The past few weeks we have been discussing, on both our TV Show and our blog, How to Increase Patient Acceptance - a very hot topic within dentistry. Two weeks ago we discussed why people make changes, in general, with our blog entitled "How to Improve Dental Case Acceptance." For example, what motivates someone to lose weight, quit smoking or accept dentistry? Then this past week we discussed how consumer buying behavior impacts this same topic with our blog "Can Understanding Consumer Behavior Increase Dental Patient Acceptance?" This discussion built upon the previous week's discussion and related it specifically to dentistry.
This week I want to address, specifically, How to Get Patients to Say "YES." You can do all the educating of your patients in the world, but if they don't say "yes" to treatment, it certainly does their oral health no good, nor your practice. Clearly, it is in their best interest to accept treatment, as the problem will only get worse and more expensive over time. As an industry, we have to be comfortable with this fact and then passionate about solving the problem of "YES."
I see two major issues related to this matter. First, from a psychology standpoint, if we rush the process and don't answer the questions before we ask them to commit, people tend to give us the blow off of "I want to think about it." I believe this to truly mean, "You haven't answered my questions yet, and in fact, I am not even sure what my questions are. I just know you haven't answered them." What we suggest is that those questions you hear all the time, you handle before ever asking the patient to commit. If you do it the other way around, their posture becomes very defensive when they don't have all the information. So if you have ever had a patient get defensive when trying to "close the deal," this is probably why. I would guess this is why most doctors avoid asking people to accept treatment and defer it to another team member. Nobody likes the uncomfortable feeling of a person reacting defensively.
The second issue I see holding many dentists back from hearing "YES" more often, is they present the total cost of the treatment. Contemplate this for a moment. When you purchased your house or car, did you shop based on the total price or the monthly payment? Everybody shops based on the monthly payment. Given this is how we are all used to thinking, we need to conform to this to make it easier for patients to wrap their heads around. I wouldn't suggest ever asking a patient to pay $5K-$10K for their treatment. Instead, I would present that it will be $400 per month.
I am certain if everyone were to make these two changes in their case presentation, they would hear "YES" far more often. I am certain that the sky really can be the limit if you understand how people think, and present your dental solutions within that set of rules. Patients want to be healthy, they just don't realize how much you can and will impact their lives.