Follow up with patients to increase production
Most patients aren’t ready to commit to treatment right after the initial case presentation. They want to think about their options and talk it all over with their spouse—which is understandable, yet frustrating for dentists and their team members.
The good news is, you can get many of these patients on the schedule simply by following up. But, to be effective, these calls—which should take place two days after the initial presentation—have to go beyond asking patients what they’ve decided. The Treatment Coordinator should take the opportunity to educate patients about the possible consequences of not going forward with treatment and to address any perceived barriers to care.
If done correctly, following up with patients will help you increase production and boost your bottom line. Here’s how to get the most out of these calls, and get more patients on the schedule.
Be ready to address patient concerns. Patients have all sorts of reasons for not going forward with treatment. Maybe they don’t think they can afford it, or they’re worried about having to take too much time off work. Whatever their perceived barriers to care are, it’s important for the Treatment Coordinator to find solutions during the follow-up call.
Here’s an example. If cost is a concern for patients, be sure to go over any financing options the practice offers, such as CareCredit. Third party financing reduces the financial burden by giving patients the ability to pay a little at a time, rather than having to write one big check. Knowing financing is an option will make patients more comfortable saying yes to treatment and getting the care they need.
Spend time educating patients. The more educated patients are, the more likely they are to accept treatment. Use follow-up calls to re-enforce any education that was provided during the initial presentation. Remind patients why the doctor is recommending treatment and why it’s so important to maintain their oral health. Go over any problems identified and what could happen if those problems are ignored.
When you take the time to call patients to provide them with more education, it shows them you care. They’ll know you see them as more than a number, and that you’re not just interested in selling them on expensive dentistry. This helps build connections with patients, which in turn makes them more likely to stay loyal and to accept treatment.
Show them the value of the treatment you offer. Often, patients say no to treatment because they don’t see the value in it. They don’t understand what can happen if they ignore their oral health, and would much rather spend their money on other things—so they do. It’s your job to show them why the services you provide are so valuable, and what might happen to their mouths (and their pocketbooks) if they put off needed treatment.
Develop a script. During these calls, it’s important for the Treatment Coordinator to hit on certain points, and a script will help ensure that happens. The coordinator will feel more comfortable while on the phone, and won’t forget to ask important questions or address certain issues. Of course, it’s also important for these calls to feel natural. The coordinator should follow basic telephone techniques, including speaking clearly and talking with a smile. Calls should be conversational and never feel robotic.
Don’t wing it. While scripts help keep follow-up calls on track, it’s also important for the coordinator to have access to any necessary information about the patient, such as perceived barriers to care discussed during the case presentation. This ensures the coordinator covers everything during the conversation, and is prepared for any questions or concerns the patient might bring up—which will make these calls more successful.
Don’t give up. While the goal is to get patients to schedule by the end of the call, that won’t always happen. Sure, this is frustrating, but it’s no reason to throw in the towel. Keep following up, whether it be via phone call, email newsletters or educational brochures. It may take some time, but if you’re persistent and continue to educate, more patients will schedule.
When patients don’t schedule right away, it can be pretty frustrating. After all, dental professionals know why treatment is being recommended and what can happen if those recommendations are ignored. The challenge is, many patients don’t. That’s why it’s so important to continue educating patients and to show them the value of the services you provide. They’ll start to feel more connected to your practice and will be more likely to entrust you with their care—and that will boost your practice production numbers and your bottom line.
Sally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, www.mckenziemgmt.com, a full-service, nation-wide dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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