Dental Office Financial Conversations Done Well
Dental office financial conversations are a team effort. Every single team member must be comfortable in financial discussions. And in treatment presentation. It’s just one more of those areas here everyone needs to be cross-trained. Both on the phone and in person. Because our conversations about the cost of dental treatment happen both ways.
Team members must know dental treatment costs. I’m not suggesting that everyone on the team know the exact fee for everything. But each individual must at least have an idea of costs. And know how to quickly access fees. It’s important to be able to do this without asking another team member the cost of a particular service.
Comfort in discussing cost comes with practice. So, it’s a great idea to practice at team meetings. Look at fee schedules during a team meeting. Talk about the fees for individual dental services during a team meeting. Say the price with the service. It’s only awkward to talk about money when you don’t. Patients want transparency and fees to be visible. Not hidden behind a secret vault that only the Financial Coordinator or Treatment Coordinator can access.
Great Dental Office Financial Conversations Increase Case Acceptance
Body language shows more than our words. So, it’s important to get this right when meeting with a patient face to face. We want to be professional and to sit up straight. We also want to be approachable and not too stiff when discussing finances. It’s a big of a balance. Make eye contact with the patient. Otherwise, we appear uncomfortable or fearful of talking about cost. Lean in and be sure to nod as patients share what’s on their mind.
Listen more than you speak. When we give our patients an opportunity to ask questions and share, we learn. And what we learn can direct our conversation well. Patients tell us what their financial abilities and solutions are when we present dental treatment. They will also ask questions that will help us know just how we can better help them.
Relationship takes priority. Although our goal is to provide our patient with excellent dental care, our relationship with the patient is the priority. If you worry about sounding like a used car salesman, remember this. You will never feel or sound insincere when you are authentic. And authenticity comes from putting your patient’s relationship with the practice above dental treatment. But keep in mind, that it is a privilege to provide the dental care your patient needs. And you are helping them with something they need.
Privacy Invites Intimacy
Dental office financial conversations must happen privately. The dental front office can be a tough place to allow this to happen. Especially in a face-to-face setting. It might be a little easier on the phone. But even then, there can be interruptions. And another patient standing at the desk. And even patients listening in the reception area or standing in the office.
Make a way to keep it private. In a face-to-face financial conversation, find a quiet place to talk. If you don’t have a consult room, use a treatment room. A room that gives the dental team member the tools they need and the patient the privacy they deserve. Treatment and case acceptance will increase when financial discussions take place in private.
Patients who phone into the office may need a call back. When a patient calls the office at a busy time with financial questions, it’s okay to call them back. Better to call them back than to try to push through a conversation under stress and pressure. If it’s difficult for you to say the things you need to say, or to really listen to your patient, call them back. Just let them know you want to call them at a quieter time. Then be sure to do so as soon as possible. Or at a time you have set with the patient.
Great Dental Office Financial Conversations Improve Collections
Dental office collection problems arise from poor financial conversations. A patient misunderstood something. Maybe there was a miscalculation of insurance benefits. Perhaps a treatment plan was unclear. Somehow, somewhere, a disconnect in a financial presentation created a collection issue. It happens.
Set clear financial expectations. Use a financial agreement to help you. And make sure your patient reviews each option and signs off on the agreement. You may even want them to check some boxes or circle an option that works best for them. Invest the patient somehow early on. And be sure to give your patient a copy of their treatment plan and financial presentation.
Ask patients if they have questions. Do they have any questions at all on treatment or finances? Be sure to ask and listen. And even ask if there is anything at all they have a question or unsure about. It’s important to put all the cards on the table and give your patient the time they need to process. Then let them know they can call with questions too. And give them your name. Even write it on an office business card.
Add A Disclaimer
Include a disclaimer in your dental office financial conversations. And you may even want to include this in your written agreement! But you want to be sure your patients understand things may change. Treatment may need to change. Remember, we are dealing with human beings and bodies. Sometimes, additional or unexpected treatment becomes necessary.
And costs may differ as well. Especially if insurance does something other than what was expected. Be honest and open. And tell your patients you’ve done your best to determine their cost. But sometimes, insurance companies pay a little differently from what was planned. And assure them you will work with them should this happen.
Keep the relationship the priority. Close the financial conversation with a handshake or even a touch. A simple touch on the arm as you say good-bye is great! Remember, we are human beings. And our patients want to be treated as a whole person too. You’ll build your relationship and rapport and feel pretty good yourself, when financial conversations are done well.