An economic downturn can heavily impact the dental industry. While we have not yet entered a recession in the United States, many experts are predicting one in the next 12-18 months. In times of economic hardship, discretionary spending is usually one of the first areas to be impacted. Therefore, it is more important than ever for dental practices to have a solid plan for case acceptance. Patients are more likely to seek alternatives to dental treatment, despite the recommendation from their dentist. Dentists must put in more effort to ensure necessary treatment is accepted by their patients.
There are three key strategies that can be used to promote case acceptance: creating two treatment plans, uncovering patient objections, and utilizing practice management software. By employing these strategies, dentists can still provide high-quality care to their patients while increasing treatment acceptance rates.
One way to ensure case acceptance is by creating two treatment plans. The first plan should be labeled "recommended" and include all necessary or required dental work that should not be delayed. Be certain to outline the risks to the patient’s tooth and/or their health if this treatment is not completed in a timely manner. This type of treatment would include active infections needing endodontic therapy or extractions, carious lesions, crowns to restore form and function, and periodontal treatment.
The second plan can be presented as treatments that can be completed “later” as this treatment is not detrimental to the health of the patient or the tooth, but it is also recommended to complete as soon as possible. The type of treatment included in this treatment plan could include smaller lesions that were once “watched” in practices, sealants, occlusal guards, implant placement and restorations, bridgework, removable partial dentures, extractions, and placement of immediate dentures, etc. This provides patients with a sense of control and allows them to choose what treatments they want or can afford without feeling pressured by the dentist.
If you deem it is necessary to outline an additional treatment plan, you could certainly identify “cosmetic” procedures. These could include veneers, anterior bonding, enamelplasty, full mouth reconstruction, All on X to replace complete dentures, etc.
Another way to ensure case acceptance is by uncovering patient objections. One technique that can be used is called "Agree, Answer, and Ask." This involves agreeing with the patient's objection, answering their concerns, and then asking if they would like to proceed with treatment. All objections fall into one of three categories: time, money, or pain. An example of this would be a patient objecting to an entire treatment plan. The patient may state,
“That is a lot of expensive dentistry. I just can’t afford to do all of that.” When you use your active listening skills in the “Agree, Answer, and Ask” scenario it becomes easier to move the conversation forward. “I can understand why you think you can’t afford to do all this dentistry. We have a lot of financial options for our patients so they can break it down into a monthly payment they can fit into their budget. Would a payment arrangement make it easier for you to get the recommended treatment scheduled?” By understanding the objection, dentists can better address the patient's concerns and ultimately increase case acceptance rates.
Finally, another way to ensure case acceptance is by utilizing your practice management software. Many dentists have diagnosed hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of treatment on their active patients just within the last year. The unscheduled treatment follow up is of the least utilized systems in a practice. Identify the treatment necessary by conducting chart audits and scheduling appointments accordingly. By doing this, dental teams can proactively reach out to patients who may need or want treatment, which ultimately increases case acceptance rates.
If you can implement these highly profitable case acceptance strategies during this economic uncertainty, you are less likely to feel any sort of economic downturn which could heavily impact the dental industry. By employing these strategies, dentists can still provide high-quality care to their patients while increasing treatment acceptance rates overall.
If you’d like to learn more about case acceptance strategies and how to improve your dental practice, you can visit the UptimeHealth partner page with more information on DSO Consulting Success: Partner Page
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