It’s a word that’s music to the dentist’s ears (and no, it’s not “flossing”). The word is “yes.” Why? Because many patients don’t agree to the suggested treatment plan, even if they have severe oral health issues. Often, patients who do agree select the cheapest option, regardless of whether or not it’s the best solution. Most dental practices have a case acceptance rate between 20 and 30 percent—meaning roughly 8 out of 10 patients do not follow through with treatment. This constant rejection can be frustrating.

Increasing the case acceptance rate to 60 or 70 percent can double practice revenue, and the key to that is case acceptance training. Not only does it have an effect on the practice’s ROI and profitability but most importantly, it means the patient is getting the best possible course of treatment for his or her specific problem.

While there’s no magic word to get a patient to agree with the proposed course of treatment, case acceptance training can shift the odds in your favor.

What is case acceptance training?

Every member of your staff can benefit from case acceptance training offered by practice advisors. This training focuses on educating the patient and presenting treatment options in the most effective manner.
Remember, patients are considering several factors before agreeing to extended procedures. They generally ask three main questions: How much will it cost? How will it benefit me (e.g. is it cost-effective)? How much time will this take?

Case acceptance training is crucial for the dentist; it’s also important for everyone in the practice to work together as a team to achieve the desired acceptance rate. Most of these cases are high-profit, high-margin, and your patients will have a better clinical experience and results.

Why patients say no.

“I’ll get back with you.” Those words spell doom for case acceptance. The first principle to realize is that consumers often make buying decisions based upon emotion rather than need. (If you have any doubts, just examine the price tag for a pair of designer shoes!) While patient education is—and always will be—a vital part of good dentistry, case acceptance means the dentist has to appeal to the patient’s emotions as well as intellect. Patients can easily succumb to “sticker shock,” when the treatment plan estimates clock in at $8,000, and therefore patients rationalize “I don’t really need this.”

While only extensive case acceptance training can cover all the bases, there are a few good principles to remember:

  • Patients are individuals, and they want to be treated that way.
    Learn about your patients. Where do they work? Do they have children? This will enable practitioners to not only provide excellent customer service, but it creates a higher level of trust.
  • It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
    While patients may want to have their needs prioritized, it is important to emphasize patients’ future needs as well. If a dentist can make an effective case for treatment, patients will even say “yes” to cosmetic dentistry—but only if they are aware of how it fits into the bigger scheme of treatment.
  • Flexible payment options are important.
    Even patients with dental insurance can be overwhelmed by the out-of-pocket cost of a procedure. Offering payment options such as discounts for advance payments, credit cards, and outside financing make the treatment seem more feasible.

There is no secret formula to increasing your case acceptance rate, but practice owners cannot afford to ignore the need for training. It’s also important to realize if your patients have an excellent clinical experience, you are more likely to hear them say “yes” in the future.