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Monday, March 19, 2012

Case Acceptance is a Team "Sport" Not an Individual "Event.

Case Acceptance is a Team "Sport" Not an Individual "Event.
By: Debra Quarles
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Now is when the treatment coordinator enters the picture. First things first, I'm a fan of doctors giving round numbers and ranges only, when asked about cost. "It will be somewhere between 500.00 and a thousand dollars. The treatment coordinator will let you know the full details." Or you can just leave it all to be discussed by your financial person.

When the financial coordinator enters the room, the first question should be, "Do you have any questions regarding the treatment that Dr. has recommended?"

If so, the doctor or assistant isn't finished yet. Just like doctors. and assistants shouldn't discuss money too much, financial people shouldn't discuss treatment too much, mainly because they were probably not present for the exam. This means they may not know why a particular treatment is being recommended. For great case acceptance, the message the patient needs to hear, must be consistent.

Keep in mind, patients generally want to know the cost of the total treatment, not each individual procedure. So the dialog might go something like this: "Dr. has recommended 2 crowns, 3 fillings and a cleaning. Your total investment is 3300.00." There is no real need to tell the patient tooth numbers or areas of the mouth. Discuss the treatment recommendations by grouping and list from most expensive to least expensive. Fine clothing stores use this technique. They show you the most expensive item first and then recommend the lesser priced accessories to go with it, knowing you'll buy more items that way.

What we need to focus on is a total investment of 3300.00 and how we can help our patient proceed with treatment. If insurance is involved a simple statement letting them know "we will maximize your benefits" is enough. Now stop. If they say, "That's a lot of money." Agree. "You're right it is an investment in your health." Let the patient control the conversation and just ask questions. They ask: "Can I make payments?" We ask, "What kind of payments are you interested in?" Too many times we assume this means monthly payments, but it could just as easily be two payments, one today and the next when treatment is started. When a patient says they can only pay fifty dollars today, it doesn't mean they can't have the full balance to you by the end of the week. Don't assume, ask questions until you know exactly what the patient wants. Once the patient has told you what they want to do and when, repeat it back to them while nodding your head. "So if we could do something where you could pay 500.00 today and then make payments each month of 100.00 that would work for you? Let me get an application for our financial plan and let's see if we can get you approved."

Finally, keep in mind the "rule of four." Patients should ideally hear the recommendation four times before they leave your office. Put all of the advice together and you have the secret to improving your case acceptance and making the most of every encounter.

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This article was originally published by Tri-County Dental Society Bulletin

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