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What would you say if a dental colleague told you he or she got 100% case acceptance? I had that experience recently when I spoke to Dr. Dave Robertson. Based on his results, Dave is easy to believe. He has an $8 million dollar practice in Calgary that employs 10 associate doctors, 10 hygienists, and about 30 other people.
When it comes to his case acceptance history, Dave went through four stages:
The Replace Old Dentistry Stage — “I was just out of dental school in 1980. I replaced old, worn-out dentistry and restored decayed teeth. Case acceptance was easy. Life was fine.”
The Closing Room Stage — “I blindly followed the advice of a case acceptance guru. I took patients into the Closing Room (my patients came up with the name), showed them four slides, and tried to push them into case acceptance. Most people weren’t motivated — annoyed is more like it. They would pretend to go along with my recommendations in order to get out the door quickly. Most of them never came back. It was uncomfortable for me too.”
The Success or Failure Stage — “I presented comprehensive dentistry to most patients in a very respectful manner. If they accepted all or most of the recommended care, I felt successful. If they didn’t, I felt like a failure. I think most dentists are in this stage these days.”
The 100% Acceptance Stage — “Now I have one or more conversations with people depending on the complexity of their cases. In a nutshell, I explain their treatment options and costs, ask respectful questions, listen carefully, and give them what they want. If they do not want to do anything, I’m successful because they stay in our practice and may complete the care in the future.”
Options, options, options
Dr. Dave Robertson always starts his examination process with, “Is there anything right now that concerns you? I’ll make sure I check it.” After the exam, he explains the condition of the patient’s mouth and gives the patient proof with X-rays and intraoral camera photos. He tells them that all treatment is elective. He gives people requiring comprehensive dentistry five options, listing the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Option No. 1 is to do nothing. Option No. 2 is bare minimum dentistry that gets patients out of trouble and stops active disease (decay, abscesses, periodontal problems) from progressing. Large fillings, periodontal therapy, root canals, and extractions are examples of Option No. 2 care. Option No. 3 is high-end one-tooth-at-a-time dentistry such as crowns and onlays. Option No. 4 is higher-end quadrant dentistry and implants. Option No. 5 is full-mouth reconstruction and cosmetic dentistry.
With each option, Dave throws out a ballpark dollar amount and then checks how patients respond verbally and nonverbally. He then asks open-ended questions such as, “What are you thinking?” or “What would you like to do?”
Together, Dave and his patients work out a treatment plan that fits their desires and finances. There are no right or wrong answers because 100% of the people do what is right for them. In the long run, Dave says, “They end up doing more dentistry, and I end up much happier.”
Dr. Robertson is a smart guy
If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that:
1 I believe being pushy results in patients who push back, retreat into shells, or walk out the door saying, “I’ll think about it” and are never seen again.
2 I’m a firm believer in having a series of small case conversations and not one big case presentation. A series of small steps is superior to one giant leap.
3 I think it’s better to be inclusive and not exclusive. Unless it’s painfully obvious that someone shouldn’t be in your practice, accept all new patients. You never know where that next big case will come from.
I’m encouraged to see that Dave agrees. I hope you do too. I’ve seen too many dentists push too hard to gain comprehensive case acceptance. Don’t fall into that trap.
To learn more about Dr. Robertson’s Home-Study Dental Practice Improvement Programs or his consulting services, visit www.dentalmanagementsecrets.com.
To receive a free, one-hour DVD of Dr. Booth’s Comprehensive Case Acceptance in-office, DVD-based program, please send an e-mail to email@example.com or call (800) 917-0008.
Dr. Nate Booth is a speaker, consultant, and author who provides dentists with the information and systems they need to thrive in their dental practices. Dr. Booth teaches at the South Beach Dental Institute and is a practice-management advisor for ChaseHealthAdvance. He is the creator of the in-office, DVD-based program, The “Yes” System. For more information, go to www.theyessystem.com, or call (800) 917-0008.