Overcoming fear of the fee

June 1, 2010
Whether the economy is playing a frightful card in your community or not, patients of all demographics balk at dental fees.

For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: dental fees, tipping point, financing program, case presentation, Cathy Jameson.

Whether the economy is playing a frightful card in your community or not, patients of all demographics balk at dental fees. Overcoming this objection in a careful, conscientious way that is also good for your practice is a major part of building the practice of your dreams. Introducing the concept of a health-care financing program in your case presentation sequence and communicating it well will make all the difference.

The fulcrum of your practice — the “tipping point” — is comprehensive diagnosis, complete treatment planning, and excellent case presentation. You can plan, prepare, and present like a pro. But if patients fear they cannot afford the treatment, they will not keep their appointments.

That is why it’s so important to introduce your financing program early in the case presentation. Otherwise, as you try to educate patients about the services you offer, they may be thinking of nothing but the cost.

The human mind can think of only one thing at a time. Therefore, if a patient is calculating what he or she thinks the treatment will cost, the patient may not hear a word you are saying. Addressing a potential negative proactively will give you a chance to turn it into a positive.


Dr. Jameson: Mr. Jones, before I tell you what I have diagnosed and explain the treatment that I believe would be best for you, let me tell you that if you have any concern about the financing of the dentistry, we have convenient financial options right here in our practice. Before we proceed with treatment, we will make sure that you are comfortable with the financing of the treatment. But for right now, I would like to discuss the treatment I feel is best for you. Let’s focus on those recommendations, and then we will discuss the financing thoroughly. Does that sound good to you?


Patient: “Hey, Doc, just get to the bottom line. Just tell me how much this is going to cost me.”

Dr. Jameson: “Mr. Jones, it sounds like you’re concerned about the financing of your treatment?”

Patient: “Yeah. I’m sure this is going to cost a lot and I need to know the bottom line.”

Dr. Jameson: “Are you concerned about the total investment or about finding a method of payment that works for you?”

Patient: “Well, a little bit of both, I suppose.”

Dr. Jameson: “I appreciate your concern. That’s why I have asked Jan, my treatment coordinator, to join us today. She will discuss the total investment and the options we have available for payment. She’s great and I can assure you that we have some excellent payment options such as CareCredit in our practice. Before we discuss the financial aspects of your treatment, I would like the opportunity to explain the treatment that I believe would help you accomplish the goals you outlined for me at your initial evaluation. You, of course, have total control over how we proceed. You can accept all of the treatment I am recommending, or we could do part of the treatment now and part later, or you may decide not to proceed at all. The choice is yours; however, if it is OK with you, I would like to explain the treatment that I feel would be best for you. This is the type of treatment I would want for myself or a member of my family. Then, once I have answered all your questions, Jan will discuss the financial aspects. Would that be acceptable?”

Once the patient has agreed, proceed with your clinical presentation. You will have defused the fear of the fee so the patient can get excited about what you are going to do. The patient will be able to focus attention on your clinical presentation. The patient will appreciate your empathy, and you will put the money questions where they belong. Presenting the fee too early may be worse than not presenting the fee at all.

Cathy Jameson is founder and CEO of Jameson Management, Inc., a company dedicated to improving the lives of dental professionals through in-office, comprehensive coaching. For more information, visit www.JamesonManagement.com.

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