Incremental Revenue – A Series – Part 7 – Dental 2 of 2
This installment in the Incremental Revenue series will generally deal with potential incremental dental revenue. Specifically, this installment will be dealing with treatment planning and case presentation. The last installment dealt with the diagnostic aspects of incremental dental revenue. It is important to remember that the purpose of these articles is to explore the incremental revenue potential of a dental practice. The intent here is not to present yet another article on treatment planning and case presentation.
As per the last installment, finding incremental dental revenue is easy. Harvesting it can be a challenge. After thirty-five years of working with dentists, as I have said before, every practice has some low-hanging dental fruit, but I also know that it takes some work to get it. Last time we explored the first step of capturing low-hanging dental fruit; the diagnostic protocols. In this installment, we will address the treatment planning and case presentation process. If you have successfully mastered the diagnostic protocols, then applying the proper treatment planning and case presentation protocols will yield you lots of incremental dental revenue.
The range of topics related to treatment planning strategies is enormous and, in many cases, is clinical in nature. We are not going to address the clinical aspects of treatment planning. What we are going to address are the behavioral traits that dictate how and why you treatment plan. It is good to remember that you won’t provide treatment if you don’t plan it.
Treatment Plan for the Disease and Dysfunction: Most dentists do not like confrontation. From a treatment planning perspective, the easiest way to avoid confrontation is to treatment plan by insurance. Treatment thusly proposed must be covered by insurance, whether it is the most appropriate treatment or not. This happens when dentists prejudge their patients and assume that the best treatment will be rejected by the patient if it is not covered by their insurance plan.
Prejudging a patient is a huge mistake. Everyone has different priorities, and to assume that we can predict a patient’s priority is an attempt at mind-reading. When you treatment plan, make sure that you are treatment planning for your patient’s needs or desires, not their insurance coverage. One of the most successful dentists I ever worked with stated in their office brochure something to the effect that the Ontario Dental Association provided an annual fee guide that represented an average practice in an average location in the Province of Ontario. It went on to point out that their practice was much better than average, and as a result, most of their fees were 25% above the ODA fee guide. I am not suggesting you need to go to this extreme; however, it does point out that patients will accept how you show up for them.
Treatment Plan for Lifestyle: Several years ago, we worked with a well-established dentist who had just prior to our engagement moved his office. His personal appointment preference was for long appointments. He often could do in two appointments what other dentists would do in three or four appointments. He recognized that three to four appointments were difficult for busy senior executives. He let it be known to a hundred or so senior executives near his office that if they ever needed to get any dentistry done with as few appointments as professionally possible, he would be happy to accommodate. Over the next six months, he welcomed several dozen senior executives to his office, all needing comprehensive work that could be done in as few appointments as possible, even if that meant longer appointments. What he had done was to treatment plan around the needs of his patients’ lifestyles. Given their hectic lifestyles, fewer but longer appointments worked the best for them. Make sure your treatment plans fit for each of your patients’ lifestyles.
Multiple Treatment Plans: A little choice is better than no choice, but too much choice is not good either. At the very least, you should offer patients two treatment choices, the best and the second-best but never the cheapest treatment just because it is the cheapest. As we learned in a previous installment, the perception of cost is often a function of how a fee is paid and not how much the actual fee is. If you provide flexible financial arrangements, even the most expensive treatment can be affordable to a motivated patient.
Documentation: There is a lot of truth to the adage “Out of sight, out of mind”. If you don’t write it down, you won’t remember it. If you get in the habit of not writing down what you do let alone what you plan to do, you might also have a problem with the RCDSO. The easiest thing is to write everything down, then at the very least, every time a patient is in, you will remember what treatment you have recommended and what treatment you want to follow up on.
