We have all read the headlines and have heard the predictions that we are entering or are already in an economic slump or recession. How can we ensure that patients continue accepting Major Restorative Treatment during a slump or recession? We have all seen what has happened with the cost of goods right now, especially the cost of food. It is making many dentists wonder if patients will be willing to spend their dwindling, disposable household income on dental procedures.
Even if you feel that you have a fail-safe system Treatment Coordination and Follow Up Program in your office, I suggest you review your own checklist or go through the checklist I am providing today to ensure that you have every base covered:
- Ensure that chart auditing is happening for every patient who is seen in the office so that all team members are aware of any incomplete treatment plans, watches or observes that have been entered into your software. Have a productive huddle every day to share this and other important information with the entire team.
- Have in place a formal protocol around Dr. Prompting during recall exams. Your patients will be more compliant with treatment if they hear about the outstanding treatment from the hygienist, the dentist and then hear about it again during the hand off to the admin team. Ensure that the communication is consistent through the office so that the patient doesn’t receive any mixed messages.
- Have someone in the office responsible for Treatment Coordination. This will be the person who will do any treatment follow up that isn’t booked at the patient dismissal. Have protocols in place for follow up with the patient, ensuring that your office does what it says it will, in the predetermined time period.
- After a patient is dismissed from the office with a major treatment diagnosis, whether they book treatment or not, ensure that they receive a professional looking email with a copy of their estimate, a description of their financial responsibilities and perhaps even a video of the dentist describing the treatment. You can make a series of videos for each type of major treatment to be an addition to patient communication.
- You will likely want to provide financial options that you previously haven’t considered as patients will find their household budget more strained. This may include monthly payments up to six months of commitment or looking at options for third party financing. Be wary of offering discounts to patients, these discounts add up and will affect the bottom line in your practice.
- Your software is only as good as the information you provide it with. Ensure that all treatment is getting planned, all planned treatment is then given a pended appointment, or an appointment contact and the outstanding treatment can be found in an overall outstanding treatment list.
- Continue to have accountability when measuring the treatment acceptance in your office. Industry norm for acceptance, the first-time treatment is diagnosed is 80%, don’t go by your gut feeling on this measurement, your software doesn’t measure this either. Develop a method of tracking diagnosed treatment and accepted treatment.
- The entire office is responsible for keeping the dental chairs booked, it isn’t just the administrators, it’s the dentist’s diagnosing treatment, it’s the hygienist’s educating patients and it’s the assistants answering patient questions in a thoughtful manner.
No one knows what the next while will bring, there is no magic button you will be able to press to increase or maintain your treatment acceptance, you will need to ensure that all support for your system is firing full blast. If you would like some ideas on how to improve your systems call a dental coach to ensure you are ready for anything that gets thrown at you.