Case Acceptance Strategies to Help Dental Practices Follow Up

Dental case acceptance is like sales–it takes communication, patience, and follow-up. Sure, you might have excellent services to offer. But if patients never hear about their options or forget as soon as they walk away, you’ll never get a second date. Therefore, try employing these case acceptance strategies to improve your relationships with patients, increase your chances of seeing them again, and ultimately increase your dental practice’s revenue.

Follow Up With Patients to Increase Case Acceptance

So the patient didn’t accept the case on the spot. What do you do? Most practices send the patient out the door with the treatment plan and ask for a phone call when they decide to move forward. Instead, we suggest being proactive. Create a plan to contact patients on a regular basis. Customer service is a key component to increase case acceptance.

Any treatment coordinator, office manager, or front desk employee who presents treatment plans knows the range of patient excuses. Patients can be warm or cold toward the prescribed services. So keep a copy of each treatment plan. On the back of the printed plan, write an A, B, C, D or X on the back. Each label is based on the patient’s likelihood of moving forward with treatment.

Use these labels of dental case acceptance likelihood:

  • A: The patient accepted the case immediately upon presentation. No follow-up is needed here, just the usual reminders/confirmations to assure they show up for their appointment.
  • B: The patient says they want to move forward but needs to speak with a spouse or consider the financial implications. Call on a weekly basis to follow up. If you never get through, send a text and email. Resort to snail mail after the first two weeks. After several weeks of attempts, downgrade to a “C” and continue follow-up.
  • C: The patient says they are unsure about the treatment and would like to think about it or shop it around before making a decision. Call on a weekly basis to follow up. If you never get through, send a text and email. Resort to snail mail after the first two weeks. Written communications should be more strongly worded to encourage a decision for their best health.
  • D: The patient says no to treatment outright. Just because a patient says “no” now, doesn’t mean it will be “no” forever. Their priorities and situation may change and bring them back. Initiate a call, email, or snail mail follow-up after two weeks. If they reach out to say again that they won’t accept the treatment, remove them from the list for follow-up.
  • X: This is reserved for patients you do not want to contact again. Maybe they were disagreeable or a patient you are unsure you could make happy. This label is the way to let them go.

Track these cases in an Excel document and set reminders for each follow-up. Use the tools from your patient management system, patient communication tool, and other in-office systems to connect with your patients.

Schedule With Purpose

The patient has now accepted treatment and would like to schedule for it. Appointments made for treatment plans can’t be communicated passively. You’ve reserved the time on the doctor’s schedule–the most profitable chair time the practice has to offer. Consequently, a missed appointment is an opportunity cost. Be sure the patient feels obligated to the reserved time of their treatment. In other words, you don’t want to lose an accepted treatment plan because the patient keeps canceling.

Here are some helpful scheduling techniques to decrease the likelihood of a cancellation:

  • Explain what will happen at the visits and who will be helping them.
  • Don’t suggest the patient can call and move the appointment if needed.
  • Provide a single contact for all questions, scheduling, payments, meetings, etc.
  • Book the time efficiently by using the alternative choice close method:
    • “Do you prefer this week or next week?”
    • “Would you like morning or afternoon? Morning? Ok, 8 am or 10 am?”

Case Acceptance Reporting and Analysis

Successful DSOs track KPIs. And it’s important to keep track of the patients you are presenting to. Record both the quantity and dollar amount of accepted cases. As a result, you can review individual cases on why a patient may not have scheduled, and adjust the communication protocols as needed. A weekly meeting to review accepted rejected cases allows for timely feedback and adjustments to help reel patients back to the office for treatment.

After collecting a few months of data, create a baseline set of acceptance goals. Create SMART goals and celebrate success. On the other hand, nothing is more demoralizing than a goal employees can’t reach or don’t have the tools to meet.

Dental Consultants Help Implement Case Acceptance Strategies

Case acceptance is the result of paying proper attention to the patient experience. Your practice can remove hurdles to patients saying “yes” to treatment. Office personnel can easily manage much of the patient experience. The key is to communicate frequently and nurture your patients toward accepting their treatment plans. These case acceptance strategies are a fantastic lever every practice can use to increase revenue quickly, be more efficient with chair time, and lead the way to greater profitability.

If you would like assistance implementing a case acceptance and communication process in your practice, or would like to speak with someone about building a more efficient organization, please contact Skytale Group. We offer CFO and strategic advisory services to help grow your business.