Assuming that you have extensively diagnosed a patient’s dental problem and prepared a couple of brilliant treatment plans, it all means nothing if they do not proceed with the treatment. The process of effectively presenting treatment plans actually has nothing to do with dentistry except that you won’t do much dentistry if you don’t present your intentions effectively. You might be interested to know that you have one strike against you before you even start. A few years ago, a study was done at the UofT Medical School. Volunteers had their blood pressure taken by doctors, nurses, and also remotely by machines. I am sure you have guessed what is coming. The doctors recorded the highest blood pressure, followed by the nurses with the remote-controlled machines recording the lowest pressures. The purpose of the experiment was to show that a patient’s blood pressure may not be as high as that recorded by the doctors. My take on the experiment is that doctors (dentists included) make people nervous. I also know that when people are nervous, they don’t listen. You need to help your patients listen to and understand what you are telling them. That process is a two-way street – sender and receiver.
Here are a few tips that will help that process:
- The Sights & Sounds of Dentistry: Try to remove your patient, as much as possible, from the sights and sounds of dentistry when you are presenting your treatment plan to them – let them relax. Remember, dental operatories are scary places for most people. Can you imagine a plastic surgeon talking to a patient about their potential facelift or tummy tuck in a consult room overlooking an active operation? Not likely.
- Avoid Using Jargon. Technical terms that you understand and describe a situation very specifically may not be understood by the patient. The Inuit apparently have somewhere between 50 and 100 different words for snow. They understand those words we don’t. You understand a lot of dental words that your patients don’t. Imagine trying to present a case in English to a patient who only spoke Polish, which likely would not produce a good outcome. Use words that your patients will understand.
- Use the Right Messenger: Patients make a lot of incorrect assumptions about medical professionals and dentists in particular. Amongst other things, patients believe that all dentists are extraordinarily wealthy and have perfect teeth. How could a dentist know what it feels like to have a root canal or an implant? Of course, all dentists are multimillionaires and could never understand how a patient might not be able to afford the presented treatment. All of this, of course, is not true; however, it is what a lot of your patients believe. Remember accordingly to USAToday, about 25% of Americans still believe that Trump is the real president.
If patients cannot relate to their dentists, their dentists should be doing as little of the case presentation as possible. Truthfully a well-trained assistant or hygienist should be capable of explaining even the most detailed procedures. More importantly, relaxed patients will ask questions and actually interact with someone they perceive to be an equal i.e., not a dentist. The more real communication the better.
- Don’t Sell, Educate: Remember “Selling is getting rid of what you have, marketing (educating) is having what you can rid of”. If you have services that your patients want, for the most part, you never have to sell. By educating your patients you make them aware of the services that you can provide to them and the benefits to them of those services. You will always be more successful at providing your patients with enhanced service when they approach you for those services than when you have to approach them. If you can eliminate the financial concerns (which you can) patients will almost always choose what they perceive to be their best treatment solution. Make sure that they have been educated about what their best options are and why, but never sell those options.
- Meta-Programs & NLP: People are motivated to act for different reasons which have a lot to do with how they grew up and the influences that shaped their personalities. In an upcoming session, we will explore how you can tap into people’s various motivators for the purpose of “speaking” their language. If you are not speaking the same language, it is hard to effectively communicate, and if you don’t communicate it is hard for someone to follow your lead and the treatment you are suggesting.
The more effective you are at treatment planning and explaining that treatment to your patients the more incremental dental revenue you will be able to produce. As we already know the more incremental revenue you produce the greater your Net Profit and thus the more valuable your practice. We have looked at few of the factors that increase your incremental dental revenue but you should know that there are lots more and this is an area where it will pay to engage professionals trained in helping you actualize all of your incremental dental revenue.
For information about coaching services specifically designed to help you capture all of your incremental dental revenue, please contact Linda Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Linda heads the dental coaching team at HD Dental Coaching. If you would like more information about this or any other articles in the Incremental Revenue series, please contact Derek Hill at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to receive a posting notice for all future articles on this topic or any others, please fill out the “Subscribe” input box and click the submit button. For other articles by Derek Hill, you can visit the Hill Kindy Practice Sales website at www.hillkindy.com.