- Janice Janssen, RDH, CFE
4 Steps to Higher Acceptance Rates
Updated: Nov 1, 2021
I recently spoke at the Dental Con conference in St. George, UT and one of the main topics of discussion was getting patients to accept the treatment that has been diagnosed. Many times, the patient is apprehensive about scheduling their treatment before they leave the office. This causes a lot of discord in the office because now you are trying to track people down to get them scheduled.
First, I would like to say that you should not take this personally. We live in a world where information is being fed to us constantly, and unfortunately, we do not know what to believe any more. There is so much information that all contradicts itself that it leaves people feeling confused. Your patients are feeling this as well. You must be their ultimate source of knowledge when it comes to their oral health. This means gaining their trust, first and foremost, and then educating them about what is happening in their mouth, what needs to happen to fix it, and what could happen if they don’t treat the problem.
Second, DON’T LET THEM LEAVE without an appointment. It is okay for someone to say they are going to think about the treatment provided to them, but my advice is to get them scheduled if at all possible. Once you let a patient walk out the door without an appointment it is going to be 10x harder to get them on the phone and get that treatment scheduled. If the patient is unsure about what they want to do, recommend scheduling the appointment 2-3 weeks out. This will give them time to determine how they can proceed with the treatment. If they decided they can’t do it then there is always time to make that scheduling change. Let your patients know that it is good to schedule those appointments when they are in the office and a little ahead of time so they can get the date and time that works best for them. It is like nails on the chalkboard when I hear team members tell patients to just call them to get the treatment scheduled. Unless they are in pain, they are probably not going to call you and then you are going to have to track them down.
The last thing I would like to mention is having an organized and easy to understand treatment plan for the patient to take home with them. So often we see treatment plans with a bunch of scribble on them or ones that have so much information the patient doesn’t even know what they are looking at by the time they get it home. Most practice management software will allow you to customize what you include on the treatment plan. The cleaner the printout the better. If I come into your office for treatment and do not have insurance, then take that part off of my treatment plan. Let’s not clutter them up with unnecessary items. We want our patients to take that home and be able to read it again and understand exactly what they need to have done as well as how much it is going to cost them.
If you see a patient is fearful, take the time to educate them about their treatment and what it will entail.
If the concern is time, see what you can do to get as much done in an appointment as possible so that they do not have to come back on numerous occasions. This is one of my drawbacks right now because I travel so much. That being said, if you can get my treatment done in one or two appointments, I would be happier. If it is going to take 5-6 appointments at some point you may lose me, and I won’t get the treatment completed.
If money is the deciding factor, the admin team will need to work with the patient to determine what options would work best for them. It could be prepaying for treatment, credit card, Care Credit or whatever options you have in your financial policy. Take the time to explain all of these options to your patients to remove that barrier.
Getting your patients to schedule their treatment before they leave your office must be a number one priority. Otherwise you will be spinning your wheels trying to get them back in the office to get that treatment completed.