It was 3 weeks after her dental front office training session and I was back to check in with Deanna. She explained to me that while she was mastering the implementation of the other learned front office skills, she was struggling with case acceptance. She had the assistant record her case presentation earlier that morning thinking it would be helpful for our training session. First, let me say that Deanna is a brilliant, successful, motivated team member who is familiar with every area of the practice and has hopes to manage all 7 of the doctor’s offices by next year. She is also very hard on herself and expects perfection. You’re thinking that you can relate, right? Of course! If you have taken the initiative to read this article it shows that you want to grow in your career. Raise a glass and be proud!
Deanna played the recording and as I listened to it, I checked off all of the boxes. Reiterating the treatment, check. Breaking down the out of pocket costs, check. Using the phrase “we estimate this is what your insurance will pay”, check. You get the point. All of the tangible steps were taken. So, what was missing? Why weren’t patients saying “YES”?
Case acceptance is all about trust. Patients have to trust the office team and Doctor before they will say YES to their dental treatment.
When does this trust begin? It begins with the very first connection with the patient. Usually the first connection is the postcard they receive, the referral from their friend, the online presence, etc. These things set the tone for the office. If there are pictures of the team, welcoming language, a feeling of comfort, and a reason to call… you have trust. Next is the phone call to the office. If the front desk person is helpful and appreciates that the patient decided to call their office, that’s trust. If the paperwork was sent ahead of time, insurance was verified, and the check-in process is smooth…. All builds trust. If the patient is called to the back on time, the assistant/hygienist builds a relationship with the patient, and the initial clinical exam goes well…. trust, trust, trust. Do you see how many areas of contact the patient has to build trust before ever meeting the doctor?
The most common statement I hear in regards to case acceptance is, “If the doctor educates the patient about the need for treatment, I can sell it.” This is NOT true! As proven above, there are so many touch points to build trust that most patients decide if they will have treatment done at your office before ever meeting the doctor. Yes, the doctor must explain the dental treatment but that is not the make it or break it point. Second… NEVER sell dentistry. If you are trying to “sell” treatment, the patient will feel it and leave without a second appointment.
If you want to increase case acceptance, make sure the above points of trust are met. Now, let’s talk about the actual case presentation. Remember Deanna? When I listened to her recording, all the right boxes were checked. I asked her if I could observe her during the next case presentation. About that time, the assistant messaged her that room 2 was ready for it. As Deanna walked into the room, I stood right outside the doorway. That is when it hit me…. While Deanna was definitely a rock star at saying all the right things with her words, she wasn’t hitting the mark on the emotional ques. Later that afternoon, I scheduled a follow up session with Deanna to do some more dental front office training.
Deanna and I worked on several key factors to improve patient case acceptance. After implementing what she learned (remember she’s a total rock star), Deanna saw her case acceptance rise from 67% to 92% and it continues to rise.
If you want to increase case acceptance, you have to get the patient in the emotional state of saying “YES”. Naturally Deanna asked how to do this and we proceeded to role play the scenario. Here are a few of the tips I shared with her to get the patient to say “YES” to their dental treatment:
As soon as you walk in the room, smile and say “I’m going to sit you up for a moment, is that okay?” The patient will say “YES”.
Sit down when talking about the treatment so you are eye level with the patient. Don’t ever stand over them. Sit, introduce yourself, and then say… “I came in here to talk about the financial side of your dental treatment, is that okay?” The patient will say “YES”.
Don’t ever jump right in to money. Build a bit of trust first. Ask “I see you have Cigna insurance, is that correct?” The patient will say “YES” “And I see here that you still have $1300 in benefits for this year, is that correct?” The patient will say “YES”. (You know it is correct because you just verified it yesterday but you want to ensure to the patient that you know what you’re doing when it comes to the money aspect.)
Don’t ever talk about the clinical details of the treatment plan other than to ask, “I see here doctor says you need a crown in the back right of your mouth and a filling on the top left. Is that correct?” If the clinical team has done their part, the patient will say “YES”.
At this point you can proceed to explain the total cost and what you estimate insurance will pay. (NEVER guarantee what insurance will pay) Afterward, you ask… “Did I answer all of your questions, Mr. Patient?” And the patient will say “YES”
Now that you have the patient in the emotional state of saying “YES”, it’s time to ask the big question. In a calming voice ask, “Would you like to take care of that treatment today or schedule in the next week or so?” The patient will respond with a “YES” by either doing same day treatment or allowing you to schedule the appointment right there in the room.
These tips will take a bit of practice but with a little time you can definitely master the skills to increase case acceptance. Cheers to increasing your success and as always, please reach out to me if I can help with your dental front office training needs!
To read more about dental front office training, visit my previous article: #1 Way to Ensure Success as a Dental Office Manager
About the Author…
Tracy Civick is a nationally recognized speaker, coach, and author who focuses on motivating dental front office teams to grow practice revenue and get a better handle on the daily dental practice front office tasks. Her memberships include The Academy of Dental Management Consultants and AADOM, Academy of Dental Office Managers.