You work hard to attract new patients to your practice and retain the ones you have. But what good does it do you if patients don't follow up on recommended treatment plans? Increasing case acceptance is one of the biggest challenges that most dental practices face. The following tips will help you improve your case acceptance rate.
- Schedule the appointment right away. Make it a habit to schedule the appointment at the time the patient agrees to treatment. If the patient says that they'll schedule the appointment at a later date, it gives them a chance to change their mind. After the patient has agreed to a treatment plan, walk him or her to the front desk and ask the receptionist to make an appointment.
- Send appointment reminders and get confirmations. With Lighthouse 360, you can automatically send reminder messages to patients about upcoming treatment appointments. Reminders can be sent via text, email or automated phone calls. The patient's confirmation automatically goes to your PMS so your staff doesn’t have to input it manually.
- Personalize treatment plan reminders. Tailor your reminders to the way each patient prefers to be contacted, whether that's text messaging, phone calls or emails. Lighthouse 360 lets you text back and forth with individual patients directly from the portal, so you can customize reminders to each patient’s concerns. This more personal approach can help convince patients to follow through with treatment plans.
- Make sure your reminder messages are getting through. Sometimes patients missed appointments simply because they haven't received the reminders. Avoid this risk by using a solution such as Lighthouse 360 that alerts you immediately when a patient does not receive your text, email or phone message. Lighthouse 360 also creates follow-up lists of patients who haven't confirmed their treatment appointments, even though they've received all the reminder messages. Your employees can quickly call or text patients directly from the list.
- Re-emphasize the benefits of the treatment plan in your reminder messages. Whether you’re contacting patients by phone, email or text, include a brief reminder about the importance of the treatment, such as the immediate benefits the patient will see (“I know you’ll feel so much better once that tooth is pulled”) or the risks of not following through with the treatment in a timely fashion (“We want to be sure to replace that crown quickly so we can avoid a root canal.”)
- Motivate with emotion. Deciding to follow through with treatment is as much an emotional as a practical decision for most patients. During your initial treatment plan discussion, take note of what motivates this particular patient and record it in your patient management system. This way, your staff can emphasize that element in the reminder messages. For example, if a patient is concerned about money, you can remind him that completing treatment will ultimately save money by preventing further problems.
- Be ready to handle objections. In your reminders, let patients know that you are available to discuss any questions they may have about the procedure. This can help reduce patients’ worries and eliminate any excuses they may have for not following through.