Increase treatment acceptance by changing the way you talk to patients

Increasing patient treatment acceptance continues to pose difficulties for dental offices. Simply mentioning the need for additional treatment can send patients rushing to your door, a hasty “I’ll think about it” thrown out for good measure.

But it doesn’t always have to be that way.

Treatment plans can be scary and come with a high cost. And, as a group, people generally tend to avoid scary or expensive things. Yet, patients with special treatments needs show up in offices every day.

Here’s how to make getting them to accept it a little easier.

Avoid simply telling patients they need treatment based on dental explanations x, y, and z. While you may understand the clinical meaning behind their symptoms or issues, more than likely your patient doesn’t, which creates a gap in communication.

Instead, make an emotional—not logical—appeal to get them to understand the importance of further treatment for their dental health. It needs to be a two-sided conversation. One that you guide based on their questions and concerns.

An emotional appeal means making them want the treatment (they already know they need it).

First, emotionally connect with patients as soon as they choose your office for their dental care—not just when you discover they need a certain procedure. Learn about them outside of their dental visits, greet them cheerfully as they enter your office, and consistently praise evidence of good home dental care. This will show your patients that you care about them as a person—not as a contribution to your practice’s bottom line.

Then when you do have a patient that needs treatment beyond their usual cleaning, their trust in you will be vital to getting them to want their treatment.

Keep the conversation as simple as you can while providing the necessary information. For example, start with the problem: “Your filling has cracked.” That’s it. Wait and see if your patient has questions before launching into follow-up details. You shouldn’t be the only one driving the discussion.

Once your patient has an understanding of the issue they are happy with, go on to discuss what could happen if the issue is left untreated (again, avoid overly technical language). If you have accounts of a patient who left the same issue untreated and suffered worse consequences this is the perfect time to share. That’s your emotional appeal. You don’t want your patient to be in pain or to need even more extensive treatment and they don’t either.

Then finish up with the solution to the problem the same way you presented it. With to-the-point and easy to understand language. Your patients simply want to know you can fix the problem, not the minute details of how you’ll do so. That can easily scare off someone who doesn’t understand dentistry.

At the end of the day, you’ll never get 100% of patients to accept treatment. That’s an unrealistic goal. But by appealing to your patients emotionally—getting them to want treatment—you will see an increased rate of acceptance.