How to Increase Treatment Plan Acceptance
There’s no question that if all patients accepted a dentist’s proposed treatment plan, their oral health would be improved, and the practice would be that much more successful.
According to 2019 CDC statistics, 25% of adults aged 20-44 and 13% of children between 5 and 19 have untreated dental caries. The objective to increase treatment plan acceptance requires a sort of dental marketing that practitioners and their team can implement for both the patient’s benefit and the practice’s bottom line.
The first and easiest step for proceeding with a treatment plan is building a rapport. If it’s a new patient or one who only comes in for periodic cleanings, it can feel abrupt and overwhelming to be presented with an unexpected procedure. Even more so for the anxious or fearful patient.
Rapport is more than being friendly with the person in the chair, it’s about building a lasting relationship between patient and practice. Get to know them and you’ll better understand their roadblocks. If they trust the doctor and staff, the patient is more likely to proceed.
Connections happen with strong communication. When discussing your findings and recommended treatment, be sure to avoid dental jargon that the average patient won’t understand. Be clear and compassionate, inviting them to ask questions or voice concerns.
Initial conversations should include details of the procedure, benefits of treatment, as well as the potential outcome should they decline to move forward. Effective communication will determine if the patient’s hesitancy is due to costs, fear, time involved – or possibly all of the above – and action can be taken accordingly.
Educating your patient can go hand in hand with communication. Thanks to advances in technology, many dentists are able to use intraoral cameras and 3-D imagery to better show a patient what the problem is, and what the results could look like when they accept the treatment plan.
Explain any options they have so they experience a better sense of control over their health. A well-informed patient is more likely to see the benefits of treatment, further adding to the trust between them and the dentist.
It Takes a Team
Not only should the patient be educated on their treatment plan, but the entire dental staff will ideally be on the same page so they can reassure, answer questions, and schedule appointments as needed.
Many practices have a designated team member to discuss the treatment plan options, costs involved, insurance coverage, scheduling, and more. This can free up the dentist’s time, reinforce the patient’s confidence in the process, and ultimately improve patient retention.
As with most best practices, follow-through is key. If a patient leaves the office without approving the treatment plan and setting up an appointment, the chances that they will drop considerably. Automate a plan with the front desk staff to follow up via email or phone and answer any further questions they may have.
Good marketing can help attract patients before their appointment and taking the right approach during treatment will lead to greater treatment plan acceptance after.