There is always a lot more unconverted treatment plans in your practice than there is treatment that gets accepted and completed. There is the obvious: patients that had exams, diagnosed, presented to, and do not move forward. Then there are others you might not immediately think about… the patients that never make it to their first appointment, one-and-done hygiene, or even “accepted” treatment that’s never scheduled.
Nearly every practice in dentistry has these issues to varying degrees and most of them will blame all of the wrong reasons. I hear quite frequently that “Our patients don’t have any money,” or “No one wants to do any dentistry” or “We have a high no-show rate” or dozens of other excuses. It is easy to frame it as the patient’s fault – after all, it is the only possibility that doesn’t implicate your practice.
But is that helpful? Is it even true? No, and you wouldn’t want it to be true. Your success with patients is and always be dependent on you – not your patients.
In order take control, you have to take responsibility of the outcomes. That happens when you help your patients realize they do in fact deserve the results your life-changing treatment can provide.
The fact is you likely invest the least amount of time (if any at all) with patients in helping them feel worthy of health improvements and establishing the long-term value of what those mean for their lives.
It is vital to remember that patients are living with their current state of health every single day. In the minds of a significant percentage of those patients, they are just fine with it whether physically, mentally, emotionally, or some of combination thereof.
Just trying to prove to them based on clinical diagnosis or even treatment possibilities isn’t going to push them over the edge – if they don’t feel worthy of spending the money on themselves or value the impact it can have on their lives.
Think back to a recent patient that declined treatment. What was his or her reason? Now re-examine that reason with the lens of deserve and value. “I can’t afford it” actually can mean “I would feel bad about spending money on myself.” “I don’t think so right now” is code for “I don’t know how I’ll feel about myself if I have a nice smile” or “What will my co-workers think of me if I had work done” or even “I’m probably fine just using the right-side of my mouth.”
None of those are a rejection of treatment and none of those are valid reasons why someone wouldn’t ultimately want to make dramatic improvements to the quality of their life.
The solution to this challenge is twofold and, done properly, it happens simultaneously; though I have used the three stages of progression from need, to want, to deserve to make it easier to follow and more formulaically.
Those two things are: value and deserve. The goal is for every patient who says yes to believe in both.
When you achieve this, patients will work with you not against you, move forward willingly instead of resist or delay, and they will see you as helping them instead of selling them.
Any time you have true pushback from patients it comes from lack one of three places…
1. Lack of clarity of what it is or why, confusion on the exact treatment, doesn’t feel relevant to them, or not time sensitive to make a decision today.
2. The value of the outcome and results isn’t worth the investment or the result is not important enough for them and their future
3. They don’t feel that they personally are worth the money or worthy of the benefits they will receive.
Each of these three outcomes are a failure of the patient communication and education – which won’t happen by themselves. They require an interactive experience with you and your team designed to create an authentic patient relationship in order to establish trust and engagement.
We are going to have a very candid conversation about this very thing next week. I’d like for you to use this Monday Morning Huddle to take a real serious look and assessment over if you are just telling patients or if you are actually engaging patients in the process.
By the time you are hearing the pushback or lack of acceptance from patients, it’s too late. Talk with your team about your approach to building both value and deserve with your patients.
We’ll dive into specific strategies next week that will make the difference for your patients’ health and your practice success.