At Dental Hub 360, we're always saying that running a dental practice is running a business. And, just like any business owner, practice owners need to barter with customers.
However, unlike most business owners, bartering for a practice owner goes beyond generating revenue. When it comes to dental care, case acceptance is about a patient receiving life-changing treatment.
The health of our patients comes first and foremost. So, if the price of a product or service is getting in between our patients getting treatment or not, we need to make adjustments. There's only so much the right case acceptance strategies can do, though. Sometimes practice owners need to shift the focus to changing the patient's mindset instead.
So, how do we do that?
Shift YOUR Mindset
Before we dive into strategies and tactics, let’s make one thing clear: the road goes in both directions. Shifting a patient’s mindset is going to require shifting your mindset, too.
When patients refuse treatment, it's easy to point fingers either way. You could blame yourself and conclude that you're not creating value for your patient. Or you could blame the patient and say they’re being cheapskates for putting their health at stake. It’s natural to get lost in frustration, but the best of us must take a step back.
Think about what might be going on in your patients' lives. If they're not accepting treatment, maybe it's because they’re stuck between tough decisions. Paying for treatment might mean they need to scrape funds together to keep the lights on, feed their kids, or keep the car running.
Your low case acceptance ratings could have nothing to do with the communication of value. So, don’t take things personally. The last thing to do is get frustrated with your patients.
“Qualified” vs. “Unqualified” Patients
The question might be whether a patient is “Qualified” or “Unqualified” for treatment. Unfortunately, there are people who just aren’t qualified to be our patients. It’s just not worth our time and energy to educate them about the importance of accepting treatment.
For example, a person who wants the lowest price for anything may not want anything else. If someone down the street is offering a crown for $200 with a free exam, X-rays, cleaning, and whitening for life, too, you can't argue with them. It's like kicking a dead horse.
Then there are people who’ll drive luxury cars and live in high-end homes yet will never pay for good dentistry. That's a function of their values and nothing else. For those folks, it's up to you whether you want to invest the time and energy to build trusting relationships and help them see the importance of their oral health.
However, if a patient is well qualified before the “sale” comes into question, then you’re probably to blame for the price getting in the way. In that case, you’ve likely failed to establish value. But if you’re talking to literally anyone who walks in your door then it’s not a value issue—it’s a poor lead qualification issue.
Communicate Value (Not Price)
It’s cliché. But it’s also true.
Marketing is a conversation. In the field of healthcare, communicating value isn’t really what we’re worried about.
Dental “conversations” revolve around the importance of oral health and how your product or service can improve a patient's life. Sometimes it’s even a matter of life or death. The services offered by a used car salesman don’t hold nearly the same value.
When a qualified patient knows the value of receiving treatment, the price shouldn’t stave them away from accepting treatment. They ought to know that getting treatment is the smart thing to do—regardless of the cost. Whether or not they realize this isn’t your job—only communicating the value is.
The point ios, if a patient fails to accept treatment, perhaps you haven’t been able to properly collaborate with that person. You didn't provide them with a plan of action that they saw as right for them.
On that note, seeking an alternative like offering your services at lower costs is a slippery slope. If we're racing to the bottom, we're going to attract bargain hunters. You're a practitioner of a profession; you're not a used car salesperson. However, even qualified patients might have no options and need the costs lowered. In that case, finding affordable alternatives is key.
One can see the value of driving a Lamborghini. The engine purrs. You look flashy. It's fun. But if one can only afford a Kia, then a Lamborghini isn't happening. It's not worth its value. Both cars will allow them to get from Point A to B, although the ride may feel different.
The same goes for dentistry. A patient might need an implant and see the value in it. They can smile again. They can chew again. But if they can't afford a dental implant and can still chew with their molars, a dental implant isn't happening.
In that case, you can offer affordable alternatives. Those can come in the form of membership plans, insurance options, discount packages, etc. Patients will be more likely to accept treatment as they understand it’s affordable for them.
What Helps You Increase Case Acceptance?
As dental professionals, we know all about teeth. We know how to answer the questions of our patients. We have the capacity to educate our patients on how important it is to take care of their teeth.
So, if our patients don’t want to invest in their oral health, we're missing a piece of the puzzle. Something in the equation isn't adding up. These simple adjustments might be the trick.
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