Today, I’m going to give you a very special and useful secret to influencing more patients to move forward with their pathways to health (treatment plans). The patients will actually and naturally desire to do the dentistry that they deserve.
So often we present treatment as if it’s just ‘information’ not as if it’s actually something that should and must be done. This comes from most people’s fear of “selling” or seemingly like they are “selling” something to patients.
Dentistry is not about passing off information, it’s not about making treatment optional, and it’s not about just diagnosing. You don’t help anyone if you stop there.
As I tell you time and time again, you only help those patients who say “Yes!” Those patients who actually do something. Those patients whom you compel to act on the problems OR possibilities of their mouths.
In fact, way too often, we are only talking problems and not possibilities. We are only dealing with things already broken instead of preventing things from breaking.
This is one of the worst traits of most Dentists… regardless of philosophy being a fix it shop instead of a keep it from breaking shop.
Reactive versus proactive is the same as teaching your patients to wait or teaching your patients to be responsible. More on that another time.
Today, what I want you to focus on is this: tell your patients the answer to the question. Every step of the way throughout the visit, they should be reinforced (by the clinical team member, the doctor and the treatment coordinator), of the right and best solution for them.
Most of the time we wait until AFTER the diagnosis, AFTER the treatment plan, AFTER the money is being presented to then attempt to justify against a patient’s objections. Instead, you should be forward thinking by REFUSING to allow the dentistry AND THE BENEFITS to the patient to be commoditized by prices, fees and itemized treatment lists. If you wait, you will lose.
You see, either the patient has already made up their mind they want to move forward or they haven’t.
If your patients are basing their decisions entirely on the money then you have, and I promise you this, done something wrong. It really should not come down to this as a black and white, yes or no, going to do it or not based on the dollar amount. The patient should have already been brought to a level of clear and confident clinical commitment about the treatment and the outcome.
We talk about this a lot but I want to say it again. Remember, patients will either be focused on gaining a benefit or avoiding a consequence.
Avoid losing a tooth.
Gain the ability to eat a certain food again.
Avoid being embarrassed.
Gain the confidence of a beautiful smile.
Gain something else.
You must listen and present these to the patient BEFORE they object.
The secret in doing this is to preemptively talk about the treatment as if it has already happened. Positively include benefits and consequences in every part of your patient experience.
The patient has a concern and you respond with assurance it will be fine because you will be able to [insert what you can do for the patient] and then (DO NOT STOP THERE), add in the reason why that is such a great decision because [insert the benefits that will be gained and the consequences that will be avoided].
A patient is missing a tooth and you say, “This is not a problem as long as we are proactive with it, we can give you a long term permanent solution with an amazing implant that will give you back your smile and ability to eat again; plus we’ll be protecting you from future bone loss.” “It’s really the best solution for you and a very smart thing to do. Our patients just love the life changing impact of implants. I’ll be sure the doctor goes over all of the details with you once they go through your exam. It’s going to be great. I’m so happy you are here.”
This is just one example. It can be applied to anything. The point is you are reinforcing and expecting the behavior you want, the positive outcome for the patient’s ‘yes decision’ along the way, not waiting until the end.
This is very powerful and it requires practice as it must become a habit. It takes you going above and beyond by doing more than just going through the motions. Pointing and clicking photos, probing and moving on, listing off numbers of teeth, or even just scheduling an appointment on the phone in a robotic way instead of really having dialogue and engagement with the patient.
Case acceptance begins with the first point of contact. Then every single step, person, conversation, action of the experience is either moving the patients toward or away from a clear and confident clinical commitment with what is in their best interest.
Practice this with each other. Be aware and alert to this with every patient. It will be amazing to see how many more patients you influence to do something important and necessary for themselves versus treatment feeling like it’s just an option.
Next week, we’ll talk more about the real reason patients use money as their excuse for not moving forward.