The process of getting patients into the chair to determine treatment is just the first of several obstacles healthcare providers need to overcome on the road to treatment plan acceptance. The truth is, everything you do from the first phone call to the patient stepping into the office will all be determining factors in getting patients to accept the work that has been diagnosed. This is why the first step in increasing treatment plan acceptance rates is to build a connection with your patient. A strong sense of connection and understanding, patient education along with a solid list of financing options all play vital rolls in increasing your offices treatment plan acceptance rates.
Conveying not only a sense of urgency when appropriate, but approaching treatment planning with a caring and understanding attitude is vital. If the patient feels complacency during any process of their dental visit, when presenting the patient with a treatment plan, no matter how well devised, can ultimately result in their own complacency when it comes to their dental health. If a patient is already on the fence about their visit, dictating a treatment plan can feel like a minefield to even the most experienced treatment coordinator.
After the initial meeting with the patient and treatment plan coordinator, options for financing should be laid out clearly.
Connecting with your patient creates trust and is the first step to successfully having patients accept treatment. It is impossible to determine financial background, so in your approach to treatment planning it is important to offer and explain all financing options.
In this day and age of instant gratification, many patients are all about the final number, the most asked question one is to get as a treatment plan coordinator. Bottom line, how much is this going to cost? For those patients, and those with an especially extensive treatment plan, it can be most beneficial to break down the patient’s treatment into various stages. Developing a more manageable action item list with an illustrated timeline can make any treatment plan more manageable and attainable to the patient.
Larger cases have notoriously lower acceptance rates, so breaking treatment down into stages makes the entirety of the treatment seem more manageable to the patient. Having a dialogue about the step-by-step process, including what is to be expected of the practitioner and the patient also helps patients understand the importance of each step that will further positively influence the patient.
After the initial meeting with the patient and treatment plan coordinator, options for financing should be laid out clearly. Depending on your office protocol, several of these options have proven effective.
Offering an option like Care Credit accounts for payments for around half of the larger treatment plans. Not only offering that you accept it at your office, but also offering to fill out the credit application on site is seen as convenient and helpful for the patient. It only takes moments to get approved and emphasizing interest free financing for one year is a tremendous advantage.
However, for less extensive treatment plans patients might not be so willing to sign up for another credit card. In cases like these, many offices will offer their own financing option. Collecting a smaller, more manageable amount upfront when the work is started, as long as it is clear that the remainder is to be collected by the date of the final appointment when the work is completed. This option is appealing to patients whose treatment spans over several weeks.
Offering patients the option to pay in automatic monthly interest free installments also helps with treatment plan approval. This option typically garners the highest acceptance rates.
Reiterating to your patient that your office understands everyone has financial struggles but avoiding treatment due to cost is no excuse to ignore oral health. Simply educating the patient on their dental health, tailored to what their specific needs are as well as explaining the risks that come along with refusing treatment is vital. Patient education is not only crucial to increase treatment plan acceptance rates, but is the core of what we as healthcare providers do for our patients daily.
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