How dentists can improve patient loyalty.
Our Guest Blog Written By: Dr. Nabil Mockbil
There have been many cases when patients who need certain expensive cosmetic or restorative dental procedures, cringe at the exorbitant cost and often forgo the expensive treatment completely.
It would seem that dentists are quick to recommend costly dental treatments with little or no regard to how their patients are going to pay for the costs.
The dentist is in a unique position to advise their patient on the best and most affordable dental care ensuring their patient is happy and financially comfortable.
How can your dental practice achieve this and keep or even grow your patient base?
- Once a dental diagnosis has been made, use this time to educate the patient on the proposed procedure. The end goal should always be helping patients achieve and maintain their best oral health.
The patient should understand the benefits of the treatment plan and be able to make an informed decision, as opposed to opting out of the treatment because of what they believe is a high cost of dentistry.
The benefits you outline should focus on how the treatment will improve their overall health, comfort and appearance. This will help the patient make an educated choice based on your professional advice.
The patient may fully understand the benefits but still think the treatment is too pricey and not justified, but at least the patient sees you as being upfront and honest. This contributes to building your good reputation.
- Be honest about the cost of the proposed treatment plan. This should also include all the dental appointments required and the length of time it takes to complete the treatment.
Being candid from the beginning is important in building a strong relationship, great rapport, between the dentist and patient, based on trust and honesty.
If you are able to offer an alternative treatment plan that takes less time or is less costly, be sure to offer it to your patient. This will leave the patient feeling like you have their best interests at heart rather than just making a quick buck!
- It is a good idea to give your patient a written estimate of the treatment plan.
This shows that you are transparent about the costs and are willing to stick to the plan and the fees you’ve discussed; provided there are no “surprises” (aka: changes), during the treatment in the form of unexpected additional costs. Ensure the patient understands that “changes” to a treatment plan are possible.
The patient will also have a record for future reference during or after their treatment.
Some points to include in your written price estimate:
- The treatment proposed with the time it will take to complete from start to finish. Ensure that you include a provision that complications may arise due to unforeseen circumstances- this may impact the length of time of the treatment and even the costs.
- A breakdown of the fees as discussed with the patient at the initial consultation. This should clearly show what portion is covered by the patient’s dental/medical insurance and a fee the patient will have to cover “out-of-pocket.”
- Outline any payment options your dental practice offers. Does your office offer a special patient discount plan? Be clear on the amount that needs to be paid upfront before treatment begins, if there is any.
- Explain your dental practice’s billing options- whether you have convenient online payment options or how often invoices are sent out- either via email or postage. This will improve patient payment compliance. Who needs an inconvenience when trying to pay a bill?!
- Clarify how any amounts that are in arrears are dealt with. It is expected that some patients will not be able to pay their bills on time. This gives the patient options without impacting the reputation of your dental practice.
When you make an effort to connect with the patient you are able to explore all the available alternatives for his dental treatment but within his budgetary constraints. This builds a strong relationship between the dentist and patient.
A happy patient is one who returns to your practice for all future dental care, brings the whole family and recommends you to friends thus, growing your patient base.
Dr. Nabil Mockbil received his DDS in 2001 from Umea University in Sweden, regarded as having the best dentist programme in Sweden for undergraduates. He’s now the founder of Swedish Dental Clinic in Dubai
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