As dental professionals, you want patients to accept your recommended treatment plans in order to provide the best possible oral health care. However, patients may decline or hesitate for many reasons like cost, anxiety, low perceived value, or lack of understanding. This can be frustrating when we know the treatments are necessary.
The good news is there are strategies you can use to get more "yes" and fewer "no thanks" when presenting dental treatment plans. Here are 15 tips to boost treatment plan acceptance in your practice:
1. Build Trust
Taking time at the beginning of treatment to listen and address patients' questions and concerns goes a long way towards building confidence and trust in your recommendations. Avoid seeming rushed or pushy. Let patients know you care about more than just their teeth. When patients trust you, they are more likely to accept your treatment proposals.
2. Educate don't Intimidate
Knowledge is power. Rather than overwhelming patients with complex dental terminology they may not understand, explain proposed treatments and procedures in simple, everyday language. Use analogies they can relate to and focus on the "why" not just the "what."
An educated patient is an empowered patient. Simplifying explanations also helps reduce anxiety and fear of the unknown.
3. Show AND Tell
We've all heard the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words." Use intraoral cameras, dental models, charts, photos, and other visual aids to clearly demonstrate needed treatments.
Seeing cavities, gum disease, worn enamel, etc. makes it more real and understandable for patients.
They'll better grasp why certain procedures are recommended.
4. Discuss Pros and Cons
Don't present treatment plans one-sidedly, only highlighting the positives. Also acknowledge potential downsides like cost, time required, or possible discomfort. This shows objectivity and fairness on your part.
Patients will have more confidence in your recommendations knowing you've weighed both benefits and disadvantages.
5. Offer Options
Not all treatments have just one obvious solution. Where possible, provide alternative treatment plans and options. Giving patients choices and the ability to select the plan that best fits their needs and preferences increases their sense of autonomy and control. This facilitates agreement.
6. Break it Down
For patients with extensive treatment needs, the overall plan can seem daunting. Where appropriate, separate the full plan into phases, stages, or steps. Frame the initial phase as a reasonable start. Once completed, move onto the next phase. This makes expansive care seem more manageable and digestible.
When presenting a comprehensive treatment plan, highlight which items are most important and urgent to address first. This provides focus for the patient. They'll be more inclined to agree to top priority treatments. Non-urgent procedures can come later.
8. Provide Cost Estimates
One of the biggest barriers to treatment acceptance is financial concern. Discuss costs upfront and have information on payment plans or financing options available. Patients want to know what they are agreeing to pay.
9. Be flexible
Within reason, try to accommodate patients' scheduling requests, constraints, and preferences. Make the logistics and timing of proposed care as hassle-free as possible. The more you can individualize around each patient's needs, the more likely they are to agree.
10. Follow up
After presenting a treatment plan, don't assume no response means agreement. Follow up to confirm patients are on board. Ask if they have any other questions or concerns. Proactive confirmation will catch issues.
11. Get Pre-Authorizations
For patients with dental insurance coverage, verify what is covered and pre-authorize recommended procedures whenever possible. This prevents surprises where patients get a plan but insurance doesn't cover portions.
12. Reflect on Declines
If a patient declines part or all of a treatment plan, take time to analyze why and learn for future discussions. Look for patterns among declined plans to improve your presentation approach.
13. Enlist Help
It's not always just the dentist talking. Have trained dental staff also help explain and reinforce the treatment plan details. Hearing congruent recommendations from multiple team members can help persuade patients.
14. Be Positive
When presenting a treatment plan, put emphasis on the benefits of accepting rather than the risks or consequences of declining. Give motivating reasons to say yes. Paint an optimistic picture of how their oral health will improve.
15. Make it about Health
Where applicable, tie dental treatment plans to overall health benefits - both oral and systemic. Motivate patients by talking about how procedures will not just address dental issues but also improve their broader health and wellbeing.
Taking a collaborative educational approach with your patients and incorporating these tips can help increase treatment plan acceptance. The more you can understand and address each patient's specific situation, motivations, and apprehensions, the better you can develop treatment plans they are willing and ready to say "yes" to.
Embracing automated Treatment plan reminders to improve your acceptance rate, like with mConsent, also goes a long way.