Tips for successful case presentation

Dec. 16, 2010
Did you ever wonder what causes patients to avoid or refuse dental treatment, or worse yet, leave your practice? Lynn Mortilla offers five tips to help with case presentations.

By Lynn Mortilla, Executive Director of the ADIA

Did you ever wonder what causes patients to avoid or refuse dental treatment, or worse yet, leave your practice? Since dental professionals are trained to help others, we seldom ask our patients to help us. Here are a couple of tips to help encourage patients to accept treatment, and ways to be sure your patients are satisfied with the care you’re providing for them.

1. I’m sure this isn’t the first or last time you’ve heard these things, but repetition yields positive results. Ask patients their desires. It’s essential at a patient’s first visit that a rapport is developed. One of the first questions I ask patients (especially those new to the practice) is what they did or didn’t like about their previous dental office. This simple question lets us know how someone likes to be treated. For example, some patients tell me they like a lot of conversation and others prefer little conversation. Can you imagine not asking this question and trying to carry on conversation for a one-hour appointment with a patient who prefers silence?

2. Discuss fees and finances up front. Patients usually won’t accept treatment unless they know how much it will cost. Hidden charges irritate any consumer, so be honest and up-front. It’s always better to overestimate rather than tack on an additional cost to a procedure. If there is absolutely no way a patient can afford a $5,000 procedure, the benefits of that procedure really won’t matter to him or her as much as the other treatment options. Some people are uncomfortable discussing fees. If that’s the case, hire someone who is comfortable discussing finances and payment options.

3. Use a payment options worksheet as a visual tool when presenting fees. Patients like to see all acceptable payment options. It can be confusing for patients to process all payment options when they are only presented verbally. ChaseHealthAdvance offers a free customized payment options worksheet that has a built-in courtesy option for cash and check if you currently offer a discount. The good news is this tool also doubles as a take-home sheet if someone needs more time to make a decision.

4. Have a team member follow up with a phone call a day or so later. Legally, a patient must be presented with all viable treatment options, and the benefits or consequences of not pursuing treatment. I would like to mention that ChaseHealthAdvance also offers free postcards and follow-up letter templates customized for your practice.

5. Ask for referrals when patients tell you how happy they are with the work you’ve done for them and the services you’ve provided. All patients tell others when something goes wrong. We should encourage our patients to also tell others when things go right. When someone gets a great new haircut, the first question people ask is, “Where did you have it done?” Since it’s not always easy to recognize someone’s dental work and not all patients want to tell others that their teeth might not be natural, encourage patients to tell friends and family that you would be more than happy to treat them.

These are not unique techniques. They are mostly just things that need to be developed or remembered, no matter how busy we get. The key to making these techniques successful is having the entire team practice these suggestions so everyone presents the same image of your practice. Hopefully, these tips will help your patients realize that you don’t just care about their dental work, you care about their needs.