Increase Case Acceptance with One Simple Question


Increase Case Acceptance with One Simple Question

Written By:  Tracy Civick

Prefer to watch the video?  Check it out:  Increase Case Acceptance with One Simple Question

Why is it important to learn to increase case acceptance? The more treatment your dental patients schedule, the more money the team makes and the happier the doctor feels. This sounds like a win all around, right? So, let’s learn how to make it happen.

Increasing Case Acceptance

If you work in a dental office, you know how it goes… the doctor does an exam, the clinical team charts the diagnosed treatment, and then a message is sent to the business team that “treatment is ready to be presented in consult (or Op 1, etc…)”. With so many team members discussing treatment before the money is discussed, why don’t all dental patients schedule the treatment that is sure to bring them back to oral health? The fact that, on average, only 30% of patients accept treatment is a mystery that may never be solved. However, we can increase case acceptance when we learn how to ask the right questions.

Instead of overdosing the patient with dental education, let’s try another tactic.   First, inform the patient of the diagnosed treatment.  Let the patient know why they need the treatment (decay in the upper left of your mouth).  Then, let them know why they should want the treatment (Won’t it be nice to chew food on the left without any pain).  This is usually the point in the conversation when the team member asks the patient, “Do you have any questions?”  The patient say, “No.” and then proceeds to give an excuse as to why they will call back to schedule the treatment.  Last, the patient goes on the “Unscheduled Treatment Report” and we continue to reach out in an effort to schedule.  Sound familiar?

Now, put yourself in the patient’s shoes.  You have a dental cleaning appointment and then lunch with a friend.  While the doctor performs a routine exam, she/he informs you that there is extensive decay in your mouth.  As if that isn’t worrisome enough, the treatment coordinator presents a treatment plan to you showing your estimated portion of payment to be in the ballpark of $900.  This is a lot to take in for one dental cleaning appointment.  Therefore, if given an “out”, most patients will take it and run with an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. 

As dental team members, we need to change one question that we ask patients.  Changing this one question will result in open communication, the ability to provide a safe space to address concerns, and will allow you to understand and overcome the patient’s mindset. 

Asking a patient, “Do you have any questions?”, is a closed question.  Closed questions are those that can be answered with a simple yes or no.  There isn’t much room for discussion if the answer is “No.” Closed questions allow no emotion or ownership of the conversation.  The solution is to ask an open question.  Open questions are those that are answered with complete thoughts.  Open questions require more communication and allow you to understand the patient’s mindset.  This provides the insight needed to overcome the patient’s objections and increase case acceptance in the practice. 

Case Acceptance Example Questions:

Closed Question: “Do you have any questions?”

Open Question: “What questions do you have for me?”

Closed Question: “Does that make sense?”

Open Question: “What may I clarify for you?”

Closed Question: “Do you understand?”

Open Question: “What would you like me to review?”

Asking open questions allows you patient to feel free and safe to open up.  Their answers will tell you what objections they are wrestling with in their mind and allow you to overcome so that the patient feels good about scheduling the treatment while in-office. 

Try role playing open and closed questions with your team in the next meeting or daily huddle.  Let the team know important it is to increase case acceptance for the dental practice.  Everyone is responsible for patients accepting treatment!

To learn more about training your dental team to master the art of communicating case acceptance, contact me today at or 214-755-0955.  For more information about our custom training solutions, visit

About the Author…

increase case acceptanceTracy 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.

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