Part Two: Increasing the Dentists’ and Team Members’ Confidence when Discussing Fees and Financial Arrangements
In part one of this series on increasing dentists’ and team members’ confidence when discussing fees, we highlighted the concept of the Crossover Zone™. If you missed this discussion, visit here. The Crossover Zone™ concept reveals how dentists and team members’ financial comfort zone bias their treatment plans. So often, treatment plans offered are limited to the financial comfort zones of the person offering them. Part two of this series discusses how to increase the financial comfort zone of dentists and team members, giving them the confidence to offer complete care dentistry.
Here’s a summary of the 5-step proven process for increasing confidence when discussing fees and financial arrangements for complete dentistry.
Step One – Offering Complete Care is Standard of Care
Dentists and team members must understand that not offering complete care for patients who’ve had complete examinations is below the standard of care and violates dental ethics. The leading reason for limited treatment plans is to accommodate dentists’ Crossover Zone and fear of patients’ sticker shock. Just as taking a medical history or doing periodontal charting is standard of care, offering complete care is no less of a medical/legal or ethical requirement. Accountability for sustaining the standard of care is a primary duty of the leaders and providers of dental groups. Simply put, offering complete care should be a requirement for group practice membership.
Step Two – Understand Why Patients Want Dental Care
Too many dentists don’t understand why patients want dental care. Oh yes…it’s easy to discover why patients with toothaches and broken fillings want dental care. But, that’s not the problem. The problem resides with more complex care patients who’ve had long-standing issues with missing teeth, appearance, speech, and inability to eat with comfort. It’s these patients where dentists get caught up in the clinical diagnosis and treatment plan and never ask patients “why.” Understanding patients’ “why” includes being curious about the lifestyle benefits patients seek. This also includes “why now.” “Why now” is all about learning upcoming life events that make good dental health important. “Why” and “why now” constitute patients’ behavioral benefits they seek from dental care. When dentists and team members understand “why” and “why now,” they’ve taken the first critical step in giving patients the experience of being understood. This step builds patients’ confidence that they are in the right dental office.
Step Three – Discover Concerned vs. Unconcerned Conditions
It’s important during the examination and post-examination discussion that dentists discover which conditions patients are most concerned about and those they’re not. Complex care patients often have multiple conditions, some of which have brought them into the dental office and other conditions that may be symptomless and of no concern. Consequently, treatment recommendations for concerned vs. unconcerned conditions require differing approaches. Patients are more open to discussing concerned conditions recommendations. However, it’s the unconcerned condition recommendations that often meet with patients’ push-back.
Additionally, treatment fees for unconcerned conditions can rival those for concerned conditions. Too often, it’s tempting to avoid treatment recommendations for unconcerned conditions. It reduces treatment fees and avoids patients’ push-backs. Unfortunately, this approach fails to meet the standard of care. The solution to recommending treatment for concerned vs. unconcerned conditions is to differ in the approach that avoids patients’ push-back and builds dentist confidence.
Step Four – Lead with Chief Benefit
To confidently recommend complete care, it’s essential to lead the discussion by acknowledging the chief benefit patients seek. Patients never push- back when they learn dentists understand them. This gives both dentists and patients confidence going into the treatment recommendation discussion.
The chief benefit was discovered during step two by learning patients’ “why” and “why now.” Next, recommend treatment for concerned conditions. Again, patients don’t push back when hearing solutions that benefit them. Plus, this builds dentists’ confidence. Finally, recommend treatment for unconcerned conditions. Do this by acknowledging patients’ lack of concern. Then, make the treatment recommendation as if they are concerned. For example, Christine is a complex care patient who has just heard treatment recommendations for her concerned condition, which is the appearance of her front teeth. Now, acknowledge her lack of concern for her missing teeth, and make treatment recommendations. It sounds like, “Christine, I know you’re not concerned about your missing back teeth. But, I want you to know that I am. And when you ready, I recommend we…” and now make the treatment recommendation. This “when you ready” approach to unconcerned conditions goes a long way in increasing dentist and team member confidence in recommending complete care and eliminates any sense of sales pressure on patients.
Step Five – Accommodate Readiness
So much of dentists’ and team members’ lack of confidence when recommending complete care and its fee, comes from not knowing how to manage patients who are not ready for complete care. Dentists typically don’t know what to say when patients don’t accept treatment recommendations. Often patients try to deflect their treatment rejection by saying, “I want to go home and think about it” Patients not accepting care is stressful for patients and dentists. Patients not accepting care can be the trigger for their abandoning the practice. Over time, patients not accepting care are the triggers for shrinking dentists’ Crossover Zone™. Additionally, dentists side-step offering complete care when they experience too much treatment recommendation rejection. And unfortunately, dentists often “play it safe” and avoid the stress and rejection of offering complete care and narrow their treatment plans to modest care only. The solution to the negative impact of complex care treatment rejection is to present complete care from the point of view of patient readiness. Accommodate patient readiness before it becomes an issue. For example, at the end of a treatment discussion, invite patients into care. This sounds like, “Christine, I know we talked about a lot today. I want you to know that when you’re ready for care, we’ll be here.” Chances are excellent patients will accept care that concerns them. The “when you’re ready” approach plants the seeds for care when patients become ready.
This five-step process for increasing dentist and team member confidence when discussing fees and financial arrangements accomplishs;
- Meeting the Standard of Care and dental ethics
- Patients receiving care for concerned conditions
- Increasing revenue per patient visit
- Planting seeds for future care
- Improving patient loyalty
- Increasing Crossover Zone™
- Reducing dentist and team member stress
- Increasing dentists’ and team members’ confidence
This five-step process summarizes the body of work in the online program, Making It Easy for Patients to Say “YES!” If you find value in this five-step process, you’ll love the online program. To get involved in an in-office program for the entire team, learn more about our Treatment Acceptance Mastery membership visit paulhomoly.com/mie-online/