Get smart with case acceptance

2016 08 26 14 20 16 123 Tighe Kevin 400

If you want to produce and collect $100,000 a month or more you need to get smart.

Kevin Tighe is a managing partner at Cambridge Dental Consultants.Kevin Tighe is a managing partner at Cambridge Dental Consultants.

How you ask? By setting your sights higher.

No matter how good you may be at presenting treatment, every dentist has a certain failure rate. In other words, just because you present a total of $100,000 in potential treatments during a month to your patients doesn't mean that's how much is going to get scheduled and done.

I mean, even Michael Jordan's shots didn't drop in 50% of the time!

I find that even my most successful clients still have a failure rate of 20%. So if they set their sights on doing $100,000 a month, my best clients still need to present, at the very least, around $120,000 in treatment.

Better than 20%

Almost all the dentists I've worked with think their case presentation failure rate is lower than the 20% I cited above. When this happens, I start pulling their charts. I'll pull about 20 charts at random, and we'll add it up. I usually find that only 60% to 70% of cases presented are actually getting scheduled.

One way you can keep track of your case presentation failure rate is to see if the patient scheduled the appointments and made the financial arrangements after you presented the treatment.

Failure to present enough treatment to meet the practice's financial goals is why some doctors are so hungry for new patients. The sole cause of a high failure rate can be summed up by an inability to get people to see the value of the dental treatment proposed.

There are ways to reduce the failure rate of treatment presentation. Most dental consultants find this can happen in two ways.

The first way is for the doctor to present treatment that is so small that anyone would accept it. It's like a quarterback with a very high completion percentage, but it's mostly composed of very short passes with no yards after the catch.

The second is when the treatment plan proposed doesn't add up to the dentist's own definition of a healthy mouth. I tell my clients to start by creating their definition of a healthy mouth. Then to compare that definition to every patient who comes in.

Let's say a patient needs three crowns. Dentists skew their failure rate by telling their patients that they need these three crowns but then say, "Well, let's just start with this one crown."

There is no production number you can place on it because every practice is different. A general dentist may just be doing crown-and-bridge work, so a typical case fee might be $2,000 per patient. Cosmetic dentists or someone who does full-mouth reconstruction may do more than that.


I recommend tracking how much is presented and how much is then scheduled immediately afterward. Your practice's financial arranger should track the patients who say they know they need to do the treatment but are having a difficult time affording it. By doing so, you'll know that you've done your job and the marketing is not going to waste.

If patients come to the financial arranger and asks if they have to do the whole treatment plan, then that is a sign that you've failed at your job of getting the patient to see the value of your dentistry. It's a waste of your marketing dollars. Your financial arranger should have a patient who is committed to the work but is trying to figure out the payment for the service. This is what you should be striving for.

Kevin Tighe is a managing partner at Cambridge Dental Consultants. He can be reached at [email protected].

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The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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