Patients need patience for case acceptance

Dec. 16, 2010
Vicki L. Garza, RDA, ITC, tells her dental assistant colleagues, "We become better implant coordinators when we constantly reevaluate our approach to presenting and scheduling treatment."

By Vicki L. Garza, RDA, ITC

Case acceptance, case acceptance, case acceptance! We attend lectures and read materials on how to make our implant presentations better to achieve successful case acceptance. For those looking to better themselves, this is fantastic! But we become better implant coordinators when we constantly reevaluate our approach to presenting and scheduling treatment.

What do you mean you’re not ready to schedule today?

I’ve learned that if patients do not schedule treatment before they leave the office, it is just fine. I’m confident that we have given them all their treatment options, and sometimes implants are not their preference at that time. This is a stumbling block that every implant treatment coordinator (ITC) will face during his or her career. Our patients need to hear their options many times. I’m no different from any ITC who would like to see the practice go from 60 implants to 300 or 500 implants a year.

My experience comes mostly from working in a specialty practice and counting on general dentists for referrals, along with our continuous marketing. The patients we see for their initial consultations have not been to our practice before. So after we tell them they require thousands of dollars worth of treatment, they sometimes appear standoffish or even rude. We don’t take this personally. Imagine the scary unknown experience of going to a stranger’s office with strange team members. It’s time for us to build TRUST!

Let’s talk

This is how I like to approach my implant consultations. It’s about earning a person’s trust and building a relationship. It’s about paying attention to details, such as why they are there, and special events such as the birth of a new grandchild. It’s often said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

The patient may tell you, “I’m not ready to schedule this treatment today.” No problem. Some people would probably disagree with me and that’s their right — it’s all about your personal approach while obtaining great results. This doesn’t mean you don’t follow up because they didn’t schedule before leaving the office. When you make follow-up calls, bring up something that the patients spoke about during the consultation that was important to them. This shows them that you were paying attention. Simply saying, “I remember you were concerned about timing your treatment during the holidays. I wanted to check back with you to see if this is a better time for you” shows that you understand the situation.

Your attention to detail, patience with their situation, and flexibility will give you the edge with patients. Distinguishing yourself from every other office is what it takes to move an appointment from the talking stage to your schedule.

Author bio
Vicki Garza has spent the last 23 years as a dental assistant in various practices in the Austin, Texas, area. Her current tasks include working with an oral surgeon in conjunction with a local trauma center, and serving as a lead surgical assistant and implant treatment coordinator. She can be reached at [email protected].