Every dental clinic has its own processes for new and returning patients. New clients need more information about their dental health, your clinical processes, bill payment, and other aspects of a dental visit. Returning patients already know your team, so there’s less need to go over such details again.
However many practices use the same system for presenting treatment plans to patients. You put together comprehensive options after thorough examinations and detailed interviews. And yet you find that new patients don’t come back or refuse your treatment plans if they do return. What’s happening? The system works for your other patients so why does it fail for new clients?
Don’t Scare Away New Patients
You may think that your comprehensive treatment plans are an excellent option for the patient’s oral health. But think about it from their perspective. This is their first visit to a new dentist and they have no idea what to expect. Instead of focusing on the immediate issues, you present them with a treatment plan that might very well cost thousands of dollars and several time-consuming visits.
This is overwhelming and stressful for a new patient. There are many reasons why a patient may refuse treatment you propose for them – they may worry about costs, lack of time to come in for several visits, potential pain, and discomfort etc. All these reasons are exacerbated in a new patient since they don’t know you or your team very well. It’s time you adopt a new system designed specifically for new patients. Here’s what you can do to improve case acceptance by clients:
Start Slow and Small – Prioritize Urgent Issues
Instead of designing a comprehensive treatment plan that will take weeks or months to complete, focus on the immediate problems like caries or infections. Prioritize issues that are causing significant pain or those that could become bigger or more expensive problems in the future. Present a treatment plan that solves these problems. Tell the patient that you can present more options for improving their oral health once you’ve resolved the immediate problems.
This approach has several benefits, foremost being you’ll build trust with the patient. Presenting a plan that costs several thousand on their first visit will make you look like a salesman to the patient than their trusted doctor. When you start with small procedures, they can see the quality of your work and feel better about trusting you.
The other benefit is that patients are more likely to say yes when they don’t have to invest time and money in big plans at once. They’re more likely to continue with treatment once they see the results of the initial procedures.
Don’t Tell, Show Them What You Can
Don’t just tell them the basics of each procedure and leave it at that. Show your patient that you care about their oral health and the benefits your proposed treatment will provide. Use photos, videos, and radiographs to demonstrate the actual issue and the consequences if left untreated.
Highlight the potential benefits – will it reduce pain, prevent the problem from recurring or improve their smile? Your patients need to know what’s in it for them. The extra effort shows that you care for them as a patient and you’re not interested in selling dental work.
Start slow, educate them on dental health issues, and build trust with new patients. They are more likely to stay with your practice and accept more comprehensive plans in the future. Don’t overwhelm them with huge plans and drive away patients who might otherwise stay loyal to your practice for years.