Most people are never comfortable talking about their personal finances and even less so asking others to talk about theirs. Treatment Coordinators and administrators spend their days speaking with others about finances and very often they are asking people to go outside their comfort zone for fees for dentistry that the patient may or may not feel they need. Having the right person with the right tools in this position is imperative to your success with Treatment Acceptance.
The ways to make it more comfortable for your team and your patient to speak about finances are:
- Ensure that the person speaking about proposed treatment or collecting fees is comfortable talking about money. Some people just aren’t comfortable with this, and they may be better suited in another admin role in the office.
- Have your team member well trained using the same verbiage as the clinical team with the benefits of proceeding with the proposed treatment or the consequences of declining the treatment.
- Give your team member the confidence in being able to have autonomy during these discussions with patients. If they know the fees, what the available payment options are, and if necessary, any details of insurance support that may be available to the patient, then you have provided them with power to guide the patients.
- When speaking to the patient focus on their needs and their concerns during the conversation. This will help patients value the treatment that was diagnosed.
- When presenting fees for treatment always be transparent with patients. Make sure that patients know what to expect so there aren’t any unpleasant surprises.
- In our current state of inflation, we may need to be more fluid in our payment options for patients. This may mean considering three-month payment plans for patients or looking a bit more closely at their insurance for them to help them decide what will work for their household budget.
- Listen to the patients and show empathy for any financials difficulties they may tell you about. They have taken you into their confidence and be respectful for the situation they have found themselves in.
- Always, ensure that you talk about the treatment first and the financials last, patients need to know that the treatment is first and foremost on your mind, long before the financials are.
As well as helping patients with the finances of treatment it is always a good idea to keep track of the office’s treatment acceptance rate. Usually this isn’t a report that you can find in your practice software. You will want to track the major restorative treatment that has been diagnosed, the treatment that has been accepted, as well as the reasons that any treatment has been declined. Review this information at least once a month as you will want to ensure that you have 70% acceptance rate for major restorative, the first time that treatment is diagnosed. If your patients are declining treatment for financials reasons you may want to review the delivery of the information.
Treatment acceptance is not only the responsibility of the Treatment Coordinator. It is a function of the initial presentation of the treatment and education from the dentist and hygienist, and the follow up from the Treatment Coordinator. Ensure that your everyone on your team is doing their part in helping your patients get the care they need. As for the financial aspect, the comfort level about talking about finances is a necessary part of the entire chain.