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Practice production, prioritized: Improving case acceptance

July 12, 2022
Patients must like you before they accept treatment from you. Roger P. Levin, DDS, discusses some simple steps you can take to increase your likability, practice production, and patient satisfaction.

Case acceptance is the endpoint of all the activities that contribute to dental practice success. The reality is that most practices do not excel in case acceptance beyond basic dentistry.

According to Levin Group data, 81% of dental appointments are single-tooth treatment. Dentists are building their production model on this high-volume approach, which will limit production potential. By increasing the number of larger cases that are accepted, practices can significantly increase production and lower overall stress levels at the same time. But this requires approaching case acceptance from a deeper level.

One of the concepts you rarely if ever hear discussed in conversations or education about case acceptance is likability. However, in my observation, the degree to which a patient likes the person they are working with in the practice is directly proportional to the patient accepting treatment. This likability factor should be extended to the entire chain of team members that every patient interacts with, including the front desk person, dental assistant, hygienist, and dentist. Any breakdown in this chain ultimately decreases the overall impression of likability created for the patient.

Increasing your likability quotient is a remarkably simple process. Consider the following steps:

Greet every patient with warmth and enthusiasm

You may think you already do this, but consider these common missteps. A patient comes to the front desk and the front desk staff is so busy that they don’t even acknowledge the patient or, if they do, they simply wave and look away. Furthermore, an assistant who is running behind calls the name of a patient in the reception room and does not even bother to greet the patient but simply has the patient walk behind them on the way to the treatment room. These are the realities that take place day in, day out that diminish likability.

Greeting every patient warmly and enthusiastically automatically eliminates the chance of either of these above scenarios occurring.

Practice production, prioritized: Diagnosing ideal treatment

Practice production, prioritized: Retaining current staff

Compliment every patient at every visit

Dale Carnegie had it right in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Humans respond with great positivity when we receive genuine praise or compliments. This may be the biggest single opportunity in terms of increasing likability. People like people who like them.

Here’s how this applies to improving case acceptance: If people like you, they trust you, and if they trust you, they buy from you. And the greater the likability, the larger the amount of treatment a patient will accept when cases are presented.

Don’t oversell

Some dentists tend to oversell to compensate for likability. They often don’t even realize they are doing this. For example, there are dentists who push so hard to sell treatment that they alienate patients, even to the point of patients leaving the practice as a result. Focus more on being likable and less on pushing hard for treatment acceptance.

Likability is a major factor in case acceptance that needs to be understood by every dentist and every team member. The more patients like you, the more they will trust you and accept treatment. That leads to increased practice production and highly satisfied patients. What a wonderful (and winning) combination!  

Editor's note: This article appeared in the July 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

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