Sales: 800-861-5098

Practice Builder: How to Increase Dental Treatment Acceptance and Close Patient Communication Gaps

By Planet DDS
July 26, 2021

We think you’ll agree – if your patient fully grasped their oral health condition and why dental treatment is being recommended they would say “yes” on the spot! The gap between understanding and agreement is key to increasing treatment (case) acceptance.

Without sounding simplistic it’s really a communication issue.

  • What’s communicated
  • How it’s communicated

Selling or compelling?

Before you fall down the rabbit-hole of communication techniques, know this: manipulation has no place in a chair side or consult room conversation around treatment.

Sure, words like “close-the-deal” might enter your mind. But what you’re after isn’t a “sell.” It’s more about finding the right physical or emotional trigger to compel the patient to prioritize their dental health by following through on treatment. Make sure everyone in your dental practice understands this distinction.

Now that we’ve cleared the air on that let’s focus on the more strategic aspects of case presentation that leads to a higher percentage of acceptance.

How’s your acceptance rate?

Case or treatment acceptance is an essential metric to track in dentistry. There are factors that leave clues about the patients who say “yes,” why they agreed and scheduled treatment, and why they delayed, postponed, or said “no” to scheduling.

The Levin Group’s Annual Practice Survey as reported by Dental Economics indicates the following:

”…the common target for case acceptance rates within the industry is 90% while actual data proves that the reality lies between 25-50%.” [1]

The space between the target (90%) and reality for most practices (including group dental practices and DSOs) is a major growth opportunity.

How to close the gap between case presentation and treatment acceptance

Remember, communication is the common thread here. And at a more micro level it’s realizing that the tipping point is conversational skill.

With that in mind, let’s explore how to move from presentation to acceptance.

Understand “preconditioning” and how it works to your advantage (or disadvantage)

Much changes for current patients from appointment to appointment. And for new patients seeing you for the first time, there are a variety of preconceptions they bring to the “chair.”

According to Dental Products Report, preconditioning covers a range of patient interactions.

“Proper preconditioning by the staff – before you even meet the patient – can lead to more case acceptance. This will greatly shorten your consultation time and help you build a trusting relationship with your patient because they’ll already know that you are the best.” [2]

Specific areas impacted by preconditioning include:

  • New patient referrals
  • Marketing and impression strategies using ads, your website, staff phone skills, etc.
  • Reception area environment and amenities
  • Front-office patient scheduling and health history discussion
  • Clinical team rapport – including hygienists, dental assistants, and you (dentist) [3]

Assess each of these areas in your practice, group, or DSO. Make improvements to assure that patient preconditioning leads to productive results.

Clarify treatment using benefits (not features)

The whole feature-benefit discussion applies across the board. It’s easy to focus on the technology, supplies, expertise, etc.

But the most compelling factor is the benefits the patient will receive from agreeing to and following through on treatment.

A treatment explanation/presentation can often descend into dental-speak. That’s when you overwhelm the patient with technical details and/or tout your latest, greatest technology – to the exclusion of why all that matters to them.

Focus on benefit statements.

  • “The pain you’ve been feeling will be eliminated…”
  • “You’ll experience more comfort when chewing…”
  • “Your confidence to smile will increase…”

Attach a benefit to the treatment outcomes. This helps eliminate the barriers to acceptance.

Simplify their path to acceptance

Once you’ve presented their treatment plan and provided a thorough explanation (including treatment benefits) ask them about their preferred availability. Give them some scheduling latitude while encouraging them about the urgency of completing their treatment.

And about financial options…

A common barrier to case/treatment acceptance is how they will pay for it. As you’re aware, clarity about insurance coverage, out-of-pocket costs, and their preferred payment methods factor into the conversation.

  • Make sure your business team is clear on your available financial solutions.
  • Review your financial options with your patient.
  • Confirm their comfort level regarding how, when, and what they can/will pay to proceed with treatment.
  • Avoid pre-qualifying their ability to pay (or not). Allow them to select the payment solution that best fits their financial picture.

Communicate urgency without being “pushy” or “salesy”

Promote the treatment bottom-line: improved oral health. Include any systemic connections as well to help them understand the value of dental health to their overall physical health.

Procedures that carry a weightier outcome require more immediate attention. Again, your communication tone alongside your voice of authority as the dental expert should place emphasis where necessary.

Enter the conversation believing that they want to improve their health. And then proceed to eliminate any barriers one by one with the goal of achieving a “yes!”

Productive case presentations happen around efficient practice management resources

Patient-facing solutions support your treatment planning, case presentations, and case acceptance outcomes.

Consider a cloud-based solution and improve your treatment conversations.

You might find the cloud platform like Denticon to be a more seamless and low maintenance platform

  • Built-in patient-facing modules
  • Monthly subscription rate that’s predictable
  • Data hosted in the cloud that’s remotely and securely accessible
  • Savings compared with a “legacy” system can total an average of 40%

Thinking about or ready to update your dental practice management software? Contact us or request a demo of the Denticon platform before you decide!