The absolute #1 complaint dentists have across the globe is . . . POOR CASE ACCEPTANCE. Why? Because we have been taught and trained to think the wrong way when presenting dentistry — and we end up saying and doing the exact opposite of what we should be doing for greater acceptance. Would you believe me if I told you that what you are saying and doing are causing the patient to have ‘excuses’ for not doing what we recommend? Excuses like:
- “I need to think about it,” or
- “That’s too expensive,” or
- “I need to talk with my spouse,” or
- “What will my insurance pay?” or
- “Do I have to do all this now? Can it wait?”
Sound familiar? If you are “educating” your patients to convince them to have treatment, or if you are making them have a complete exam on the first appointment, you’re killing your case acceptance success by stealing ownership from your patients.
“Acceptance” Rather than “Presentation”
Notice that when I refer to talking about treatment, I use the word case “acceptance” vs. case “presentation.” I even like using the word case “listen-tation.” The word “present” implies that we have the answers to the patients’ problems—that it’s our job to tell them what they need.
The reason we ”present” treatment to them is because we think, “Heck, I have the dental degree and I have the knowledge, skill and experience. After all, how do they know what they need? Oftentimes dental disease doesn’t hurt and the patient is probably totally unaware that there’s pathology lurking untreated. And when we think like that, the quick sand begins to form. We slowly start sinking and running into all sorts of problems. Let me say it again . . . “How we have been taught to present treatment is 180 degrees counter from the absolute best way to get the patients to say, ‘Yes’!”
Avoid Scare Tactics
I’ve heard of consultants who recommend the ploy of using scare tactics to manipulate patients into treatment, all in the name of “education.” I wholeheartedly reject that approach. It works for short-term gain in some cases, but does absolutely nothing to contribute to the establishment of long-term relationships and trust with patients. Only by putting the patients’ well-being first can we create a win-win outcome.
Knowledge + Choice = Power. And the mistake we make is to rob the patients of their power because of how we approach them. We force feed them with scientific knowledge. What we want is to allow the patients ownership and power over their treatment decisions. We want to empower patients so they feel in charge of the health of their mouths. When the patients feel empowered . . . it’s amazing what happens next. Now, you have all the makings of a heart-to-heart relationship. This type of relationship allows the patient to take ownership. They start flossing. They choose to have good dentistry. They become responsible for finding the money to pay for dentistry. It’s a win for everyone.