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Practice production, prioritized: Completing incomplete treatment

Sept. 27, 2021
Levin Group has reviewed and prioritized hundreds of strategies to increase practice production. This month focuses on the revenue lost due to incomplete treatment.

Author's note: Levin Group has reviewed and prioritized hundreds of strategies to increase practice production. Each month, we highlight a powerful idea ranked in order of priority.

Completing incomplete treatment must be in the top 10 production-boosting strategies of all time. Incomplete treatment is often unnoticed or ignored in the day-to-day pace of a dental practice. There are many treatment plans presented and recommendations made that either never get scheduled, get canceled, or no final decision is made by the patient and the treatment goes undone. The reasons behind incomplete treatment fall into three categories.

  • The patient rejects treatment.
  • The patient is interested in treatment, but never follows through.
  • The patient wants to complete treatment, but their insurance benefits have run out.

When a patient rejects treatment, remind them about the recommended treatment at each hygiene visit. This should be subtle and polite, but it should take place every single time as a systematic approach. For patients who are interested, follow up with them at one and two weeks to answer any questions and help them through any challenges. Often, a simple phone call will motivate the patient to schedule treatment. For patients who have insurance benefits that have run out, follow up with them in the first week of January of the following year to let them know their benefits have renewed and you’re calling to schedule their treatment. Don’t underestimate the production lost in practices every year due to incomplete treatment. In addition to the solutions offered above, in many cases, resolving incomplete treatment is a matter of improving the case presentation system. This could include better scripting, increasing motivational skill sets, clear messaging and explanations, and explaining the insurance details, financial options, and the benefits and consequences of treatment.

We estimate that over the course of a 35-year career, practices can lose several million dollars of revenue to cases that remain incomplete. The strategies above can help your patients get the care they need and help your practice keep needed revenue.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the September 2021 print edition of Dental Economics.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the chairman and CEO of Levin Group Inc., a leading dental consulting firm. A nationally recognized speaker, Dr. Levin presents practice management seminars throughout the country.