Dental case acceptance: 5 steps to increase treatment acceptance

I haven’t met a dentist who doesn’t want to improve their case acceptance rate. To help out, I want to share All-Star’s “5 R’s of Case Acceptance.” This system will help keep you focused on the patient while maintaining healthy profits for your dental practice.

1. Build rapport

Alex Nottingham.Alex Nottingham.

People confuse being friendly with a patient as having a rapport. While being friendly is important, generally, your patients have no intention of becoming your friend. Indeed, your overall goal should be to build a relationship built on trust.

That is the foundation of a great relationship and leads to greater case acceptance rates. But because of the nature of the relationship, it takes extra effort to nurture. You need to be interested in your patients, and it means really listening to what they are saying.

2. Review findings and avoid jargon

When you walk your patient through your findings and recommendations for treatment, you must do it the right way. Dentists often use jargon when walking patients through their findings and recommendations to try to make the patient feel like the doctor knows what they are doing.

However, dental jargon impacts a patient’s understanding of their situation and can negatively impact case acceptance. In talking to your patients, be succinct and compassionate.

Ensure that the patient is following along with what you are telling them by pausing occasionally and asking simply, “Does this make sense?” This check-in goes a long way to ensuring that your patient is on the same page and that they feel involved in the process.

3. Review fees

Fees are often the biggest hurdle for dental treatment acceptance, as most people really don’t enjoy talking about money. But a patient’s discomfort with reviewing fees can often be an issue with the presentation.

Failing to be open and honest, such as minimizing the severity of the patient’s issues while reviewing fees, can lead to differing expectations. If a patient is told they have a “small cavity,” but they get a big bill, their expectation is misaligned, and they will push back.

Be honest and transparent while reviewing cases. Also, gently “testing the waters” from the start of the appointment can help you understand the patient’s financial expectations. This method can help you prepare for presenting the financial aspects of treatment and can minimize the chances that the patient is surprised by the scope of treatment and its cost.

4. Respond to objections

When patients object to a treatment plan or fees, dentists often agree or argue. Both are bad choices.

Dentists may agree because they can be uncomfortable addressing patient objections. Arguments may occur when dentists and patients have different expectations on the treatment and its cost.

The next time a patient objects to the proposed treatment or the fees, pause and acknowledge the patient’s objections. Engage in a conversation about their concern and help your patient improve their understanding. This collaborative approach allows you to find a solution that makes everyone happy.

5. Receive payment

You can’t do business without appropriate compensation, but without the right approach, collecting fees can be awkward. Give your patient a choice on how to pay the bill.

Ask them how they typically pay for dental treatment, and try to accommodate their preferred method. This approach can diminish their objections about payment and stay focused on treatment.

Alex Nottingham is the CEO and founder of All-Star Dental Academy. Among his works, he has authored a book titled Dental Practice Excellence: 3 Steps to an All-Star Practice and leads an online training event.

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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