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It’s (almost) always about money

I want you to think about the worst patient problem in your practice. When you peel back the layers, it’s almost certainly about money.

If you think I’m wrong, let’s do a thought exercise. Think of the patient problem that’s been occupying your mind the most lately. It may be lack of case acceptance (the obvious one) or patient dissatisfaction (bad Yelp review anyone?). Hold that problem in your mind. Concentrate on it. Feel it.its-almost-always-about

Now…how does that problem become different if the treatment proposed to the patient was free? How might that problem resolve? What could you do in your practice to take away that objection?

I’m not offering any specific solutions here. Obviously there are a million ways to skin the financial arrangements cat. But it’s worth remembering that patients may love us, our office and our team. But no one is sitting at home hoping that they’ll be able to cut us a check using money that they’d rather spend on the new iPhone.

I know what you’re thinking. What about anxiety? That’s a big patient objection, too. I agree. But I’d say we’re talking 10% or less of patient objections are primarily due to anxiety. Also, how many anxious patients are in your office letting you know that they’re really freaked out about dental care, but clearly are happy to pay you whatever? If anxiety is their biggest hang up, money can (and probably will) still be an issue.

We’re not great at getting past this objection in my practice. The practices who can really identify and move past money as an objection definitely do better financially and probably are more satisfying to the dentist.

So next time you struggle with treatment acceptance it might be worth asking the patient, “is there anything besides the cost that would keep you from doing this treatment?” You’ll probably learn a lot.




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  1. High quality dental care can be expensive for certain demographics, and in those patients a more limited but affordable plan may need to be offered.
    Some affluent individuals can also object but some of them are prepared to pay thousands of dollars / pounds for stuff they really don’t need. In theses cases they need to be educated that their oral and dental health is far more important than the toys / jewellery they buy. With some of course one can never win – but than the Lord we live in free societies where people have a choice.

  2. Alan, this is a very good outlook. There are so many different moving parts in customers – for some, anxiety will leave money as a second thought.

    We, for example, have focused our business around making patients feel comfortable and luxurious during their appointments. I do think this has helped the issue of anxiety to some degree, and surely has helped many more customers walk out the door happy and relaxed.

    However, this is not a solution for everyone. As you stated, only a small portion of customers are discouraged by anxiety. So we took your suggestion and started asking patients – is there anything other than cost that’s discouraging you from this?

    In the end, this question opened many doors for us and allowed us to resolve numerous patient’s concerns – concerns we otherwise would have never known about. I suggest others try this out, too.

    Thanks for your work Alan!

  3. Alan, your last statement is the most valuable, “is there anything besides the cost that would keep you from doing this treatment?” Their first answer is usually not the real answer. This is a great final question to get to the bottom of the issue and see if there is a work around. Great article

  4. While each patient will do their own prioritization, I would say that it is the practitioners responsibility to fully relate the degree of severity of the problem and any further medical repercussions that may develop down the line if not treated.