Getting Your Patients To Say YES To Treatment
A patient’s resistance to accepting dental treatment can prevent them from getting the care they need. These barriers often include cost, fear of treatment, lack of dental education and more.
Understanding how a patient moves through the treatment decision-making process empowers dental practices to address the patient’s resistance with education, support and compassion.
We have identified five key steps in this decision-making process. Each step is an opportunity for the patient to say “Yes” to treatment. When patients say “No”, we can explore if additional resources and guidance is needed for the patient to become a “Yes.”
True treatment acceptance is when the patients accepting all recommended, needed care and not just the minimum — should be around 67%. The remaining will need to be guided to accept care by using the five-step decision path process below.
Step 1: Identify the Patient’s Personal Motivator
The first step is identifying what is motivating a patient to consider dental care. Identifying their why for dental care allows them to feel heard and creates rapport between you and the patient.
To identify the personal motivator, ask the patient: “What do you want for your oral health and smile?” And “why?”
Once you know the patient’s personal motivator, you can help them with their decision-making process and get the first “Yes” by asking: “If we can deliver the dentistry you need to achieve your goal of (insert personal motivator), would you want to invest time in your oral health and schedule care?”
Step 2: Use a Healthy Mouth Baseline
It’s important to give patients an understanding of what oral health means to them in terms of their overall health, the appearance of their optimal teeth and gums and the care required to achieve health. We call this a Healthy Mouth Baseline.
A Healthy Mouth Baseline is what you and your team believe every single patient deserves to have for their oral health. The Healthy Mouth Baseline needs to be communicated to all patients along with the “why” you, as a dental professional, are committed to helping patients achieve this goal.
Step 3: Let Patients Know If They Have a Problem, the Consequence, then Shhhh
It’s important to be very clear with patients what their oral health “problems” are. If they don’t believe they have dental issues, then they won’t be motivated to accept treatment as a solution. The most effective way to communicate your concerns to the patient is with visual aids like intraoral photos that provide proof and allows the patient to see what’s going on in their mouths.
Step 4: The Team Transfer
In this fourth step, the patient is transferred between the treatment discussion and recommendation to the front office team. It’s important to reiterate for the patient:
- Their personal motivator and goals for their oral health
- The practice’s Healthy Mouth Baseline
- The doctor’s treatment recommendation
- Their desire for care
Step 5: Fit Treatment into the Patient’s Lifestyle
The previous steps are designed to help the patient answer the question, “Should I get this care?” Along the path, they have been presented with the necessary information to understand why they should accept recommended treatment. The last step is to answer the question, “Can I get this care?” and dissolve remaining resistance — usually time and cost — that may prevent them from committing to needed dentistry.
Taking time to connect, provide education, and apply the decision-making process empowers the patient to be a YES to their dental health. When a patient accepts treatment they thrive and the practice thrives; a true win-win!
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