CareCredit and its role in dental hygiene

March 23, 2007
RDH eVillage discusses with a business coach how to incorporate CareCredit services into everyday operations.

On the heels of the announcement that CareCredit is commemorating its 20th anniversary and recently gave $100,000 to the newly established GIVE KIDS A SMILE® Fund, RDH eVillage wanted to learn more about how hygienists can incorporate CareCredit's services into their departments to enhance oral care options for patients.

Via e-mail, the director of RDH eVillage sent some questions to Vicki McManus, RDH, president of the Productive Dentist Academy. Vicki has been a business coach for more than 10 years. Her background as a dental hygienist, 2combined with her extensive training in marketing and professional communication, makes her a great resource on how to create patient-centered systems that involve CareCredit.

Kristine Hodsdon (KH): How do you teach your students to incorporate CareCredit into their offices?

Vicki McManus (VM): By far, the number one practice builder that we implement is installing CareCredit Ware on every computer in the practice. Whenever the clinical team is faced with the question, "Should I really do that?" or "That sounds like a lot of money; can I pay over time?" it is so simple for the team to respond, "Absolutely."

CCware takes the guesswork out of financial arrangements. The treatment options function creates in 30 seconds (literally) a customized printout of all the practice's financial options. It takes the fear out of a presentation.
The assistants and hygienists with whom we work are excited instead of fearful about answering these questions.

I know it sounds like I am on commission with Care Credit — but nothing could be further from the truth. I have just seen CCware in action too many times not to believe in its power to lower the financial obstacle for patients. Consumers today make purchasing decisions based on minimum monthly payment, not necessarily total cost.

KH: How can a hygienist influence an office to use CareCredit in treatment planning?

VM: The hygienist is often the first influencer and one of the most credible resources to help patients discover their oral health needs. Often, though, financial empathy keeps hygienists from presenting needed treatment. They may inadvertently perform a "wallet biopsy" and to avoid confrontation, subconsciously minimize the damaging effects of oral diseases.

CareCredit allows hygienists the freedom to say, "If money were not a problem and if we could arrange for payments as low as $120 per month, can you see how this treatment would benefit you?"

THAT is the conversation hygienists need to be empowered to have with their patients.

KH: How do you respond to the feedback from hygienists who say, "I don't need to know about CareCredit, because I don't 'do' fees"?

VM: Years ago calculating insurance benefits, running credit reports, and then determining financial options were time-consuming tasks. I well remember those days. Today, with one (maybe two) clicks of a mouse, you can instantly know all of the patients' payment options. There really is nothing to "do."

Most clinicians mistakenly interpret questions regarding payment as "objections to care." Think about it — when you are shopping for a car or upscale kitchen appliances, you start the process with a general idea of cost, then kick a few tires, visit several showrooms, and finally return to your favorite store and start seriously asking about price and financing. Dentistry is no different. Fees have exceeded most people's ability to pay in full at the time of service. When a patient asks about financing, that is a green light — not a stop sign.

Go for it! Break out of your fear. Your patients will love you for being on their side and helping them figure out how to afford needed services.

KH: Vicki, thank you for your insights. As a clinician, I now feel more confident in discussing CareCredit with my patients.

Vicki McManus, RDH, partnered with Dr. Bruce Baird of the Productive Dentist Academy in 2004 to teach dentists and teams how to increase productivity by $300 an hour — guaranteed. Combining Vicki's 12 years of experience in dental business management with the real-world clinical skills of Dr. Baird, dental team discover how to consistently produce $1250 an hour and beyond.