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5 Do’s and Don’ts of Communicating With Patients About Unscheduled Treatment

By Planet DDS
October 27, 2020

5 Do’s and Don’ts of Communicating With Patients About Unscheduled Treatment By Dr. Greg Grillo

Our patients want to do the right thing. When we recommend a dental implant for the hole in their smile, they’re interested. But it’s not always a straight line from point A to point B.

  • They hear us talk about “treatment,” and that creates anxiety. No one really wants “treatment.”
  • They walk out the door and get a phone call about a sick kid. Their attention shifts.
  • They’re concerned about cost, and they forgot to ask. Then the holidays roll around.

Accepting the treatment we diligently recommend often involves complex consumer psychology. Some patients readily choose treatment, especially if it eliminates discomfort or infection. And if they arrive at our offices with a strong emotional commitment to a new smile, we may simply reinforce a purchase decision they’ve already made.

But the piles of treatment plans gathering dust in our patient records suggest it’s not always so simple. Patients routinely walk out the door without accepting or scheduling planned treatment. Wondering just how much unscheduled treatment lies dormant in your practice? Take a stab at this poll to see what another Legwork client discovered for his practice.

So, how do you help patients move along an action pathway to accept and schedule diagnosed treatment? Keep a few do’s and don’ts in mind, and you’ll dramatically budge the needle. If just one patient each day decides to schedule planned treatment, you’ll enjoy a win-win: more patients get the care they need to improve their lives, and you add thousands to your annual bottom line.

Five Keys to Better Treatment Acceptance

1. DO talk about “benefits” instead of “treatments.” As dentists, it’s easy for us to get hung up on treatment and procedures. But that’s the last thing patients want. No one wants implant surgery, but they want to fix their loose denture and chew steak.

DON’T sound like a scientist. Pay attention to what you’re telling patients! Take time to review your top five procedures and list the benefits of each one. For example, instead of saying “tooth extraction,” discuss removing infection and taking the stress off the immune system.

2. DO generate a clear plan with estimated appointments, costs, insurance benefits, and payment options. Use your software to print or email a copy immediately for review by patients and their families.

DON’T assume patients remember what you said. Patients rarely use dental terminology, and they don’t know how insurance works. When our teams discuss co-pays and core build-ups in the same sentence, 95% of patients won’t remember what that means.

3. DO help stir memories. In 1971, the average consumer encountered 560 marketing messages each day. In 1997, that number had increased to 3000. Today? Americans are exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day. Although healthcare is different, it’s still a buying decision. Patients need to hear from us, especially when they’re choosing elective procedures.

DON’T think patients remember they need treatment. Patients have more on their minds than ever, and dental treatment may get pushed to the backburner. Once they step out of your office, a thousand other priorities and distractions compete for their attention.

4. DO address cost concerns with patients, and use techniques to bolster value. Buying decisions that involve the expenditure levels typical in dentistry may require several steps. Along the way, offers from other offices can entice patients if they do not hear from you. Communications that remind our patients of payment options, confidence, and health benefits incrementally build value over price.

DON’T assume your patient is committed to you. Of course, you have hundreds of dedicated patients who love your office. But patients with a short history or with high price-sensitivity may be quick to respond to other options.

5. DO keep communicating about recommended treatment. A classic cable TV marketing philosophy called the Rule of 7’s suggests that consumers need a minimum of seven exposures to a product or service to make a buying decision. Today, it may be even more. Find ways to keep individualized treatment needs in front of patients.

DON’T rely on one exposure. This suggestion encompasses the whole list. But in a busy practice, it’s easy to recommend treatment and make assumptions about our patients’ memories. Studies suggest we only remember 25% of what we hear. So patients move on and need a nudge.

DON’T Struggle. DO Prosper.

The DO’s and DON’Ts of treatment acceptance present a juggling act for our busy practices. But moving just 10% of unscheduled treatment into the operatory can result in huge profits, fewer emergencies, and more testimonials.

Legwork Treatment Opportunities opens the door to significant opportunities for most dental practices. Building on vital consumer psychology principles, this platform uses integrated features to identify unscheduled treatment and encourage the decision-making process.

Your team can identify patients with treatment plans entered in your Practice Management Software and follow-up with automated workflows designed by Legwork’s talented copywriters. Tracking, scheduling, and nurturing occur on a single platform that brings more patients back for the care they deserve.

What’s in your charts? Turn it into practice revenue and better customer service today!