August 1, 2003
by Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA
Can implant case acceptance be increased dramatically? Based on extensive research, the answer is ‘yes’. After analyzing the data, we now have an excellent knowledge base on how to increase the number of implants performed by any type of practice. When all the factors have been considered, case presentation and patient finances are central concerns around which all other factors revolve.
THE FINE ART OF IMPLANT CASE PRESENTATION
It is easy for implant case presentation to become complex and clinical, making it difficult for patients to easily grasp the benefit of this optimal treatment option. Even highly experienced dentists overemphasize the complexity of dental implants to patients because they perceive this as a complicated clinical field in dentistry. Considering the time and effort that most doctors spent mastering implant dentistry, it is only natural to believe that it is more involved than many other basic aspects of the profession.
This complexity is frequently expressed to patients, when dentists often go into great detail regarding the technical and clinical aspects of dental implants when presenting a case. We begin to believe our own knowledge base is somehow instantly available to patients, enabling them to absorb every minute detail of implant dentistry. Unfortunately, overwhelming individuals with excessive details causes them to shut down mentally, especially if they have little or no prior knowledge on the subject being discussed.
Patient benefits must be the focus of implant presentations. And keep them simple. Our clients are taught that the three major benefits of any service must be identified and repeated at least three times in any case presentation. Specialists and organizational psychologists in the field of adult learning tell us that adults learn in 3’s. They need to hear the point three times before they completely comprehend what they are told. This is particularly true if the information is new.
Patients unfamiliar with implants will likely retain about 20 percent of your presentation the first time they hear it, 50 percent the second time they hear it, and 80 percent the third time. We cannot always bring patients back three times. Therefore, it is crucial to repeat major patient benefits at least three times during the case presentation to build a sense of value for patients that is easily remembered.
Information retention is not as critical to patient education during an implant case presentation as is motivating the patient. Facts alone will not do this. An educated patient may not necessarily accept a case, whereas a motivated patient almost assuredly will. Our findings show that many doctors wait for patients to ask about implants. This is a mistake because it isn’t wise to assume patients will read an implant brochure sitting in your reception area.
Does this mean that you are selling? Make no mistake about it — you are. It is too easy to fall into the mindset of, “I didn’t become a dentist to be a sales person.” The truth is that you are and so is your staff. Therefore, you must train the entire team to promote optimal treatment to all patients.
FINANCING OPTIONS & CASE ACCEPTANCE
If case presentation is a race and everything we have discussed so far represents a series of hurdles on the track, then patient finances appear as a final obstacle to overcome, much bigger than all the previous ones. You can overcome this last obstacle by providing patients with a financing option that fits their budget.
Even if patients are properly educated and very receptive to the idea of implants, finances can be a deal breaker. Unfortunately, we live in a world where most consumers only have about $300 available on consumer credit cards. Most people cannot write a check for $500 out of their monthly cash flow. This may explain why it is difficult for a patient to say yes to implants. Case acceptance is heavily influenced by patients’ ability to accept and pay for treatment. It is important to recognize that the practice is a dental care service provider and not a financial institution. As such, it needs to focus resources, and expertise on patient care rather than patient financing.
In addition to proper patient education, offering patients attractive financial options and flexible payment programs is an effective way to improve case acceptance. This is readily achieved by using an outside third party patient financing company such as CareCredit. Offering a third-party payment option that the patient feels is quick and easy eliminates any objection to the price of implant treatment.
Case acceptance increases when flexible financial options include no interest payment plans from a third-party financier in addition to cash, check, or major credit card.
Offering patients third-party financing can be extremely beneficial to your practice in many ways, including increased treatment acceptance, production, and profitability. Offering financing directly through your own practice as a solution can be costly in terms of billing, collections, delayed payments, and bad debt. In addition, offering terms through your practice can actually hurt your relationship with a patient if they are slow to pay or default and increase cancellation rate and practice stress levels.
By adding a no interest payment plan through an outside third-party finance company, you allow them to be the banker and assume the risks — freeing your practice to focus on providing excellent patient care.
With too much information conveyed during implant case presentations, patients are often too confused and overwhelmed to make a decision. Concise patient education must include benefit statements relevant to the patient that are reinforced throughout the presentation. Implant case acceptance can be challenging due to the lack of coverage from dental insurance. Third-party financing, however, makes it far easier for patients to accept treatment. These two strategies used in conjunction with patient motivation are highly effective ways to increase implant case acceptance.
Roger Levin is founder and CEO of Levin Group, Inc., a dental management consulting firm in Owings Mills, MD.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.