The fulcrum of your practice is comprehensive diagnosis, complete treatment planning, and excellent case presentations. This is the “tipping point” of your practice. No matter how well you plan, prepare, and present your recommendations, and no matter how much patients may want to proceed, if they perceive they can’t afford the treatment, they will not schedule an appointment. You must be able to both address and handle the potential barrier of cost ... and do so masterfully!
Remember, “It costs too much” is the main reason people do not go to the dentist and why they do not accept treatment once it has been presented. Your challenge - and your opportunity - is to work with patients to find a financial solution to their situation, whatever that situation might be.
Handling the objection to cost of treatment
At the time of your case presentation or consultation appointment, introduce your financing program. If you don’t, patients will be thinking of nothing but the cost while you are trying to educate them about the services you are offering. The human mind can only think of one thing at a time. If patients are mentally calculating what they think the treatment will cost, they may not hear a word you are saying. If you think there may be a barrier to treatment acceptance, it is better to address this potential barrier before the patient brings it up.
Key Point: Addressing a potential negative proactively will give you an opportunity to turn that potential negative into a positive.
Doctor: “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 would be 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.”
Doctor: “Mr. Jones, it sounds like you’re concerned about financing your treatment?”
Patient: “Yeah. I’m sure this is going to cost a lot, and I need to know the bottom line.”
Doctor: “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.”
Doctor: “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 right here in the practice. But before we discuss the financial aspects of your treatment, I’d like the opportunity to explain the treatment that I believe would help you accomplish the goals that 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 for a member of my family. Then, once I have answered all of your questions, Jan will discuss the financial aspects of treatment. Would that be acceptable?”
Then, once the patient has agreed, proceed with your clinical presentation. By addressing your financial options upfront, you will defuse the fear of cost. The patient then will be able to focus his or her attention on your clinical presentation. The patient also will appreciate your empathy, and you will put the money questions where they belong.
Key Point: Presenting the fee too early may be worse than not presenting the fee at all.
Learn the communicative skills of handling the objection of “cost.” Introduce the concept of a health-care financing program in your case presentation sequence. Be prepared to turn a potential negative into a positive.
Dr. Cathy Jameson is president and CEO of Jameson Management, Inc., an international dental practice-management consulting, lecturing, seminar, and product provider. An accomplished speaker, writer, and workshop leader, Cathy earned a doctorate in organizational psychology, focusing her studies on effective stress-controlled management. Cathy’s books, “Great Communication = Great Production” and “Collect What You Produce,” are top sellers for PennWell Books. You may reach her toll-free at (877) 369-5558, e-mail her at email@example.com, or visit her Web site at www.jamesonmanagement.com.