By Patrick Rangely
Dentists who want to take their practices to the next level often believe the answer lies in boosting the amount patients spend on average treatment plans. According to the ADA, the average practice has between $500,000 to $1 million in treatment plans that are never scheduled.(1) This means not only are practices making less money, but they’re also providing fewer patients with the best levels of oral health.
Of course, dentists will always face obstacles when it comes to getting patients to agree to treatment plans. Sometimes it’s their fear or anxiety about having a procedure done. Other times the economy can work against dental practices. Here are some strategies that will yield results when it comes to getting your patients to accept recommended treatment plans. While more expensive, these treatment plans are also quite necessary for patients’ ultimate health and happiness.
Offer flexible financing
A poll by Harris Interactive and HealthDay found that 50% of Americans who lack dental health insurance often skip visits due to financial reasons.(2) This means that often you’ll be offering treatment plans to people who have no dental insurance. Someone’s inability to afford treatment does not need to be an obstacle. Many practices offer CareCredit, which enables patients to finance their treatments and make monthly payments toward the balance. But many patients do not qualify for CareCredit, and many don’t even bother to apply when they know their credit will be checked. There are other alternatives for patients who can’t afford the upfront costs of treatment, such as iCare Financial, a financing program that does not require a credit check and has instant approval. Patients receive interest-free financing and are placed on a monthly payment program that’s within their budget. Most providers using iCare produce an additional $80,000 to $350,000 per year.
Examples of dental practices that accept iCare Financial
• Cazes Family Dentistry has been accepting iCare Financial for the last two years. During that time they’ve submitted approximately $112,000 in treatments.
• While the pressures of insurance lead many doctors to modify their treatment plans, Dr. Sherry Tsai at Milbrae Dental Care now feels that with iCare she is free to handle her work in the best way possible. “I now have much more confidence presenting ideal dentistry to patients knowing that there is a simple and affordable patient plan,” she said.
• Access Dental and Dentures used to offer patients CareCredit only, but since not all patients qualified they ended up unable to treat all prospective patients. General Manager Kari Hicks explained, “Since iCare came along, a good 80% of people who didn’t qualify for CareCredit found iCare Financial was a good fit.”
Another thing that often keeps patients from booking their treatment plans is their anxiety about getting dental work done. Dental practices can make adjustments by offering sedation techniques that calm even the most nervous patients. Oral sedation, inhalation sedation, and IV sedation are all viable options that increase the possibilities of patients accepting their treatment plans.
Another option that many dentists are integrating for patients with minimal levels of decay is air abrasion. This technique removes the anxiety often associated with the sound of the dental drill.
Offer the latest technology
There’s no denying that patients will be more likely to accept large treatment plans if they feel more comfortable with the procedures themselves. One way to do this is to offer state-of-the-art technology, such as CEREC and CAD/CAM. When patients can get crowns and veneers the same day, it removes their worries about taking time for multiple appointments.
Intraoral cameras and digital tomography also boost treatment plan acceptance. These technologies make it easy for patients to see the impact of their dental hygiene and understand what needs to be fixed.
Some strategies that make patients more comfortable don’t even involve extra spending or additional training. It costs nothing to run on schedule and gain the reputation for never making patients wait. Cultivating a caring attitude and taking the time to explain all procedures carefully will also serve to boost acceptance rates.