You may be finding that your case acceptance is high, yet your practice revenue isn’t reflecting that success. If this is the case in your practice, you will want to look at the pattern of treatment that you are diagnosing and why this may be occurring. There are a few reasons that can be looked at if this is occurring.
Many dentists are quite reactive when diagnosing treatment rather than being proactive. If the patient comes in with a broken molar the obvious answer to both patient and the dentist is that the treatment is needed to save that tooth. This leads to easy case acceptance and very often single tooth dentistry.
It would be preferable to present a different scenario to patients. A Comprehensive Oral Exam (COE) every 3 to 5 years for each adult patient. Your patients are used to seeing their family physician every year or two for an exam of wellness and a COE is the exact same wellness check for their Oral Health.
At this appointment create a long-term plan together with your patient to plant the seed of the comprehensive treatment that you think should be completed before their next COE. It doesn’t mean that the work needs to be done immediately, it means that you are letting your patients know that you are helping them to avoid any foreseeable problems in the future. Take your time to educate your patients on your findings and discuss the long-term plan for their Oral Health. Be sure to include all single tooth, comprehensive, cosmetic and implant findings. Patients don’t need to know the initial financials on your findings they just need to know that ultimately this is the treatment that they will need, this is planting the seed for your treatment plan. Present your patients with the financials for only the treatment that needs to be completed in the short term. This will stop your patients from feeling that treatment has been diagnosed from a financial standpoint only.
Sometimes common pre-judgement errors can be made when diagnosing treatment for patients and these will also cloud the treatment options that are delivered. As a Dentist it is your obligation to educate patients on all of their treatment options. You never know where a patient’s values lie in terms of their oral health and how they wish to spend their funds. The person that you sometimes least expect, will choose the ultimate option that you present.
When planting the seeds for future treatment options for patients you may want to review the payment options available in your practice as well. Ensuring that your options are patient friendly whether it be the option to have three months to pay for treatment, for ortho treatments allowing the payment time to be equal to treatment time or having patients be allowed to make prepayments for future treatment. You may also want to offer third party financial agreements.
Planning treatment to maximize patient’s insurance can very often enhance the idea of insurance dependence, although some Dentists see this as a customer service. If Dentists only delivered treatment based on insurance coverage the mouths of your patients would be in a sad state these days. Refraining from talking about insurance when diagnosing treatment will help your patients make the educated decision for their best oral health.
Planting the seeds for complex treatment plans can be very successful as it will allow you a number of opportunities to educate your patients, allow them to digest the information and then make the best decisions for care. Comprehensive treatment plans will be a key factor in your long term practice success.