Help Your InDecisive Patients Say Yes To The Treatment They Need


I need some time to think about it.

This is exactly what you don't want to hear from a patient if they are talking about their treatment plan. You know the treatment is important to their long-term dental health, and you and your team have done your best to convey that message to them, but still, they hesitate. Even more concerning, this may not be the first, second or even third time you’ve recommended this treatment. 

Act now

This happens all the time, doesn't it?

When you know in your heart that a patient needs treatment to improve the quality of their oral health and life, but they hesitate, it's time to get to work. 

Let’s look at some of the common obstacles holding patients, and what you and your team can do to get your patient to say ‘yes’.

Why DO patients delay treatment?

  • Education - they don’t fully understand what is involved, and might be embarrassed to ask.
  • Cost - how much and how will I pay for it?
  • Success - what if it doesn’t work? Is there a guarantee?
  • Time - I’m really busy, how much time will it take?
  • Pain - Will it hurt?

What you and your team can do about it

First, you must involve the entire team. Research shows it can take as many as 10-15 conversations with a patient before they fully understand and accept recommended treatment. (The same is true of the rest of us. Professional marketers know they have to repeat a message a minimum of seven times before a majority of their audience will see and understand it.)

That means, if a patient visits your practice three times a year, it could conceivably take four to five years before they truly get on board with the need for treatment. For that reason, it’s imperative that you and your team are on the same page and communicate the same message at each and every visit. 

For example, Doctor has recommended that Mrs. Green get a crown on a cracked tooth. She’s been delaying it, but has a hygiene appointment scheduled soon.

This is the opportunity to further educate Mrs. Green, and move her toward ‘yes’. Involve the entire team, beginning with the confirmation call.

The person who confirms appointments can have treatment recommendations at hand for each patient. This way they can remind Mrs. Green that the doctor is concerned about the condition of that tooth.


During the appointment…

The Hygienist repeats the doctor’s recommendations and explains, in ‘plain English’, the benefits of pursuing treatment.

The Assistant provides Mrs. Green with patient educational materials, a brochure for instance, or directs her to a page on the practice website that further explains the treatment.

While making Mrs. Green’s next hygiene appointment, the Scheduling Coordinator asks if she would like to come in next week and get that crown taken care of.

The Financial Coordinator answers any and all of Mrs. Green’s questions about cost, insurance and whether or not the doctor’s work is ‘guaranteed’.

Whoever talks to Mrs. Green last repeats the message: “We care about you and want you to feel confident about your oral health.”

In addition, everyone on the team should know how to respond to the following 7 questions:  

  1. How many appointments will be necessary to complete the treatment?
  2. What stages of treatment are involved, and what will happen at each appointment?
  3. How much time will be required for each appointment?
  4. How much will it hurt?
  5. How much will it cost, and how can you help me pay for it?
  6. Does the doctor have experience with the procedure? While some patients are hesitant to ask out of fear of hurting the doctor’s feelings, they all want to know!
  7. Is the treatment guaranteed? (This is a dreaded question in many practices, but if yours offers Dental Warranty, you'll be excited to get this question!)

Moving a patient toward yes should never be heavy-handed, hard-sell, or stress inducing. The goal for the entire team is to emphasize how important the treatment is for the patient’s overall health and well-being, and to help them feel confident about proceeding.  If you can answer the seven questions above with empathy and confidence, you have an excellent chance of getting your patients to say ‘yes’ to needed treatment.

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