The million dollar filing cabinet of treatment plans

What does your practice lose when treatment plans are forgotten or unaccepted?

If all dentists had a filing cabinet containing all forgotten or unaccepted patient treatment plans, how much do you think your cabinet would be worth?

This is your ‘Million Dollar Filing Cabinet’. 

It’s an issue faced by many dentists and practice managers: the accumulation of treatment plans that are forgotten or unaccepted by patients. 

This accumulation represents thousands of patients whose oral health outcomes could be better addressed and improved by your practice.

But, for your business, this build-up adds to a wealth of untapped practice revenue – revenue that can be generated by following best-practice. 

Unlocking your ‘Million Dollar Filing Cabinet’ of treatment plans and potential practice revenue

So how do you tap into your million dollar filing cabinet?

Every patient who visits your practice is presented with a treatment plan – this could be a few simple procedures or a more complex process, depending on their oral health.

But too often these treatment plans are not completed. As these incomplete treatment plans accumulate, your patients’ dental health deteriorates – and you lose potential practice revenue! 

We help dentists and practice managers identify why treatment plans are not followed through, and how to better communicate the value of treatment to patients.

Do your patients understand their treatment plan?

To start unlocking your million dollar filing cabinet, consider the way a patient receives a treatment plan for the first time:

  • Your patient is in pain, or is sedated: Your patient is already uncomfortable and impaired, so understanding their options and the cost of treatment is difficult. It’s vital that dentists make sure patients understand the treatments they need, but also the consequences (and potential oral health risks) of not proceeding with their treatment plan.
  • Your patient doesn’t know you very well:If dentists fail to engage with their patients, it’s unlikely that patients will appreciate the value of their treatment planWhen treating your patients, particularly a new patient, it’s important to develop a rapport by ensuring they are comfortable and offering the most personalised and professional service possible. This should also be reinforced by your front desk team.
  • The treatments are explained in very technical terms:If a treatment plan is presented in a document, how easy is it to understand for someone outside the dental industry? Many patients are thrown-off by technical terms and just don’t understand their options, which makes them more likely to avoid booking another appointment.
  • The front desk team might not explain the treatment plan afterwards:When a patient reports to Reception to pay for their treatment, this is the perfect time for the front desk team to reinforce what the dentist has explained – by booking the next appointment. Your front desk team should be able to help educate and follow-up with patients about their treatment plan, as well as answer any questions. Otherwise, your patient leaves the practice with unanswered questions – making it more likely that their treatment plan will not be followed-through.

Explaining a treatment plan: education and communication

So how can you earn back the value of your million dollar filing cabinet? It starts by maximising treatment plan acceptance.

Your practice needs to address the way to educate and communicate to patients – both about the importance of their treatment plan, and the potential consequences of not proceeding with treatment.

Chair-side education

As a dental health professional, it’s your responsibility to:

  • Educate patients about each step of the treatment plan process
  • Help patients evaluate alternative options, or arrange a payment plan
  • Explain the consequences if your patient refuses to proceed with treatment

Too often, dentists plan treatments but without taking the time to explain them to their patients and therefore they leave without fully understanding their oral health circumstances.

Front-desk communication

As your patient support team, your administration staff should:

  • Ensure that all patients leave your practice with a complete understanding of their treatment plan
  • Provide documentation and images to describe your patients’ treatment plan
  • Book the next appointment on-departure to secure the next step in a patient’s treatment plan
  • Schedule follow-up communications to keep in touch with patients, which helps establish the regularity of appointments that improves oral health outcomes

How to improve treatment plan education and patient communication

To establish increased treatment acceptance and tap into potential practice revenue, we suggest that principal dentists and practice managers collaborate with all practice staff.

Put together a team strategy for maximum treatment plan acceptance – and practice revenue:

  • Review your treatment plan documents:
    It’s vital that patients have access to accurate and easy-to-follow information about their treatment plan – so they can review what they’ve been told at home when they are feeling more comfortable.Ensure this documentation explains each treatment in a way your patient will understand, whilst being clear about the cost of each step.Use images to illustrate what each treatment entails to avoid surprising or confusing patients during their next appointment.
  • Establish a troubleshooting process:
    It’s important that your front desk team are educated about treatment plans and treatment options, so they can provide the best-possible support when patients have questions about their treatment.It may be useful to set aside some training for your staff to ensure your team has consistent knowledge about your services. Guide your staff through a list of questions that patients will likely ask, and the best ways to answer them.If your front-desk team is knowledgeable patient treatment plans, your patients will feel more assured and supported – which ensures they book their next treatment when they report to reception.
  • Discuss payment options:
    A critical barrier to treatment plan acceptance is cost and payment. Your practice staff should be able to discuss alternative payment options to patients, which alleviates stress so they can book their next treatment within the ideal time frame.Find out more about payment options here.
  • Clarify technical language:
    Become familiar with explaining dental jargon in a way your patients will understand, remembering that they may be impaired by pain or pain relief when they first learn about their treatment plan.Educate your front desk staff about treatment terminology, so they can better explain treatments to patients. Trusting your practice team to educate and support patients helps maximise treatment plan acceptance, as patients feel assured by your staff.
  • Prioritise on-departure booking:
    This is crucial to treatment plan acceptance, and to driving practice revenue.Establish our best-practice procedure of checking a patient’s contact details and booking their next appointment as they are leaving your practice.Doing this ensures treatment plans are carried out within a timeframe that is most beneficial to your patient’s oral health, but also maintains regular treatment acceptance – boosting practice revenue each month.
  • Maintain patient recalls:
    Keep your patient’s records up-to-date with their outstanding treatments, then cycle through regular recalls.This ensures your practice’s million dollar filing cabinet doesn’t accumulate with forgotten or unaccepted treatment plansPatients are far more likely to respond if they are regularly prompted to book their next treatment.Here’s some more information about patient recalls and recall effectiveness

With these simple yet effective strategies in place, practice managers and dentists can finally unlock their million dollar filing cabinet.

Experience the results of maximum treatment plan acceptance: improved health outcomes and increased practice revenue.

Does your practice face unaccepted treatment plans? Talk to us today.

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