May 2014, Volume 10, Issue 5
Published by AEGIS Communications
Key Concepts for More Effective Treatment Presentation
Grow your practice by understanding the value of your treatment plans
Practitioners who have succeeded in their efforts to bring more patients into the practice must next face a second hurdle in growing their practice—improving case presentation.
Using great case presentation techniques to clarify treatment goals and elements is critical to patients and practitioners. But it is first important to address some misunderstandings dentists often have about presenting their best treatment recommendations. These insights and techniques can dramatically increase a clinician’s ability to more consistently convince patients to accept the treatment they need.
Although many practitioners are put off by the concept of “selling”—particularly when it concerns their patients—it is important for them to keep in mind the value of what they offer. They owe it to their patients to become more skilled in case presentation to be able to effectively communicate a treatment plan that will improve patient health and quality of life.
Define Your Purpose
There are typically two basic types of dental offices. A successful office is very passionate about producing results for its patients. Team members make a special effort to bring greater value to their patients than the monetary value of their payments. A dead office, on the other hand, tends to be the reverse. A dead office is all about trying to get the patient to do something just so the office can pay the bill or so that the practice can survive.
Looking at it from the top down, the language the dentist uses should be geared toward making money while providing a positive experience for employees and patients alike. Two words that should never be uttered by a good doctor are “I need”—as in: “I need to have 40 patients to pay payroll,” or “I need to collect $100,000 to pay the bills.” That’s the kind of language used by a doctor who is off-purpose.
To stay on-purpose, clinicians should set meaningful goals and grow their practices. They specifically need to stop thinking about treatment presentation as selling, and should focus instead on the value they’re bringing into the marketplace. Clinicians who think this way often realize that the patients who accept the costliest treatment plans are the most satisfied patients. Conversely, those who pay the least tend to be the least satisfied. It is worth pondering these questions: “What kind of patient base have I been creating?” “What kind of patient base do I want to create?” “Do I ultimately want happy, engaged patients or unhappy, complaining patients?”
To get a clear sense of the value of recommended treatments and to be able to convey that to patients, practitioners should keep some key concepts in mind.
Believe in the Value
Practitioners should understand the value of what they do and get patients to understand it as well. Practitioners who are confident that what they do is valuable truly believe their case presentations are not designed to “sell,” but to solve problems, change lives, and improve the patient’s quality of life. Clinicians should consider the positives that go into and come out of treatment, and should start framing their treatment plans to patients that way.
Customize the Presentation
Dentists need to be aware that “just talking”—or providing a verbal download of data—may be ineffective at best, harmful at worst. Everyone receives and responds to information in different ways. Dentists typically like to talk about all the facts, because they themselves like to receive all the facts. But the truth is, most patients are not like their dentists in that way. Therefore, it is important to understand the concept of modifying the presentation to the individual patient.
Most dentists give the same case presentation, regardless of the circumstances, individual patient, the signs and symptoms, the context, and other factors. In general, case presentations tend to be far too information-laden. Providing all the details can sound like clinical jibber jabber to many patients and may be confusing. Results are what patients really want and are willing to buy.
For this reason, dentists should tailor their words for each individual patient. Instead of presenting the information they themselves would want if the situation were reversed, they need to figure out what their patient needs by asking questions rather than talking.
When dentists ask questions, they often discover that patients are willing, or have the capacity, to afford much, much more than is being offered. That’s why dentists should not hesitate to recommend the treatment they believe the patient needs, no matter the cost. Those who don’t are doing their patients a disservice. They should let them decide.
Follow the 4-Minute Rule
To effectively communicate with anyone, anywhere, dentists should be aware of the 4-minute rule. To use this technique, talk with patients for 4 minutes to begin to get a sense of what each patient is like. Use open-ended questions and statements such as, “Tell me about yourself. Tell me about where you live/work, what your family is like.” By talking with patients this way for those 4 minutes, dentists are being attentive and taking mental notes, allowing them to form a picture of the patient.
This picture can tell a lot about what the person might need—like doing a credit check. It tells how these patients earn their livelihood and how that may factor into their health troubles. Learning about their families, too, can have an impact. In short, these are all important variables in case presentation. Dentists always want to present what makes the most sense for their patients.
Dentists who can offer a patient immediate results—via same-day dentistry—stand to gain with patients who don’t want to return for treatment. They can seal the deal by providing the desired treatment then and there. Patients can be out of the office in an hour, they don’t need to return, and they won’t have the chance to procrastinate or forego the treatment.
The Bottom Line
A thriving practice built by dentists who cater to their patients’ needs and desires improves the quality of life of everyone—practitioners, their staff, and their patients. A sure way to change patients’ lives is by providing them with the best treatments. Dentists who implement the strategies described here will be amazed at how well their patients respond. The author believes that doctors who try and track these methods will see dramatic improvement in their practice profits.
About the Author
Jay M. Geier, founder & president of The Scheduling Institute, is a well-known dental coach and speaker and has helped more than 10,000 dentists nationwide grow their practices and change their lives. For more information on Jay’s programs, call 877-317-6514 or email JayGeier@SchedulingInstitute.com. Jay offers a free Patient Experience Evaluation, and more information is available at www.schedulinginstitute.com/sign-up.