Financial Conversations Dental Patients

How to develop reliable financial presentations for your dental patients

Sept. 15, 2023
Do your dental patients understand their financial obligation? To be sure, get all team members on the same page by developing clear standard operating procedures (SOPs).

One of the many frustrating challenges dental practices face today is ensuring that the team masters the complex art of financial presentation. After all, dental professionals don’t often have much training in finances or sales.

Front desk staff members have various backgrounds, some with experience in the dental field and some with none. This makes it challenging to have a consistent and reliable financial presentation method that fits the patient base and leads to treatment acceptance. 

Create a standard operations playbook for financial presentation

Luckily, there’s a solution to this issue that will simplify the process and any other problem areas you apply it to. Following this model will result in a well-trained, disciplined team that operates with consistency, accountability, and motivation.

The solution involves implementing a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs), rules, and guidelines that determine how your team will handle specific scenarios. Start by carefully crafting a playbook of SOPs, a guide that outlines processes that have been contoured to best fit your practice, patient base, and goals for your clinic’s growth. 

Financing plans have become popular in the dental field. Even if patients have limited or no insurance coverage, they need financing options to afford the cost of their treatment. Using financing plans leads to higher case acceptance and increased patient loyalty and is a great option for dental offices. Our multiple offices use Sunbit, a program that allows virtually every patient to be approved for financing, regardless of their perceived financial situation.

Deciding how your practice will approach a consistent and reliable financial presentation is just one step in the process. After you create your playbook, ensure that your team properly implements the processes. Doing this isn’t just a matter of training your team; you also need to motivate them. 

Team motivation is the most important key. Simply providing your team with the “what” and “how” won’t cut it. To successfully implement a policy that is consistently and reliably practiced, your team needs to believe in what you’re implementing. By ensuring they feel knowledgeable about your policies and motivated by their positive impact on patient care and practice success, you’ll find establishing your new SOPs far more successful. 

You might also be interested in: 5 steps to implementing standard operating procedures (SOPs)

Achieve confident financial presentation, regardless of team experience 

Emphasize the importance of team motivation. By providing clear and methodical training that stresses motivation, your team will feel empowered to succeed. A good change management model will emphasize the “why” of the policies (figure 1)

Outline your desired procedures in your SOP. Your processes and SOPs should be contoured with the set of core business systems. Example: create your SOP outlining a financial presentation method that focuses on the fact that all patients should be offered financial options and are clear on their financial responsibility. 

Motivate your team and help them understand the “whys.” Your team will make changes faster and with far greater success if they understand why the SOPs are good. Motivate your team by explaining how beneficial these policies will be to your practice and their careers. They’ll feel empowered and driven to see the policy succeed. Example: The team will be motivated if they understand that they help patients complete needed treatment, prevent dental disease from spreading, and prevent financial conflict by discussing finances clearly. 

Provide comprehensive and in-depth training on SOPs for your team. Example: focus on the fact that all patients should be offered financial options, that they know their copays, and they’re clear on their financial responsibility. 

Define the key performance indicators (KPIs) needed to monitor your progress successfully. The KPIs you use to track team progress should focus on how successfully and consistently they implement your processes in their daily operations. It should also track the success of these new processes. Example: KPIs should be that 100% of all patients discuss finances and clearly understand their cost for the treatment. 

Evaluate your team’s success and adjust from there 

Developing and implementing SOPs will motivate and prepare your dental team to confidently handle financial presentations. Using the change management model by Progressive Dental Mentor, you can achieve a consistent and reliable financial presentation method that optimizes your business operations and lead to a well-trained and accountable team, regardless of your team’s experience in dentistry.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the September 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

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