A Treatment Coordinator Can Boost Case Acceptance
Persuading patients to follow up with needed treatment is essential for the success of your dental practice. But in a busy office, it can be difficult for doctors to take the time needed to present treatment options. That’s why a treatment coordinator can be so valuable.
Whether it’s cosmetic dental procedures for middle-aged patients or gum treatment for seniors, persuading patients to follow through with recommended dental care can be difficult. Henry Schein reports the average case acceptance rate for existing patients is just 50% to 60%. For new patients, it’s even lower—25% to 35%. That means as many as 75% of patients are going home without the treatment your practice recommends for them.
Although case acceptance has historically been considered the doctor’s job, busy doctors are limited in how much time they can spend discussing treatment with a patient. A dedicated treatment coordinator, however, can spend as much time as necessary to answer all the patient’s questions, which can greatly improve your case acceptance rate.
Measuring Your Success Rate
To enhance case acceptance, you need to know where you’re starting from. If you don’t already do so, begin tracking your case acceptance rate. This is often measured based on the number of patients. If you suggest treatment to 30 patients a week and 10 of them accept, your case acceptance rate is hovering around 33%.
However, you’ll gain additional insight from this metric if you also measure dollars. One patient who gets a filling is much less profitable than one patient who gets four tooth implants. Track the total dollar amount of treatments you recommend vs. those that are booked. Review both measures of case acceptance monthly to keep tabs on your success rate.
Making the Case
A good treatment coordinator has both people skills and sales skills: People skills to listen, understand and empathize, and sales skills to pitch, persist and persuade without being pushy. Here are some tips to help with the presentation.
•Use visual aids: Humans are visual creatures and images have a powerful impact on us. Showing a patient a color image of their disintegrating filling or receding gums can drive home the severity of the problem. Computer slideshows or videos explaining how a procedure works can help lessen the fears that affect some 60% of dental patients.
•Provide take-home information: Patients often need to mull over procedures or discuss the expense with a spouse. Give them brochures, fact sheets, or a printout of their customized treatment plan to refer to.
•Emphasize benefits: Focus on the benefits of the treatment. Can getting a crown now prevent a root canal down the road? Without employing scare tactics, your treatment coordinator should explain the potential financial and physical costs of not completing treatment.
•Prepare for the price conversation: Wait until the patient shows interest before bringing up price. The treatment coordinator should take expected insurance coverage (if relevant) into account and give a written estimate; they should also be ready to present the full range of payment options.
•Follow up: If the patient is indecisive, follow up a few days later. This can be done by phone or, if your practice uses Lighthouse 360, via two-way texting for patients who prefer to communicate this way. Treatment coordinators can use Lighthouse 360 to simplify follow-up by automating treatment reminders. Just be sure to send these reminders only to patients who are in a position to accept the treatment. If a patient has firmly indicated they aren’t ready for the treatment, turn off communications on that issue for now, and revisit the issue at the patient’s next hygiene appointment.
In addition to making presentations, treatment coordinators’ jobs include following up with patients, answering patient questions, and general front-office tasks. You could put your treatment coordinator in charge of creating content for your website and email newsletters that educates patients about various treatments. Using Lighthouse 360, they can even send groups of patients content about specific treatments in their email newsletter.
According to Indeed.com, the average dental treatment coordinator makes $18.40 per hour—a small price to pay for the amount of business they can bring in. (Read our tips on how to attract great employees to help you find the perfect treatment coordinator.)