s on our financial policy and patient registration form. On the form, we ask all our patients their preferred method of payment before the appointment. If they circle CareCredit, we can be proactive and prepared to present their financing plan options and estimated monthly payments during the treatment plan discussion.”  

Office Manager Joanna M. from Austin, Texas has found patients are often reluctant to discuss their cost concerns. “Some patients are afraid to tell you money is an issue for them and just mentioning CareCredit can be the difference between them scheduling the treatment or not.”        

 

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Patients are interested in CareCredit for all types of treatment

Patients’ financial situations can change. And when insurance doesn’t cover the entire cost of care, being able to use special financing to pay for dentistry can be an attractive option. The study found that interest in financing increased with the cost of care:  32 percent of respondents indicated that they were likely or extremely likely to apply for/use CareCredit for dental fees of only $200, increasing to 49 percent for fees of $1,000. And, among the respondents of the study who had previously used CareCredit, 29 percent indicated they would have gone to another provider if CareCredit had not been available and 39 percent would have chosen not to have the dentistry done.

Related reading: CareCredit celebrates major milestone: 100,000 dental practices and counting

CareCredit cardholder Dolly S. from Southbury, Connecticut agrees. “Using CareCredit was a great option that allowed me to treat a minor dental situation instead of waiting until it became an urgent situation.”  Erika S. heard about CareCredit from her dentist and having financing available made a huge difference to her. “I had known for over 10 years that my teeth were in very bad shape. I knew going in it was going to be very expensive and even with pretty good dental coverage, I was still going to have to foot much of the bill. I also knew if I did not get it done all at once I probably would never finish the work needed. I found a great dentist and his office told me about CareCredit. I applied, was approved very quickly and was in the dentist’s chair by the end of the week. I couldn’t have done it without CareCredit’s help.”

In general, patients want to do what’s right for their oral health. You can help them by providing the information and solutions they need to make a confident, informed decision help them get the care they need without delay. For more findings and insights, request your free copy of the complete Patients’ Decision Path to Purchase Dental Care Study by calling CareCredit at 800-859-9975, option 1, then 6.

 

Path to Purchase research dental industry conducted for Synchrony Financial by Rothstein Tauber Inc., September 2014.