When it comes to work and challenges, I love to have an advantage going in. If you could add a black and white strategy that never fails and is completely fool-proof, you have a can’t lose protocol. No grey here, just a straight up common sense case acceptance strategy that works every time and gets the consumer acceptance nod for excellence.
The biggest mistake I see in case acceptance and financial arrangements occurs in the last two minutes that the patient is in your office. You have done everything perfect up to this point. Then, as you finish explaining what that patient needs, you turn to your computer to print out a “super bill” that outlines all of the treatment, and the cost of each, with a total at the bottom right corner of the page you blow it. We as humans are taught to take that paper and look at the top line, slide all the way across the page to the right hand side, and then slide all the way down to the bottom of the page where we find a huge sum of money for a lot of treatment we don’t really understand or want. This innocuous step will spell failure with almost every patient. It creates the dreaded “they vote with their feet” symptom of a donor practice. If you keep seeing the back of people’s heads, you are doing something wrong.
So what’s missing, and what is the simple change that each of us needs to make tomorrow morning to double our case acceptance? It all boils down to listening to the patient. Whether it is an assistant with an emergency patient or a hygienist with a new or recall patient that needs treatment, we need to find out what the patient wants, what their dental IQ is, and what their budget will allow. It boils down to finding out what the patient wants and telling them what they need. The trick here is to only do the financial arrangement for the work they “want” to do first. Patients will always say yes and pay for anything they want. If you can create something that looks good, feels good, and lasts a long time without hurting them or keeping them waiting while fitting it into their budget, then they will always say yes. Try to get them to go for the whole enchilada and you are doomed to have a case acceptance rate below 60%.
Here is what we do every day to get a 90%+ case acceptance. After listening to the patient and finding out what they want, we are very careful and intentional to verify what that is and begin our financial arrangements with: “It sounds like you want to ________________________ (you repeat exactly what they said they wanted to do) and wait on the ________________________________ (the other treatment they need for a later date). Is that correct?" For the first time they have a doctor that actually listened to them and followed through by offering to actually do what they are most concerned about.
The final step is the simplest but the most important.
Never use your computer to create a detailed print out of all their needed treatment. Instead, we use a pre-printed financial arrangement sheet that details our financial policies on one side and summarizes the cost for their next appointment for the treatment they actually want to do. The extent of what the patient receives is a verbal recitation of the treatment they wanted along with a summary of what they wanted to start with on our financial sheet. Example: “It sounds like you want to do the lower crown on the bottom right along with the two fillings just in front of that tooth.” She then turns over the financial treatment sheet and just fills in the blanks, and says: “The cost for your crown and fillings will be $XXX.XX,” and writes that down as a lump sum. “Your insurance will cover approximately $XX.XX, and writes that down and subtracts it from the total. Leaving your portion at $XX.XX. How would you like to take care of that?”
Super simple, always consistent and it always works to get your patients to show up for their treatment, pay for it, and refer everyone they know. This is how you Summit.
Mike Abernathy, DDS is founder of Summit Practice Solutions. You can reach him at 972- 523- 4660 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.