In the world of commercial dentistry, you cannot always guarantee that patients will say yes to the treatment you recommend.
This is especially true of cosmetic or non-essential dental treatments.
Here, we look at the issues patients have with dental treatment, and what dentists can do to make yes a more likely answer.
How Affordable is the Treatment?
No matter what other elements come into play, the whole price versus affordability issue can be a deal-maker or breaker.
In some situations, there is a big perceived difference between affordability and price. Obviously, if your practice is setting out its stall as being more exclusive, then, providing you attract your target market, this may be less of a barrier to treatment.
However, it is also worth considering offering patient finance to help patients make decisions more easily.
Spreading the cost of dental treatment over terms, usually between six and 60 months, can make it seem more affordable.
This allows practices to appeal to a wider customer-base.
Are You Building Rapport?
Successful dentistry is about building trust with patients. This comes from developing a good rapport.
It is therefore not enough just to focus on the dentistry involved in treatments.
Rapport enables good communication. It can make patients more attentive, and more receptive to your explanations and suggestions for treatment.
Dentists should be making as much time as they can to build rapport by talking to their patients.
This should mean asking about their general oral health, addressing their concerns, but also asking more general questions about lifestyle, families etc.
Are You Visualising Treatment Outcomes?
Research indicates that 3D imaging technology can increase patient acceptance of treatments.
Digital imaging enables dentists to show patients high-resolution, 3D simulations of orthodontic and restorative dental treatments.
These sophisticated visualisation tools help patients see their proposed treatment and understand how it will impact on them positively.
This is a form of next-level engagement for dentists, providing greater clarity and reassurance to patients, who might be considering advanced treatments.
How Can You Enhance the Patient Experience?
How patients interact with staff at dental practices is a big part of what defines their experience there.
However, the overall fit out of the surgery also plays a critical role in enhancing the patient experience.
This includes essentials such as modern dental chairs, designed to maximise the effectiveness of treatments and the comfort of patients.
The level of sophistication of dental equipment can be a powerful means of reinforcing the practice’s own brand values in the eyes of patients.
In turn, this helps to encourage positive decision-making when it comes to agreeing to treatments.
Are You Following Up?
Some patients may not decide on, or even accept, treatments straight away. They need time to think about it.
Also, if the patient is not suffering pain or discomfort, then they are less likely to be self-motivated when it comes to making a follow-up appointment to discuss treatment.
Therefore, the pressure is on the practice to constructively engage with patients about prospective treatment after initial appointments.
This kind of follow up approach requires care and diplomacy – no one likes a pushy dentists – but can be strategically vital in how patients agree to treatments.
“Not all patients are willing at first, but with the right approach, the practice can make treatment an attractive option. Dentists need to consider the big picture, from building rapport and engaging with patients to the equipment they use and the outcomes they can demonstrate.”
Pete Higson, RPA Dental